Tuesday, October 25, 2016

10th Cougar Challenge 8K October 15, 2016

It was a fairly short drive to Cal State San Marcos for the 6th race of the USATF SD-I Association Dirt Dog XC Series. The race is held by the CSUSM XC Team and includes a college race, open race and master's race, with everyone starting together. The men's race was scheduled to start at 8:45am, women's at 8:00am, and this gave me a little sleep in time. This was also a back to back race with last week's Balboa Boogie and I needed the extra sleep!

We arrived at 7:30 and walked up to the track to find the bib-pickup area. The women were warming up and some parents were milling around waiting for the race to start.

We found the registration/bib-pickup tent. I filled out the appropriate form and handed it to the student volunteer. She took my cash and while writing my bib, asked for my preferred gender. I look at her with tilted head and replied, "I prefer women!" JoAnne promptly punched me in the arm and everyone had a good chuckle. She then asked if was running the men's or women's race. She checked the little box next to the word MALE and handed me my bib.

By this time the women were lining up and ready to start. We found a spot to watch where I changed into my running shoes and prepared for my warmup.

Ready for my Warmup

Women's Start
I previewed the course which was 3 laps on the campus of the university finding it was a mix of dirt, loose sand, gravel, cement, pavement, and a grassy loop around the track. There was a couple of rises that almost passed for hills and would fully annoy me on lap three. I headed back to start line and lined up behind some college kids along side some other grey bearded fellows.
Men's Start
The start was quick and I was soon well behind the front runners. We exited the track area and I could see some of the regular age groupers just ahead of me. They went out well below 6:00 pace for mile one and I stayed behind.  I soon realized that I forgot to reset my watch for auto-lap and was not going to see mile splits and the course was not marked. I was able to close up a bit on lap two but my legs were feeling heavy.  Lap three was again, just an attempt to hold pace. I managed to push the last hill and stride out a bit on the grass loop around the track.
Final Loop
Overall, I think I'm holding up ok despite running 6 races in 7 or 8 weeks, thanks mostly to a training schedule, developed by Amanda Kourtz, that gets me to the start line healthy.  
My finish time was 31:55, good enough for 3rd in the 55-59 AG and 5th in the 50-59 AG.
We headed out and made a brief stop  for refreshments at Stone Brewery in Escondido.
Refreshments at Stone
Next stop the Cayamaca 6k, the 7th race in the Dirt Dog Series!