|Speed inspired by the pack|
I exhaled deeply, rolled my eyes and let out a huge sigh filled with mixed emotions as I made my way over to my drop bag.
I was there to race but I knew before I even heard that announcer's voice, that I had gone out too fast. An 8:30 pace was way too fast for me to keep up for another 50 miles and I knew it...yet, the cooler Colorado temperatures, the beautiful lake and extremely runnable trail made the prospect of PR'ing such a temptation. As I took off for my second loop, I decided to just let it ride. Let's see what happens...
About 3/4 the way into my second loop, the dry air and warm Colorado sun started to really made me think twice about my current race plan. Sure, 80F isn't so hot to this Arizona boy but damn, with no clouds and slightly higher elevation I could feel my hamstrings starting to cramp at about mile 20. Desperate for electrolytes, I was shooting salt packets like nobodies business (if only I had tequila and a lime!). This got me back to the start/finish line but not before a lot of walking had taken place and my overall psyche had taken a few dings.
|Crisping at the lake|
|The best part of the course - 3 water crossings|
Yes, my legs were hurting.
Yes, my body was crisping from the sun.
I was finally at peace with the heat and continued to plug along over loops 3 and 4. Ultimately, all that summer training in the desert helped me endure the heat of the day while others dropped due to dehydration.
As I started out on my 5th loop, I had not even considered my finish time. It was 'just get to the next aid station' mode...even though I was tired and fully willing to take some walk breaks, I was also not willing to leave Colorado without giving it my very best effort. So I continued to run.
With the heat of the day almost gone by now and the shadows getting longer, I wasn't worried about pounding salt but rather keeping an even pace and staying fueled to the very end. I was also focused on this guy in front of me who had picked up a pacer for the last loop and was always 2-3 minutes ahead of me. We had been leap-frogging for several miles and though my only goal was to try and beat the 12-hour mark and have a daylight finish, he apparently thought I was trying to catch him. I ran solid those last 10 miles ignoring everything my quads were screaming at me and simply trying to beat the 12-hour mark (although secretly, I was trying to catch him) :)
Coming into the chute, I could see that I had done it. Had I dallied another minute somewhere along that last 10 miles, I would have just missed it.
11:59:21 - good enough for 3rd in my age group, 5th male and 7th overall. 19 of 47 starters would finish. This is nearly a 5 hour improvement over my previous 100k time.
I had a really good time on this course and would encourage anyone that's new to trail running to check out all the distances they offer as part of the Bear Chase weekend. Everything from 5k to 100k is pretty impressive...it's well staffed/sponsored by Runner's Roost, lots of volunteers and ample things to munch on at the aid stations.