Thursday, September 22, 2016

Run Rabbit Run 50

Steamboat Springs: What better place to go run 50 miles in the back country? The Run Rabbit Run 50 started leisurely with no Rabbits taking the lead. Well only a Timmy Rabbit. I took the lead but kept the pace extremely slow and controlled. By mile 2 all runners were nowhere to be seen. My goal was to run the first half of the race based solely on feel. Trying to go way too slow was the game. I felt fantastic. Half way up Mount Werner I ate a Honey Stiner Waffle to supplement my breakfast. At long last I made it to the Mount Werner aid station in 1:07:30 almost identical to a year ago. Finally, I could start rolling along the high forested alpine terrain. I still held back not wanting to push the pace just yet.
I gobbled down a few Honey Stinger Chews and took off with a package of Grapefruit flavored chews. For the next many miles I methodically ate 1 to 2 chews every 20 minutes. I felt fluid and smooth as I glided over the rolling landscape focusing on enjoying hidden lakes, open glades, the vast views, and mostly trying to ignore the race. I ate and ran on. In a 50 mile race one has to stay focus yet also not expend too much energy early on. It is a fine razor edge balancing act. I kept rolling. Every aid station had a different flavor of Honey Stinger Chews: Orange, Pomegranate Passion Fruit, Cherry Blossom, Fruit Smoothie, and others.

Finally I reached the half way mark in 3:47 which was a solid 10 minute lead from last year. I left Rabbit Ears Peak and raced back down the trail I had arduously come up. I saw 2nd and 3rd place. I had about a 10 minute lead on them. I pushed on staying consistent with the goal of staying consistent and continued running. Last year I had not eaten enough and severely bonked in the second half. This year I was going to eat more and keep my energy up. I ran through the mile 28 aid station fueling up getting liquids, salty chips and more Stinger Chews.

I ran on even racing a pack of 4 mountain bikers that were out enjoying the day. I felt good but still did not push the pace. I had to maintain. I power hiked the steepest uphill sections, but overall kept a strong cadence and mushed on. I did feel solid, but one always wonders how close 2nd and 3rd place where.

Finally I bombed down Mount Werner to the finish line winning by over an hour in 7:26:59. I felt solid and had ran 16 minutes faster than last year. My energy stayed consistent with the constant supply of Honey Stinger Chews and my stomach felt great all day. After the race I realized I was 18 minutes away from the course record. Why had I not gone for it? Sometimes you have to run the time first to realize you can run it. This was one of my best 50 mile races, next time I’m running faster!


Imogene Pass Run: 4th Victory!

I pulled into Ouray. It was about 10:00 pm. Perfect. Bedtime. I crawled into my sleeping bag in the back of my car and was soon sawing logs. The morning came with standard bib check in and reading for the Imogene Pass Run. I knew I was ready to race, but still unsure just how ready? How fit?

Race morning question: There I was debating, which pair of shoes to ware? I decided to go with the medium cushion, high traction Hoka Challenger ATR. The shoe is light and with a relative low base and high traction. It would end up being perfect.

15 seconds to race start. Then some muffled noise interrupted the verbose crowd. It was the starting gun. It seemed a little off; somehow distant and muffled. Consequently, there was mass hesitation as we all wondered, “Should we start, was that the starting gun.” Slowly we all decided to go and we were off. I looked over at Jordan Jones (4th in 2015) and said, “Was that the starting gun?” He confirmed that the starting gun was a bit weird.

Jordan, Chris Gomez, and I took the lead with Jordan pushing the pace. I soon settled in watching Jordan and Chris push each other. I sat back and maintained a constant tempo. By mile 2 Chris had fallen back to 3rd place. He was looking strong yet running conservatively. He would be a force to reckon with later in the race. Jordan continued to push the pace. He was now 20-30 seconds up on me. I continued a solid tempo which I knew I could maintain. I quickly checked off miles 3-6 and then caught Jordan. He was pushing it but the early speed was taking its toll. I took the lead and continued at my pace.

I figured I was on pace for 2:16 to 2:20. It felt sluggish, but then again I was now over 11,000 feet. At a bend in the road I could see my lead was now substantially growing. I just had to maintain, but I kept pushing. Often I underestimated my lead and thereby pushing further… but oh well. I topped out on top of Imogene Pass at mile 10 and 13,114 above sea level in about 1:38. I had timed my lead and at this point estimated it to be between 2 minutes to 2.5 minutes.

I rushed down the Telluride side of the pass, trying to run a solid yet controlled pace. At this point I knew I would win, yet I still did not want to slack off. I ran to the finish in 2:15:44 my second fastest time on the course and my 4th victory at the Imogene Pass Run.