Thursday, July 31, 2014

Race Report: Griffith Park Trail Marathon Relay

When I first became an ambassador for A Runner's Circle, one of the first things they told me was that there were two race requirements.  One was the LA River Run (which I previously blogged about on this blog) and the other was the Griffith Park Trail Marathon Relay.

Initially, I thought that this race would be a disaster.  There's just something about relays, running with people you don't / haven't known, etc etc that lends itself to disaster in my mind.  I'm happy to report that I couldn't have been more wrong.

The team I was placed on was with the other Ambassadors for A Runner's Circle and we had no delusions of grandeur that we would be winning this race.  In fact, we were all relatively aiming for a sub 5 hour finish.  Most of the team was running the San Francisco Marathon the next weekend, except for me (I was doing Vineman 140.6 distance triathlon the next weekend).  So no one was really expecting a PR on this run and the effort wasn't really going to be there.  Most of us were expecting to come in around the 50 minute to 1 hour mark for the course.  

For the course itself - it's a beastie of a 5 1/3 (ish) mile course that takes you up and away into Griffith Park for the first 2 miles through fire trails, and then up and around to the other side of the park via a rolling service road, and then abruptly downhill for the last mile and a half all the way to the finish line (although there is a short and steep climb right at the end).  It's not an overly easily course by any stretch of the imagination, and is a good challenge.

In addition to the challenge of the hills - I also have the challenge of being the only male on a team full of girls (for this event - there is another guy who is an Ambassador but he was on vacation).  Ultimately, this led to me being asked to run in a tutu (again, similar to the Pediatric Half Marathon earlier this year where I did that) and after a long, arduous series of back and forth bargaining - it was deemed that I would wear a tutu on my ankle for the race.

Before the race with the girls.
It was also determined (through no back and forth and no arguing) that I would be the 5th leg of the race.  This was mainly because none of them wanted to get overly hot and sweaty and the sun would be out by that time.    So alas - the heat fell upon me.  Poor old me.  *sigh*

So the race went off without a hitch and went pretty well.  Our first leg came in well under their estimated time (by around 10 minutes or so), and then our second leg did more the same.  Our third leg blew their time off the roof (over 20 minutes under the one hour estimate) and our fourth leg came in under their estimated time too.  What this ultimately led to was "Wow, we can totally break 4 hours if Bryan doesn't go after this as lazy as he said he was going to."

So when I got the baton - I saw the time was 3:20:00 or so and figured I'd give it a whirl and see if I could actually get the team in under 4 hours (since everyone else had done their part to actually put us in that position).

So off I went and was pushing fairly hard coming out of the gate.  After that I took a wrong turn on the first uphill (apparently arrows pointing to the LEFT DO NOT mean "Go Right" - go figure), but managed to quickly realize my mistake without losing too much time.  The rest of the run - while somewhat hot and miserable - was ok.  Griffith Park was beautiful during that time of day.

The Park was beautiful and it was an awesome course.  Also, see the ankle tutu.

I'm obviously confused at the camera guy for some weird reason.

Aid stations were plentiful (there were 3) and well placed.

I look like a hungry monster zeroing in on its prey in this picture lol

I finished with enough time to get us right under 4 hours - which is amazing and impressive that we were able to do that.  We have 5 or so minutes to spare too - which was impressive.

The Skora Cores worked wonderful on this race - and they're really the perfect shoe for these kind of trails.  Just enough traction that they keep you on the trail, but not too much and still lightweight so you don't get bogged down.  I'm more and more impressed with the versatility of this shoe whenever I wear it.  

All in all, I'd say the day was a success and good tune up for all of our races the weekend after (which has already happened at the time of this writing and everyone - except me - had an awesome race from what I've seen).  I'm honored to be able to run with this group and hope I'll be able to do more races with them in the future.  

Afterwards showing off our tutus in front of the Ambassador banner.

Mandatory "caught in the air" shot.  We only rehearsed this shot 47 times. :)

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