Mar 3, 2012

Ray Miller 50: Race Recap

Away we go...
The trail was starting to come alive with the creeping morning light and the pack started to move. Some starting their 31 mile journey or their 50 mile one.  Mine was the latter.  Being familiar with this trail it bottlenecks quite early so being near the front was my priority.  It would require a more aggressive race strategy, something I've been reluctant to employ mainly out of a fear of blowing up later.  However, today was different.  I wanted to run to my current potential and I believed a strategy of controlled aggression would be necessary.  The morning was overcast creating perfect running weather but that would soon give way to a strong winter sun that made things a bit toasty later in the race.

Miles 0-19:
A came out with controlled aggression and was feeling good.  I was throwing in some faster miles early for this type of race but I didn't care.  I was nearing the end of Wood Canyon Trail (Backbone Trail) and I got an unexpected surprise in coincidentally running into Megan, who was biking along the Sycamore Canyon Fireroad with the intention of meeting me at the Danielson Ranch aid station (mile 19).  We chatted for .3 miles before I branched off the Two Rabbits Trail.  After the brushy Coyote Trail it was fairly uneventful up to Danielson Ranch.  I was averaging 8:45 miles and was really focused on the upcoming climb to Sandstone Peak.  After getting a bunch of cheers from all the Coyotes and Megan and that aid station, I picked up an extra bottle and was on my way.

Mile 19 aid station manned by Superman (aka Jack Rosenfeld)

                                       Mile 19-28.5:  
As soon as I left Danielson Ranch I started to hit my first low point.  A bit odd so early in the race but after an aggressive outing it was expected.  About 3-4 minutes up the Chamberlain Trail I hear a coyote howl from Jimmy Dean Freeman letting me know he was not far behind, which made me try to push a bit harder.  The climb up Chamberlain was warm now and I forgot to ask for my ipod at the last aid station so I was counting to 10 repeatedly and I must of done that 100 times.  Pretty mundane but it got me into a rhythm and I was very happy to see the Yerba Buena aid station.  I saw Katie Martini Freeman there and soon asked her for a hat.  She came through with a turquoise women's visor but as soon as I put it on it provided immediate relief from the unrelenting sun.

Mile 28.5-34.5:
This out and back section was where I started to see some of the race leaders: Jorge Maravilla, Jorge Pacheco, Chris Price, Dom Grossman, Mark Hartell.  I reached the turn around point and saw Sim and Natalie manning the aid station.  After my hug from Sim I headed back to Yerba Buena and saw who was behind me.  A whole army of people within 5-10 minutes of me including Jimmy and Meghan Aborgast.  I tried to maintain my pace and reached the Yerba Buena aid station needing respite from the sun.  I got my gels and water and headed out.  About 1 min into the climb roars for Jimmy could be heard and I knew he was right on my tail.

Coming to the turnaround point. Glad to be here!

Mile 34.5-45:
This climb to sandstone and subsequent technical descent was welcome even though the next aid was 11 miles away.  I took the downhills OK considering the mileage and situation I was in and soon made my way to the beautiful Serrano Canyon where nausea spoiled my full appreciation of this place:  Rolling grasslands on a clear blue day.  Arriving at the last aid station I was prepared to make the final push up Fireline Trail and thoroughly enjoy the descent and final 3 miles of Ray Miller.  I ran most of the way up Fireline after a runner asked me if I had enough salt. Of course I did, I thought to myself.  However it dawned on me that I tend to sweat more salt and that maybe 1 pill per hour was not enough in this weather over this distance.  I took two pills and immediately could sense a difference.  My nausea had abated and I could run the uphills again!

Final half mile!

Mile 45-finish: 
To my surprise I ran most of the way up Fireline and was soon shuffling on the Fireroad arriving at the apex of the famed Ray Miller. I knew that the race was cake from here and I had the intention of fully cranking my legs on this descent with the hopes of catching some people.  I enjoyed the views but was mainly focused on getting down to the finish.  I passed one runner and was 14 seconds away from catching the next but the finish line came quicker.  I arrived in a personal best of 8:19, 8th OA, in full appreciation of the challenge of this course.  There were personal ups and downs that never seemed to veer too far in each direction and taking in more salt is something I need to start practicing.  Even though this is taboo, I tried something new on race day: Take gels every 20 minutes. Well that didn't work because I felt bloated and full for the majority of the race and frankly gels are disgusting.   So I'll stick to consuming them every 30 min.

I knew if I had a good day and I did what I thought I could do I'd run 8:20.  It was my A-goal and an ambitious one at that considering my last (2nd) 50 miler was half the elevation gain in 9:25 on fireroads.   I laid everything I had out there that day on the course and I was happy I was able to achieve it.  It felt and still feels good.  But it didn't come magically, just hard work on a consistent basis.  I'll be the first to tell you that I don't have the talent the top dogs have but I'll work my ass off to see what I'm made of.  This is a step in the right direction and hopefully there's more where that came from.  I want to thank RD Keira Henninger for putting on a great event, the volunteers, and Megan for making this happen.

Finish. Pose of satisfaction. PR too.

Post-race love with JDF.  Had a mini battle the entire way with him pulling away by 10 min in the final 8 miles.  Great run Jimmy!
Cresting Fireline with Sandstone in the background. Photo: Jayme Burtis

Coyote Power!

Next up is Old Goats 50 in about one month and it's something I'm not 100% sure about.  I mentioned in my last post that running high effort races takes a lot of someone and I can say with a fact that this was one of them for me.  Will I expect a solid of an effort at Old Goats? I hope so but I think it's going to be a different goal: to gain more 50 mile experience under my legs with tons of climbing (13,000 ft in this case).

1 comment:

  1. Great report and solid running! Good seeing you guys yesterday at MCSP too.

    See you at Old Goats.


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