My heart pounded and my head was spinning. Sweat poured off the brim of my hat and into my eyes. My legs, usually springy and strong, were made of cement, and I willed them into a fast cadence. 'I WANT THIS!' I muttered under my breath, as my watch clicked off mile 55 and showed 15,000 feet of climbing accomplished. Just seven to go! A stark contrast to my mindset several hours earlier..
This year I've experienced some highs and some lows in my running. I've hit beautiful and amazing trails on the east coast, run NYC with my brother. I've stomped marathon distance training runs in the Australian Outback and New Zealand, hit my old haunts on Whidbey Island, run mountain trails in Colorado, and of course, thousands of miles right here on Oahu. I've also suffered a leg injury, and a strange bout with something like sciatica. After nailing a solid three day block in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park near San Diego six weeks prior to this race (65 miles total in those three days) I totally choked on my last key long run three weeks out. Also the birth of my fourth son recently has been such a blessing, but it's certainly fair to say that family life doesn't make it easy to carve out long training weeks!
The goal this year was to defend my title from last year. If that proved impossible, it was to put in a solid effort. I needed to come out uninjured in order to recover and start a good training block for HURT 100 in January. Oh, also, the goal was to have fun along the way!
Thanks to Kalani Pascual for taking this shot!
I really enjoyed seeing many of my running friends, and sharing the lead through the first 35 miles with very strong Navy Seal runner Jake. We shared stories and motivation during the heat of the day. At 35 miles Jake felt stronger and surged ahead at a pace that I felt was not sustainable. I guessed that the day might not be mine. I managed a low spot and eventually got back to a happy place. It was all about accepting what the trail was giving me, and what my body was giving me. Music helped, as did high-fiving opposite direction runners. I started to focus. How far ahead could he be? A couple of hours after Jake pulled away, I allowed myself to start wondering if it was possible to catch him and maybe even still win... the gap had been at least five minutes, but someone mentioned two minutes with about 15 miles to go. Time to work. I knew my best bet would be the long and punishing paved descent and subsequent return down and back up Long Road. Running 7:00 miles down a 10% grade is easy enough on fresh legs, but with almost 50 miles down and little spring left in the pegs it becomes a challenge, and really felt harder than running that fast on flat road. I focused on solid form and amazingly Jake came into view just a minute ahead. Although I waved for him to come with me, the intent behind my pace was clear: You can't keep up, and don't even try! By the turnaround at the bottom he was a dot in the distance, but I left nothing to chance on the return trip. My earlier doubt was replaced with the realization that I had what it was going to take. The end result was 11:38, a three minute deficit on last years run. Since this year was much hotter, I felt that it was an equal or better performance, with a similar closing pace. It felt great to be done!
Thanks to Bob McAllaster for these pictures, his sage advice at the midpoint, and cheerfully volunteering his time!
Thanks to Rob Lahoe and all the volunteers who gave up their weekends in order to make this wonderful race happen! I've heard of a few of his challenges; scorpions, damaged trucks, electrical equipment that didn't work as expected, sleepless nights, and much much more. Please keep it up Rob... I'm probably going to have to come back next year!
Learning points: I got behind on my hydration early, and never caught up. On hot, difficult courses it's crucial to keep the flow of liquids coming in. 40oz of water was enough, but there were several times when I declined filling both, instead choosing to run to the next aid on just one. Next time I'd fill both and simply drain one. I went pretty light on calories, slurping approximately 12 oz of Hammer Gel from flasks, probably five bottles of diluted energy drink, and a few pieces of melon. Gel just isn't going down well these days, but I need to work on keeping a variety of easy to digest foods and drinks on hand in order to keep the flow of juice coming. I was riding a fine line just before bonking. Shoes: Hoka Huakas. Performed very well all day. I think the cush helped on the pounding downhills, and the traction was perfect for the dry conditions.
Now to recover for a couple of weeks and it's time to sharpen up for HURT 100!