Clear blue skies and temperatures in the 70s were the forecast for this year’s Xterra Boney Mountain 21k, along with 20-40mph Santa Ana winds; these are the warm winds that blow from the desert drying the air and creating hazardous fire conditions. Red Flag warnings had been posted but the race was still scheduled to go on.
Despite arriving some 45 minutes at the packet pickup by the time I picked up my number and got in line for the shuttle to the start there was only 15 minutes till the posted start time, erring on the side of caution I decided to run to the start; a little over a mile away and set off.
Ten minutes later I was there and I stretched after my unscheduled warm up, the RD called us to the start line and with a unceremonious 3,2,1 we were off. The course is really one of ups and downs after a few turns you on a tarmac road for a couple of miles where you drop down before hitting the trails proper. The downhill is pretty fast and furious and here I recorded my fastest mile by far; 6:47. At the bottom you turn right and start the first of two hill climbs, the winds were coming into play as we switchbacked our way up. Alternating between a tail and head wind, the headwinds were pretty strong here and the dust was swirling getting into your eyes and up you nose and the warmth of the wind dried out you mouth. I was struggling to find my groove I think the fast start had thrown me, that and the fact you can count the number of times I have run since Twin Peaks on the fingers of one hand and I think no music didn't help, iPods were banned!
I reached the top and started the two and a half mile decent to roughly the half way point where the second climb would start taking me to the 10 mile mark. By this time I was feeling more relaxed and I employed a walk 200/run 200 on the slope while running anything that was vaguely flat. The trail was much more sheltered and the winds were not an issue here. I was being overtaken by some and overtaking some others, but in my mind I was really just racing the clock. I reached the top of the second hill knowing that it was mostly downhill from there and headed for the finish. The final mile puts you back onto the tarmac it was here that the wind picked up so much so I was nearly blown off my feet, what started as a side wind became a headwind after a right turn. After a quarter mile or so there was some shelter from some trees, a left hand turn and the finish was in sight and reached after a 200m sprint…well it is a race right!
My Garmin time was 2:25:57 some 9 minutes slower than my target time of 2:17, I think that may improve a little, it was a chipped race but the results are yet to post. Overall given the blusterous conditions I was pleased, it’s a 5 minute improvement over last year and with hindsight I was probably a little too conservative on the course but it is also a sharp reminder how quickly the edge goes blunt and there’s a another 51 weeks and a couple of thousand miles left in the year!
No photos from this year as I ditched everything except a handheld; I am experimenting on how light I can travel in races and there was no need for a vest etc, I am trying to travel as light as possible to be as fast as possible when racing.
So that’s January’s race out the way, I have almost firmed up the plan(s) for the rest of the year it’s looking like, in summary; 5/6 x 50km, 2 x 50m and 1 x 100m but the ink's not quite dry.
Oh yes and Saturday afternoon I had my first swim lesson in, if my memory serves me right, 35 years! Suffice to say that triathletes have gone up, although they were already held in high esteem, another notch. Swimming is simply brutal!
Here's the MotionBased data: