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Grand Ridge Trail Run Race Recap

May 11, 2013

Now that we’re back in Seattle, I decided to sign Jason and myself up to run the Grand Ridge 5 mile trail run put on by Evergreen Trail Runs. I have a love hate relationship with the Grand Ridge course. I love it because it is a course that is close to home (it’s about a 10 minute drive from our old home) and I also love the solitude and beauty of nature surrounding the trails. The only downside to the course (which for now I’m counting as a hate) is that without fail every time I attempt to run it, it kicks my butt. No matter how much I prepare I haven’t been able to run up the two main hills non-stop without a walk break. The course is slightly brutal due to the steep inclines of 1000 ft elevation gain of varying distances that start around 0.5 miles into the run and then again around 1.5 miles into the run.
Grand Ridge Race Route by Evergreen Trail Runs
Jason and I toed up toward the middle of the group as Roger grouped us near the start line. During the first 400 yards Jason and I matched pace at about 9 min/mile but then he got the idea to pick up the pace and try to get toward the front speedier group for the first hill. I gained speed while dodging runners while trying to keep up with him but quickly realized that I’d have to make up the ground during the downhill stretches after the first hill. I settled in about 10 runners back from him as we turned left and started up the Grand Ridge Trail. As with previous years I made it about 3/4 of a mile up the first climb before my run slowed down to fast walk. I had passed several people who went out to fast and were quickly slowing to a walk as the incline steepened and I knew that I could pass them on the moderate inclines and then slow to walk on the steeper ones. It’s part of what I love about running trails that I know fairly well because I can mentally prepare in advance and know when to slow it down to walk and when to push myself harder. Jason was matching my pace ahead of me and despite passing individuals I didn’t catch him on the upward climb…. I decided to book it and go for speed on the first downhill section of the trail. I speed up to a pace between a 7:30-8 min/mile pace, kept my toes pointed outward as I barreled down the trail. I was fortunate enough to catch up to him about a quarter of a mile before the second major climb that would lead us to the half way point. I slowed down once I caught him and we matched each others pace including walking up the steeper inclines. Once we reached the half way point the trail goes less from large climbs and assents to a mile and a half of rolling hills before the right hand turn that ends the lollipop loop and takes us back towards the finish line. I passed Jason right before the begin of the last descent and picked up the pace barreling along with two other runners to the half mile of flat to minor incline to the finish line. It’s fun to find other individuals to pace behind on the major descents — especially when you’re all barreling down as quickly as possible, banking the turns and shouting out warnings to each other about what lies ahead on the trail and giving heads up to the other runners heading back up for the full marathon. I slowed way down during that last half of a mile to the finish line… tired and a bit exhausted from pushing myself on the downhill. I toed across the finish line at 58:32, not my fasted time for 5.2 miles, but overall a good run on a beautiful day in Seattle.

Although I haven’t done a ton of running in the last few weeks this race wasn’t as brutal as I had expected. I slowed and took my time on the ascents which helped me to speed up on pick up the pace on the ascents. I remembered a bulk of the course so it helped me to remember how to run without twisting an ankle or having to run into a tree to slow me down on the descent. It’s one of the first trail runs I’ve done where I didn’t get major stomach cramps (despite no water or aid stations to reload on food/drinks.)

I’m thoroughly blessed to have an awesome partner to run with and who can motivate and push me when I need it, and Jason does just that. It was great for him to come out with me and push me to catch up to him and them for me to keep his pace through the final descent and I’m so grateful that he humors me by agreeing to run after I sign him up unwillingly for a race. 🙂

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