One of the trails that I run regularly is the Elm Creek Mountain Bike trail. In the space of about 2 square miles there is 11 miles of winding one-way singletrack, which is open to both bikers and runners.
Today, one of the guys that I run with frequently, Mark, put on a fatass run (no fees, no aid stations, no awards and no whiners) for anyone who wanted to come out. He offered a 50K and 11 mile option. Since I wasn’t up to a 50K (plus getting up early this weekend sounded stupid), I opted for the 11 mile run, as did most of the runners. We all gathered in the parking lot around 8am, and then launched down the road that led up to the trail, trying to avoid too severe of a conga line.
The trail was in amazing shape, nice and firm snow pack with no ice. Seriously, I don’t think these trails have ever been more perfect in the winter time. This meant that I was able to keep up a good pace for the entire run. To start, I tucked in behind Troy (another frequent running partner) and we led a line of runners for the first 5.5 miles at a decent clip. At mile 5.5 you enter what is called Grizzland, which is a much more complicated track, especially if you’re on a bike. For runners it’s just a bit more hilly.
At this point I was feeling some gas in the tank, so I went on ahead of the others in the line and laid down some very solid and consistent miles. I was feeling good, and when I feel good I want to make sure I get some miles under my feet before the feeling fades. Not going so fast as to burn out, but just running my pace confidently and with purpose.
Towards the end of the 11 mile loop I started to get tired, and there were a few brief walks up the steeper hills, but I still managed to lay down a solid 2:15 time, which puts this run right near the top of my times on this course. Because this course is mountain bike trails, and they squish 11 miles into such a small area, it’s very hard for me to get up a lot of speed with all the constant twists and turns. I know people who can bang out the course in 1:50 or so, but it’s very tough and hard on the body.
Once I finished my run I put on some warmer clothes and headed back out to sweep some of the signs off the course for Mark. Because of the compact area I was able to skirt the outside of the area and duck in at certain points to grab a sign. I managed another 3 miles of hiking/jogging to cap out a really good day of running.
By the time we left the fat bikers were out in force, and I was ready for my breakfast. My races will be coming up sooner than I’m expecting, so getting a solid run under my belt today was a must. I’m excited for how good I felt today, and I’m ready to take on training season head on.