Thursday, September 26, 2013

One Cooked Bunny

Soooo, I meant to write a race report for Run Rabbit Run this past weekend, but it was my birthday and since this is the last time I'll (truthfully) be able to celebrate turning 30-something, I decided to go a little wild instead. I started my morning with a pumpkin pie latte, and I don't mean a little one, I mean the full 20 ouncer, which in Starbucks lingo is a "venti" because "large" is too vulgar of a word for snobby rich folks. I also just learned there is now a "trenta" option, which I am pretty sure is Italian for "I wish I could mainline caffeine." Anyway, while sipping my latte, I defeated evil, not just once but twice! The evil sudoku, that is. Then I killed a few zombies on the iPad. That evening a few of my running friends came over (because I don't have any other kind of friends) and we had soup, salad and cake. There was also baba ghanoush! Crazy, huh? And all of the partiers stayed past 7pm, on a weeknight and before a morning track workout noless! Move over Jenn Shelton, there's a new party girl in ultrarunning!

Right. So on to Run Rabbit Run...

With 100k Worlds finally getting cancelled once and for all, it seemed like I had a big hole in my schedule, especially after taking a lot of down time this summer. So what the heck, let's go to Colorado and run 100 miles in the mountains!

I think a lot of people expected more than I expected for myself after Western States, but mostly I was just hoping to have a solid run in the mountains and at least finish in the top 5 to be "in the money." But ten minutes into the race I was already hurting!

The race begins with 2,000 feet of steep climbing and I seemed to be working a lot harder than everyone else. As the huffing and puffing escalated, I snuck a peek at my Garmin: .76 miles. Are you kidding!?! F--- me!!

"Confidence, Atreyu. Be confident." I recently shared one of my favorite childhood movies with my kids and a (misquoted) line from the movie jumped into my head and stayed with me all day. No matter what, I was confident I could make it to the finish. Though I can't say it helped my confidence when I got to the top around 9th or 10th female and a cheering Dakota Jones saw me struggling and yelled, "Welcome to Colorado, Pam!" I do love that guy's humor, though.

Fish Creek (all photos from iRunFar)
On the downhill to Fish Creek, I felt like I found my groove and was running well enough to chase down a bright orange tank top ahead of me. I thought it might be Nikki Kimball, but it was a guy. I tried to stay ahead on the technical downhill, but literally took a face plant and banged up my chin and knee. I got up super quick, so the guy wouldn't think I was too lame and then immediately followed a drainage ditch into the bushes. So much for being cool. I let the guy pass me back and stayed behind the rest of the way down. At the AS, Bryon Powell told me I was supposed to keep the rubber side down on my La Sportivas, but I told him I was just trying to be like Lizzy Hawker, who also took a nasty fall on this section last year and almost dropped (before going on to win). I was 7th, but 2-8 were all pretty close and I felt like I was in the mix and was feeling good.

That lasted till we got past Olympian Hall and started heading up again. And that was kind of the story for the whole day. For all the climbing, there is a lot of very runnable uphill on this course, the so-called "douche grade." Normally douche grade is my best friend (does that make me a douche??), but not on this day. The altitude just took everything out of me and I could not get the air or the energy I needed to run uphill. Three times after big downhills I heard "You made up time" or "you are gaining on the girls ahead" only to lose it again on the uphills. Until the 12 miles of uphill from mile 70-82 just did me in completely. 
Sucking wind and "breathing like a porn star!"

Mmmm, Sprite. Not as good as Sunkist, but it'll do
I also had more issues with my stomach than I have ever had (with lots of super fun dry-heaving!) but it was very predictable and came on when I was red-lining it on the uphills . My stomach was the worst the two times I came through Summit Lake at 10,500 - the high point on the course (headaches, too, so classic altitude stuff). But at most of the aid stations I was able to get some food in (yay soda and Red Vines!) and so I don't think it was lack of calories too much that held me back. I just kept chugging to the finish, which never seemed to come! 105 Garmin miles after the start, I finally got there, feeling pretty worked over.
Oh my God, look how bad off I was at the finish!
I had a summer of fun without serious training and I don't regret it. Honestly, I don't think my fitness was an issue here at all. What I do regret is not putting more effort into the altitude acclimatization. Yes, I have a tent, but I only used it for ten nights total with a three day weekend off in the middle. I realize it seems stupid not to use it fully, but it is not as much fun sleeping in a claustrophobic humid plastic bubble as you might think. Plus Mac has this crazy romantic idea that married couples are supposed to sleep together, so it is not his favorite thing when I use the tent. Family and job make it near impossible to get out to the race a couple weeks early (at least more than once a year or so). But now I know: I am very affected by the altitude. I can probably get away with a little less training, but I can't slack in the acclimatization if I still hope to be in the mix.

Nonetheless 22:38 for a 105 (officially 103) mile course with nearly 20,000' of gain is not such a terrible result and I am really not that upset with it. Heck it's still more than seven hours faster than my 2012 Western States! I was frustrated that I couldn't use my uphill strength and I know I could do much better on this course, but overall I think I did a good job of managing the problems I had and running as smart as possible on that given day. I had actually predicted I would be 5th going into the race knowing that I wasn't as focused as many of the other ladies in the field and I live at least 4,000' lower than most of those same ladies. It is hard to be too disappointed when the winnings more than cover the costs for a beautiful weekend in Colorado. And fortunately for me, there will be no altitude to deal with on the track in Arizona!

A big thanks goes out to Fred and his amazing team for all their efforts. Fred really has a vision of making this a race about the runners, putting on a high level events for the elites but making the finish goals of the non-elites just as important, if not more so, especially for the first timers. I think the staggered start is an awesome idea because it really allows you to interact with a lot more runners on the course. So much so, that I didn't miss having a pacer one bit. This is a challenging course (did I mention the altitude?) but it has great scenery and it seemed fairly easy to crew. Speaking of crew, I have to give a big shout out to Tom, who detoured around the floods of Boulder to come out and crew for me. He did an awesome job even when I wasn't the most cooperative eater. Thanks, Tom!

If you are looking for a fall 50 or 100 miler, this one is a good one. Happy trails, little bunnies!

1 comment:

Olga King said...

That Mac, what nerve, huh??!! It's a stupid idea anyway, I keep trying to sneak away to the couch, and without a humid bubble I am not allowed to! I think you did great considering your fun summer (and I am very happy you don't regret it, not that you care what I think, but I do need to have more fun summers, I just need someone to pay my way into pacing, and I'll be all good to go). Your birthday sounds like a blast, I may do something similar sans running friends because it will be Wednesday, you know, I usually work second job on Wed nights...so, between coming home at 8:30 and going to bed at 10 pm, not many friends, even running ones, would travel. Looking forward seeing you in a few weeks!