Monday, April 30, 2012

Adaptation - 2012 Collegiate Peaks 50

Quotes abound to the effect of how you can't control external events, but you can control how you choose to react to them.

First, the facts:

Collegiate Peaks 50 - April 28, 2012
5th place

Collegiate Peaks 50 - May 4, 2011
6th place

Lap 1
I believe I was somewhere around 20th-25th place after 3 miles.  With the 25ers mixed in, there was no need to worry about position.  Every time I got the itch to push, I held myself in check.  We had a little surprise when aid station 4 (at the course high point, near 17 miles) wasn't set up yet.  I had nearly cached my water in anticipation of refilling.  Luckily, 17 to 22 was all downhill, and it forced me to stay conservative.  Turning onto the singletrack at 23.5, I knew I'd get my first look at my position.  No surprises; there were four guys ahead of me.  I estimated the gap between myself and 4th to be pretty big - at least ten minutes.  Melissa did some awesome crew work for me, getting my drink and belt ready for the second lap.  I hit the turnaround in 3:33:30-ish feeling pretty good, which was exactly what I was shooting for.  10 minutes was a big gap, but I kept thinking of how Duncan and Corey had a similar gap on me last year and didn't extend their lead on the last lap.  The race begins at the halfway point.

Lap 2
It was a bit more difficult estimating the gap between me and 6th, as the people I passed on my way back up were a mixed bag of 25ers and 50ers.  I did pick out Benjamin Dunn, who had spotted me maybe 3 minutes.  The 7 miles from the turnaround to the high point would be, at least in my mind, the crux of the day.  Last year, I absolutely wilted through this stretch.  Fortunately, I held together much better this time around.  Still, Ben had closed the gap substantially, hitting the high point aid station just as I left it.  I noticed he went through the station very quickly, which suggested to me that he was putting forth a concerted effort to make contact with me.  Having learned a lesson about skipping aid last year, I had decided that with a decent amount left in the tank, I wasn't going to worry about maintaing that gap yet.  If he wanted to chase, so be it.  I caught sight of him a few times during the 30-40 miles, but it seemed he wasn't gaining.  Aid crew at mile 38 reported that I was still about 10 minutes back of 4th.  I felt decent at this time, but the memory of falling apart in the mid-40's last year stuck.  Instead of pushing to see if I could make a dent in that gap, I stayed within myself to make sure I got to the mile 44 aid station able to run the remainder of the course in.  By the time I hit 44, I learned my gap was still 8 minutes.  Not knowing where Ben had gone, I again decided to run within myself and lock up 5th instead of risking a blowup chasing down 4th.  The last miles felt surprisingly easy - I was in so much better shape this year than last year at this point.  My mind kept looking ahead to August during the final stretch - 100 miles finally began to feel comprehendible.  

The negatives
With more mileage under me, I was hoping to shave more than 2 minutes off my time from last year.  My tier of personal goals going into the race went something like this:
C goal - sub 7:45
B goal - sub 7:38
A goal - sub 7:30
To only shave off a nominal amount was kind of a bummer.  I even have to acknowledge that the conditions were more favorable this year - last year, the heat was much more of a factor than it was yesterday.

The positives
I ran smarter splits - 3:34/4:09 vs 3:30/4:15 last year.
Less 'want to die' moments.
Felt much better post-race.
Dialed into my needs better - nutrition, hydration, electrolytes, etc.

Put it all together, and what do I have? ultimate goal this year is a strong performance in my 100 mile debut.  Once I finished CP last year, I couldn't even fathom doubling the distance.  After yesterday, though...I can wrap my head around it.  I think my training has actually been quite appropriate for the 100, maybe even slightly at the expense of 50.  The focus on distance as opposed to turnover showed yesterday, as I didn't seem to have the ability to hammer...but I didn't have the extended periods of struggle, either.

Collegiate Peaks is a great event, and Burke Kaiser is a cool dude.  It's a bummer that this race and the Cheyenne Mountain trail races fall on the same weekend, as that's another class event.

I choose to be OK with yesterday's result.  While there are lessons to be taken away by yesterday's performance, I do think I'm on the right track for the race across the sky in August.


  1. Good job Sean! We still need to knock out Mt. Rosa!

  2. I'd say the biggest positive is that your focus and perception of running the 100 is honed and manageable now. That's the goal.

  3. Sean, I just must are an inspiration! I was on my second 14er when I got the chance to meet you as you and your friends celebrated your final 14er on Mt. Bierstadt! Since then, I've summitted 38 14ers. Keep on trekking, you're accounts are a positive light for those of us who have lofty dreams and goals in the mountains!