11 March 2012

Moab Red Hot 55K

It's been 3 weeks since the Moab Red Hot 55K.  I suppose if I'm going to maintain a blog I should write about it.  I haven't though, because I was (still kind of am) disappointed in my performance in the race.  I have run another couple races since then and was going to post about them but it seems the right thing to do to tie up the Red Hot loose ends first.  I did set a course PB, beating my 2011 time by about 5 minutes.  One of my rules is that nobody is allowed to complain about a PB.  I should probably listen to myself, as I am a pretty smart guy.

I had a great time in Moab overall, it's fun seeing all the other FCTR folks there.  I know I see some of them every week, but somehow it's different all being together out of town (and state) for a race.  FCTR represented 27 of 200 finishers in the 55K race and another 16 of 138 finishers in the 33K race. Throw in some Boulder folks I recognize and there was someone I knew around every bend it seemed.  My family came along as well, they enjoy Moab too.  We had a nice stop at the Ice Castles at Silverthorne on the way over and also picked up some info on the Grand Mesa State Park to plan a summer camping trip.  We didn't do much exploring of Moab  together on Sunday as the weather wasn't that great -- the reverse of last year where the race was met with ugly weather but Sunday was nice.  My wife and kids did go to Dead Horse Point state park on Saturday while I raced and enjoyed that.

The weather this year was beautiful.  Race day started with me in shorts and a short sleeve shirt under a long sleeve.  I had on a hat and gloves by took them off a couple miles in.  The long sleeve shirt was gone by mile 13 but should have been gone sooner, I just didn't want to stop and take my hydration pack off.  It was sunny all day long and temperatures were easily in the 50s.  This was a big contrast to 2011.

Beautiful blue sky day

Also in contrast to 2011 was my mental state during the race.  In 2011 I let my mind go negative and really didn't have a great time over the second half of the race.  I felt like I was the last runner on the course, though I wasn't and was beating myself up mentally for running slow.  I am not often like this and the depth to which I went that day surprised me.  In 2012 I kept a good mental outlook all day long, even when things slowed at the end.  I've commented before that my picture quantity during a run or race is proportional to how much fun I'm having and I took a lot of pictures this year, only 2 in 2011.

I think my disappointing performance in 2012 was mostly due to 2 things.  First I am just not good at running on slanty slick rock.  Much of the last 11 miles of the course is generally downhill but on side to side slanted slick rock.  I find this surface really difficult to run on, it beats me up and I never feel comfortable enough to let go and fly.  Second, I went out way too fast and ran a stupid race.  It was so easy to get caught up in the excitement early.  Miles 2-4 are all gently downhill and I ran them in 25:20.  I ran a 5K on New Year's Day in 25:19.  That's probably all that needs to be said there.  In my defense, I was talking the whole time so it wasn't 5K effort, but it was still too fast to be running with another 47K left to go.  I'd do it again though, I really did have a good time chatting with Kemp and Mindy and Lindsey as we cruised down that hill. 

Mindy and I when were still rocking the course

I reached the top of the first part of the course, mile 10, about 10 minutes faster than I did in 2011 but I felt 10x better this year.  I ran up most of this section with Mindy and Marie, chasing Lindsey.  Feeling good I took off down down the nearly 7 miles of downhill running to the 3rd aid station.  I was bounding from rock to rock, had great footwork on the technical spots and felt strong.  Mindy and I hit mile 15 at 2:50, faster than I've run 15 miles on trails in a long time.  I hit the mile 17 aid station 15 minutes faster than in 2011 and still felt pretty good.  Over the next couple miles of steeper downhill I started to feel it in my hips though.  Pounding downhill does that to me.  I got through it though and hit the cutoff point at mile 19 again 15 minutes ahead of 2011. 
Red rocks against the LaSal range, a cool juxtaposition.

I hoped the climb from mile 19 to 22 would let my hips rest and leave me strong for the overall downhill last 11 miles.  The climb seemed harder this year than last, though I did it in about the same time as I was again 15 minutes ahead of 2011 pace when I hit mile 22 at 4:35.  I think the climb seemed harder because I was along doing it this year.  In 2011 I happened up this hill in a crowd of others and the chatter kept my mind occupied I believe.  At mile 22 I was tired, but not wiped out I thought and running an average 12.5 minute pace.  My realistic goal for the day was a 7:00 finish, which is a 12:40 pace so I was still slightly ahead of that with 2/3 of the race and the biggest climbs done.  My legs were tired but did not feel as trashed as they did in 2011.  In 2011 I remember not being able to hop down off even the smallest edges, instead needing to ease myself over.  I remember being very jealous of those who were just hopping down, barely missing a stride.  So after a few bites to eat and some Coke I forged on.  11 miles, 2:20 to run it in, no problem, right?  It seemed very possible.

It didn't take long (well distance-wise) to suspect I was wrong.  My watch beeps as it takes auto-split times every mile.  I heard a beep awhile after leaving the aid station and thought wow, 2 miles down already.  Then I looked and realized it was only 1 mile.  1 19-ish minute mile, going kind of downhill, all on difficult to run on slick rock.  I had stopped to re-tie my shoes once, but still, 19 minutes?  I am just not cut out of running on this slick rock stuff it seems.  (It is slightly reassuring to hear everyone complaining about this section of the course, even the fast runners.)  As I plodded along over the 6 miles to the last aid station I watched my chances at 7:00 slip slowly away with every mile split beep from my watch.  I did stay positive mentally though, accepting what was happening as just that and enjoying the beautiful views of the course, and come mile 15 or so, the wonderful company of Ean whose bubbly voice I heard yell out "Brian!" as she came up over a hill behind me.  Ean graciously ran with me for 6 or 7 miles before pulling away to the finish.  I'm sure she could have run that stretch faster but I did appreciate the company and conversation, it makes the miles go by so much faster when you're chatting with someone. 

Just.  Need.  To.  Get.  To.  That.  River.  Down.  There.

Anyway, this dissertation on a pedestrian race is getting way too long.  The long and short of the last 11 miles was that it took me 3:15, over 17 minute miles.  I really did try and push things a few times, especially in the last 4-5 miles on the jeep roads, but I really had trouble sustaining even a 12 or 13 minute pace for long.  Did I not eat and drink enough?   Was I under trained?  Was it all due to going out too fast?  Was it the damn slick rock?  I guess that's one of the reasons we keep doing these, to try and figure out those answers.  I do know I'd like to run that 6 mile section from aid station 4 to aid station 5 without 22 miles in my legs as that stretch has been my biggest downfall both years.

So, a 5 minute PB, I should be happy.  I'm getting there, some days.

I'm still upright, I guess that is success.  Photo courtesy of Chris Hinds.

No comments:

Post a Comment