On Saturday I did something I’ve never done before as a runner – I took first place in a race. I’ve probably reached the pinnacle of my running career. I’m pretty excited because it was one of my favorite races – the Cougar Mountain 10.
It’s fun to see some progress in the last five years of going from 41st to 1st and improving my time by more than 20 minutes – all while getting five years older. Here’s the entry from Saturday:
Even though I’ve gotten much faster in five years, some stars had to align for me to actually win a race.
- A lot of the fast trail runners in the area didn’t enter the race
- Since 2010 they’ve moved from 1 race per day to splitting the field between a short and long race so the amount of competition is divided by the different races
- The really fast 26 year old who was killing it and beating me by at least 6 minutes with a mile to go made a wrong turn and ended up running an extra mile and talking to someone to get directions and still finished in 2nd only about a minute behind me (Thanks Stefan)
It was a beautiful day to race on Cougar Mountain and it was fun to have all the Seattle Running Folks on hand cheering me on. A lot of the Brooks team were volunteering and gave me some good cheers and updates on the competition.
I think I could have run it faster – for much of the second half I was running with an understanding I was competing for second place since first was so far off. I also probably could have used some more recovery time post Boston. I was very pleased with my race though and set myself up well for my overall goal on Cougar this year to win the long series which is based on your cumulative time over the four races in the series that take place in May, June, July and August respectively. I’ve decided that whoever wins the long series will be known as the “King of Cougar” for the year.
It was interesting how high I kept my heart rate throughout the race. I was worried that I couldn’t sustain the 170 to 175 bpm I was running at for most of the race but I was running strong throughout and never felt like I hit a huge wall.
My favorite part of this course is always the descent down the Wilderness Cliffs trail. It is like riding a beautiful interactive roller coaster through the forest. It’s just technical enough to be utterly engaging but still clear enough that you can build up enough pace to give it an edge of danger. Everytime I run down it I make a few whoops and hollers of glee. There is one hairpin turn on this descent that I used to always feel like I was going to go off the cliff – but now that I run in the Brooks Pure Grit 3 I hardly have to break my stride. I seriously love these shoes for the trail – they are built for speed and traction.
I’m especially proud of the win because of my love for Cougar Mountain and the role it has played in my running and my life. It’s my favorite place to run and I feel so blessed to be able to run on it a couple of times a week. It really is my home court and a place of renewal and joy for me. It’s also where had my first interaction with the great community that is the Seattle Running Club who also happens to sponsor the race.
I started growing a goatee before Boston on a whim and it’s been getting a bit bushy. I was ready to shave it off and told Carrie that as long as I didn’t win this trail race I would shave it before Church on Sunday. If I did win it must mean the beard is giving me magical trail running powers so it would have to stay. I thought it was a pretty safe bet that I would be beard free. But now I’m stuck with it a bit longer. We’ll see if it survives to the Cougar 14 in June.
I ran the 5k to the start of the race from my house and back after the race. With all the swag for participating and winning it was a tight fit in the little running backpack I brought with me. I picked up some nice prizes along with some more Cougar Mountain drinkware. By the end of the summer I anticipate having enough Cougar Mountain drinking vessels for a party of 20. Look forward to a photo.
Special thanks to Ross Comer for taking some great photos.
Here’s the track on Strava.
- Brooks Rev III SRC Team Singlet in lime Green. Worked great really like the style and fit.
- Brooks Infiniti 3″ split shorts – had a little issue with my first pair of these where the reflective tape was peeling but Brooks customer service was a joy to work with and promptly replaced them
- Brooks Pure Grit 3 – My favorite trail shoes ever
- Garmin Fenix 3 – really liking this watch so far. It was a splurge purchase at the Expo since they had them for 15% off.
I’m kind of a dork in that I really like racing in my uniform. It makes me feel fast and the affiliation with the rest of the team gives me motivation to push a little harder.
The Brooks Trailhead 15k on May 30th.