June 10, 2012

A quicker Pengelly Double Dip

Yesterday's Pengelly Double Dip trail race up University Mountain and Mount Sentinel far exceeded my expectations. My time of 2 hours, 18 minutes and 26 seconds was about 16 1/2 minutes faster than the only other time I've run the race and, more importantly, I accomplished it without any injury.

If you've been reading this blog or my Twitter stream for the past year and a half, you know I've been working back from an Achilles tendon injury. That time has been filled with physical therapy and slow progress. I got back to running races this year with a plan to enter some of the more fun events in the area, and started with the Snow Joke Half Marathon in January and the 11 Miles to Paradise trail race in May.

The Double Dip, however, is much more work - a trail half marathon with more than 3,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain up two mountains on the edge of town. It first switchbacks up to the "M" from the valley floor, then crosses the Sentinel fire road and works its way around into Pattee Canyon. It then ascends University Mountain, drops back to a saddle and rises up Sentinel. After returning to the saddle, it switchbacks down to the Clark Fork River and returns to the start.

My main concern in getting back to races has been reinjuring my leg, especially at the Pengelly, with all of the climbing. About a week and a half ago, I ran the course at what I thought was a slow pace to make sure I could handle it - turned out, I did it slightly faster than the first time I raced.

At the start yesterday, I again set out to run it slowly. I also purposely didn't look at the time or pace elements on my GPS until I had reached the valley floor with about a mile to go. To my surprise, I was well ahead of my previous time.

Looking back at the stats, I started the race at a slightly slower pace and was able to run the top mile - with the steepest climb - much faster than last time.

As for my plan to stick to more interesting races this year, I've got at least one more this summer - the Mountain to Meadow half marathon at Lolo Pass - and possibly a short road/trail race - the Ten Spoon 10K on the summer solstice at a local winery!