The first race of the season is now behind me and man was it hard. First of all, congratulations to Dakota Jones, Nick Clark, and Ryan Burch. You guys ran so well and produced a very fast top 3 on an extremely hot day. Well done. Everyone else, too, great job. One last shout to Dakota! Man, that was a great great race and time! Well done. A big thanks to Annie for taking some good photos and for encouraging me. A brief account of the race and the trip below.
Annie and I rolled into Fruita on Friday afternoon ready to enjoy a short trip to the desert. We ended up camping at the Highline Lake State Park which turned out to be very nice. (Coin showers, grass, shade, bathrooms, very nice). We set up camp and headed out on a short run around the Highline Lake. One thing I noticed is that my body felt better on this run then it had all week; a good sign for the impending race. It was also hot running in the open around the lake. After the short run we showered and headed into town for race registration, dinner, and an errand or two before going to bed early and sleeping through a strong wind and a brief period of rain. Upon waking up I felt groggy but then ready after my normal breakfast of a small amount of oatmeal and peanut butter (learned that from Vasque teammate Krissy Moehl). We drove to the start as I nursed a cup of coffee and readied my head for the task ahead: 50 miles in the desert.
Mighty good views out there!
The temperature was warm and I knew we would be in for a hot day with no rain or clouds. This excited me as I knew I would again have to adapt to warm temperatures, and I also knew we would have great views of the surrounding area. The race started and I felt in slow motion compared to the guys who were going out hard for the $100 cash premium at 1.3 miles. I was shocked at how fast the pace felt (even with the guys around me). I was getting a little nervous but then realized that this was my first race in 8 months and I knew that in no time I would feel the pace even out. It did and I settled into a rhythm as we made our way up the first climb. The top 25 mile racers were long gone and I could not see them, as was Nick Clark in the lead of the 50 miler. (He had sprinted for the $100 cash premium and was way out in front). Ryan Burch was pulling away from me early and I knew he would be fit and focused throughout the race. Dakota Jones settled in behind me on the first big descent and he and I chatted briefly. I correctly sensed that he was feeling significantly better than I was and by the first aid station he had taken off and given chase to Nick and Ryan. I found myself in 5th place in the 50 miler (12th overall). It stayed that way as we zig-zagged our way around Mary’s Loop and gawked at the amazing views. I was essentially running by myself and felt very comfortable in my Vasque MindBenders.
I like single-track!
We rolled in and out of the amazing terrain and I passed a few of the 25 mile guys and closed in on a couple of the 50 mile guys. Ryan, Nick, and Dakota were long gone and I focused on running a consistent effort while hydrating, salting, and fueling well. As I came into the mile 19 aid station, I could feel the heat for the first time. It was hot; and I was showing it. (My pace was fine but my shirt and face were already covered with salt). This was not a good sign as I was diligent with my salt, water, etc. I took a few more salt caps and loaded up my bottle with more First Endurance EFS and I was out of there. As I climbed up the steep climb at mile 20 I felt good. This feeling continued through the lap at mile 25 (3:35, slightly faster than I wanted, but still 15 minutes down to the top 3!) I downed a Vespa, grabbed a little food and liquid and was out of there in 5th place giving chase. I caught up with Marty and moved into 4th place on the top of the climb at mile 28. This was the best I felt during the race and I may have pushed the pace a little too hard through here. I continued to roll at a good clip, now in 4th place, and I was in good spirits thinking of the guys I was chasing down. I figured there was no way they were moving as fast as I was.
Full-on dirt running. Love it
I moved through the mile 31 aid station feeling positive as I continued to fuel, salt, and hydrate well. I charged on and into the warmest part of the course. (It was at least in the mid ’70’s). As I rounded a bend around mile 34 I swear I caught a glimpse of the top 3 guys out in front. (Nick, Ryan, Dakota). I was not sure, but I thought they were maybe 5-7 minutes ahead which would mean I had taken a significant chunk out of their 15 minute lead. I soldiered on thinking I was gaining on them. At around this point (mile 34 or 35) I sensed I was fading. My stomach was intact and solid, as were my legs; but I could feel my energy waning. I popped another gel shot (EFS Liquid Shot) and felt a little better. As I continued on I could not see the guys at all and I began to not feel all that good. Again, my stomach was fine, my legs were fine. I was not bonking, but I could feel a lag in energy; a big lag in energy. My head felt a little foggy and my eyes felt heavy. I continued to move slowly as I put in some more liquid, salt, and a couple of shot blocks, but I could not shake the ‘sleepy feeling’. I continued to move and noticed 5th place (Marty) gaining on me again. As I made it to the mile 37 aid station, I was told the top 3 were more than 20 minutes ahead. At this point I knew I would not catch them; but I still focused on moving toward them in an attempt to get away from a hard charging Marty.
Coming into the mile 41 aid station. Suffering!
I came into the mile 41 aid station suffering and walking slowly but was buoyed by the sight and sound of my wife! Annie had ridden her bike out there to cheer for me. That really helped me get out of the negative mindset and instead focus on finishing this race. I grabbed a little intake there and headed out toward the last aid station. I was moving slowly and was caught by Marty and overtaken for 4th place just prior to the mile 44 aid station. He encouraged me as he went by, (Thanks man! That helped a lot.) but soon he was out of ear-shot as he had gone by me rather quickly. I came into the last aid station in 5th place and hurting. Anita Ortiz was there to help some other runners and she took charge of me too. She poured water on me (significant quantities), made sure I was fueled up and sent me on my way. (Thanks Anita for helping out this suffering dude!) That was about it. I made my way over the last 4-5 miles very slowly and was passed by the super consistent and hard charging Bryan Goding. Great race man; nice running! See you at Big Horn! I crossed the line in 6th place and a time of 8:17:30. I was tired but stoked to receive numerous great comments and encouragement from many different people at the finish line; thanks all! I wish I could of given more encouragement to others too. Great race everyone… way to be. I can’t wait for the rest of the season!
I can’t even convey how great it was to finish!
After the finish of the race I sat down in the shade and tried to compose my thoughts. Annie ran and grabbed the car and whisked me out of there. We headed back to the the campground to lie in the shade, shower, and relax. I have analyzed this race on several different levels and have come to the simple conclusion that it is early and I was not quite ready to provide a superior race effort. So, I am now back into the normal training routine and focused on some great training building up to the Sage Burner 50km and the Big Horn 100. This race was a brief blip on the radar and I have taken away some very good learning as I move forward. Here’s to the rest of the season; I can’t wait. I can’t stress enough: Great job everyone! Nice work! I look forward to seeing you all at more races this season. Train well. Live well. DC