Third overall, second in 30-39 AG [full results]
was in 2008 when there were 41 total runners and I ran for third place in 1:04:05. This year there were 212 runners (I was told by one of the race officials but haven't yet seen the results to verify). Clearly the race has grown and for good reason--it's a fun summer morning race with a nice, relaxed mountain atmosphere with plenty of opportunity to chill out at the ski lodge after the race. This year there was even a bouncy house. (For the kids, not the runners!).
The turnout from Los Alamos runners this year was excellent. There must have been at least ten of us from Los Alamos, including the female winner, Petra McDowell.
I hadn't been planning on running the race this year but I recently I had been feeling very good with my hill training at Pajarito Mountain and had, just a couple weeks prior, reached a hard-fought goal of mine to run sub-30 minutes up a local trail called Mitchell Trail where I ran 29:59:59, seriously!
So on Tuesday of last week I signed up for the race with my only goal being to beat my previous time. I knew that would be tough because I was running well in 2008 but I knew I'd been running and training hard recently so it was certainly doable. I looked at my race report from the 2008 TUAO and knew I had reached the top of the 2,600' climb in 43:52 so I hoped to do that climb in 42 to 43 minutes this year. I ended up reaching the top in 43:27, power hiking much of the ascent, even passing others that were "running". When I hit the top the lady said, "you're four minutes behind the leader" and asked if I wanted any water. I said, "No thanks." I had purposefully ran without my hand bottle and didn't stop for water at any of the four aid stations along the mountain. I just crested the top, took my shirt off and started running hard downhill.
The descent is brutally steep in a few spots between quite runnable jeep roads. At one point we ran down a ski run for a bit. Loose and steep. I wanted to fully open up my stride the entire way but it was so steep it wasn't possible--I had to keep myself in check. As we got lower on the mountain I started looking over my shoulder as I felt like I was slowing up. But a few quick glances at my GPS watch showed I was still running between 5:30/mile and 6:10/mile. I was gaining on the runner in front of me and working hard to close the gap but it was not to be. The runner in front of me crossed the finish line about 20 seconds in front of me. I saw Allison near the finish line and strode hard to look good for the camera. I glanced at my watch and was pumped to see I had beat my previous time by 1:17. Success!
The race is a fun but very difficult 10k. The ascent burns my lungs big time while the steep descent really tests my quads and knees. A day later and my quads are very tender. My right heel is bruised too. I'll have to take a couple days off to let the heel heal. Still, it was worth it.