29 April 2012

Cheyenne Mountain 50K

Photo- The Gazette, Jerilee Bennett. Post race interview. It was a fun day of racing at the second annual CM50K. I had originally planned to race Zane Grey but had to change the schedule because of National Guard commitments. I had run each distance at CP the last two years so I decided to change it up and find a new race in Colorado to get a measure of my spring fitness level. The morning started out cold. 40 degrees with 20 mph winds. It really bites the skin when you're in shorts and a singlet. I knew I would warm once I began running but the time leading up to the start was filled with shivering and goosebumps. 7:50 AM, still sitting in the car with the heat on. 7:51-7:56, standing inside indoor bathroom. 7:57-START, acting like I wasn't shivering while talking with Koop. By far the best pre-race warmup I've ever had! The race began and I was feeling sluggish. It took a few reminders to tell myself I was racing and not on a training run. Koop and I weaved through the opening miles of undulations and hair pin turns on the trails of Cheyenne Mountain; Colorado's newest State Park. I led the race the first 14 miles with Koop always within 5-20 seconds. He took the lead as we wound down the low grade trail with the finish line in sight to complete our first lap. Jason had a few seconds on me as we clocked the first lap in 1:57. The opening undulations came at us for round two and I was content running a few strides behind him. Jason's stride looked effortless. It's a bit deceiving; he's moving so smooth it doesn't appear like he's going fast..and that's the artistry. Did I mention he ran Zane Grey last weekend- 50 miles of gnarly mountain trails?
Photo- pikespeaksports.us, Tim Bergsten. Spot on AS support- Brandon Fuller. At the 20 mile AS I passed him while he took in some fluids. At this point I tried to create a decent gap and get out of sight on the wooded trails. At mile 23 I couldn't see him when I looked back and thought I was leading by a minute. The next few miles he would get closer and closer as I looked back. I was running consistent and it appeared like he was going faster and faster. At the top of a climb nearing mile 26 he was 5 seconds back. I started envisioning us throwing death moves on each other during the final 5 miles of primarily descending terrain. I foreshadowed the finish being an all out sprint and then puking upon completion. The pain cave looked me right in the eye.
Photo- The Gazette, Jerilee Bennett. Coach Stefanovic expected a win so I knew I had to gut it out. Get on with it! I pushed the descents and put in a solid 5 miles thinking he was just behind the bend when I would look back. Thankfully I created enough of a gap to cancel my foreshadowed ending and crossed the line in 3:57:35 and a second lap split of 2:00. Koop finished 1 minute and change behind me. Overall I had a fun time at this event. The course was flawlessly marked and you can't go wrong with a hot catered meal and post race massage/ART awaiting your finish. This race would be a great choice for anyone considering their first ultra. Great markings, aid every 4-5 miles, a two loop course to gauge pacing, and a good post race area to relive your success! Brandon Fuller's report. In other news...a huge shout out to Dylan Bowman for droppin' the hammer at Leona! Welcome to the Big Dance my friend!
Photo- pikespeaksports.us, Tim Bergsten.
Photo- pikespeaksports.us, Tim Bergsten.

07 April 2012

Totally Epic Proportions

I really tried to psych myself up to run the "Round Up" this year. After a lengthy match of mental tennis going back and forth with the pros and cons of this run I'm glad I chose the alternative today. The "Round Up" is only for the hard core runner who enjoys self-flagellation. El Jefe Mejor refers to it as his annual session of "mental callousing." The numbers speak for themselves: 30 miles, 10,000 ft. vertical gain. Here's the kicker- that 30 miles is run on only 4.5 miles of trail! It is literally vertical suicides to each mile marker and back to the bottom as you incrementally ascend Round. Absolute madness I tell you! I myself overdosed on the "mental callousing" running suicides on the b-ball court from 4th-7th grades. The other kicker- (I shouldn't have even asked this question...but I was curious) RB: What time are y'all starting? NC: 5:30 AM. RB: Leaving your house at 5:30? (Another question I just had to ask) NC: No, running from the TH at 5:30. So I did the math. This meant leaving the warm and friendly confines of my residence at approximately 4:35 AM. In the battle of Sleep vs. Round, Sleep handily won.

The alternative. I then had to figure out my long run for the weekend. With Quad Rock quickly approaching I figured I should get a few more laps on the course before the Big Day. Last November Clark and I ran a loop of the course from his door with the addition of both Rock summits. 27 miles, 4:22, 9:45/mile. Today I ran a lap from the door of Bellvue's Best also with the addition of both Rock Summits. 27.6 miles, 4:38, 10:05/mile. Less than 1 mile of repeated terrain, shorter drive time, "mental refreshment",a Goding sighting, and a 10:45AM start time...PRICELESS!

Clark and I were discussing what a superhuman effort on the 50M course would be. It got as low as 7:15. As I look at my times above that were run at steady conversational efforts I'm thinking that only a handful of runners will break 8 hours. 7:30 breaks down into two 3:45 laps...and there will be carnage on the second lap especially if its hot so there will be no negative splitting on this one. If I compare apples to oranges on other two loop 50M courses I've run, the closest lap splits I've had were still 21 minutes apart. That came at CP last year - my best time at Fruita came with at least 40 minutes difference between lap times. To break 7:30 at Quad Rock I'm predicting that the first lap will need to be at least a 3:30 to come back in 4:00. And Quad Rock has significantly more climbing than CP and Fruita. The more I think about it sub 8 sounds more realistic. Nick's CR at Jemez of 8:07 is run on a course with approx. 1000 ft more climbing and at higher altitude. I'm curious to see what time will set the inaugural bar...and pray for sub 80 degree temps on race day!