Friday, June 29, 2012

Capt n'Karls Pedernales Falls 60k

My buddy David at posted a nice synopsis of last weekends first 60k of the summer series. You can catch the story here. Not sure if I'll run the next one but for sure at least one more of the series. Great practice for night running and a fun way to force that long training run in! See ya on trail!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Leona Divide 50mile April 2012

Leona Divide 50mi Race April 28th, 2012

     Those of you who may have read a race report of mine know I focus on the experience getting to the race at least as much as the race itself. This time will be no different. If you want the race details, skip down to find them. If you have a few moments, keep reading.

      Luckily plans fell into place for my ‘A List’ crew member and wife, Sandi, to join me for the 3 day southern California weekend while my folks covered for us at the homestead in Austin TX. Once we got airborne and settled in on the non-stop to LA, Sandi ended up chatting with the elderly woman next to her in the window seat. Her (the old lady’s) English was somewhat limited but occasionally she’d get on a roll. The odd part was when she asked if the flight we were on was headed to Rrrrreno (Spanish rolled R’s). Sandi explained that we were actually headed to Los Angeles but that the flight then continued to Reno. Me, being the OCD-slanted factual type, grabbed the in-flight magazine and showed her the flight graphic that depicted the Austin-to-LA-to-Rrrrreno flight path. That settled that....right? Well, no, actually. I won’t bore you all with the ensuing details of our ‘conversations’ but as it turns out, the women had no idea what time it was currently, what time it was in California (LA or Reno) OR where she had even gotten on the plane first that morning! Sandi seemed to be enjoying the absurdity of the moment while I pondered how remarkably different it would be to live without such constraints of schedule and planning.

     And this story relates to my run how? Good question. The week previous and on the flight out I was reading a book about survival. Who survives and who doesn’t when bad or unexpected things start to happen? One interesting idea in the book concerns planning. The author postulates that to our brains, a plan is just a memory waiting to be proved. Our brains don’t have much distinction between something we’ve already done and something we’ve thought about (planned) thoroughly. In preparation for this race I planned as much as I could with the on-line information but still felt lacking in the weeks preceding. I read a little more about it from race reports and the RD’s description and began to visualize what it might be like. As it turned out, my future memory played out just about like I had already experienced it.

     My single goal for the race was to finish top 10. That sounds kind of lame to me but with the stellar field lined up it seemed appropriate. I felt like I’d left a little in the tank the last few races and I wanted to be able to say at the end of this one that I’d given it all I had.

     Race morning presented really nice weather conditions and a fantastic group of ultra-folks ready to run and host another gathering of the tribes. Temps were in the upper 40s and a decent breeze was blowing but the forecast was for full sun and warm temps as the day progressed.

     The race started sharply at 6am and we were off, or up up up as it were. I couldn’t see trying to hang with the lead pack of (12-15) guys since I didn’t want to blow up on the first 4 miles of a 50. My heart rate was up pretty high and I was mostly anaerobic already. Plus, the 50k crowd went off with us and I wasn’t sure how many of them were included in the front groups. Anyway, I concentrated on my breathing and pushed up to the first aid station solo. It was more steady climbing on dirt road here until I finally got to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) access point. Here is where the single track fun began. The entire PCT portion of the trail was super enjoyable. Yes, even the climbing portions late in the race where I was suffering a little. It is possible to enjoy suffering.

     I rolled more downhill (finally!) into the 16.4 aid station where crew and/or drop bags were allowed. Sandi was there for me with my waist belt and new bottle of nutrition. In retrospect I am very happy I chose to grab the belt with the extra bottle as I used it to douse myself with plain water to keep cool as the day progressed. There was a big climb out of that aid station and I had memories of both R2R2R and  Zane Grey with the dry desert heat baking my head as my feet made their way across the dusty rocks. Luckily this climb ended soon enough and I was back on some incredibly beautiful single track windy trail along the ridge line. Just after the 20.4mi aid station I passed Dominic Grossman. I was a little surprised but running well and feeling pretty good. I kept the pace going and to my pleasure, found another runner, Dan Vega, just before the killer 2.5mi downhill road to the 50mi turnaround.
     This road is also where I began to see all the leaders coming back up and was able to count my position in the race, at least at that moment. I blasted down the road and refreshed my supplies at the aid station. My concern about the climb back out was heightened by the mass of humanity I saw about the time I started back up myself. The two guys I had passed in addition to what seemed like 25 other people were screaming down the hill and hot on my heels. I couldn’t run the whole way up but pushed as hard as I could to keep ahead of the chase pack behind me. I had counted 10 on my way down so I stood in 11th place as best I could tell. I caught up with and passed Scott Jaime about half way up and that pushed me to the top feeling decent. I knew people were chasing me and I ran like it when I got back to the PCT single track.
     It was overall downhill from here all the way back to the 42.6 crew aid station and I felt like was really running strong and fast. All the runners I met head-on were super nice with encouragement and courtesy by stepping to the side of the narrow trail as we passed. As well as I was running, I knew still there was a good chance somebody from behind was coming on strong too. Sure enough, I couldn’t even get out of the 42.6 station before Dominic  had arrived. He had recovered from a low point earlier and was rebounding nicely. I pushed hard on the climb out and saw Chikara Omine struggling a bit up ahead. No sooner did I pass him did Dominic pass me. I hung on to Dominic’s tail for a while but he was moving too well and gapped me. The trail flattened just enough to run on in to the last aid station where I topped off my water bottle on the fly. More climbing on an exposed section of fire road left me running scared. I didn’t want anyone to see me and try to pursue. Luckily I crested the top and had enough juice left to blaze the last 3miles to the finish without a chase.
     Sandi was there at the finish to catch a nice photo and the rest of the guys who had already finished had a few high fives ready. I felt great but enjoyed a recovery drink and some stretching in the shade for a few minutes before found my flip flops and the will to socialize!

     While I can’t say I’m satisfied I can say I’m happy with my race and result (10th place, 7hrs13sec). I ran hard and did the best I could that day. I need more work on climbing, which was definitely the limiting factor for me at LD50. I’m very pleased with my nutrition and electrolyte results for the race too. I felt great the whole day and never felt like I was fading out or struggling excessively. A great crew, perfect weather and beautiful scenery probably helped too!

     My sponsor, INKnBURN, is also a Leona Divide 50 sponsor and was well represented at the race. Lots of cool clothes on display, including the official race shirt this year!
The Race Director, Keira Henninger, and her crew of volunteers did a fantastic job of organizing and hosting the race. The course was easy to follow and the trails were fabulous to run on. Easy running in the sense of not kicking rocks or tripping on roots but certainly plenty challenging with all the climbs, descents and narrow ridge running. Logistics were pretty easy in/out of LA and Sandi and I even found some time at the beach in Malibu on Sunday.
     Is my next flight going to Rrrrreno? I doubt it, but ya never know do you? I hope your future memories play out just the way you want them to. See ya there maybe….