Saturday, February 14, 2009

psycho wyco 10 mile trail race: 1:40:10

scott griffith

dwight amstutz

the psycho wyco adventure started on friday 02.13.2009. after making sure i had all my equipment packed (checked for accuracy multiple times), i picked up my friend scott after his shift at the local medical center for federal prisoners and we headed to kansas city, kansas, hoping to get to the "dynamic earth" store in time to pick up our race packets.

in route, scott informed me of a change in plans with regards to our lodging arrangements.  we had planned to stay at the home of one of his college friends, but scott started second guessing if that was a good setup for the night before a race.  he opted to book us a room at an "extended stay hotel" near the race location.  i had no objections to this plan, as it sounded like a less stressful scenerio than attempting to get ready for a race at the home of people i was not very familiar with.

we made it to dynamic earth with an hour to spare.  we were pretty stoked about our participant shirts and mugs.  for dinner we went a couple doors down to a resturant called "noodles and company".  they had made arrangements with "the kansas city trail nerds" to donate 25% of their sales proceeds from event participants to the trail nerd club.  this was a new dinning experience for both scott and i, and we both very much enjoyed our meals.

the night at the "extended stay" went well.  i got the pullout bed with large t.v. and scott got the king sized bed with little t.v.  i was surprised that i actually slept good (unusual for me the night before a race).  we got up in time to fuel up on some breakfast and get to the event location with some time to spare.

we got to wyandotte county park at about 7:20 a.m. (the race was scheduled to start at 8 a.m.).  all of the park's parking spots had already filled up and we were directed to park just inside the park's gate.  we used the walk from the car as our warm-up walk and the temperature quickly convinced me that wearing my hat was going to be advisable.    we scoped out the location of the race start and then attempted to stay warm until lineup time.  five minutes before 8, the race director gave us some directions and all the runners took their marks.  scott lined up a couple rows ahead of me with dwight amstutz (a friend from our locality).  i was committed to running conservatively for the first six miles of the race and was very content to have scott and dwight ahead of me (thinking i might reel them in during the last four miles).

mile one: 9:48

i really enjoyed the first mile.  i was pacing off my garmin forerunner 205, with the intention of running just under a 10 minute mile and then doing a one minute walk interval.  the plan was to use one minute walk intervals after each mile for the first six miles and then discard the walk intervals for the last four miles.  

at just under a half mile the course hit one of the bridle trail sections.  at this point i was very thankful that much of my trail running preparation took place on bridle trails.  the race director warned us that the bridle trail for the first two miles was really a mess.  it was, but i had some experience running on sections like this.  i passed a few runners over the next half-mile, but i was challenged by not being able to see the trail because of the runners so closely in front of me.  most of my trail running i have done solo, which is more conducive to planning a route through challenging rocks and roots.

mile two: 9:37

during my one minute walk interval, some of the runners i had passed passed me back.  when i shifted back into running gear it was at the top of a pretty steep downward descent.  i let myself go and flew past most of those runners.  this section had really been beat up.  like all the other runners, i attempted to stay either left or right of all the hoof indentations, but occasionally a branch would force me out into the midst the indentations.  we had been informed that most of these indentations had a layer of ice with water underneath.  i managed to step into a deep one and got to experience that refreshingly cold water on my foot.  again i was thankful that my training had prepared me for this.  near the end of mile two i started a conversation with the runner in front of me.  he kept rolling his ankles and i complimented him on his strong ankles.  he informed me that he and his friend were running the twenty mile race in preparation for a marathon later in the spring.  i went a little into mile three before i shifted to my walk interval simply because it felt rude to cut off the conversation too quickly. 

mile three: 10:32

after my walk interval i settled in behind a guy that seemed to be going at my pace.  at about two and a quarter miles the trail goes through a creek.  i did a springy two step through the creek and my feet didn't seem to get overly soaked (i am looking forward to seeing the picture that was taken of that one).  at about two and a half miles we entered the single-track "wyandotte triangle" section of the course.  at this point things got a bit bunched up and i noticed that my pace dropped a good half a minute to a minute.  i found this part of the race to be extremely enjoyable.  it involved switch-backs, logs that needed to be hurdled, a downed tree that required ducking under, and lots of elevation changes.  i remember thinking that this trail running is so much like a combination of the joys of running and the technical aspects of skateboarding that i enjoy.  a runner behind me yelled out "i love the triangle" and i experienced my heart warming in total agreement with his declaration.   

mile four: 10:28

the end of mile three was located in the midst of the "wyandotte triangle".  i decided that it was not a good place for me to insert a walk interval.  i had three runners bunched up in front of me and probably six bunched up behind me.  there just was not room for any passing in this section.  i resolved to insert my walk interval when i got out of the "triangle".  i think it was close to about the three and half mile location that i exited the "triangle" and inserted my walk.  i had two chocolate accel gels with me in my water bottle pocket and attempted to consume the first one during this walk.  i finished about half of it and then attempted to put it back in the water bottle pocket.  inadvertently i made a big chocolaty mess :)  after my walk i really found a good stride and enjoyed passing a few runners.  at this point i was trying to decide if i should walk at the end of mile four or if i should wait until i had logged four and a half miles.  right near the end of mile four i encountered a very long and steep ascent and quickly resolved that this might be a good location for a walk.

mile five: 10:26

my watch indicated that i had logged four miles when i got to the top of that hill.  i picked the pace back up and enjoyed this section of the trail for a bit.  then we started going down a really steep descent, and it was icy.  according to the course map, this section is called "fall-down hill".  on two occasions i thought for sure my butt was going to experience a close encounter with the trail, but possibly my old cross country ski skills helped me stay up.  the rest of this mile is a little different.  it involves crossing a grassy field and going through some drainage ditches.  that field felt really slow.  the mile ends going up a hill in the drainage ditch.  i opted to insert my walk interval a little early and walked up the ditch.  one of the photographers was located at the top, and i almost felt bad that i was going to be captured in a walk but i encouraged myself that i was saving some fuel in the tank for the last portion of the race.  

it was in the grassy field that i caught site of my friend scott.  he was wearing a brooks nightlife shirt that is a shade of yellow that is noticeable from a couple miles away.  i was wondering at this point how he was feeling.  i intended to reel him in and finish ahead of him.  i estimated that i would catch up to him in the next mile or two.  i started thinking of what i would say when i came up upon him.  i landed on: "bob hortox passing on the left".  "bob hortox" was a name that the saint paul pioneer press accidentally gave to me when i was in high school. 

mile six: 10:29

the drainage ditch ascent concludes onto a road.  at this point the course goes for one third of a mile on that road.  in some ways it felt good to be on a road, but the fact that it was a substantial climb pretty much drained the pleasure right out of it.  as i was climbing that hill i started reevaluating my race strategy.  i was beginning to question if i would be able to abandon my walk segments after mile six.  as i was climbing the hill i noticed that i was reeling in scott a little bit more.  at the top of the paved hill i was directed back onto trail by a volunteer who informed me that i was facing a long downhill and that it was a bit icy.  as i was flying down the hill i thought i was getting back on my pace.  my time goal for the day was sub-1:40, which meant that i needed to average at least 9:59 per mile.

when i got to the bottom of the hill, i enjoyed a nice flat section but was soon greeted with another very difficult rocky icy muddy climb.  i found myself shifting between walking and running about every 40 yards.  it did not appear wise to run parts of this section and in a couple of locations it was necessary to grab a tree to keep from sliding off into the woods and down the ridge on the right.  it was here that scott caught a glimpse of me and shouted a greeting.  i responded with "it's bob hortox", but that didn't seem to make any sense in that context.  i was still 50 yards behind him and not even close to overtaking him.

mile seven: 11:44

during mile seven i was a bit of a hurting unit.  i still had hopes of picking up the pace, but the trail didn't seem to be cooperating.  this section of the course is single-track and was designed by the race director's dog.  i decided i would finish my first gel and hit my second one at this point.  during this mile i started to believe what others had said about the elevation of this course.  i had doubts prior to this event that this ten miles could possibly have close to 2000 feet of elevation change.  i thought maybe someone had based that on a garmin estimation and i read that those can be very inaccurate.  i stopped thinking about sub-1:40 and started thinking about how i was going to finish this race.  i resolved that it was going to be necessary for me to walk up some of the hills, but i was hoping that maybe things would flatten out a bit and i would not need to deal with anymore major climbs.

mile eight: 9:36

at the end of mile seven i officially caught up with scott and tried to assess how much he had left in his tank.  we walked together up a hill and i inquired about dwight.  scott informed me that he thought dwight was a good ten minutes ahead of us.  scott informed me that he intended to try and stay with me for the remainder of the race.  i commented about us only having a 5k to go and took out the lead.  scott made a comment about his shoe lace and the next thing i knew i heard him hit the ground.  i stopped and inquired about his condition.  i figured if he had a bone sticking out of his leg that i would abandon this event and help carry him out of the woods.  he declared that he was ok, so i told him to catch up to me because i was going to attempt to pick up the pace now.

for the next mile and a half i ran pretty smooth and i was imagining that i was burying scott behind me a ways.  

mile nine: 11:10

the end of mile eight is near an aid station.  at this point i felt pretty alone.  i could not see any runners ahead of me and i didn't hear any behind me.  this was the only portion of the course that i had concerns of actually taking a wrong turn.  at this point i had two miles to go and according to my watch i only had 18 minutes before i would hit 1:40.  i still thought it might be possible, but i wondered what kind of hills i would face over the next two miles.  about 600 yards into mile eight i saw that i was facing another substantial climb and i started thinking 1:40 was not possible.  just as i was entertaining that thought i heard something that totally took the wind out of my sails: "solomon-a-gundy!"  scott!  scott had caught up to me.  i was feeling pretty vulnerable.  not only was it unlikely that i would meet my time goal, now it looked like it was going to be a battle to finish ahead of the scott man.

for the uninformed: solomon-a-gundy is a jamaican smoked herring paste.  children in jamaica often sing the solomon-a-gundy song and i learned it during one of my jamaican trips.  apparently i was singing parts of it the other day and it got in scott's head and he found it bouncing around in there throughout the race (because of today's race experience and because scott wears salomon trail running shoes - my new nickname for scott is: solomon-a-gundy!)

mile ten: 9:26

one mile to go and i just wanted to see the finish line.  as i came upon another climb i was hoping it was the last major climb and i decided to hit it hard in hopes of finishing scott off.  i heard him mumble something back there and i knew he was likely just as spent as i was.  whatever ground i gained by ripping up that hill quickly disappeared when i came upon another steep and long climb.  i opted to walk it.  a runner passed me and i had to peek and see if it was scott.  it wasn't.  after that climb we faced one more little climb (but very steep) and i heard another runner on my heels.  i spoke out "scott, is that you", and scott confirmed his presence.  according to my watch we had half a mile to go.  a volunteer was standing there and informed us that the finish was at the bottom of the hill.  i was preparing to run a half-mile downhill when i noticed that the finish was only about 150 yards away and the clock read 1:40.  i shifted gears and pulled up along another runner right at the finish.  i stuck my chest out for the photo finish :)  

at the finish we were informed that the garmin watches would read a little short because of some of the tight switch-backs on the course.

scott and i were both very pleased with our race and we came very close to getting under 1:40.  dwight did rip it up and finished a few minutes before us (we will have to catch him in a future event ;) )

dwight 1:33:20 5th out of 24 30-39 year-old finishers; 13th overall (of 122)
me 1:40:10 8th out of 24 30-39 year-old finishers; 21st overall (of 122)
scott 1:40:16 9th out of 24 30-39 year-old finishers; 22nd overall (of 122)

i have concluded that in the future for races of this nature i will not likely schedule walk intervals, but i will insert them in a more terrain related pattern.  i intend to come back to wyandotte county park july 11th, 2009 to run 50k at the psycho psummer 50k trail race.  

my next scheduled race event is the frisco highline run for scouting half-marathon on march 28th.

below are some of my stats from today's race:

Route:--Elev. Avg:896 ft
Location:Kansas City, KSElev. Gain:+10 ft
Date:02/14/09Up/Downhill: [+1673/-1663]
Time:08:00 AMDifficulty:5.0 / 5.0
Weather:Mostly Cloudy
 22 F temp; 80% humidity
 22 F heat index; winds N 13

Distance:10 miles
Speed:5.8 mph
Pace:10' 01 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 48-0' 326.1+0.3+40 ft
29' 37-0' 436.2+0.4+14 ft
310' 32+0' 125.7-0.1+17 ft
410' 28+0' 085.7-0.1+56 ft
510' 26+0' 065.8-0.1-99 ft
610' 29+0' 095.7-0.1-10 ft
711' 44+1' 245.1-0.7+59 ft
89' 36-0' 446.2+0.4-26 ft
911' 10+0' 505.4-0.4+56 ft
109' 26-0' 546.4+0.6-95 ft
Versus average of 10' 20 min/mile

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