Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Aspen Golden Leaf Half 2011

Vasque and Ute Mountaineering put on a great race each year. My patience with crowded races has grown thin these years but the 4-wave start really helps tremendously. Since I go with a large gang of friends (well over 20 of us), and the scenery is great, I find this race hard to resist. It's become an annual thing.

After 50-mile races the two weekends before, I guess I wasn't at my best, but I couldn't tell by the feeling. I got in touch with my inner maniac and ran as hard as I could.
They changed the course. They made it harder and better, but there's more climbing at the start than previous times I did this. Since I'm no good at climbing, it took me 14 minutes longer than my PR for this course.
I almost wiped-out about six times, but never crashed.
I felt so freakin' fast! I was surprised when I still had over a mile to go when I reached my PR time limit.
I finished 10th in my age and 155th overall (out of 748 finishers) in the top 21%. I'm not proud of it, but I guess it could have been worse. If I want to be faster, I'll just have to get faster, right?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Steamboat 2011 Run Rabbit Run 50

I was going for a PR for the course, but I was a couple minutes short. But a very fun weekend, for sure.

My recovery from my 50-mile PR 6 days before was rocky. I jogged 5.5 miles on Wed., then Thurs. morning I felt certain I was going to throw-up. That passed, but I didn't feel great the rest of the day. Then Thurs. night, I came down with a fever that lasted all night. It went away just in time for me to get up. I had Friday off, so I packed and drove to Steamboat, wondering if I was even going to start the race.

I slept in the back of my Forester, as usual, and the cold rain woke me up about 20 minutes early. I used the time to cut out circular athletic tape to put on my nipples. It was going to be a wet day and I didn't want bloody nipples staining my shirts.

The rain stopped in time for me to walk to the start line. It wasn't too cold or wet at the start. In fact, it was kind of perfect.

I took it easy the first mile, but then started to push harder than normal. If I was going to PR, I was going to have to keep pushing harder than normal.

After about 5 miles of climbing, we ran up into a cloud. We stayed in the cloud until the return, running back down out of it.

It started raining when I was about mile 22, and it just got worse from there. It rained pretty hard, and it was freezing-ass cold. The rain often turned into sleet and/or snow, then back to rain. I was soaked by the time I got to the Dumont aid station at mile 28.
This aid stop derailed my PR. The freezing rain had too many runners trying to stuff themselves under too few canopies. I had nowhere to put my bag and change. Finally I grabbed a spot and yanked my shirts off, but all I could find was one dry short-sleeve shirt inside, not a long-sleeve also. So I put the dry short-sleeve on and the soaked long-sleeve over that, and my ultra-lite rain jacket over that.

I left as fast as I could. A sock change would have been comical, since the single-track trough we often ran in was filled with water. Mud was everywhere and slimy like grease. The creeks doubled in flow. Occasional winds sucker-punched whatever shred of warmth surplus I could generate.
Man, was that fun! LOL
It was fun, but a bit dangerous. Half of the leaders had to drop from hypothermia.
In fact, nearly 50 people dropped, and no shame about it. It's the only ultra I've even done where the aid station volunteers sometimes had to suggest to runners that maybe they should quit - for safety-sake. You either had enough clothing or you didn't. If you didn't, you should stop. The conditions were the worst of any race I've ever done. The aid stations were too far and few to be screwing around out there without enough clothing.

The volunteers were the best. This may not be fair to volunteers at some other races, where the merde didn't hit the fan and allow them to show their mettle, but the Steamboat crew sure did a phenomenal job. No one was injured or lost.

Pretty much everyone who was out there lost the feeling in their hands and faces. I'll bet some volunteers were even in bad shape. Vehicles at aid stations had the engines running and runners were sitting inside, stacked on top of each other sometimes.

I barely had enough clothing to keep moving, and was gravely concerned for my well-being. BIG THANKS to Kelly and Katie for looking after me for a few miles.

Once I hit the last 10k downhill to the finish, my legs muscles carried me fast. My heart and lungs were fried, but my leg muscles take whatever I throw at them.

I ran a sloppy 2nd half of the race, and no doubt could have taken 15 minutes off my PR. I stayed horribly long at Dumont, the Long Lake stop was too long because the volunteer filled my 70oz bladder all the way up - my fault for not saying half-way. And half-way would have been faster, not to mention less weight. I only used 30 of those ounces the entire rest of the race! So I carried 40oz of dead weight for 13.6 miles! My brain was frozen! So that all adds up to a lot of lost speed. I finished in ~11:26 and my PR was 11:23:24.
That means next year 11:10 is mandatory.

I love this race for the family atmosphere. So many of us know others. It has a real local home feeling that I really feel a part of. People who run Run Rabbit really like to run for the sake of running.

It's amazing my poor battered body responded so well, so close after my other race. I'm now attempting to repeat the fast recovery so that I can hit the trails at the Aspen Golden Leaf half marathon a week later. Hell - it's just a half-, right? The problem is, a PR means running it under 2 hours, which for me is ridiculous. So that's my plan - ridiculous.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hell Froze Over

I won a race.
Naw, I'm not making this up.
Yes, it was a tiny event with no real competition.
I mean there were other ultra-runners there, but most of the people involved weren't even actual athletes. Some were soldiers recovering from grave injuries. Others were elderly parents of soldiers, lost or living.
It was the American Heroes Run in Longmont, CO. It's a fun, low-key event. There's only as much competition as you decide to have. There were only a couple other ultra-runner guys and a few ultra-runner women. The other ultra participants were not experienced as racers. The main theme was to commemorate the events of 9/11/2011, and all those who died that day and the decade since.
We ran for 9 hours and 11 minutes.
It began at 8:46AM, the same time the first plane hit the first tower.

The weather was clear and beautiful.
An Honor Guard was there in full uniform.
David Clarke and Emily Booth from Lifetime Fitness put the event on. There was a half-marathon, marathon, and ultra. There were also some team events.
As far as running, I was hoping to get a PR for 50 miles. I ended up not getting 50 miles within the time limit, but I kept going until I had done 50 miles. My new 50 distance record is 9:13.

The sky was almost entirely clear. Many stopped to take long breaks from the scorching sun. The temps were fine, but that relentless sun will microwave your noggin if you stay out too long. I just kept my cap wet and my sun-flap wrapped around my head.

Nobody was even paying attention to who was leading for most of the race. The other couple of guys were younger and faster than me, but I was the only one with a clear goal. My goal had nothing to do with other runners.
With less than three hours left in the race, Jeremy Ebel and I found out I had barely more than a 2 mile lead. He suddenly stopped horsing around and started running.
I had honestly lost interest in my 50-mile PR, and was interested in coasting through the rest of the time with more and more walking each lap. But Jeremy was trying to take this old, fat man's one-and-only win away, so I decided to give it a good go. He gained on me so fast I knew there was nothing I could do, but I couldn't resist making him earn it. Jeremy seemed to chew up nearly half a mile of my lead and then he was only barely gaining on me. And then he wasn't gaining on me. And then he just ran out of time.
By then, my 50-mile PR was back in sight again, so I kept pushing and made it.
I'm sure glad Jeremy was there to keep me honest.
Unfortunately, I was planning on taking it easy because my next race, 6 days after, is Steamboat 50. I hurt, and Steamboat is going to be "interesting". But it always is.