I figured it was just a matter of time before I put the pieces together to start & finish an ultra strong. The CP 50 was that race. Without a doubt, there were some mishaps along the way, but boy did it feel good to overcome those obstacles and finish feeling like there wasn't much I would have done differently.
The morning started early in my hotel room with the typical pre-race prep. I drove the 3 minutes to the community center and immediately met up with Jaime, Todd, Brian, Chris, Leila, and GZ. I really enjoyed seeing friendly faces at the start of a race. It reminded me of how awesome the trail running community is and helped me not get so wound up.
I had never met George before and ran into him as I was coming out of a bathroom stall. My gut reaction was to say "hey" and shake his hand. Doh! Who offers to shake someone's hand after going to the bathroom?? He politely obliged and I felt like a doofus.
The race began and we all made our way onto the roads for the first three mile warm-up until we hit the trails. About a mile in, I began a mental review of my fuel plan. I looked down at the two pockets on my vest that were to hold my flasks of EFS and they were empty! For the next hour, I fumed about how stupid I was for leaving not two, but three flasks in my hotel room. This was supposed to be the race where I solved the fueling riddle, and it sure would be nice if I brought the fuel with me! As much as I was frustrated about forfeiting the 1200 calories I was counting on, I had more angst about the $16 those flasks cost!
When I got to the first aid station, I surveyed the scene and decided I would supplement the few gels and Powergel Blasts in my pack with oatmeal cookies. If you read about my night run a few weeks ago, you'd know I experimented with all solids foods (inc. oatmeal cookies) on a 30 miler. It didn't work out that well, but little did I know it was good practice for what I was going to have to do this day. Thankfully, I knew I had a whole bunch of gels in my bag at the turnaround.
The first loop was mellow. I just cruised with my plan of going out on the conservative side. For the first time, I didn't start playing mind games early on. Typically, I start thinking about having another seven hours to run...or 41 miles to the finish...or 6 miles to the next aid station. No, this time around, I just ran in the moment. I knew I'd be out there a long time and it didn't cross my mind to start calculating time or distance. I really want to run in this frame of mind going forward. I snapped a few pics, but most turned out blurry. Here's a the best of what I got:
Somewhere around mile 2-3.
Not a cloud in the sky = Hot afternoon!
Amazing views of Mt. Princeton. My first 14er in '06.
Lovin' all the smooth trails.
Around mile 22, Ryan Burch came running at me (his mile 28). I had met Ryan the night before at the pre-race meeting. Super nice guy. I don't know what it is, but in all my out & back races, whenever the leader passes me on their return trip, I have a vivid memory of exactly where it happened. Duncan Callahan at Silver Rush, Matt Carpenter on Pikes, Geoff Roes at Run Rabbit Run. Ryan came flying by looking as strong as ever. I fully expected to see one of the other fast guys chasing him, but no one came for quite some time. Ryan had a least a mile on Duncan and Dylan, who were the next to come along. A huge congrats to Ryan for winning and setting a new course record in 6:37.
By counting all the runners passing by as they headed out on their second loop, I figured I was around 30th place. I hit the turnaround in 3:58 and was back on the course at 4:01. Not long after, I passed Jaime coming in for his 25 miles finish and then ran past Tracey (aka Runs With Wolves) whom I also met at the pre-race meeting and had only known previously from the Runners World Trail Running Forums. I gave a quick shout out as she looked great despite having a rough day. She lays claim to the best race report I've ever read (from the 2010 Pikes Peak Marathon). She fell on the descent cutting her head and gushing blood all over her face, shirt and PPM bib... and she still finished in an awesome time!
Miles 25-32 were predominantly uphill. I hiked a bunch of the long steep sections, but I started passing a few people who were struggling. That provided some motivation and it was around mile 32 that I threw my "conservative" plan out the window and decided to push it to see what I could do during the final 18. I ran everything I felt I should have run, and fast walked all the sharp climbs. As I passed people, I had visions of other races when I would get passed back after I crashed and burned. No, on this day the few stomach and side cramps I got were non-factors and overall I felt great! I blew through the 40's still chugging along (amazing new experience to be feeling great that late in the race) and was looking forward to the final three miles of downhill road running. I thought for sure I'd be able to crank those out.
The road finally came, but the energy I had anticipated having simply wasn't there. I ran the whole way in, but it wasn't exactly the epic finish I had pictured just a short time earlier. I knew a time of around 8:30 was possible, but after missing a turn and having to backtrack, I finally crossed the finish line in 8:33 and later found out that was good for 18th overall and a 40 minute PR.
The worst part of the day by a long shot was the drive home. I remember thinking when Jim P drove home right after Run Rabbit Run last year, that I'd never do something like that that. But there I was cruising down 285 a mere two hours after crossing the finish line. I stopped and hobbled around a convenience store in Fairplay and then satisfied my hunger at Qdoba in Conifer. I probably should have stopped 2-3 more times to stretch the legs.
All in all, it was a great race that I'll certainly consider running again. The course had a few technical spots, but 85% of the trails were smooth and obstacle free. It was hillier than I was expecting, but I guess that 4700' per loop needs to happen one way or another. While I'm enjoying the afterglow of this race, my thoughts are shifting to the San Juan Solstice 50 in just six weeks. Those 50 miles are going to be a whole different ball of wax which gets me excited, but also has me breaking out in cold sweats.