Monday, October 4, 2010
Well I was lucky enough to escape with the win at the Second Annual La Sportiva Katy Trail 50 Miler. Once again the stifling Midwest heat sabotaged yet another potentially fast time for me. I really hate running in the heat. I picked this race solely for the purpose of trying to break my PR for the 50 mile distance. Winning or losing was of no consequence to me. I came here to run fast. As the thermostat started to rise each day closer it got to race. I knew it was going to be miserable out there. Despite the conditions however I managed to run a 7:32:08 and cross the line ahead of everyone else.
Here's a very quick run down of how the race went for me. From the gun I led the race for the first 25 miles or so. Coming through in 2:58:59. Right on pace for my pre race goal of a 6:20. About that time the sun started to really cook me and I hit a rough patch. I dropped from first to second place. At which point I thought my race was over. I decided not to give up though and forged ahead at a less than desirable pace. There were a lot of miles left and if I could find a way to get my legs back underneath me. I could get back into the hunt. At the turn around I took an extended stop to pour ice water over my head and get some cool fluids back into me. I got it going again after that and though having spent better than 5 minutes in the aide station I still found the legs to get to the 50km mark in 3:59. Trying to find a pace that I was able to maintain in the 90 plus degree heat index was starting to become a losing battle. I still had 19 miles to go and the heat had did a number on me.
When I told myself anything could happen. I didn't actually think that it would. It was just what I was telling myself to keep from pulling the plug on the race. At mile 38 though. Anything did happen when I caught back up to the leader. Totally surprised but trying to stay calm. I thought for sure that I wasn't going to see this guy again. Especially when his 50km split was a 3:48 and change. Turned out he too had got a little carried away in the heat. Which had a more adverse effect on him than it did me. As his pace was reduced to an up tempo death march. We made some small talk and complained about how damn hot it was. Then I told him to hang in there and that I would see him at the finish line. Just like that the race was mine to lose again.
The last 12 miles were a nightmare. The race described the trail as a tree lined trail with plenty of shade. If that was true I was having a hell of a time trying to find it. I'm sure that is a true statement in the early morning hours or in the evening. Right now however it was high noon and there wasn't a shadow in sight. Dehydrated and totally exposed to the sun. I just couldn't drink enough water to keep my limbs moving. I was going through two 20oz. bottles every five miles. Somehow I managed to stay on my feet and kept myself headed in the right direction. Eventually crossing the finish line. Completely delirious and seven pounds underweight.
Disregarding the typical crappy heat we always seem to deal with out here. It was a great race, filled with friendly volunteers eager to help. The course is set up perfectly for a super fast time. I feel that it is a sub 6:00 course for the super fast runners that are out there. That is if the weather cooperates. In addition to this being a fast course it is also a Western States Qualifier. So even if you don't run like Krupicka, Roes or Killian but have aspirations of someday running in the fabled hundred miler of all hundred milers. This would be perhaps the easiest qualifier out there you could find. I highly recommend this race to anyone.
I want to give a very gracious shout out to my sponsors. Salomon and Rudy Project for their generous support. Next up for me will be some pacing duties for my good friend and this years Kettle Moraine 100 mile Champion. Darin Schneidewind who will be trying his luck at the Heartland 100 miler on October 9Th. He has a pretty good chance of winning this one too and I'll be responsible for keeping him moving out there late in the game. I love pacing. It's a nice break from the norm. I can just run and get all the excitement and fun from a race without any of the stress. Three weeks after pacing I'll try my luck down in the Ozark Mountains near Table Rock Lake at the Dogwood Canyon 50km. It should be a very tough and challenging course with a pretty good cast of contenders too. With any luck I can carry the streak into the off season. That's not important though. I just want to have a good time in a beautiful place on some nice trails. With some cool weather for a change. A great way to end the season.
"A competitor will find a way to win. Competitors take bad breaks and use them to drive themselves just that much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as reasons to give up. It's all a matter of pride."