Wednesday, March 19, 2014

blog catch-up...

So when last I left off I had been building towards the Resurrection Pass 100 and was two weeks out, getting ready for my last long run before the taper, the Crow Pass Crossing.

I've run the Crow Pass Crossing three times before with my best time being 5:10 in 2008. This was the year before Geoff Roes broke 3 hours on the course. He is still one of only 2 people who have done so. 2013 was the first time I had run the race since 2009, which was in the days before I ever trained for running so I was excited to set a personal best. I was confident I would even though I wouldn't be running it all out, not wanting to risk injury before my second 100 mile attempt.

The race ended up being sold out and I had to get my bib at the pre-race meeting, claimed from a no show runner. It was a little nerve wracking not knowing till the last minute, but I was pretty sure I would be able to get in. All in all it was a great day. I ran it in 4:34, shaving 36 minutes off my previous best. The awesome thing was that the next day, I didn't even feel the race in my legs at all. Aside from a couple scratches the 25 miles of brutal singletrack hadn't made a dent in my fitness. This was a great confidence booster going into my taper for Res.

Sadly, a second ResPass finish was not to be this year. Cold temperatures, steady rainfall, and washed out trail took a toll on my body. Though I was on pace to better my 25:37 from the previous year, I dropped out at mile 70 with significant lower back pain (from bad form due to the temps) and severely jacked up feet (macerated and blistered from the wetness). I was bummed because I felt fine mentally, felt  fit enough, but had to make the decision to quit, not wanting to incur the damage from another 30 miles of running. Even later that day, apart from my damaged feet, I wasn't feeling any muscle soreness, only the residual lower leg trauma that comes from running for 17 hours.

Any decision to DNF brings with it regret and questions, but I have to believe that I made the right decision and move forward.

In September, I made the journey to Fairbanks to once again run the Equinox Ultramarathon. It is a 40 mile race, held concurrently with the Equinox Marathon and marathon relay. It is by far the largest event I have run. It is around 1000 people and the course utilizes a mix of road and trail. There are several points along the run with lots of spectators and so all day there is a great energy on the course, at least until mile 20 when the ultra course turns away from the marathon course. At that point it definitely feels like a typical ultra where you run alone a lot and maybe only see a couple other runners.

Last year I had run this course in 8:28. This year my goal was to break 8 hours. I hooked up with Brandon Wood and his friend Marty early in the race and we ran together most of the first 20 miles. Running with friends makes the miles really fly by and this day was no different. At mile 20 the course hits a 3 mile dirt road stretch that I remembered really struggling with the previous year. I decided to just put my head down and hoof it. This worked well and I briefly lost my companions. It was short lived however and at the next aid station I regrouped with them, but our party had grown from three runners to five. It would get as large as six I think before we started to spread out again. We yo-yo'd about two miles before we hit a singletrack section and I took off. I was feeling good and just started to stretch my legs. I ended up keeping a good pace for the next ten miles, cruising the second out and back that I had struggled on last year. In the last four miles I really started to push it. I wanted to break 8 hours, bad, and knew I had to keep up the pace. I ran the last three miles in just under thirty minutes, with a 8:45 final mile. I was surprised that I could push that kind of pace after almost 40 miles of running. I finished in 7:54.44. My brother-in-law, who had travelled with me, ran Equinox as his first marathon ever and posted a time of 3:32, which was good for 11th place! He is crazy talented.

After the summer/fall of racing I took a couple months easy, because I was anticipating racing a couple of my first winter ultras. I'll write those up next time.