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Saturday, March 14, 2015

2015 Salida Run Through Time Marathon Report

Writing this one with a feeling of mixed emotion. First race of the year... Done! Was it done at my goal? Nope. But I did finish. After puking my guts hourly for over 10 hours between 3AM and 1PM yesterday, it's a wonder I even got to run this race. Or was it just stupid? If I would have remembered my S-Caps, it may have been better. Overall, I ran a 50K today! After a 3 mile pre-race warmup, here is how things went down. I noticed on the warmup that my MAF was still sort of jacked. I guess that is somewhat expected given that I was puking so many hours before. I drank tons of broth and Gatorade to catch up but nothing can catch you up from retching your guts into the porcelain throne over and over.  The first few miles of the race went great. I did a great job at holding back as folks went out faster than they should. I just stayed religious to my HRM and tried to keep things between 165-170 (last year I was around 180 most of the first half). I was surprised though that the lead pack was not more strung out right away keeping the pace decent. After looping back by the start, we started to weave up the infamous "S" mountain. The climb up this is not as severe as it would appear since there is all the switchbacks and whatnot. I just hung to upper 160s to 170 HR max and continued to cruise. Just before the first aid station, I felt like I was being held back so I started to pass one by one. I would cruise behind folks for a while and then pass when possible all of the way up to the long road climb. You can quickly tell who doesn't run on ice all winter as those are the ones that get you hung up quickly. Anyhow, being held up some this early in the race is good because it forces you to to ensure you aren't burning up too early. Upon hitting the road climb, I was feeling great. Keeping my HR mostly in the upper 160s still, I continued to hammer up the road picking off folks one by one. A couple of these miles, I ran slightly slower than last year. Saving 30 seconds per mile on this climb could cost minutes per mile later if not careful. Being religious about "following my heart" I made it to the out and back turnaround in no time. As I began to descend back to the aid station at a sub 7 min pace, I began to feel a twinge in my left quad. I thought nothing of it as I had been drinking plenty of water and electrolytes and was trying a new thing of gels every 45 min vs. every hour to hour fifteen. The trail to this point was dry or frozen mud so pretty alright. Despite holding back, I made it to the halfway point about 3 minutes faster than last year with plenty of energy to smoke last year's descent.

Right out of the aid, it was a different story. The trail quickly became mucky muck. The next runner in front of me was out of sight and it seemed a couple gained some ground on me on the last descent. Still feeling good, I began to climb the mud out of there at a good clip still managing to not get passed and put some distance on those behind me. Now I just had to ride this thing out. After climbing and climbing what felt more like last year, I had a gel and soon later crossed a cattle grate that looked unfamiliar. As I began to descend, something didn't feel right. I saw another guy running toward me and I knew something was wrong. Being that he wasn't the guy in front of me out of the aid, I knew he went the wrong way too. We and another guy behind me backtracked about a mile to where we missed the turn to go downhill. 2 bonus miles and a couple hundred feet of gain and I was back on track. As the descent began, I knew I was over 15 min behind where I was before and would be hard pressed to still hit my sub 4 hour goal. The twinge in my quad continued to grow as I quickly passed a few folks before it really started locking up. I stopped for a quick stretch and continued on passing a few more through the snow. It was amazing to me today how many were simply not able to run the snow sections. Maybe they were too tired or maybe they just don't train. I don't know. I did well through the remainder of the ups. As the trail began to descend, my quad really began to hurt. I was not able to even just cruise it out and quickly found my self limping to a walk every time we went down. For the next few miles, my story was get passed by a few folks and then pass them back every time the the trail climbed. This continued on and actually got worse before the aid just before the surprise late climb. I was really hoping they would have S-Caps since I forgot mine and was realizing that this was all probably result of yesterday's escapades. After a quick couple hand fulls of potato chips I was back onto the trail. I don't know what it was but that aid station, the volunteers seemed to be in a bad mood. I always thank aid staff for volunteering at every station and am always grateful but something about the mood of this station was off. I quickly got out of there as I had my own demons to battle and plenty of miles to battle them. After another painful mile or so of descending after that aid, the surprise climb came. I was more ready for it this year and made quick work of it. All those that passed me on the descent to it, I passed on the climb as they hiked and I was fine running.

Nothing so frustrating when you know your fitness is there cause you can still climb ok, just to be debilitated on the descent to the point of walking. I still felt plenty of umph in my aerobic abilities and was just purely frustrated but definitely taking in the beauty and enjoying the day as much as I could. After telling the last guys I passed "see you on the descent" as kind of my ongoing joke. Only this descent, I made up my mind to just run it in regardless of the pain in the quad hoping it wouldn't do permanent damage. At first it wasn't fast, but it was consistent and my effort continued to grow and grow as the pain seemed to subside some. Maybe the potato chips kicked in just enough or something but the strong pinch in my quad had faded to a bearable amount. I kept increasing my clip and passed back a few folks to the final aid where I topped off my drink and grabbed another handful of potato chips. The vibe here was much happier with less than 3 miles to go. The aid staff were all smiles and good times as we trekked our final way into the mucky muck of a trail. I was finally back to sub-9 pace. In the final couple of switchbacks, I finally decided to forget about my silly quad and make a spectacular finish. I passed one after the last switchback and three more on the way across the tracks and two more after that in the final bit for my final finish. That final mile was the way I wanted my entire second half of the race to pan out but not today. Finishing time I think was 4:32:30. With a 3:45 goal, this was severely disappointing. I'm not going to dwell hard on it though. I think I got what I wanted and that was that my fitness is where it should be for now. While I don't know if I would have been 3:45, I would have definitely been sub 4 without the mileage mishaps and the quad cramps so there you have it. A beautiful day in the mountains full of excuses with 50K total mileage on the day.

Looking toward the future, my goal for for the first Leadman race, the trail marathon in now less than 100 days, the expectation was to be +30 min on my Salida time. This appears to be the norm. That and it appears that in analyzing folk's Salida times and Pikes Peak times, I felt I would be 30 min slower than Salida but at least 30 min faster than Pikes. That said, I know I won't be running 5 hours at Leadville unless I have another bad day. The goal now will be to beat my Salida time and try to be sub 4:30 up there to kick the series off. In the mean time, I need to just keep training steady and it will be there in no time.

Until next time...

See you at the top.  

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