Bobcat 25K

I'd had my eye on this trail run through Palmer Park for several months. Kept debating signing up - I knew I'd be able to do the distance, but wasn't sure about the quality of my running at this point. Two weeks after Vapor? Was I nuts for even attempting? After doing my last longish run before Vapor on part of the course - the sections on Templeton and Edna Mae - I was even less sure that it was a good idea. That was one of my slowest runs in a while and I was a little freaked out. I know that the running in Palmer Park is hard to begin with and the race course was taking us on some of the hardest and most techy trails around. Actually, the race course was hitting nearly every system trail in the park!

While my legs were cycling tired after Vapor, I felt great running. Might as well - I was planning on running longish anyway. Instead of suffering alone, I could do it with some friends and have the support at the aid stations if I chose. Only problem - my old trail shoes were just that - old. Once I decided that I was going to race, I needed new trail shoes and needed them in a hurry so I could at least get one run done in them before the race! And I needed to figure out if I was going to wear my Rev 1.5 pack or the solo waterbelt. I really didn't need that much stuff - the race was starting early and was very well supported. I could get away without anything if I wanted. But that wasn't the point - in addition to getting my long run in, I also wanted to keep testing out my gear. So the pack it was. I've been wearing it and it's really comfortable. Time to try it with a number and in a race situation.

This was a very small, low key race, with a 50k of about 15 people starting at 7:00, the 25k I was doing starting at 7:30 and then a 10k starting at 8:00. I got to the park after the 50k has already started. For sunny, September morning, it was pretty chilly still. Most of the runners in the 25k were hiding in their cars, trying to stay warm. As the start approached more and more runners appeared. There were plenty of people I knew and more that I didn't. I've been out of the running scene for so long, even the old faces are new again. 

And then it was go time. With a 25k - just a little longer then a half marathon, I was pretty comfortable with pacing. The leading guys took off pretty quick, leaving the rust of us in the dust. I started out pretty chill, but found myself in the lead with two women right behind me. Huh. The competitive side in me kicked into high gear and I started upping the pace. The first third of the race was the easiest running - not that too many trails in Palmer Park are "easy" even for running! But that was the fastest running section. I figured I would use the rolling but not super tech trails above Maizeland and over by Grandview Overlook to get some time and shake off the other women. Amanda stuck with me for a while, always right there until the Cheyenne descent where I was able to extend the gap. Having riden the trails at speed made it a little easier to run then at speed. Even though the lines are a little different, there is some good cross over. 

I bypassed the first aid station and headed right back out on Palmer Point Trail. It was still cool and my little backpack had plenty of water. The next aid station was just a few miles away - around the Mesa at the top of Yucca Flats. I took a small cup of water there, stopping long enough to drain it and toss the cup in the garbage. No sign of Amanda, but that didn't mean much. She could have bee right behind me and I wouldn't have seen her with the twists and turns of the trail. And then things got challenging as we turned onto Templeton. No more easy running. It was Templeton all the way around and back down to the Stables. I was starting to catch the 50k runners at that point and made sure to pass nicely and wish them luck. Unfortunately, some of the "normal" trail users were a little annoyed that there were course markings all over (at no point were any trails roped off) and that there was an extra 60 people spread out along the trails. There were several places where people had purposely torn down and mistakes the course. I know we needed to stay on Templeton, and even then still got a little off track in on place. Oh well. 

Templeton was still fun. I was running more then if anticipated based on my little adventure before Vapor - the new shoes made a big difference! It's still not fast running because every foot placement has to be precise. I made to the Stables in good time and took another glass a water. No food - the three gummy worms I had were making me happy food wise. Then up the stairs of Edna Mae to regain the top of the mesa. Only a few more miles of tricky running and it was on trails I ran all the time. We ran out on lower Templeton, hitting all the fun technical sections, then popped out Yucca Flats road. My first chance to take a good look around and I saw no one. Good. It was back to the raider running as we meandered on and off the Yucca Flats road and single track. 

One last aid station and the final push back to the finish. While I knew th trails, it was the only part I hadn't figured out when studying the course map. So I would have to just follow the flags and hope no more had been torn down. The part through Little Moab was a tad confusion, but only because I was anticipating going down a specific way and wasn't looking outside that line. But it all led to the same place in the end and I was back on track. Now I was just running for time. I knew there wasn't enough time for Amanda to catch me, but also that I would have to push it pretty hard to break 2:20. 

Alas, the clock won this round and I wasn't able to hit the mark I wanted.  I finished in 2:21:56, 5th overall and first women. The nice think about first year events? My time is also the course record! At least until the real fast people discover this fun, low key family race....


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