I must be racing on residual fitness, or just air. Training-wise I haven't felt good for months now, since mid-late February. And every time I've raced since then it seems like the recovery takes weeks if at all. However, can't complain about the results.
I've felt pretty awful since Platte River Half Marathon last month, but did manage weeks of 40, 50, and 55 miles, which isn't too bad. Nevertheless, I haven't done a full workout in more than a month. Just run and once a week or so do some surges or pick ups. The closest thing was a 5 min hill climb in Boulder with BTC the other week, followed by some pick ups.
My first Greenland Trail race experience was decent to good. I scouted out the course last week and ran 14 miles out there, and got the gist of the rolling terrain and moderate (6900-7400 ft) altitude. Felt better as the week progressed, with a bit of fartlek training on Wednesday and Thursday and a real easy 5 miler on Friday.
Race day was about as good as it gets, low 50s at the start with a slight breeze and maybe 60 or 65 by the finish. The field didn't seem all that big, with fewer than 300 starters, and I tucked into 11th or 12th for the first couple miles. No one came up from behind and I just focused on keeping my breathing level moderate. By the third and fourth miles I started moving up, one by one, and I was in a surprise 6th place as we made our way up the hill between 3.5 and 4.5. I just kept steady and wove around the back of the pack 50K runners who had started 30 minutes before us. At the top of the hill 5th place Mike, another masters runner whom I've met the past couple races, was a good minute up, and a string of 4-5 were just a few seconds back. I focused on keeping a steady tempo on the long downhills back to the start-finish-lap area, and felt really good through there.
Was a bit discouraged to be more than a minute back from Mike at the turn-around (~7.5 miles), and still only 10 or 15 seconds ahead of the three or four. Felt like a sitting duck out there on the short-grass ecotone. I bided time by picking off more and more 50K runners, now mid-pack level, but it felt like my pace was flagging. Mike was pulling away it seemed and I was waiting for a train of runners to stream by. My legs and breathing didn't feel good. But as we ascended to about 7300 on the 2nd loop I heard no footsteps. Then the trails merged and people slalom from the 8 mile became quite annoying. Those on the left hand track invariably wore head phones, so I say 'on your left' before attempting to pass but they'd never hear me. So a lot of weaving and bobbing between tracks.
That was my major criticism of the race, having to pass hundreds of runners on the trail. A wave start isn't a bad idea but maybe make it based on expected pace based on 10K to half marathon results over the past year. Takes a little more work for the organizers, but at $70 a pop for an entry they can handle it.
By the time I reached the hill (4.5 miles to go) I was encouraged to moving up on Mike and to be past the most dense wave of of 8 mile runners, so passing was pretty easy. At the 2nd summit I was just a few seconds back from Mike, but he put the burners on so I just relaxed and let gravity do it's work while filling my lungs and legs with enough oxygen to hang on.
It flattened and I kept pushing. I thought I'd be about 1:50:20 and didn't throw in a huge kick, ended up 1:50:01 chip time in 5th. Technically 2nd masters but got credit as masters winner because 2nd overall was 40 and he was the open race runner up. Very encouraging, and a bonus was that I checked the archive and that's the fastest 50+ time ever on this course for the 25K. Won a pair of La Sportiva shoes for the effort and look forward to trying them on!
Overall this is a decently well-run event. I'll give it a 4 of 5. They could add another aid station and do something about the wave start to keep the trail more clear. But it's a good site and they have a good system. Not so keen on the finisher medals for everyone in a race shorter than a marathon, but I'm old school. Collecting a number of those things and not sure what to do with them.
Next race is Garden of the Gods 10 miler in mid-June.