22 February 2011
Red Hot Thoughts
The Podium: Parr (2), Jones (1), Burch (3)
DC & RB
Results,just in case you haven't seen them yet.
At noon last Friday I hit the road with my neighbor for our date with the desert. Seven hours and a few thousand calories later we arrived! This year I was to be treated with some wonderful local hospitality as Mrs. Jones welcomed myself and a few other runners and their kin to share a roof and some time with her favorite son. 2011 was my 5th time to the Red Hot; 4 as a racer, and 1 as a supporter. This however was the first time that I slept indoors before the race. Needless to say, the comfort of a bed and a regulated heating system made me feel quite pampered.
After a solid night of rest it was off to the race. As I drove to the start my in car thermometer read 50 degrees. It was warm and windy. Once the car was parked, the precip set in. A mix of graupel, rain, and other related water derivatives made their way to the sandy, red, desert floor. I needed to put on the tough face as I thought about stripping down to shorts, t-shirt, arm warmers, and gloves. After discussing "best" clothing options with half a dozen friends I chose to also put on the Geist Jacket which turned out to be a wise decision.
The race began and the excitement was palpable. The gun went off and the thundering herd began its journey. A large pack stormed forward. On the first descent I put in a mini surge to see who would follow. After about 2 seconds in the lead I triggered what can only be described as pissing off a bunch of bees that instantly began to swarm and overtake me. As the grade turned flat, Mike Smith (2:15? marathoner) made one of the most convincing moves I have ever witnessed in a race and put a sizable gap on the rest of the field. Parr and Jones cautiously reacted and the chase was on.
Until about mile 8 I found myself in the eight spot. I began to chip away at the fast start that propelled Jason Koop, Dylan Bowman, and two other guys I didn't recognize. It was nice to chat a bit with Jason and Dylan and recognize that a marathon was still in front of us. Koop was looking solid after an early season CR win at Ghost Town but would later have to drop due to a knee injury. D-Bow and I kept at it and reeled in the last two guys that trailed Jones. The fun began with the first of many twisty descents that allow the turnover to rapidly increase. At this point I still had a visual on Dakota but his red coat was beginning to disappear as the slickrock drew nigh.
Up until mile 24 Dylan was anywhere from 1-45 seconds behind me. I knew I would have to push the remaining descents fast as he would gain ground on the flats. I would steal a glimpse back every 15 minutes or so hoping he would be out of view as the race dropped into some of the slickrock washes. As I began to pass some of the 33K runners they said I was in third. How could that be? They must have just miscounted...However in the back of my mind I remembered that this course is not often kind to first timers. Many fast and accomplished runners have gone wrong on this course. Parr and Jones know the route, that left Mike.
During the last few miles I let the pull of gravity guide me to the finish line. 4:12, a 4 minute PR for me at this race. I then got the update from Parr that Mike had dropped after taking a left turn instead of going straight, thus repeating the first initial loop. Had he gone straight a new CR would most likely have occurred. This is trail running and these things happen. I have been off course enough times to know.
Post race was good times as usual. Great to catch up with my long lost brothers from Gunnison and so many enthusiastic, fun loving folks. Fun to see Young Money aka Hollywood aka H-Dub (my personal favorite) win one in his backyard with the support of his mom, aunt, uncle, and many friends to cheer him on and heckle him a bit later that evening..:)
Points for reflection:
1. Would the race outcome have changed if Parr brought a bottle and ate more than 350 calories? This is one area that I am working on improving as I look towards 100's. You can fake it in a 50K and a 50M- but that won't work for 100M. DC has witnessed the caloric deprived monster I turned into at GM 100 last year. On Saturday I ate 500 cals and drank 2+ liters of water. I need to eat more.
2. If there were no 15-20 MPH headwinds would the course record have been broken?
3. If Mike Smith ran the course clean what would his time have been?
Later that evening, back at the ranch, I chatted it up with Bryon Powell. Always fun to talk about ultrarunning with other runners who are passionate about the sport!
The next morning after a hearty breakfast and a mellow 4.5M jog H-Dub and I got back in the car. 7 hours and a few thousand calories later we arrived back at the Fort.