I was really looking forward to Frozen Trails this year for several reasons. Perhaps the most important was
that I could give these socks my sister sent me some race action.
What can I say? She has great taste!
Unicorns and rainbows guarantee that any run will be magical.
I also had a chance to preview the course two weeks early. Although the weather was about 20 degrees warmer when I did that run...
Crazy as this sounds, I thought I might be able to pull off a race win for the ladies in the 9 miler. (You never know who might show up, but it was a little seed of thought anyway.)
Things were not looking so good when we got hit with some freakish arctic weather a week before the race that kept western Oregon in an icebox when we normally enjoy a comfy (but wet) 40f.
However, 2 days before the race things started to thaw on most roads, and Eugene was driveable in my 2wd the day before. So, I took it as a green light for racing. Thankfully Eugene Running Company ( local running store) straightened me out on the right race day or I would have missed it all!
Morning of the race, I wore it all: Tights, short sleeves, arm warmers, long sleeve top over, magic socks, trail shoes, mini gloves and a new hat.
When I got to within 2 miles of the race, things got very foggy and the road went from bare to black ice. All the drivers in front of me slowed to 5MPH and I knew this might change my plans considerably.
Just getting into the parking lot was an adventure, but the staff were great and gave us parking validations for the day. I threw on my down jacket and stepped onto the ice/snow. Things had melted a bit from the previous day and refrozen. The 50k runners were already off and running... (note: this would be a tough 50k course for anyone doing it, summiting twice, and nearly summiting twice more.)
The 10 am race temp was probably around 34-35f, just slightly watery on top of the packed snow/ice. These are not conditions I normally train in, let alone race in, and I left my traction devices at home. In all honesty, even if I had them, I would have had a tough decision as to use them or not. I had no idea what to expect on the trail going up and around the mountain.
Right before the race, I shucked my jacket and changed into shorts. This was another difficult decision. I do NOT like to overheat, but tights offer a level of protection that helps on the trail.
Photo by Jeff McKay
I made no attempt to start in the front. Going out fast just would have been silly. My PureGrits were very slippery on the wet ice. I only hoped that things would clear up on the trails.
The first mile was uphill for quite a while and I tried to find places without ice to run on. I was a little too nervous to enjoy myself. Then we started to go downhill, and things were still icy.
I had some serious second thoughts.
Should I keep doing this? Was it even worth it to keep racing in these conditions? Could I finish without injury? That became my new race goal. It was the first time I have ever raced with hope of "just" finishing without getting hurt.
My garmin might not have read correctly, but it said 11:05 at mile 1! I worked very hard for that 11:05 mile..
The second mile was similar to the first, except that we were now on fairly level trail. I started looking forward to icy puddles because I knew I would not slip if I stepped in them. :)
At mile 3, I was warm enough to take off my long sleeve shirt and run with shorts, a short sleeve shirt and arm warmers/ glove combo. I had to let another woman I had been gaining on get ahead of me for this, but I needed the outer shirt off and I got a drink at the same time.
I scrambled over more icy trail, had a lovely (not wet) rock-hopping over a creek, two slick foot bridges to cross, and I started to pass some people. I was glad I had already gotten my drink when I got to the super-slippery mile 4 marker and hairpin turnaround. A little later I passed the the woman I was trying to catch.
Between miles 4 and 6.5 we gained about 800ft of elevation, but this was on the back side of the mountain. Things were thawed from the sun or covered enough from trees that there was no snow, just uphill with gravel or mud. I do OK on uphill with gravel /mud and took advantage passing runner after runner. I did have to walk about 10-20 yards because the grade was so steep it was impossible for me to run.
At the highest point of the elevation chart, the trail was poorly marked. Two ladies were confused about where to go and were heading the wrong direction. I was glad to shout out to them which way to run. They were only 25 yards from the right trail, but the marker was just out of their sight. I didn't know if they were my competition, but I wasn't slowing down to talk to them. :)
From this point it was all downhill to the finish line. The main trail was pretty clear on the sides and I booked it, happy to have my heart rate slower and my feet faster.
Photo by jandjhass www.flickr.com
Almost done, with people I assumed were chasing me, and I was loving it!
Then the course meandered off the main trail to get us back to the finish, and things got really snotty again. Another solid sheet of ice was under my feet, and all I could do was brace myself, go slowly and try not to crash.
I was mostly successful.
At one point I lost control and slid off the trail on a steep crust of snow-ice, but fortunately a blackberry bush caught me. I continued my prayers, "Thank you, GOD, for not letting me get hurt too badly. Please get me to the finish line safely."
And He did.
A few minutes later I emerged 2nd female, much relieved to be done. I never saw the winner on the course. (She must be an ice-beast though!) And as odd as this sounds, I had a great time!! Not sure I would say the same thing if I face-planted on ice, though.
Here are the splits for whoever likes that kind of data. Keep in mind that the GPS probably acted up in the trees and the fog. And trail races are known to be goofy with paces.
|Type||Distance||Duration||Total Duration||Pace||AVG HR||Notes|
|1||Interval||1 mi||11:05.49||11:05.49||11:06||147||189 very unlikely|
|2||Interval||1 mi||7:58.78||19:04.27||7:59||153||200 very unlikely - way above my max|
|3||Interval||1 mi||9:47.85||28:52.12||9:48||158||171 still coming down from a cold HRM|
|4||Interval||1 mi||8:53.80||37:45.92||8:54||155||161 HRM probably warm enough to work|
|6||Interval||1 mi||11:22.25||59:03.42||11:23||160||163 almost 5k pace heart rate|
Have you ever raced on ice or in snow?
What's something you have done recently that pushed your limits?
Thanks for reading!