As the title implies my run at the 4th Annual Run Rabbit Run Steamboat 50 was just that- fast enough. Going into the race I did not set a time goal because of the knee issue and lack of usual training going into the race. The goal was to try and nab one of the spots to run at Western States next year. Goal accomplished!
Friday morning before the race I did an easy 3 mile shakeout jog. My knee hurt. It hurt more on this simple run than all of my previous runs in the last 10 days! Needless to say I was a bit worried wondering how Saturday might pan out. Not much confidence going into the race. Here's the kicker- the knee was not an issue! Sometimes I do not understand how the body can suddenly turn 180 and give me something to work with come race day. 50 miles...running...no knee problems...I said RUNNING 50 MILES!...I don't get it but am thankful for it.
The race started out very quietly. A group of five separated from the rest of the pack on the initial 10K 3500 ft. climb to the top of the ski hill. Myself, Roes, Fanselow, Bowman, and Jeremy Duncan quietly climbed. It seemed way too serious for me so I broke the ice... can't remember what I said to who but everyone began to chat with each other. At first we were all individuals working on our own power up the hill. Once the talk began it seemed like we moved as a team and it made the climb much more fun and enjoyable. All of a sudden we were at the top.
Roes and I went quickly through the aid station and hit the downhill singletrack. I hadn't felt the knee so I gave it its first test of the day. I bombed past Roes (did I just say that! :) around 6.5 miles and ran free for the first time since 07/04/2010. It felt great to open it up on the winding rocky ribbon of trail. This is one of my favorite feelings while running: effortless and fast through beautiful terrain.
I held the lead until shortly after the AS at mile 22. This is where my lack of usual training just decided to smack me in the face. At mile 22 you begin a 3 mile climb to the base of the Rabbit Ears and then make the turn back home. Within 1/2 mile of this climb my legs went to LEAD! Roes stayed consistent and gapped me by about 20 seconds. Shortly thereafter Fanselow effortlessly slid by. I continued my uphill march and hit the turnaround shockingly 1 minute faster than last years effort.
From mile 22-50 I was one gear McGee. No power. No explosiveness. No surges. Plain old one gear McGee. I kept wondering how many people were going to float by me during the second half. The legs were LEAD. I only had hope that I was moving fast enough. At 37 I was 6 minutes off my split from the previous year. Apparently Roes had only a 30 second cushion on Fanselow at this point...and then opened it up to put about 9 minutes on him in the final 13...crazy! At 44 I was 9 minutes off last year. With 6 to go it was Western States or bust... I chose to run the final miles smooth. I had no intention of aggravating the knee unless I absolutely had to. The strategy was simple: run it smooth, after each switchback look uphill for other runners, repeat, run like hell if you get a visual! To amuse myself I would throw up the "west coast" hand signal Tupac Shakur style as a reminder of what I was running for. For some reason this cracked me up numerous times...I almost "threw it up" as I crossed the finishline...but no one there would have understood my inside joke....I may have forgot to mention...the bulk of my youth was spent growing up in Greeley...thus the wide spectrum of music I have listened to.
Fred Abramowitz and the race committee do a wonderful job with this race! It is rare to find an RD who goes above and beyond to keep the race winners returning each year. A comped entry and 2 night stay in a ResortQuest condo is huge! I am truly grateful. Just another perk to run hard...Geoff, you are in for a treat, congrats out there on a day when you weren't 100%
Congrats to the Professor, Scott Drum! Scott did amazing at his first 50 at age 40. 6th overall...sub 8:15 AWESOME! He's got the ULTRA itch now!
The postrace was another treat. So good to refuel and meet a ton of wonderful people! Awesome to see the support of Jenna's family and friends who are such a huge part of this race. Her legacy continues through the lives she has touched!
Finally, a few random tidbits...
I love the polarity of caloric consumption pre and post race. Pre Race: 1 banana, 1 granola bar. During race: 5 gels, 2-4 cups of coke at most AS. Post race: 10 pieces of pizza, 2 beers, 2 cans carbonated water, 1 liter iced tea, 1 odwalla, 1 cookie...
You know you are a dirtbag UltraRunner when...the condo you stay in for the race has more square footage than your current residence.
You know you are a dirtbag UltraRunner when... breakfast, lunch, and dinner is what you consume at Aid stations and the post race party.
You know you are a dirtbag UltraRunner when...you are finishing this post outside of the public library after it has closed because you can still get the signal.