Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nueces 50K race report

I don't even know where to begin with this one. I was originally going to go down to Texas with my friend and training partner Dave Wakefield to the USATF 50 mile trail championship. I was looking forward to running with the big boys. Then I started physical therapy for a hip injury that nagged me for most of last year. My PT said no can do on the 50 miles and cut my running way back leading up to the race. I decided to go along and keep Dave company on the long drive (738 miles to Rock Springs TX). Once we got close and I seen the hills and and the course layout I got to telling myself, you may never be able to come down here again. So last minute, and I mean last minute, like 10 hours before the race I singed up for the 50K. With limited miles and no runs longer that 10 miles in the last 5 weeks, I decided to just go out have some fun and see what happens. The course was hilly, rocky, and I mean rocky, and one of the most technical courses I have ever ran on. Race morning began with a early morning wake-up at 3:15 when the wind blew my tent away with me in it. I got it staked back down and started prepping for the race. We hung out in the pavilion and chatted with other runners till the race start. I was so excited to be going to run long again and on some new trails. The race started with a big climb out of the canyon to the top of the ridge right out of the box, this got my heart and blood pumping right from the start. Once on the ridge, I settled into a nice pace in a group of 4-5 runners, a little faster than I would have liked, after all I was just going out to have some fun. The first few miles came and went to the first aid station along rocky single track trails up and down. After hitting the first aid station there was a big climb up the side of a hill where at times there really was no "trail" just a flag or ribbon to know you were on course. I ran up until my legs and lungs were on fire and then had to hike the rest of the way to the top. From there you hit some rocky ass jeep trails and the views were just awesome. This is the reason I run trails out in the middle of nowhere Texas on a trail running along a ridge overlooking the valleys down below on both sides. It just don't get any better than this my friends. Then back to the single track trail winding back and forth to the bottom and running thru dry creek beds along large washed uneven rock. Then a section along some bluffs where they do some rock climbing. It would of been nice to be able to look up and check it out but on this trail if you looked up for one second you were going down. Here I hit aid station #2 refilled my water grabbed some cookies and was off again. Next you run along some more uneven wash rock along a river and across a suspension bridge. It is extremely difficult to run across a suspension bridge as I have found out. Then along the bluff on the other side before starting to climb again. From here we climbed and climbed along a fence row on what I wouldn't call a trail but rather a mowed strip thru a rocky pasture. My lungs and legs were on fire again up and up. Then a steep loose section you could do nothing but hike up as you just trashed your legs on the earlier less steep climbs. It levels out but continues to climb to the top where and old windmill stood. From here it was a mile plus of some much needed downhill, however it was hard to really open it up on the loose rocks and you had to break yourself as you went down. Back in the canyon bottom and around a shooting range thru a low watter crossing, along the river and bluff on the other side of the camp where the race started. Across the river again and along the other side up a steep hill with steps and across another suspension bridge to the gravel road and a short loop back to the pavilion to complete lap 1. I came across with 15.4 miles on my Garmin in 2:09. At this point I knew I was running well and thought I was in first place. I didn't linger long here just re-filled my bottles and grabbed some cookies and a hammer jell and took off. At the start of lap 2 I missed the exit to the trail along the road at the cabins. I kept running along the road finally until realizing I had not see a flag or trail marking for a bit. I stoped and looked around and immediately knew I had ran by the exit to the trail as I did not remember running along the road that long on the first lap. It took what seemed like forever to get back to where I missed the trail. Here I ran harder than I wanted trying to make up lost time. If you can't tell here is where just going out to have fun really went out the window. I knew I had lost a spot or two while I ran down the road along all the cabins. I won't bore you with all the details of the second lap as it was much the same as the first strong and steady. Once I hit the low water crossing with about a mile to go I knew I was going to have ran one hell of a race. The last mile is always fun running in knowing you are in the front and that mile was the easiest and fastest mile of the race. I came into the finish to cheers from the crowd in 4:31+/- official results not posted yet in 2ND place in the 50K. Wow, that was awesome! I signed up last minute, was just going out to run for fun and had the best race on an extremely tough course and limited training. I think there is something to this no pressure racing. I did not have time to stress about the race, plan prepare or run the race over and over in my head. I just went out and ran and ran I did! Not to mention I had fun and loved every minute of it. This was a great way to start my race season. But lets keep this a secret, my PT doesn't know yet. I won't tell if you won't.