First of all; I never realized that you spell ‘Raccoon’ with two ‘c”s and two ‘o”s. Crazy. What a great trip too. The logistics went as smooth as silk, from the planning stages; to the flights, car rental; hotel finding, etc. Annie and I marveled that everything went smoothly. I mean, its not like either of us hop on planes frequently, so this trip was fantastic and means that we want to travel via airplane again to races in the future. A huge thank you to Jesse Crandall (friend, and Leadville 100 pacer) for hooking us up with cheap airfare. Thanks man!! Also, a gigantic thank you to ‘Vasque’ for making this trip possible in the first place.
The greatest thing about these races was meeting several new people; most notably Lee from Topeka, KS, and Kevin Sullivan from Boston, MA. It was great for both Annie and I to have some good people to talk to and cheer for in these races. Increasingly; I am looking forward to meeting new people at these races. We also met Larry Hall and his family. Larry is from Chicago, and we have seen both him and his wife at every ultra race I have done thus far. As for the races; I still have not seen official race results, but I do know that Vermont 100 winner Andy Jones Wilkins won the Rocky Raccoon 100 this weekend over Scott Jamie. I also think that Jamie Donaldson was 3rd overall and won the women’s 100. Again, I have no confirmation; but I think that is how it shook down. A great race apparently.
For my race: the 50 miler: The race started at 7 am, and temps were in the mid 60’s at start time… not bad. I do not know what the official high temp. for the day was; but it probably hit 80 degrees even. So, for me, the heat may have been an issue, but I certainly did not feel it. The race was in the trees the whole way; meaning the sun was not pounding down on us, however, the breeze managed to make it through the trees and keep us cool. So, the weather was perfect and I absolutely loved it: it just felt so good compared to road running on ice in and around Gunnison.
The race started out faster than I thought; but I went with it and was feeling good (this was sea level after-all). I chatted briefly with Kevin, and soon found myself dropping back a little bit to 4th place. I was still running about 7:30’s and did not want to run any faster than this. As we made our way through the first of 3 laps, I could make out the top 3 guys for a while, and then I lost sight of them. No problem though: I was still running well, and feeling strong.
At the lap, there is a brief out-and-back section where I could see that the two guys ahead had about a 3 minute lead. (I had just passed and taken over 3rd place). So, I grabbed some food from Annie as I continued to run, and was out of there; determined to not have a mid-race slump and I put in a surge that felt effortless as I started out on my 2nd lap. I was running comfortably throughout the 2nd lap, and as I came into the ‘lap-area’ again to head out on my third lap, I knew I was about 5 minutes back of the lead, and I had just passed to move into 2nd place. At this point, I was still feeling strong, was in 2nd place, and was determined to have an awesome first half of my 3rd and last lap. I grabbed some more food from Annie where I remember saying: “Its on.” I meant it; and flew out onto my 3rd and final lap. I ran a great split for the first half of that lap and then began to fade ever so slightly. I was still moving really well, but knew that I was no longer putting any time into Kevin for 1st place. He was running strong. I kept my head down, and pushed on through the finish in 2nd place with a time of 6 hrs. 11 min and 55 sec. This time was much faster than I had ‘planned’ on. (by almost 40 min.!!) My splits for the three laps of 16.7 miles each were: 2:02:30, 2:01:30, 2:07:30. My average pace for the entire race was: 7:27’s per mile.
Kevin ran a fantastic race to win by almost 6 min with a time of 6 hrs. 5 min and change. I was very pleased with my race, and the trip as a whole. Being in these temperatures and weather conditions was very nice indeed. This race shows that my preparation for the Moab 100 on March 28 is right on track. Some fine tuning; some longer runs; and I’ll be ready to throw down a fast time at Moab.
I mentioned in one of my previous posts that ‘I was looking forward to suffering.’ This was true, and is true of all races I enter. The feeling I have after ‘running myself into pain’, and then ‘running myself out of pain’ is tremendous. I don’t believe it has much to do with pride or self-reliance; but it comes down simply to: ‘doing hard stuff.’ I love this stuff. Thanks for reading. One other note pertaining to the Rocky Raccoon race. I was first a little unsure of how much I’d like the course, etc, with all the 50 mile racers, and 100 mile racers on course at the same time, with loops, and out and back sections, etc. I was unsure at first, but as the race progressed, I saw that this was ‘shared suffering’ at some level. I mean; I saw 400 other people on course at all times, all doing the same thing I was doing: pushing through their own limits. Pretty cool stuff. The larger community of ultra-runners is pretty unique and I encourage everyone to find an ultra; get out there and push past your limits. You won’t regret it. (your legs may, but your mind won’t. I promise.)