Monday, August 3, 2009

Cow Bell Pandemonium

Cheyenne Mountain Canyon Race:
United States Qualifier for the World Mountain Running Team:
July 26, 2009

I got to the start line. It was just over an hour until the gun would blast, the whistle screech, cow bells rings, and feet would fly. I was starting to get nervous. I had wanted to go over the course during the previous week yet it never happened. I knew approximately how steep and potentially how hard the race would be. The 12K race (about 7.8 miles) consisted of a 2.4 mile loop with 600 feet gained and lost during the loop with an additional start and finishing section. We would have to run the loop 3 times… bring it. It was now 30 minutes before those cow bells would start their ringing. I was only more nervous. I knew I was fit and ready for the race. The race had not been my main focus as I’ve been mainly training for Leadville. Therefore, I have not done any speed or hill workouts prior to the race. The race was loaded with good US runners vying to make the World Mountain Running Team. I don’t enter races on a whim; I enter to run well: to glorify God with the talents He has given me.

It was now 10 minutes prior to the cow bell pandemonium. I was ready, I was going to go out and give those Cow Bells a run for their money. Bring it. Bring the pain, bring the ruckus, bring the pandemonium. The pandemonium was soon underway. It was silent as my nervous anticipation transformed into a calm steadfast focus. I calmly moved up from 5th place to 2nd. Then we hit the hill. The pace slowed to a training pace. I wanted an honest race, so I took the lead setting a little quicker tempo. I reached the top of the hill and started the fast flowing decent. Someone was content to retake the lead here which I let him do and sat on his tail waiting for a second helping. We started our second helping: lap two, and it was obvious the race pack was being whittled down. There were only four of us now. I took the lead again with 2nd and 3d closely following and Andrew Benford strategically racing in 4th.

The second lap was refreshing, I ran solid thinking about daily training. This was an easy 600 feet climb. I’ve been putting in 2000-5000 foot gains in training, so 600 feet seemed short. I reached the top of the second climb and noticed that Andrew had moved into 2nd about 20 yards back. I cruised the downhill and started the final lap. Those cow bells, still in a constant racket, rang silently in my ears. I heard my heart methodically beating in a controlled manner. Andrew was on my tail pushing me. We reached the top of the 3d lap. At this point I knew no one could catch up and that I would indeed win the race. Maybe I knew it before hand but I would not consciously acknowledge that sort of information. It can be detrimental to become prideful or over confident. I had confidence but had to remain calm. Pride and confidence are closely related. It is good to have the latter while running from the former.

I raced down the hill to finish first in 47:13. Andrew was 2nd in 47:48. We both made the World Mountain Running Team and will be racing in Campodolcino, Italy on September 6th. Bring it, I’ll be ready.

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