Friday, April 11, 2014

This year's Lynch Canyon Trail Run will be the key to my success in 2014
 If you follow this blog then you know I am focusing in on the Ultra Half Series put on by Brazen Racing this year. Last year I did not run very many races in that series but I did run the Lynch Canyon Trail Run for the first time and it is very similar to the Ultra Half Series, in it's own way. (Click the link to read my race review) I challenged myself to run this race in under 2 1/2 hours last year and accomplished that goal in a big way, 2:16:30!!! I will run this race again this year and I will beat the 2 hour mark which is going to be monumental if I can pull it off. The end result will make me that much better in the Ultra Series and give me the reassurance that my training is on the right track.

The Lynch Canyon course has about 3000' of elevation gain and that (IMHO) makes it an "Ultra" half. Lynch Canyon is not technical single track on rock strewn and root covered trails, quite the opposite. This race is almost entirely on wide track trails cutting through pastoral grasslands with rolling hills for as far as the eyes can see. Sounds lovely doesn't it! It is a beautiful park but don't be fooled by its beauty. If it is a hot day you will need to have a strategy in place for that because this course is 99% exposed. If I were to describe it, I would say this course is the love child of the Contra Loma Regional Parks and the Marin Headlands with a sprinkling of Mt Diablo. Think steep, hot and super runnable with fast downhills. Chris Abess, the race director for this event described it perfectly to me last year when we were talking just before the start of the race, he said "This course is death by a thousand nicks" and that proved to be the perfect description!

Don't under estimate the hills in Solano County!
The trails at the Lynch Canyon Open Space climb straight up and then immediately fall back down with very little flat ground. You can see in the picture on the left that a lot of runners are forced to walk some of the hills because they are so steep at certain points. This is perfect for my "Ultra Half Series" training and it gives me a reason to try and beat my time from last year. When I ran this course last year I knew it was similar to the Ultra Half's in regards to the amount of elevation gain but I still felt confident that I could get a decent time, maybe even a sub 2 hour time. Why I felt that way I will never know. I was clearly delusional about the sub 2 hour finish. By the time I started the second loop of this race I knew that idea was not going to happen. For me, sub 2 hour on this course would be a major accomplishment. The way I look at it is, if I train hard enough to improve upon last years time at this beast of a race then I will certainly be helping my performance in the Ultra Half Series. It is a win/ win situation to focus in on this race.

The Lynch Canyon race is the perfect race to test your limits on because they are so runner/ safety focused. They put out little umbrellas  in a couple spots in case you needed shade and they put out ice water buckets with rags to cool yourself down with at these little shady oasis'. The aid stations are just as good and just as prevalent as any good race in the Bay Area and the finish line area has plenty of food and medical if you need it. You are definitely in good hands at this event so go forward with confidence and run the hell out of it, set a PR and enjoy yourself.

I'm planning on doing some very specific training to get ready for this race. Top of my list is straight up hill climbing. I can do a bunch of that at places like Windy Hill OSP and at Skyline OSP. Second on my list would be to do those workouts on sun exposed trails and again, Windy Hill and Skyline can provide that. I'll keep you posted as to how this training is coming along and in about 2 months we will see if I can shave 16 minutes off last year's time.

Lynch Canyon Trail Run course map
  There is always an advantage to having a bit of course knowledge before going into any race and having run this course just last summer the details are still fresh in my mind. I know what to expect this year and that alone should shave a few minutes off my time.
    Expect to be in a low grinder gear for a lot of this course
Take advantage of all the downhill you can
    DRINK, DRINK, DRINK. It is HOT out there!!!!