Saturday, November 13, 2010

Race Recap: The Spencer Mountain 9.78 miler

Here's Dave Munger's recap of today's Spencer Mountain 10-miler. 

It was a gorgeous day for a highly-anticipated race today. We were all prepared for a challenging 10-mile course. What we got was a very challenging 9.78 mile course, but more on that later.

I rode in with Todd, Jeremy, and Chad, and we met up with Wayne at the race start. Chad offered to give us a quick preview of the course, and we drove about 2.5 miles backwards from the finish line to check out the notorious 276-vertical-foot climb we'd be facing at the end of the race. It turned out to be worthwhile, because we could see that the worst stretch of the hill was just a half mile long. If we could make it through that, the course leveled out and then finished on the downslope.

The registration process was a bit disorganized, and ended up taking nearly 30 minutes. But everyone got their packets in time for the race, if not in time to take a relaxed warm-up run. Included were some excellent shirts and a few other goodies. The race was timed by chip by Run For Your Life, and results were displayed very promptly at the end of the race. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Dave Munger, Wayne Eckert, Todd Hartung, Jeremy Alsop, and Chad Randall after the race

As we lined up for the race, the lead police car moved forward, and the mass of runners followed. Eventually the starting line seemed to move about 50 yards forward of where, according to Chad, it traditionally was. Finally the race started, with no gun and a minimum of fuss. My plan was to take it relatively easy for the first few miles, which were slightly downhill, saving my energy for the large rolling hills midrace, and the 275-foot monster at the end. I wanted to average better than 8 minute miles, for a total time of 1:20.

Dave Munger
Running side by side with Chad, the two of us reeled off a 7:28 and a 7:36, which was just a touch fast for me, so somewhere in Mile 3 I decided to let Chad go. Mile 3 was still a 7:43 for me. Then the confusion began. When we passed the official Mile 4 marker, my GPS indicated I had only run 3.8 miles. Chad later told me that the race traditionally had an extra two block loop tagged onto it in Mile 4. But everyone ran the same course, so I guess it was a fair result. Each successive mile marker was off by the same amount on my GPS, so I think the only major problem with the course was in Mile 4. This is why, at the end of the race, I had logged only 9.75 miles, not 10. Mile 5 had the first major hill, but I stayed strong and still ran the mile in 7:51, staying under my target pace. During mile 5 I attempted my first in-race consumption of GU Chomps, which have been a staple of my training regimen. But during training, we always stopped for a rest to fuel up. I found it difficult to manage my breathing while chewing up the Chomps, which are sort of like gumdrops. I may have to try some other sort of fuel for my next race.

Jeremy Alsop sports his second-in-age-group medal
At the 4-mile water stop, there was another small gaffe. As I approached the station, the pack of runners cleared off the table. A woman then walked around the back of the table, I thought to hand me another cup of water, but as I reached out to grab it, she told me it was empty! She was actually headed to the cooler to fill it up. Alas!
Miles 6 (7:48) and 7 (8:14) also featured fairly large hills, and the runners around me kept passing me on the uphill, only to be passed again by me on the flat hilltops, a cycle we repeated several times. Interesting how everyone has a slightly different strategy on hills. I tend to slow down during the actual hill, then speed up as the hill flattens out, and try to maintain that speed on the downhills. Others, it seems, slack off a bit at the top of a hill to make up for the extraordinary effort they made to race to the top.
Todd Hartung, wearing the very nice tech shirt each runner was given in his or her packet.
Wayne Eckert
At the end of Mile 7 I realized that we were approaching the Big One, and so I slowed down a bit to make sure I was fresh for the final hill. Because we had driven the hill before the race, I knew the steep part of the hill was only a half mile long. We hit it at just about 7.2 miles in, so I knew things would get better at around mile 7.7. I gave it all I could, but a few runners passed me on the hill. Finally I made it to the slightly less steep section near the top, and I picked up my pace, passing the others one more time. I completed Mile 8 in 9:13. I had pretty much cashed in all the time I racked up at the beginning of the race and was now averaging quite close to my overall goal of 8 minute miles. But Mile 8 involved a climb of 244 vertical feet. There were just 31 vertical feet of climbing after that, followed by a hundred-foot descent to the finish. I was spent from the climb, but I managed to hang on, completing Mile 9 in 7:52 and Mile 10 in about a 7:40 pace. This was slower than the other runners around me, who had apparently saved a bit more for the finish. I was passed by at least 5 or 6 runners in that final mile.

My official finish time was 1:17:17, ostensibly a 7:44 pace, which would be well under my target time. In fact the race was 9.78 miles. My GPS recorded 9.75, for a 7:57 pace. But since I forgot to stop the timer for about 15 seconds after the finish, I gave myself credit for a 7:56 pace--well under my target!
Chad Randolph
The other DART runners had awesome days as well. Jeremy Alsop finished 15th overall, and 2nd in his 20-29 age group, with a time of 1:07:19, officially a 6:44 pace. Todd Hartung was 20th (4th in the 40-49 age group), at 1:09:51, a 7:00 pace. Chad Randolph was 24th (6th in the 40-49 age group), at 1:11:47, a 7:11 pace. My 1:17:17 was good for 47th, (13th in the 40-49 age group), and Wayne Eckert came in at 1:21:01, 58th overall (10th in the 50-59 age group). 

The official paces were based on a 10-mile race, and it was quite clear that this race wasn't really ten miles. So if you want to know our "real" paces, you'll have to add about 10 seconds to the per-mile pace. That's a little frustrating, when most runners judge their performance by average pace. Still, it was a beautiful day for a run, and our entire group was satisfied with their performance. Here's the full race results.

Here's the elevation profile I recorded on my GPS: a total climb of 646 feet.


  1. Great recap, Dave. Thanks for putting it together.

  2. You're welcome! I should have mentioned that Chad is mostly responsible for the pictures, except for the group photo, which was taken by another runner (Kristin Cook?) and the photo I took of him (all were taken using Chad's phone).


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