Harding Hustle 30k – July 2011

 

No matter how many trail races I run, I still balk and complain about getting up early to drive to the race. I really, truly wish I was an early bird, but it’s just not in my nature, so I always stay up too late the night before and then suffer for it race morning. This was the situation I found myself in before the Harding Hustle, when I got up at the runner-unfriendly hour of 3:45 to get everything together, drive down the Orange County, park in the designated lot, then take a 20-minute shuttle to the start. (The start/finish had no available parking for runners.) It was kind of a production. I arrived about 5:55, a few minutes before the scheduled 6 am shuttle, so I was giving myself giant pats on the back for my excellent time management and driving skills as I settled in to wait for the shortly-arriving shuttle.

And waited. And waited. The shuttles were supposed to run every 15 minutes, but 6, then 6:15 came and went, without a shuttle in sight. Of course, my first thought is, “I could have slept in until 4:00! That would have been awesome.” But instead, I killed time taking awkward pictures of myself and my fellow runners:

 

Finally, at almost 6:30, our chariot arrived. [We later found out that one of the shuttle drivers had gotten lost, which explained the big gap in shuttles.]

The shuttle was meant to seat about 18 people, and there were at least 50 waiting by the time it pulled up, so we practiced extreme disregard for safety and crammed on the shuttle like sardines. The bottom of the van scraped the pavement every time we made a turn.

Blurry because I already felt like a creeper taking clandestine photos of my fellow shuttlemates. This blog makes me do weird things.

After arriving at the start, hitting the port-a-potty line, registering, and twiddling my thumbs for awhile, we were off at 7:15. I believe another shuttle finally arrived after we’d already started, because a few miles into the race, a fresh crop of runners came whizzing by me like I was standing still.

There were 2 races being run on the course: a 50k that started at 6am, and a 30k that started an hour later. Folks, I have never been so happy to not be doing a 50k in my life. I was just not feeling this course. Part of it was the shuttle snafu, part was my sleep-deprived crankiness, but mostly it was just the sunny, hot conditions and the nature of the trails. For the 30k, we ran uphill for about 9 miles on wide, groomed trails that were more like fire roads most of the time. There was a little shade on the way up, but on the way back down, the sun had moved and there was no shelter, so we were baking the entire time.

We climbed steadily in the beginning, but since it was cooler and shadier I was feeling pretty good. I think I’d gone almost five miles in the first hour, which isn’t too bad (for me) for climbing several thousand feet. After about the first four miles, the climb seemed to get less steep and we had some rolling hills and a few good downhill sections before heading uphill again.

There were definitely some beautiful portions of the trail. For several miles we ran by blooming wildflowers, which I absolutely loved.

We were running through areas that had obviously been through a fire several years before, because there were a lot of burned trees with new growth around the base. I loved seeing the flowers bloom around the charred trees.

A forest of burned trees:

View near the top:

One fun thing about this race was that I made a few new friends! People were really friendly (grinding uphill for 9 miles in a death trot must bring out the best in everyone) and I enjoyed chatting with my new buddies Amy (on the way up) and Sergio (on the way down). Music is great but nothing makes the time fly by like shooting the breeze with a running partner.

Celebrating at the top with Amy. Doing this jump tweaked her Achilles and she was in pain for a few miles on the downhill! I felt bad for sabotaging her race, but maybe it was worth it—look at the height of that jump! ::jealous::

jumping-outtakes copy020

Outtakes. This white girl can’t jump, apparently.

Despite the warmer temperatures and incessant sun, I felt good for most of the downhill portion. I’ve been feeling a lot more confident with my downhills this year, and I cruised easily and without much effort for most of the 9 miles. After about 7 miles my toes started protesting a little bit, and the novelty of the constant downhill had worn off. I was really ready to be done by the last mile, but that was more from the monotony of the trails and the view than any real physical discomfort. Let me tell you, though, I had no desire to run another 12 miles and make it a 50k. I was ready to have some ice water and sit in the shade.

Best part of the race? Fitted technical race shirt in my very favorite color!

In the end I don’t think I would do this race again. A big part of it is that I’m just not a good summer runner. I don’t enjoy heat training, so I don’t do it, so I’m not well-prepared for hot races, and so on in a vicious cycle. The course itself was a good physical challenge but not the most scenic, and I tend to prefer a mixed course over one that’s entirely wide dirt trails or fire roads. I also thought there were some logistical problems that could be improved upon. The shuttle system had some definite snags (in addition to the morning wait, they were only running return shuttles every hour, so I ended up waiting an hour after my finish to be shuttled back to my car), and a friend who ran the 50k said some aid stations ran out of ice and water. I recognize that putting on a race is a huge challenge, and in general I think the organizers did the best job they could under the unique circumstances…it just wasn’t love at first run for me.

So what’s next? Well, I am accepting my wussiness and have decided not to run Bulldog or Noble Canyon. I could probably grit my teeth through the training and racing, but the whole point of this hobby, for me, is that it’s fun. I don’t want to force high mileage training when I’m really not enjoying it. So I’m going to back off the long-distance running for a month or two until it cools down. I’m planning on doing a lot more yoga, and getting serious (or at least semi-serious) about regular strength training. I recently went surfing for the first time and am kind of obsessed with surfing now. I will still do shorter runs (2 hours and under) and will also mix in some High-Intensity Interval Training—look for a post on that in the future.

And when the ultra bug bites again, I will be recharged and ready to tackle the fall racing season.

Final Stats:
Date:
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Distance completed:  18.6 miles (30k)
Elevation gain: 4000 ft
Garmin time: 3:21:30
Official time: 3:31:07 (31/62 overall, 8/24 women, 2/7 age group)

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Harding Hustle 30k – July 2011

 

No matter how many trail races I run, I still balk and complain about getting up early to drive to the race. I really, truly wish I was an early bird, but it’s just not in my nature, so I always stay up too late the night before and then suffer for it race morning. This was the situation I found myself in before the Harding Hustle, when I got up at the runner-unfriendly hour of 3:45 to get everything together, drive down the Orange County, park in the designated lot, then take a 20-minute shuttle to the start. (The start/finish had no available parking for runners.) It was kind of a production. I arrived about 5:55, a few minutes before the scheduled 6 am shuttle, so I was giving myself giant pats on the back for my excellent time management and driving skills as I settled in to wait for the shortly-arriving shuttle.

And waited. And waited. The shuttles were supposed to run every 15 minutes, but 6, then 6:15 came and went, without a shuttle in sight. Of course, my first thought is, “I could have slept in until 4:00! That would have been awesome.” But instead, I killed time taking awkward pictures of myself and my fellow runners:

 

Finally, at almost 6:30, our chariot arrived. [We later found out that one of the shuttle drivers had gotten lost, which explained the big gap in shuttles.]

The shuttle was meant to seat about 18 people, and there were at least 50 waiting by the time it pulled up, so we practiced extreme disregard for safety and crammed on the shuttle like sardines. The bottom of the van scraped the pavement every time we made a turn.

Blurry because I already felt like a creeper taking clandestine photos of my fellow shuttlemates. This blog makes me do weird things.

After arriving at the start, hitting the port-a-potty line, registering, and twiddling my thumbs for awhile, we were off at 7:15. I believe another shuttle finally arrived after we’d already started, because a few miles into the race, a fresh crop of runners came whizzing by me like I was standing still.

There were 2 races being run on the course: a 50k that started at 6am, and a 30k that started an hour later. Folks, I have never been so happy to not be doing a 50k in my life. I was just not feeling this course. Part of it was the shuttle snafu, part was my sleep-deprived crankiness, but mostly it was just the sunny, hot conditions and the nature of the trails. For the 30k, we ran uphill for about 9 miles on wide, groomed trails that were more like fire roads most of the time. There was a little shade on the way up, but on the way back down, the sun had moved and there was no shelter, so we were baking the entire time.

We climbed steadily in the beginning, but since it was cooler and shadier I was feeling pretty good. I think I’d gone almost five miles in the first hour, which isn’t too bad (for me) for climbing several thousand feet. After about the first four miles, the climb seemed to get less steep and we had some rolling hills and a few good downhill sections before heading uphill again.

There were definitely some beautiful portions of the trail. For several miles we ran by blooming wildflowers, which I absolutely loved.

We were running through areas that had obviously been through a fire several years before, because there were a lot of burned trees with new growth around the base. I loved seeing the flowers bloom around the charred trees.

A forest of burned trees:

View near the top:

One fun thing about this race was that I made a few new friends! People were really friendly (grinding uphill for 9 miles in a death trot must bring out the best in everyone) and I enjoyed chatting with my new buddies Amy (on the way up) and Sergio (on the way down). Music is great but nothing makes the time fly by like shooting the breeze with a running partner.

Celebrating at the top with Amy. Doing this jump tweaked her Achilles and she was in pain for a few miles on the downhill! I felt bad for sabotaging her race, but maybe it was worth it—look at the height of that jump! ::jealous::

jumping-outtakes copy020

Outtakes. This white girl can’t jump, apparently.

Despite the warmer temperatures and incessant sun, I felt good for most of the downhill portion. I’ve been feeling a lot more confident with my downhills this year, and I cruised easily and without much effort for most of the 9 miles. After about 7 miles my toes started protesting a little bit, and the novelty of the constant downhill had worn off. I was really ready to be done by the last mile, but that was more from the monotony of the trails and the view than any real physical discomfort. Let me tell you, though, I had no desire to run another 12 miles and make it a 50k. I was ready to have some ice water and sit in the shade.

Best part of the race? Fitted technical race shirt in my very favorite color!

In the end I don’t think I would do this race again. A big part of it is that I’m just not a good summer runner. I don’t enjoy heat training, so I don’t do it, so I’m not well-prepared for hot races, and so on in a vicious cycle. The course itself was a good physical challenge but not the most scenic, and I tend to prefer a mixed course over one that’s entirely wide dirt trails or fire roads. I also thought there were some logistical problems that could be improved upon. The shuttle system had some definite snags (in addition to the morning wait, they were only running return shuttles every hour, so I ended up waiting an hour after my finish to be shuttled back to my car), and a friend who ran the 50k said some aid stations ran out of ice and water. I recognize that putting on a race is a huge challenge, and in general I think the organizers did the best job they could under the unique circumstances…it just wasn’t love at first run for me.

So what’s next? Well, I am accepting my wussiness and have decided not to run Bulldog or Noble Canyon. I could probably grit my teeth through the training and racing, but the whole point of this hobby, for me, is that it’s fun. I don’t want to force high mileage training when I’m really not enjoying it. So I’m going to back off the long-distance running for a month or two until it cools down. I’m planning on doing a lot more yoga, and getting serious (or at least semi-serious) about regular strength training. I recently went surfing for the first time and am kind of obsessed with surfing now. I will still do shorter runs (2 hours and under) and will also mix in some High-Intensity Interval Training—look for a post on that in the future.

And when the ultra bug bites again, I will be recharged and ready to tackle the fall racing season.

Final Stats:
Date:
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Distance completed:  18.6 miles (30k)
Elevation gain: 4000 ft
Garmin time: 3:21:30
Official time: 3:31:07 (31/62 overall, 8/24 women, 2/7 age group)

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