Run through Time Marathon
March 12th, 2011
5th out of ~124, 3:23:27.
4,829' of elevation gain/loss
When I put together my race calendar for 2011, this race was an afterthought. My belief had always been that if I'm to go through the trouble and effort of running a marathon, I might as well do a fast one. Something that I can PR on, at least.
I changed my tune when I started thinking about Leadville. I'm trying to set myself up for success if and when I ever give that beast a try, which is why I'm doing Collegiate Peaks before I re-focus on Pike's this summer. Believing you can succeed at 100 is possible if you've already had success at 50, and from what I can tell the recovery cost of a 50 isn't so high that I can't have an awesome summer of training. All that explains why I got to signing up for Collegiate Peaks. Getting ready for that one, though, requires some longer stuff than I'm used to...enter Salida.
|Setting some old wrongs right|
Great, I'll place better in a field of 10,000 in Austin than one of 150 in Salida.
We made a few pit stops, but eventually rolled into Salida by 9:00. Met up with JT, Katie, Nacho, Matt, and Lisa at some fine establishment to have the customary Gin & Tonics. When I realized this could very well go all night, I bugged out and bunked up at the lovely Simple Lodge Hostel, (highly recommended for a whopping $24 per night!) leaving the real drinking to the professionals.
Conditions were perfect - maybe even a bit too warm, with sun and 40 rising into the low 50's during the course of the race. Salida is at 7200' or so, and it isn't often that the weather in the mountains was what it was this morning.
My race plan wasn't finalized until just before the gun went off. I didn't want to get sucked into a lot of pain, especially feeling as flat as I did during my warm-up. The initial climb gains 2,000' from miles 2 through 8, I decided to limit my HR to 160 until I was past that stretch, then make 165 my limit until I was ready to throw the numbers away and gut it out. I had been hoping for a top 10 finish until the past few days, but by 9:00, I had decided that just getting through this thing intact would be considered a victory.
Immediately, I found myself behind a good 25-30 runners. By the mile, though, things had thinned out a bit and I counted 12 in front of me. The lead pack of five had already formed. They were sooo close and it was tempting to just hop in and go with them, but I stayed with my plan and found Brooks for the next few miles. For the most part, they were uneventful and I found my HR locked in between 158 and 161. I paid little attention to mile splits as we grinded up a dirt road. We gained a significant amount of elevation in this time - with gains of 220', 130', 310', 430', 510', 300', 220', and 210' in the first 8 miles. The lead pack of five (Tim Parr, Nick Clark, Dan Vega, Ryan Burch, and some other guy) had finally moved out of sight. A kid named Branden was a ways up but still visible, and three other guys stayed right in front of me as we topped out at 9000'. I was surprised to not have more people in front of me at this time.
|Clockwise loop - all the squiggles in the lower right show the singletrack.|
Some time on the spur near mile 9, I pulled away from the three guys and started to close the gap on Branden and the other guy. At the spur turn-around (mile 10.4), I permitted myself to turn the screws a little bit and quickly moved into 6th. The next few miles were enjoyable, as I felt fresh and strong while I got to see tons of familiar faces coming up the hill I was now bombing back down. I had made visual contact with Branden and went to work on reeling him in. By mile 14, I finally made contact with him. Just as I got on his tail, though, he had to pull aside. GI issues, he told me later. Kind of disappointing to have put in work to earn that place and to have it given to me instead, but that helped fire me up as the course turned into a much more remote-feeling, jeep-traily bobsled run. The miles started to fly by as I focused on the next phase - the steep descent on singletrack that began at mile 20.
By this time, the realization that I might be able to finish top 5 began to fire me up. After building up a good two minute lead, though, I had allowed Branden to make contact again. He totally caught me by surprise on a savage uphill somewhere during mile 21. My response was a surge of fear...which actually seemed to work! I had somehow found myself in 5th, and I sure as hell wasn't going to hand that accolade back over easily. The last miles were extremely technical, though, and maintaining focus was becoming more and more difficult. I took a few looks back and saw that I had re-built a good 90 second cushion, but ran scared the rest of the way in. I finished in 3:23:27 - nine minutes back of fourth place and two minutes ahead of sixth.
During the race, I can't say I felt I was really 'in the zone' or anything. I just ran. Keeping my HR on the low end seemed to pay dividends later...don't get me wrong, I was absolutely shot by the time I hit the singletrack, but that type of running tires everyone out. I am still pondering what seems to be a surprising placing, but I think I may be suited for the longer stuff. The short list of characters ahead of me - Parr, Clark, Vega, and Burch - suggest that may be the case. We'll find out in May.
Mile splits and net elevation gain/loss: