Saturday, January 16, 2010

Coastal Trail Runs: Huddart Park 17km

Today I ran the Coastal Trail Runs Woodside Trail Run, starting in Huddart Park. I did the "11 mile" course, the same course as the Pacific Coast Trail Runs "17 km" course in the same location. No coincidence: Coastal Trail Runs is the "sister" company to Pacific Coast Trail Runs, more low-key, with less focus on distance.

I know what you're thinking: "but 11 miles is 703 meters longer than 17 km!" Indeed the "fine print" distance is 10.6 miles, not 11. That's 17.06 km.

In this case, "less focus on distance" meant the long run was "only" a marathon (42.194 km) instead of 50 km.... And you really can't get much more low-key than PCTR. But maybe I'm biased by the standards of bike racing.

Anyway, the run started with a short descent, but then from there climbed steadily until it flattened out before the turnaround at 6.0 miles. I reached that in 56:53, fifth overall. By 57:07 I'd drank two cups of water, and was on my way back. I finished at 1:32:28, eighth overall, having been passed first by a guy early in the descent, then within the final mile by the lead woman and then another guy. The gap between my eighth and sixth place was 3 seconds.

So did stopping for those drinks cost me the time?

Suppose I had carried the water instead. I weigh around 124 lb. Add in around 4 lb worth of clothing. Suppose I drank 16 oz of fluid, which weighs about 1 lb. And suppose I could have carried that in a bottle instead of stopping at the summit.

Then I would have had to carry an extra 1 lb up that hill. Running on both the flat and uphill, power is roughly proportional to weight (wind resistance isn't very significant). So an extra lb of water carried up the hill would have cost me 1/128th of my climbing time. That's 26.5 seconds.

So it seems, neglecting possible issues of hydration, that having spent 14 seconds drinking those two cups of water was a better choice than carrying a bottle up the hill. Add in the weight of the bottle and maybe a belt to hold it and it's no contest.

My last run I carried the bottle. But my post-run analysis had me questioning that choice. So with today's conditions being cooler from those of that run last February, I made the choice to stick with only the gel flask.

But what about hydration? Maybe I would have been better off continuously hydrating than drinking all at the end of the climb. (I did carry a small gel flask with diluted Hammer Gel, but that's not much). Or maybe I would have been better off skipping the water completely? Of course these questions aren't easy to answer. I personally think I would have lost more than 14 seconds the rest of the way had I not drunk that water: that's only 0.7 seconds of my total return time. Running 90 minutes without water is a lot, even in today's cool conditions, given my state of fitness. My ITB has been giving me problems, and it's limited my training.

But no matter my placing, it was a fun run, and both Pacific Coast Trail Runs and Coastal Trail Runs put on fantastic events. Trail running is a ton of fun, a nice break from cycling, and obviously a really strong workout. I want to do a few more this year before my focus gets too deep into cycling.

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