Saturday, June 28, 2014

Dreaded Druid Hills 2014

Getting ready in the car
I manage to sign up for this race every year.  Its a local one put on by the Falls Road Running Store (or try their Facebook page), the same folks that do the Celtic Solstice (another one of those races I'm probably going to sign up for every year).  This one is a hilly one.  The website leads a little to be desired but the email/facebook update they pushed out the other day offered this course map:
Course Map and Elevation from
 Its not really that evident how hilly this course is from that view, but from a couple years of experience this one is basically a couple REALLY tough inclines that forces even some of the more experienced runners to a walk.

Pre-race: Managed to get up at 6AM to walk the dogs, pack my gear and take the quick ride up I-83 to the Baltimore Zoo area.  I found a spot easily on the reservoir loop.  The race folks were corralling the racers in.  This is one of the few races I've done that the crew manning the event really know what they're doing as far as getting people in, bibs on and folks back out of the event.  Well done guys.  Managed to grab my bib, shirt and chip real easy and even got an easy 15 min warm-up in before heading to the start.

Race: I didn't really have a goal time in place.  Third year in a row at this race as you can see my past
results on Athlinks you'll see: 2012 - 1:01:50; 2013 - 58:09.  So my main goal was to try and be consistent.  I started the race off a bit back in the pack.  I tried starting both my Garmin 910XT and my Strava app on my iPhone since I think the altimeter on my Garmin has seen better days as it hasn't been functioning in over a year.

The elevation profile above shows how we start out.  Basically uphill.  It really only gets worse from there but starting farther back gave me the opportunity to pace on my own.  I'm not really a front-runner by any means so letting folks push on ahead knowing I can catch them on the hills (surprisingly my strong suit) was the motivation enough to conserve energy.

I knocked off the first 2 miles at ~9:30 pace which was about what I was expecting.  Then the hills really kicked in.  The course above take a dramatic right turn which sets up the dramatic rise of the hills.  At this point a few folks already started walking.  I wasn't having any of that today.  I swapped up my power for shorter strides to keep the pain down and just pushed through.  Made it almost up most of the hills before the leaders started pounding their way back down.  It always amazes me the spread distance between some of these guys.  Hit mile 3 at just a shy under 10 so I was still pushing what I wanted.  Same with mile 4.  Both were basically the same effort up and down so this can be expected.  Mile 5 takes you into some AWFUL switchbacks as you make your way back to the park/zoo area.  Again lots of folks had given into the hills and had to walk.  Not me.  Powered through that last bit of painful hills with a speedy 10:41 pace and headed into the last "flat" mile or so.  This was where its just a matter or whatever is left in the tank.  Some folks were slowing up, some were walking, some were sprinting and hopefully all had a good time.  I clocked my last mile at 8:31 and I'll let you be the judge if I was having a good time by the photo they took of me before the last surge:

I'm happy and I know it
 Its a quick left turn with some of the race crew cheering you on as you make it through the inflatable finish line.  Overall my Garmin clocked me at 58:24...not my best but definitely an acceptable time for the day.  Unfortunately the Strava app never started off so I didn't get any elevation data this time.  The race results had me at 58:45.  Not sure how that works but whatever.

Not sure how accurate this is
Grabbed a banana, some strawberries and a water afterwards and made my way back to my car.  A well put together race and a solid 10k run in the bank.  If you're in the mood for a decent hilly challenge and not looking for a PR this is a great race, highly recommend it.

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