Monday, February 18, 2013

Something is Wrong with Me, Mountain Cup - Moab Red Hot 33K

Running over Private Arch
I went out to Moab knowing that Red Hot is not my best course, but then again there aren’t many courses that really match my talents.  Though some courses are better than others.  Overall, Red Hot 33K has more of my less preferred terrain, than my more preferred terrain.  There is a lot of road or jeep road on the 33K course.  Actually, the whole course is road or jeep road, but about half is drivable with any SUV 4x4.  The other half would need a need a modified, big wheel, high clearance 4x4.  There is a decent climb at the beginning, but it is only a mile and not steep.  I’m not sure that there is another sustained climb for the rest of the course, but there are several steep ups and downs in the middle 9-10 miles.  I like this part of the course, except I need to work on my slickrock navigating skills, or it’d be helpful to run the course more before the race.  I spent a bit of time stopping or at least slowing down to try and find the course markings.  I wasn’t the only one.

Double O Arch - Arches National Park
As for how my race went, it was unique I guess, but positive.  I led up the climb of the first mile which I wasn’t too surprised by.  Once we crested and the road flatted, a parade of runners cruised by.  Again, I’ve grown very accustom to this.  I heard from some of these guys that they were doing low to mid 5 minute pace.  Not a pace I do for more than 1-2, maybe 3, miles and then stop running.  I was quickly in 6th and by the first aid station at 4.4 miles, even 5th place was completely out of sight.  I was very glad to finally get off the dirt road.  The course mostly climbed up to the aid station at 8.1 miles.  This section was good for me as I got into 5th and even 1st was in sight as I approached the aid station.  The section between the second and third aid station was a challenge to follow the course.  I was never really off course, I just couldn’t click along at a pace.  Again, I wasn’t the only one.  However, Justin Ricks knew the course a little better and made good use of this knowledge to break away.  He and second place made a point to get out of sight quickly so no one could follow them.  For me, it was run, then slow down or stop to look for flagging.  James, the guy who I’d caught for 5th, kept directing me back to flagging and I eventually gave up on breaking away from him as he was better at finding the flagging.  We eventually caught 3rd and 4th, one of whom being Josh Brimhall.  We searched for flagging and ran as a group to the third aid station.  I knew the last 5 miles were on relatively fast jeep roads that were flat to down.  I was screwed.

Speed is not a talent of mine.  I had meet Josh in 2011 when we ran at the IAU Trail World Championships in Ireland.  Ireland was harsh, my kind of course, like really my kind of course.  Well, except for some road sections.  I knew Josh had good speed.  I could tell the other guy that James and I had caught with Josh had good speed.  James seemed to have solid speed as well.  I would say that it was decision time in the race, but that is not entirely true.  I’d made my decision well before the gun was shot at the start.  I was there to race.  At times it doesn’t matter what you may be good at or not be good at.  I knew it was time to take all systems to the red line and see how long it’d last.  The only other option was to surrender and jog it.  Not an option as far as I was concerned.

Alison running up a spine in Arches NP
I have noticed that I have the ability to access basically whatever speed that I have regardless of fatigue.  I’ve noticed that can be hard for others.  The abuse of climbs and descents does not kill my legs or the speed they can produce.  I have trouble doing 5:30 for 1-2 miles fresh, but 6 minute pace is available almost anytime.  So at 15 miles I dropped my pace to 6 minute pace or just under and was going to hold it for as long as I could.  I was a little surprised to be catching Josh who had gotten out of the aid station first.  I worked by him, slowly.  I could hear the other guys behind me, but no one was pulling up on my shoulder.  Eventually, I could only definitely hear one guy close, breathing hard.  Just over a mile from the finish he pulled ahead and now I was hanging on.  Again, what other choice was there, I was racing.  As we got closer to the finish, he created a small gap.  Then we hit a steep, rocky downhill.  I knew that was now in my wheelhouse and was able to catch him and get a very small gap.  Then it was flat again and again he was able to pull by.  A couple more turns and I saw the jeep road get rocky again.  Problem was I could also see the finish less than a 100 yards ahead.  Too few rocks and too late.  I hate getting beaten right at the end.  Seconds after crossing the finish, I got the guy’s name, Trent Briney.  No consolation, I hate getting out kicked.  As my friend and former high school coach said, “The good thing about getting out kicked by good people... you were at least racing with them at the end.”  You know what, I hate getting beaten right at the end.

Landscape Arch - Arches National Park
Okay I’ll stop with that.  There does seem to be something wrong with me.  I'm still getting ever so slightly faster as I get older.  Turning 40 has actually had some negatives physically, but some positives.  The biggest positive being my improving performance.  I surprised myself in that last five miles.  I had honestly expected all three guys to run away from me in those last 5 miles to the finish.  Though I was not just gong to let it happen.  I felt really good about that finishing section.  That was definitely out of my comfort zone, but rewarding in that I feel that I performed reasonably well.  The getting out kicked is still eating at me.  For most who read my blog, you expect my honest feelings at this point and I wanted that place.  I was glad to set a new masters course record by several minutes, breaking that of my friend Bernie.  My final thoughts on the race, what is up with me breaking previous course records and not winning races?  I've done this at least 10-15 times over the past few years.

I'm headed up the Reading, PA next weekend.  I always seem to enjoy the races in PA, plus I'll get to see several folks I know up there.  In two weeks I head to Texas, for Nueces 50 mile which the bulk of my training has been geared toward.  I've done a little more speed workouts over this winter, plus some 10 x 1 mile with 1 minute recoveries this winter.  I've been doing these miles at 5:50-55 pace with the last one a little faster.  Seems to be working based on Saturday.  I hope that I'm ready to knock off a bit of time from my previous performances there.  I'll find out in two weeks.

For my race coverage and Mountain Cup results/standings, check my website Mountain Goat Racing
I also hope you'll check out my race on that site as well.  Plus I hope you check my previous blog and give more input on my 10K course, what is too tough?


  1. Well done although the Pilot Mountain Payback missed you this year. I look forward to the post about PA.

  2. Thanks Rob, I would have liked to have done the Payback. Just too many racing options.