Monday, March 14, 2011

2011 Salida Run Through Time Marathon Race Report

2011 Salida Run Through Time Marathon Race Report
Salida, CO
March 12, 2011
16th overall (129 starters) Official results
4,500’ elevation gain/4,500’ elevation descent
Garmin Connect Report
SportTracks Per Mile Report

This was my third time running this race and it just keeps getting better. I ran it for my first time in 2007 and finished fourth overall in 3:38:21. In 2010 I ran it despite having the flu during the race and finished in 4:28-ish. This year the race substituted the last six miles of dirt road with six miles of fun, more difficult single track trail that had been recently built. This change was awesome! The new singletrack trail was very fun and made for more late-race difficultly which I appreciated.

Hunter and I had drove up to Salida on Friday after work arriving at the newly built Hampton Inn around 9pm after dinner at the East West Grill in Alamosa (a favorite food stop of ours). The Beist had made the room reservation and had planned to join us for the weekend but ended up with food poisoning on Thursday night after nearly three weeks abroad for work so he didn’t make the trip with us. Our friend Dan had planned to join us as well but had recently come down with a case of metatarsalgia and had to bow out of the race at the last minute.
Hunter and I enjoyed a quiet night of sleep at the Hampton Inn and got up at 6am on Saturday. The day had dawned beautifully and any worries about the weather were nixed. I ate a banana, some yogurt and a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. I washed it all down with 16oz of strong coffee and a bottle of orange juice.
We arrived at the check-in right around 8:00am and got checked in quickly before a short course briefing from RD John MacManus.
We all cross the bridge to the railroad tracks and got lined up for the 9:00am start time. The weather was perfect for a late winter run with a predicted high in the mid-50s. I started in shorts, a short-sleeve shirt, light gloves (I always get cold hands), my visor, sunglasses, a hand bottle full of vanilla EFS liquid shot mixed 50/50 with water and my iPod. In my shorts I had three gels and 10 endurolyte tablets (I only consumed two of the endurolytes during the race).
At 9:00am we all took off and I ran the first few miles catching up with friend Jeff Kunkle as we warmed up along the dirt road and short bit of pavement road. I hadn’t seen Jeff since last year’s run so it was great to talk to him for a bit as we ran. This was also good for my strategy--don’t start out too fast so I’d feel good later. Soon enough Jeff and I left the pavement behind and began the long, steady run up the dirt road. Jeff throttled back a bit around mile four so I put on my headphones and began cranking A Day to Remember from my iPod to slowly throttle up my pace.
As my paced picked up a bit I began passing a few runners on this long climb. I passed by the first, small aid station without pause as I still had plenty of fluid in my hand bottle. Shortly thereafter I said, “Hello” to another runner and he introduced himself as Jacob. Turns out he was from Santa Fe, NM, so we chatted for a short bit before parting ways. I was feeling very good and still had enough fluid in my hand bottle to pass through the second aid station without stopping. I was very pleased to have run the entire uphill to this point while feeling great and continuing on to the turn-around at mile ~10.

Around mile 9, though, I saw the lead runner, Timmy Parr, already on his way back and looking strong. Just behind Timmy was Nick Clark, Dan Vega and Ryan Burch all looking strong and hauling ass back. A couple minutes before the turnaround I saw my friend Brian heading back already. Brian and I had been hyping up a friendly competition between us for the week preceding the race and, obviously, I was losing. Brian had four minutes on me and is a very strong runner. I knew I had my work cut out for me to catch him.

I reached the turnaround at mile 10 at 1:30:35 into the race meaning I had averaged an 8:53 pace to that point. Knowing that much of the remaining distance was downhill, I was encouraged and pleased with my pace to that point.

At the turnaround, I filled up my hand bottle and consumed my first gel of the race. As I started back and picked up my pace down a short downhill I passed an older, gray-bearded, long time Salida runner that said something like, “Do you know who that woman was?” (referring to the lead woman that had just passed by us.) Since I was wearing my headphones at the time, I pulled them down and said, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” He replied, “Oh, that’s right, you only heard the disc jockey. I hope you get attacked by a mountain lion.” I couldn’t believe this guy was such an asshole and was taken aback enough that I laughed and said, “Ah, that’s fine, it’s worth it” or something to that effect. As I thought about it in the next 15 miles, I really couldn’t believe that jerk had the gumption to say what he said. For some odd reason, a number of runners (mostly old school runners) have something against runners that wear headphones while running and I get that. But to wish a mountain lion attack on a runner because he/she wears headphones is just plain retarded. For starters, did he really think a runner would hear a mountain lion coming up on them even when not listening to music? No way. That’s how mountain lions operate--you don’t hear them before they attack. So that’s a super weak argument that borders on complete idiocy. And secondly, if that’s this dude’s MO, I don’t want to hear what he has to say anyway so I’d rather just keep listening to my motivating music rather hearing his nonsense. OK, sorry for my rant there...

I really enjoyed seeing my friends David, Tom, Sean, Hunter, Steve and Deb heading towards the turnaround--it was quite the boost to see them. I continued to feel great and run almost all the way to the next aid station. There I came up on the runner in front of me as he slammed a PBR at the aid station. I couldn’t imagine drinking a beer at that point but it did remind me of the cold beer in my car back at the finish line so I kept on cruising through the aid station without stopping to refill my bottle. I did suck down my second gel of the race here, though.
To this point the course was the same but I knew around mile 20 we’d get onto some new single track and I was excited for that.

I ran the next few miles solo without seeing anyone until I caught a glimpse of Brian around mile 19. I timed it and he was 1:30 ahead of me. I was gaining ground on him. I still felt very good. And I could see the town of Salida again. We were closing in on the finish so I kept on churning.

At mile 20 I unexpectedly came across the aid station where we were to turn off onto the new single track. I hadn’t expected this aid station (I didn’t read the race manual very well) but was very happy it was there because my hand bottle was getting low with water. I filled up, thanked the aid station folks for being there and eagerly turned onto the single track. This new section of trail was really fun! Twisty-turney with some technical obstacles--I was loving it. And then I saw Brian up ahead just a few seconds on me. Another minute or so and Brian stopped and let me pass by. I slapped him on the shoulder and said, “Let’s go, Brian”.

And then the trail made a sharp left up an abrupt and short-but-steep climb. All my running steam evaporated but I saw a couple more runners ahead of me and power-hiked as hard as I could to catch up to them passing them just before the top of the climb. At the top of the climb I felt rejuvenated and quickly found my rhythm again. A number of times I looked back over my shoulder expecting to see Brian coming back at me but that didn’t happen.

Just before the last aid station around mile ~23, I stopped to pee and suck down my third and last gel of the race. I then noticed another runner coming up strong. It was Rick Hessek from Colorado Springs. He seems to make a habit of passing me in the final few miles of any race we run in and this was no exception. I tried to up my pace to hold him off but around mile 24 I stepped aside to let him go by. I could see Salida now and we were close to the finish. The single track, while enjoyable, continued to wind around Tenderfoot Mountain more than I had expected and we were running away from the finish line. But, soon enough, we were down at the flats and on the homestretch. I looked at my watch and while I had been hoping to beat my PR of 3:38:31 on this course, I knew that wasn’t going to happen but I knew I’d be able to finish well under 4 hours and was super stoked about that.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 3:49:03. The new six miles of single track trail at the end was more difficult than years previous so I was very pleased with my time. It was one of those rare races where everything went well for me. I paced myself well, ate and hydrated properly and just felt great the entire time. I had a great race and great time out there with my friends and everyone else.