Yesterday, I ran the Sooner State Trail Games here at Draper Lake Bike Trails at OKC. Ashlee and myself got up a a reasonable 7:30 am time and headed to the race site. The last time I ran at Draper trails was maybe 3 years ago with OU and Coach Martin Smith. It was a nice cool morning perfect for trail running. The temps hovered around 32 and a breeze made it feel like the mid 20's but luckily trail running provides protection from the wind.
I knew coming into the race that I would be blitzing past people on the narrow single-track trail that winds much like a dirt banked track which is very much the style of Oklahoma state trail systems. The races went off in a stagger start where the 12 mile competitors had a 5 min lead on me. I decided not to run the 12 mile because I did not want to lose time getting stuck behind people which seems to happen a bunch at these events. So, the 8 mile was a perfect choice. 2 laps at 4 mile clips. As soon as the gun went off, I was gone into the abyss of Draper. I had near silence as I jolted out like a bolt of lightning. I was running sub 5:10 pace for sure. Maybe 3 minutes into the run, I began catching the first of the competitors. I darted in and out of the collections of people speaking "Passing on you left or passing on your right" at every opportunity. People were very nice and efficient with moving out of the way so I could pass. The times showed for it. I shot down the last open stretch and hit the first lap in 22:25 which was about 6-7 minutes faster than any other competitor. I felt a little tired on that 5th mile but eased up on my relentless pace as I finally had open spaces on the trail to move. My new Inov 8 230's in pink were fabulous shoes that made my feet suck to the trail to provide me the best possible traction and movement. It was on a day like this where I know that trail running is a forte of mine because I just effortlessly ran 8 miles and ran an amazing time through a difficult trail to have with other people in the passageways.
My second loop began to pick-up speed as I crossed the finish-line sprinting like in a mile track race as I hit the mat in 45:19 for my overall time. I looked at what pace I averaged and it was 5:37 a mile in what was a tough and technical race. I was so overjoyed to have Ashlee at the event to wave at me and jump up and down screaming my name. I loved the moment. The downside about finishing early was that I was done before most 4 mile runners were in and had waited a long time for the awards. We pushed to grab the hardware and off we went for lunch before I headed off to work at 2.
It was a great day. I ran fast, smart, and handled the trails like a professional. Today was one of those days where I feel that I am truly reaching a point of professionalism and I have the chance to become a professional at trail running. I have the strength and speed and endurance needed to accomplish my goals and I am ready to take on White Rock Mountain next weekend. 33 miles and hopefully I can set a mark that will stand for generations! Thank you to my sponsors, Ok Runner, Backwoods, and Acidotic Racing for giving me the tools in my build-up to elite-ism as a trail runner!