Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cascade Crest 100 Race Report!

When I run a really tough mountain 100 in under 21 hours, near the front of the pack, with no injuries or even lingering soreness, well, the truth is that I'd be a brat to complain!

I've given it a month to let the emotions stabilize.  For me there are such a plethora of feelings flowing through my body after these things that I'm liable to throw it all down here, and the result of that is a long boring blog post!

Hey, this race didn't go the way I had hoped.  Let it go right?  We had a great Pacific Northwest vacation, but the week prior to the race I suffered a pretty significant head cold.  Additionally I just couldn't find the right mental attitude.  Perhaps I was trying too hard, but there were almost no nerves, not enough excitement, and too much worry about what other runners were going to bring to the trails.  I knew this was wrong, but I couldn't seem to change it.

Race day dawned beautiful, and I had the best night of sleep prior to a 100 ever.  My head was pounding from the lingering cold, but a vitamin I and coffee killed it.  After checking in and hanging out with friends and family for a while we were off.

I ran at the front for a few miles, and then deliberately dropped back just a bit.  The weather was great, and the pace felt easy, even though I was gaining on my splits from last year.  I still couldn't find the right head space though.  Way too much worrying, and not enough smiling.  Strange!

Hey, this course is fantastic!  Amazing alpine views, great trails, great organization and people.  There are millions of reasons to smile.  I even stopped to pick blueberries at one point (and judging by the piles of bear scat, I wasn't the only one in the mountains with that idea)!

I really enjoyed a bunch of miles with Jon Robinson.  I learned a lot about positive attitude from Jon, and I'm committed to carrying that with me to my next long run (in four weeks)!  Prior to the Tunnel (which has no light and is well over two miles long) I realized my small flashlight was dead.  I pushed the pace a bit and easily caught Jon.  We ran the tunnel at a low seven minute per mile pace (felt easy) and rolled into Hyak aid (mile 53).  The highlight of the race waited for me there.  My beautiful wife and three sons, mother in law, grand mother in law, sister, and her daughter!!  I was SO proud, and grateful that I got to see their beautiful faces.  Any evil thoughts of calling it a day there were banished, and I rolled out in third place overall.  I didn't know that second place was mere minutes ahead. 

I felt smooth running out of Hyak, but I'd gradually stopped taking in calories due to an iffy stomach.  The next big climb didn't happen quickly.  Although I descended rapidly, after the 'Trail From Hell' I was back on my splits from last year (I had been 30 minutes up).  I dropped to fourth, fifth, and eventually sixth place.  I told Terry (my pacer from 73 to the finish) that I wasn't close to the lead, so I didn't want to race for fifth.  I just didn't want to push it at all.  The Needles were steep as hell, and the descents were loose and sketchy.  I left the last aid running strong and smelling the barn, but a wrong turn a bit later destroyed the momentum again (and lost us ten minutes), and I just mustered enough to finish under 21 hours.

My family was at the finish.  They had been waiting for a couple of hours just in case I had a great day.  What a wonderful thing to hug my kids and wife after such a rollercoaster ride!

It was also great to see that Brian Rusiecki ran a solid 18:45 for the win, and Jon Robinson came in an hour later in second.  Jon put on a clinic on finishing strong.

My post race analysis goes like this:  21 hours on such a tough course isn't bad!  Many others finish ten hours later.  My training was good.  Strong legs and great cardio.  The missing links were mental and nutrition.  The two might be linked.  Lack of calories leads to listless mental performance.  Also, lack of recent experience at the distance.  You just can't train your mind for how you're going to feel after 15 or so hours running in the mountains.  You gotta do it, and my head wasn't ready to fight back after night fell and my body requested a slow down.  Recovery happened in a flash.  Within a couple of days I was barely sore.  That's all good, because I'm running Peacock Flats 100 kilometers on the North Shore on October 19th.  A graduate level ultra with over 17000 feet of climbing, and strong competition to boot.  I'm back running again, and plan to try for a good run there.  Most important lesson I'm bringing to Peacock is to SMILE even when the feet are hurting after all day running.

As always, thanks to my family for supporting this whole craziness!