About 4 weeks have past since my last race up in Washington State. Since then I have had low volume training weeks…sort of recover and taper with a few openers. To be honest, I was a bit worried about the “lack” of training heading into the FOURmidable 50km on 2/16 but within 2 min of warming up Saturday morning, I knew I was in for a good day. And to kick things off, my Dad surprised me at the start! crazy
The race starts at Auburn Overlook Park and the weather was wet and cold. Conditions wanted to snow as I sat in the van trying to decide what to wear. The radio repeated flood warnings and swollen creeks for the area… that sort of got me fired up. I know that when the weather is bad, a good % of the people racing kind of quit before they start. So I wanted to put the inclement weather on my lists of things to be pumped about. No joke, it was cold and wet and there were several creek crossings to deal with, so gear choice was super important. Hypothermia is real. Burning more calories because you are freezing is real. But getting too hot can be just as troubling.
What I went with:
shoes: Altra Timps 1.5s. Pretty much a fresh pair, had about 25 miles on them prior to the start. They were perfect. Great traction on a very slippery day and good cushion for all the rocky terrain.
Hydration: I wore my UltrAspire waist pack and carried 1 300ml soft flask which was full with 250 liquid calories. (I carried a 2nd flask in hand with the same amount of calories)
Food: In addition to the 500 calories in my soft flasks I ate GU Chews.
Anti Chafe: Donkey Label Chamois Balm. it is just that good.
Shorts: Yes I wore shorts; I went with the RUHN 6″ compression short
Top: Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship Patagonia Capilene Long sleeve (and I actually started with my rain shell on which I stuffed in my waist pack within 3 miles.)
Accessories: Altra Red Team Neck buff like thing. DeFeet Gloves. McGovern Cycles floral do anything hat.
The race is held on fairly familiar trails to me as I think I have raced on almost all of the course before in other races before… but the course is Stacked with 4 major climbs.
Check the profile in the starva link, https://www.strava.com/activities/2153925472
The start is always a little faster than you want, and with some wide open steep downhill pavement before you enter single track, everyone is trying to get in good position. No scrum like a cyclocross race… but pace pretty much self selects . I have learned not to run above your pay grade in the opening miles. I was in the top 20, right with the “predicted” winner for my age group. “interesting” I thought…the guy is right here. I tried not to think about racing, as we were less than 2 miles in to a 30+ mile race….”just do your thing” I told myself.
As we entered the first bit of single track, which led to the first climb called Cardiac Hill I noticed the gentleman in my age group wanted to race. He kept looking around and testing things….. “so early” I thought. As we hit the first steep pitch he started hiking, I ran by him and put time into him right away. “huh, I didnt really lift the pace…noted, he might not climb well” Seeing that it was pretty early I eased off over the top and let the guy come back to me. He hit out right away down this path to pavement section and he was trucking. I went after him a bit, but then hesitated and settled into my groove. I took my jacket off and packed it away (on the run) all the while I could see the age group competitor looking back all the time. “ok, he is fast on the flats and is trying to drop you, keep him in your sights and stay calm” I said to myself. And that is what I did. In the next few miles, we ran apart from each other, but as soon as we hit a single track downhill, I was right back to him. “hmmmm, I seem to be descending better than him too” . all the way to no hands bridge I let him waste his energy drilling it in every flatish run section…only to bring him back. At the aid station at No Hands, he stopped…I turned up Western States to Training hill. I hit the bottom of Training hill (K2) alone and I ran it. Then I cruised the rollers up top and the gentleman chased back. Right as we started the chuncky Descent to Knickerbocker creek I let it fly. I was having so much fun, I didnt really realize he was gone. I crossed the creek and put my head down.
From here on out I pushed. Originally I was going to wait until the 3rd climb to get after it, but things got rolling a little early. I focused in on myself. Fueling, good mechanics, positive self talk. As I climbed out of the Quarry, I started to catch “Open” runners. this motivated me, but I knew the loop part over in Cool is hard and sloppy so I checked myself. I topped off at the aid station before we ran what I think is basically the Olmstead Loop, and indeed it was tricky and sloppy. I caught a few runners in this section and just stayed focused on not flailing. Exiting that loop, I saw Bob Dickenson, “you are top 15, top 10 is just ahead” I gave him a high 5 and started my charge. From here you start running this sloppy double track heading back to Western States Trail. Once on Western States it gets sort of technical and rocky in spots. You have to be very agile to run it fast. I caught a few more dudes and I thought I had to be in the top 10 now….But oddly all I cared about was distancing my age group competitor. Push push push. Now is when you really need to be very uncomfortable.
My body was starting to talk to me. My feet had been numb from all the water crossings and that was weird, but then they starting to thaw and that sucked….It felt like i had pieces of 1/2″ dowel in my shoes. “dont think about your feet, they are just thawing out…nothing is wrong” I repeated.
Down to no hands bridge quickly and safely. I was essentially in the final stretch… but I couldnt remember if it was 8 miles or 4? I couldnt remember…. “who cares how far it is, just keep pushing keep eating, keep grinding” I actually started thinking about the sort of endurance a guy like Tommy Caldwell must have, and that made me smile. “there is always more to give” today was my “elective hardship”. I clawed my way up and over the trail to get to the last climb back to overlook. ” 3/4 of a mile to go” a guy told me. I hiked hard as this last section was steeeeeep. some more folks appeared, cheering, wanting more out of me. I started to run again and I gave it one more push to the line. I was so satisfied with myself right away…that never happens. My Dad was there to greet me and the official said, you are the first Master…and top 10, great job. So satisfied. My Dads look just said, “wow that is impressive, but you are nuts” My Dad and I made our way back to the van stopping briefly to talk to Ryan Ghelfi. I got changed, got some water and some Floyd’s of Leadville Recovery mix in me and assessed what was sore and went to awards.
Twas a good day. Now on to recovery. Lots of Sleep and Floyd’s of Leadville CBD #relaxandrecovery product. 50mg CBD capsule before bed and recovery balm all over my hamstrings and quads.
2 weeks easing back into things before we start the next big build up. The Canyons Endurance 100km is on tap next, end of April