Going downhill fast

June 2, 2010

It is possibly counterintuitive but certainly true that marathons and ultras of all distances (26.2 to 100 miles) and surfaces (hilly trails to flat roads) leave me equally incapacitated. I need about four days off after each one.

Based on this past weekend, I can now add an additional event to this list of Quad Killers: the Ski To Sea relay’s running leg, which drops 2200 feet in 8 miles.

The harm that downhill running does to leg muscles is well-known. Still, I’m impressed that Highway 542 needed only 8 miles to inflict 26+ miles’ worth of damage. Probably impressed enough to avoid this race next year, even though I was on a very cool team sponsored by The Bagelry. It included such illustrious members as Jed Hinkley, a 2002 Olympian in Nordic Combined; Seth Davis, a versatile athlete and engineer who reminds me of old friend Rob Cook (also an engineer by training) and in fact once teamed up with Rob in a 24-hour mountain bike race; Chris Teufel, who recorded the second-fastest road bike split of the day despite a virtually useless right arm; and Jeff Hilburn, the team captain and a 5th-grade teacher whose students decorated shopping bags for each of us.

I think I captured Jeff pretty well when I told him that he was obsessed with Ski To Sea, but not obsessed with winning. The Bagelry boys did win in 2008 and 2009, but this year’s crew was vanquished by all-stars from Boss Construction and Barron Heating, and the battle wasn’t even that close. Jed led us off with a fine cross-country ski leg that was nonetheless overshadowed by the efforts of 2010 Olympians like Ivan Babikov and Torin Koos, and we spent most of the day in 4th or 5th place. During my leg, I passed one guy at about mile 3 and was passed by another a mile or two later, and that was that. I felt rather ordinary, and I think it’s safe to say that I harbor no special talent for downhill running, even on the road.

Having tried both competitive stair climbing and Ski To Sea for the first time this spring, I plan to devote the remainder of the year to more normal races — you know, like 100K’s.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


* Grueling outdoor adventure race blends sportsmanship with competitiveness (race preview by David Leon Moore of USA Today)

* Boss Construction wins Ski to Sea race, Barron Heating takes second (by Sam Taylor of the Bellingham Herald)

* Ski To Sea Recap (by fellow blogger Joe Creighton)

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