Wrong Turn cost me a Birthday Present

So there is a series of trail races that take place around the Provo area called the Cascadia Trail Series.  The last race was Trial @ Trail 51 last Saturday (10/10) and was held at the Southern point of Big Baldy in Orem.  It was a 15k that wove around the intertwining trails, starting near the mouth of Dry Canyon.

I had raced an 8k trail race as part of the series about a month earlier and the winning prize was a pair of Brooks Cascadia trail shoes.  Not a bad prize! I’ve enjoyed those shoes on the trails ever since.  The first place prize for this race was also a pair of Brooks Cascadia Trail shoes.  Now I wouldn’t normally be motivated to win another pair of the same shoes I already have, however, we were celebrating my sister Hailey’s 21st birthday later that very day, and I needed a birthday present for her.  It just so happens that she is also a runner.  She is currently running for Weber State and is doing very well for the team, recently earning Big sky Conference Athlete of the Week honors.  I thought a pair of nice trail shoes would be the perfect gift.

So I showed up to the race, excited; the last Cascadia Trail Series race definitely didn’t let me down, so I was pumped for this one.  I’ve also really gotten into trail running since I graduated and I wanted to put my trail training to the test.  And, of course, I had the goal in mind to win those shoes for my sister.

The race started and we were off.  It  was a downhill start so there was somewhat of a mad scramble down the gravel road until we filed onto a single trail.  I let gravity take me down the hill and I hit the single file trail ahead of everyone else.  I kept a pretty honest pace for a while until about miles 2 to 4 where we went up the canyon and there was a lot of climb.  Uphill is not my thing.  I didn’t have to walk, thankfully, but my pace was not anything to brag about.  I battled away at the hill for a couple miles until it finally leveled out.  My calves were thanking me as I was able to get into a good rhythm.

The reward of uphill running is that you get a nice view when you get to the top, and I fought the urges to take a break and enjoy the view of the spread of Orem/Provo and the Utah Lake.  I was locked into a pretty aggressive pace.  Trail running is so much more interesting than road running, and I was focused on stepping in the right places and going as fast as I needed without rolling an ankle or biffing it.  There were a lot of forks in the paths but it was well marked with orange tape which was the right path.  I didn’t want anything to slow my pace.  I hit the downhill and started turning it over even quicker.  I really just let go on the downhill and didn’t try to break myself.

About 50 minutes into the race I knew I was coming close to the finish.  Former team mate Jace Nye had set the course record here the year before at 56:09.  I knew I could be somewhere around that.  I felt I was taking the trails well so I sped up, wanting to break the course record.  When I reached the top of a small hill I looked back to see how much of a lead I had on second place.  I could see the trail winding down and I saw the second place runner about 3 or 4 minutes behind me.

Then I came to a fork in the path where I din’t see orange tape on either side.  I wasn’t sure which path was the right one, but I didn’t want to slow my pace so I took off on the path that seemed more official.  After running on that trail for about 30 seconds I still wasn’t seeing the orange tape that I had gotten used to looking for and I second-guessed myself.  I backtracked to the fork in the path and took a look at the other trail, but I wasn’t seeing orange tape there either.  I knew I was losing valuable time so I stuck with my gut and took off on the trail I had chosen first, trying to quicken my pace to make up for the time I had lost.

I would later learn that there were sticks on the ground at that intersection showing you where to go.

After running on that trail for about 3 minutes I realized I had taken the wrong path.  The trail started to go right back up the mountain and I knew the finish line was at the bottom of the mountain.  I realized I was off-track and I wouldn’t be able to catch the lead again.  It would take me another 3 minutes to get back to the intersection, and in total I would have lost about 7 minutes with the time I had spent earlier trying to  make a decision.  I knew the second place guy would be quite a ways ahead of me by the time I made it back to the path.

Realizing that I wasn’t going to break any records or win any pairs of shoes for my sister, I gloomily just continued on the wrong path I had chosen.  I had gone the wrong way, and instead of finishing, I decided I would just turn this into a long mileage run instead.  I took off my bib number, feeling a little silly with it on, and slowed to a normal jogging pace. I followed that trail for a while, then bushwhacked down the mountain a little ways when it wasn’t going the direction I wanted.  I found another trail and followed that one until I made it back to the race camp, running about 75 minutes total.

I chatted with some of the runners, had some chocolate milk and then went on my way, more than a little disappointed that I had gotten off-course.  I probably should have taken more time to figure out which path was the right one; I just didn’t want to lose valuable time.

I still had a good time spending time with my sister and friends later that day and she forgave me for not winning her a pair of Cascadia shoes.  Though I bet inside she was thinking I was pretty dumb for taking the wrong turn, haha.

nice pic

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XTerra National Championships in my backyard!

Hey, so this is my first post, and what better than to make it about my recent experience at XTerra National Championships half marathon! It just so happened that it was held at Snow Basin Resort just a short 15 minute drive from Ogden, Utah where I spent 4 years doing school and whatever else there was to do.  Me and the team (Weber State Cross Country Team) would go to Snow Basin a lot to do trail runs, so I thought I would know the course well enough. It turns out that the course followed a trail that I had never run before, and I found out why: it included about 2000 feet of climb!

I’ve never been to an XTerra event and I found I’ve been missing out. They do a great job of making it exciting and involving and the whole atmosphere is awesome! I grabbed my bib and started warming up. I was expecting to run into some runners I knew since I was well acquainted with a lot of runners around the Ogden area, but I wasn’t recognizing anyone. I was thinking I’d to run into former team mate Brett Hales, who won the event last year, but he didn’t show up, I think it was because he had another race the day before. I don’t know if that was  a good thing or bad thing.  I did run into Bret Ferrier, who was also a Weber runner Alumni, although he was a bit before my time.  We talked a bit before the race started, and then before I knew it they fired a cannon (very loud) and we were off through a cloud of smoke.

I didn’t know what to expect from this race, but after a mile I could tell there were competitive athletes involved.  The pace wasn’t easy, and I was sitting in about 6th place for the first few miles.  I wanted to fight for that 5th place spot since that’s where the money was along with an entry into World Championships in Hawaii! There was a group of three of us fighting for that 5th spot for a few miles.  Me and Nathan Peters and David Dickshinski, both from Salt Lake.  We would switch the lead every so often until about mile 5 when the heavy uphill started.  That’s when Nathan took off uphill; it was as if he didn’t even notice that the grade of the trail changed to super steep!  Regardless, I never saw him again.  It was agonizing uphill for miles after that and I only caught glimpses of David (who was putting a big gap between us) when I had a long view ahead of me, other than that, I was stuck in 7th place.

It stayed that way until about mile 10 when it was finally going downhill again.  That’s when Bret Ferrier caught me. I didn’t know he was so close, but he passed me on a corner and I determined to stick on him.  It was good because he woke me up out of a lull of running comfortably and I glued myself to his heels, which might have annoyed him, haha.  We cruised down the switch backs descending Sardine Peak.  We passed a spot that was familiar to me (me and bud Mike Hardy had fished there a month or so earlier) and I knew there was only about a mile left until the finish line.  I had somehow caught some wind and thought I’d push the last mile.  I passed Bret, feeling a little bad that I had drafted off of him for that long, and tried to keep a faster pace.  It was going well until about 1000 meters out and my quads were burning up.

Finally I caught a glimpse of the finish line and I was hoping to coast in.  But Bret wasn’t going to let me have it so easily! I heard the crowd yelling louder and soon Bret was ripping past me.  I knew Bret was fast, but he is a long distance trail runner and I just graduated college where I’ve been working on speed on the track for months.  I tried to summon that legspeed and turn the gears; I had just enough to kick back into the lead and solidify my 7th place finish.  My time was 1:24:21, probably just a quarter of a second ahead of Bret. I was pretty pleased with it, but I was still a good 10 minutes behind Patrick Smyth who won the race. No shame in that though! I talked a bit with Nathan Peters, who had killed the uphill.  He said he knew the course and it sounded like he knew he was going to excel there.

Overall it was an awesome race and the recap video is pretty intense, it’s worth a watch! I’m very impressed with XTerra: https://vimeo.com/channels/xterra/139877810

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Photo Cred: XTerra