Sunday, July 19, 2015

Return to Table Rock

Post-Zermatt Marathon I felt really great. No soreness, high energy and ready to go. This 'high' lasted about a week after returning from Europe. The days leading up to Table Rock I started feeling tired and sluggish. The Table Rock 27K is the penultimate event in the La Sportiva Mountain Running Cup. Because I knew the course (having raced it 2 years ago) and because it was only a 2 hour flight away, we decided to travel the day before the race - something I never, ever do.

Travel went smoothly until we actually made it to the airport and got to the Rent-a-Car Center. A lesson for everybody: do NOT rent a car from Thrifty at the San Francisco Airport! The line was absolutely ridiculous; I have never seen anything like it. Tad stood in line for an hour before making it to the desk while I sat with all the little kids and old people who couldn't endure the long stand. By the time we made it out of there it was too late to go to packet pick-up so we went straight to dinner. My US Mountain Running teammate and friend, Chris Lundy, was extremely kind and generous and offered us her home to stay in while she was in Vancouver for NACAC. She lives a convenient 35 minutes from the course so we were very appreciative. Thanks, Chris!

View of Bolinas Bay from Chris' kitchen window. I know...
I woke up the next morning feeling really tired; I really wanted to just stay in bed. Obviously this is not the way one should feel race morning. My warm up was no more encouraging; I felt stiff and tight. I perked up a bit when I saw the La Sportiva clan and our friends Caitlin Smith and Sam Robinson. I knew there was going to be some great competition with the return of former course record holder Caitlin and 2:38 marathoner Yiou Wang.

Team La Sportiva: Jason Bryant, me, Brett Ferrier. Photo: Quinn Carrasco
The 27k starts with a 2,000 foot climb in just over 2 miles. I started slow and steady to allow my body to wake up from its funk. I passed Caitlin just before the mile and Yiou just after the mile. I looked ahead to the men and tried to use them to keep the momentum going. Even though I didn't feel springy, I was clicking off relatively fast splits hitting a couple sub-6 minute miles. At mile 10, the infamous switchback section, I saw Yiou hot on my heels. She passed me at the bottom and I tried to keep in contact until we hit the next big climb at about 12 miles where I took the lead again. We worked together up the final 1,500 foot climb to where we popped out to the final aid station. With 3 miles to go, she took the lead again, this time all the way to the end. The last 2 miles are on the famous stair-studded Dipsea course. I kept pushing because I knew I was going to kill my previous course time. I ran 2:13:08, a remarkable improvement over my 2:25:31 from 2013. I am a completely different runner than I was then. Yiou, Caitlin and I ran the 2nd, 3rd and 4th best times for this course. Full results here.

Almost to the top of the first climb

New La Sportivas! Photo: Quinn Carrasco
While standing around the finish line talking, all my fingers swelled up like little sausages. This was another first for me. I think it was a combination of the travel and a particularly hot and humid day for Marin County along with insufficient fluid intake. After a lunch that included a lot of water and salty soup, I'm happy to report my fingers deflated.

Thanks to race director Tim Stahler and all of the volunteers who made the day a success. Inside Trail events are top notch races. (Plus, they have my favorite race tech shirts-female, extra small AND a v-neck!) For a list of upcoming events, be sure to check out

Second place earned me 17 points for a total of 77 Cup points. There is only one more race left in the series, the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase, so I think it is safe to say that I got it this year.
Full Mountain Cup rankings can be found here.

At the start of the year, my two goals for the spring/summer were to 1. Make the US team and perform well at the World Mountain Running Championship and 2. Win the La Sportiva Mountain Cup. It was a grueling schedule the past several months and to come out the other side achieving my goals while staying healthy feels very satisfying. We made the tough decision to skip next weekend's National Mountain Running Championships in Bend to get a start on training for the fall. I have some big goals so there is no time to waste! Plus, just the thought of driving 8 hours makes my hammies spasm.

Post-race hugs are not the best. Photo: Quinn Carrasco
On a side note, congrats to the US women and men who placed first and second, respectively, at the NACAC Mountain Running Championships in Vancouver B.C. and to my Zermatt teammate Megan Kimmel who won the Dolomites Sky Race and set a new course record!

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