Back by pouplar demand. Well not really, just Leon was missing me after only a week or so. Thanks for the love, Leon. My postings on TranRockies actually ended because of no wifi or even cell service for about 3 days. Then I wasn’t sure what to report, plus I’ve been really busy since returning home. TranRockies became more of a good training week and a chance to rediscover the place running holds in my life. One, running provides enjoyment. A large part of that is the social side of trail running. Trail runners are my people, they are messed up. I had a blast hanging out and a being my stupid self. One day, my friend, Jan, convinced me to try to pee on my goat beard, because that’s what real mountain goats do according to Jan. An hour later I was talking life and faith with Leon and his running partner, Sean. That’s me. Some would say something is wrong with me, those people would be right. I’m an odd mix of stupid and serious, or maybe I’m normal for trail runners.
The other thing I confirmed at TransRockies is that I run to be competitive. I’ve struggled some with the grind of training and punishment of racing in the last couple of years. It was hard to not be racing at TransRockies. I wanted to go at it and mix it up with other men’s teams. I’m not ready to be an entirely social or easy going runner. My competitive fire hasn’t gone out yet. I’ll keep experimenting with the right balance of hard training and just running in the woods. Equally important is planning the appropriate number of A+ racing efforts. Racing takes so much out of me, mentally and especially physically.
So with that, my last race was our own 10K Trail Championship that we put on here in NC. I’ve found it quit hard to race direct and race in the past 3 years. Pre-race, my focus and motivation fluctuated once again. I’d start to be focus on racing, but then be distracted by all the RD duties. Race morning was all RD and when someone asked about me about racing, I said, I’ll be on the line if I have everything done. I made it to the start line. Fortunately, in the first half mile I found my racing motivation and some focus. I had just turned 40 earlier in August so this was my first race as a master. I saw Chad Newton, as well as Todd Callaghan and Dave Dunham, early on and just lock on to them. No thinking. They were the masters that I expected to contend for the top masters spot. My back was a little out, probably from all the RD work, so I held back on the climbing through most of the race. Chad and I passed one another a couple of times in the first ¾ mile as it would roll or turn steeply down. Chad and Todd went by me on the first climb. I got back by them on the first trip into the technical singletrack section. Chad went back by me on first big climb of the singletrack. The battle was on. After the race, I counted that we traded places 21 times. I’ve never had a race experience like that before, a one on one battle. It was awesome. Chad and I both know each other. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We are able to acknowledge our own strengths and weakness. I knew Chad would not surrender. I think both of us knew no foolish surges or anything would work on the other. I hated that either of us had to lose. I would go by on the technical parts and steep downs. Chad just has more speed and in general was climbing better. I knew that I had to keep in close over the fast parts of the last half. Chad knew that he needed to get a lead.
We turned into the final mile of singletrack with Chad holding about a 30 yard lead. It starts with a steep, technical switchback descent. I was able to catch and go by Chad here. He stuck right on me. As we approached a steep gully crossing, I just kept the hammer down and took leap off the rock at the top, dropping about 6’ down. I used the momentum to pop back up the 6’ embankment on the other side. I knew this would give me a little gap. Crazy is trail skill of mine. With the small gap, I started to attack all the little ups going across to the last climb. No need to worry about the back tightening up anymore. I was committed to running most the last ¼ mile 22% grade climb. It was a rewarding “win” of sorts, I was 6th overall, but 1st Master. Battling Chad made it a memorable race. After Chad, the next two guys overall were Todd and Dave.
I am current in JFK airport headed to Switzerland for the World Long Distance Mountain Challenge at the Jungfrau Marathon. Even though it is not the best course for me, I am looking forward to racing and representing the US. The first 25K is relatively flat, then turns up for the last 17K. I’m looking forward to the test regardless of how it turns out. We should have a strong mens team as well as a strong womens team. Our mens team is Sage Canaday, Zac Freudenburg, Galen Burrell, Josh Ferenc, and myself. The womens team is Brandy Erholtz, Melody Fairchild, Kim Dobson, Gina Lucrezi, and Ashley Arnold. Hopefully I can get wifi to report on our results.
Ultrarunning And The American Frontier Spirit
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