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    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Backyard Burn Race #3 preview and taper summary

    This week's training has been good and I feel strong going into the weekend. My legs are a little sore overall from the amount of speed work I have been doing lately but two days of rest should freshen them up.
    Wednesday morning I ran four miles worth of intervals at 6:20 min/mile pace. My afternoon swim was four sets of 300m free, 200m w/kickboard and fins, and 200m w/pull-bouy. I finally replaced my old worn out, yet lovable, goggles. My new ones are Speedo Vanquisher, after two swims my initial impression is pretty good. A more comprehensive review will follow in the coming days.

    Thursday began my taper to the race - a short tempo run followed with weights in the afternoon.

    The course for this weekend's race is at Fountainhead Regional Park, which is situated along the banks of the Occoquan Reservoir in Western Fairfax County. This park is beautiful and feels surprisingly remote for being so close to Washington D.C. The racecourse consists mostly of hiking trails (including the Bull Run Occoquan Trail), horse trails, and old dirt roads.

    Last year my time on this course was 40:37 with a sixth place finish. After two fifth place finishes (currently third overall) I am really hoping to break into the top three.

    This is a moderately technical and fast course. The race begins in the main parking lot and runs down the paved entrance road for approximately a half-mile over rolling hills. The course then dives offroad and runs along some excellent singletrack over a wooded ridgeline. A short but sharp descent brings the racers to an intermittant stream crossing with its subsequent climb. Last year there were a number of tumbles at this creek crossing. The course then climbs out of the draw and loops through more of the scrub oak forest before merging back into the ridgeline where you run out the same way the track entered the woods.

    Once crossing the entrance road the course follows alongside the road for a little ways before going back into the farther reaches of the park. The race course from there until the finish is a series of rolling ups and downs with numerous stream crossings. The course feels very isolated on these back stretches because the numerous draws keep the majority of runners out of view from each other.
    After dropping down to run beside the Occoquan Reservoir for a short distance the final stretch climbs quickly back up to the ridge top and runs over a few small hills before bursting out of the woods and literally directly into the finish chute.
    Hopefully the weather will hold and it will be cool yet dry this Sunday. Stay tuned for the race report.

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