Monday, March 7, 2011

Neuces 50 Mile - Back to racing smarter.

Nueces River along the course

Saturday was Nueces 50 Mile, the USA 50 Mile Trail Championship. I had decided to do Nueces after doing Bandera 100K in January. The trails in that area of Texas a fairly technical, being rather rocky. Technical trails help me hang with the faster guys, as I have no true leg speed (look at my personal bests along the right side). I had taken some chances at Bandera with

going out faster than I knew I could sustain. You've got to take chances sometimes, but oncemay be enough. I tend to know my abilities all too well, not many surprises. I was in a world of hurt at Bandera for the last 30+ miles and had no intentions of repeating the experiment at Nueces. I had multiple pages of course breakdown to compute pace over each section of the course. Using the profile map, I figure my time on segments down to 1 tenth of a mile in places. I had hoped to hit pace for the first two loops of the three loop course. Then I hoped to run a faster third loop, but at least not do the trudge of death to the finish on the third loop.

Alison and I drove over from San Antonio on Friday, the speed limit on the two lane road was
70. Then a turn onto a rough dirt road with 8 miles to the race site. It was rolling scrub brush countryside. The land was dry, then we came to the river by the race site. It was still dry all around, but a nice spring fed river cutting through it. We meet up with friends throughout the evening, did the pasta dinner, and hit the bunk house.

The 6 am start required a headlamp with the temp around 40. Soon a guy doing his first ultra was out front and pulling away. Dave James gave chase thinking it was Jason Schlarb, but Jason was back with a group of us that hung together through the first aid station. Alison was at one of the aid stations and said the front guy had no bottle, plus was taking very little fluids or fuel at the aid stations. Dave said he had advised the guy to fuel more. I was right with Steven Moore, a top local runner who I ran with a bit at Bandera. I don't have very good night vision and ended up turn my right ankle a couple of times in the dark, once pretty significantly. Several of us did a bit of talking about who all was there. After the first aid station was my favorite section. It was a rough trail that Joe, the RD, had cut cross country to link over to another trail. I passed a few guys and pulled away slightly. Then out onto a fireroad and the parade went by. Jason Schlarb went by first and I looked at his compact, efficient stride. I knew then that he'd be tough as I watched him run out of sight. Then Steven Moore, Jack Pilla, and Jeremy Pade. Back onto some single track trails and I passed Jeremy and caught up to Steven at the next aid station. All four of us were close through the first loop. Mostly it was Steven and I running together, so of course he got to hear a lot of talking. We did the first loop in 2:13.36 with first place 13 minutes up.

The second loop Steven, Jack, and I ran together mostly. I enjoyed the company as we all talked

some, okay I probably talked most. I really wanted to hold pace for second loop. As we hit each aid station, I saw that we were holding pace well. I thought that some guys have to be starting to slow some now. At the biggest climbs around 10 miles into the 16.67 mile loop, I was still climbing well on the second loop. That was great as my back is almost 100% and I'm finally starting to climb well again. I pulled away from Steven and Jack some, but they pulled back close on the descents. I left for the third loop with a 2:14.34 split for the second loop. I was pleased with that. The first guy had dropped, I believe Jason and Dave were still about 12-13 minutes up. Jack was with me leaving and we stayed close to the first aid station of the loop. I had slipped off pace a little to this first aid station. I hit the rough, primitive trail well and was now on my own. The right ankle was starting to hurt and I really had to concentrate not to limp any. I had slid off pace more at the second aid station but had closed some on Dave to about 8-9 minutes. If I could run the last 7.2 miles in an hour, I'd still hit 6:46. Then I hit the big climbs again and had to walk on steep parts this time. That really added some time, 4+ minutes on this section compared to the other loops. At the last aid station 2.25 miles out, I knew I wouldn't catch Dave. I took a little extra time there, thanked the volunteers, and apologized for being a frantic psycho most the day. I finished up in 6:51.35. Jason Schlarb won in 6:28.26, Dave James took second in 6:43.24. That is my 7th third place finish at a trail or ultra USATF championship with 4 times being under the previous course record. Not even the bridesmaid like Dave James, I'm the other random person you ask to be in your wedding party. Hey, at least I was at the party. Steven Moore caught Jack Pilla in last mile to go 7:00.07 and 7:01.01. Jeremy Pade also got under the previous course record for 6th in 7:14.45 and Liza Howard set a new women's record with the win in 8:09.59.

I faded the last loop, mostly the last hour, with a 2:23.25 final split. The right ankle was fairly sore afterwards. It was tough to put a shoe back on after the race. Then it hurt as soon as I moved it Sunday morning, before I even put my foot on the floor. The hamstring on that leg is sore from compensating I think. I think both will snap back quickly. Otherwise, I don't feel to bad. This race definitely proved to myself that I prefer running smart/even. I think I'll be back to finishing races strong again soon as I get more healthy and fit. The Crosslite 2.0 really worked well. This was the first time I've done an ultra in a racing shoe. Most don't provide enough support for me, this shoe is awesome, support in the right places, flexible everywhere else. I've really enjoyed the courses at the two Prusaitis races, tough technical trails. And I appreciate the new friends met at the races.

Me, Dave James, Jack Pilla, Steven Moore
Some great guys, as well as runners.


  1. Hey Jason,
    Thanks for the write up, great race!
    I stole a copy of the picture, hope you don't mind! Take care,

  2. Where is your beer in that picture Jason? Great job and having 7 - 3rd place finishes at US Championships, although may be frustrating it still shows you are consistently one of the top dogs. I predict even better things for you now that the back is cooperating. I can't believe you talked during the race, so unlike you...ha.

  3. It was pleasure running with you, Steven. Hope you are recovering well. I have another picture I'll send.

    Thanks for all your encouragement, Mark. I may be the only ultra runner who doesn't drink beer. I need to start holding one just for the pictures or bring along a wine glass and fake sophistication.