Sunday, September 26, 2010
Run Rabbit Run 50
Last week in Steamboat I endured what I am calling a good learning experience at the 4th annual Run Rabbit Run 50 miler. I won't go into nearly as much detail as I did with Leadville just because the race and the result weren't nearly as inspiring to me. Still, RRR50 is a classic race that I would highly recommend to any interested runner.
I wasn't too sure how my body would respond at Steamboat after a completely draining race at Leadville less than a month prior, but I felt good enough to give it my best shot. My training hadn't been ideal and I contemplated bagging it until I finally pulled the trigger on a hotel room the Wednesday before the race. In the end, a tremedous fear of missing out (FOMO) got me to the start line. Sometimes that is all the motivation I need.
I arrived in Steamboat on Friday afternoon to bright sunshine and gloriously colorful vegetation. I checked into the dumpiest hotel in Steamboat (still pretty nice) and headed directly for the pre-race meeting. The race director, Fred Abromowitz, was as unique as ever and kept each of us entertained for the duration of his presentation. There were endless raffle items and it seemed like everybody in the room won something. I was lucky enough to walk away with a brand new Nathan hydration pack. Very cool.
My alarm went off at 4:15 the next morning. I slowly got up, reassuring myself that this would be the last time I would be up at this hour for several months. Shortly thereafter I found myself at the starting line shivering but confident next to some very accomplished runners.
Geoff Roes, Ryan Burch, Bill Fanselow, Jeremy Duncan, and I quickly separated ourselves from the group and had nice conversations all the way up the initial 6 mile, 3,000+ foot climb on the dirt road of the ski area. We were still together at the first aid station (mile 6) where I had a very poor transition. Something about filling my bottle and dropping my headlamp took forever and before I knew it, I was 100 yards behind the top three guys trying to catch back up. I was a little pissed about this inefficiency since I am usually very quick at aid stations.
This really began a long day of me being inside my own head. My legs just refused to move at a pace that would allow me to be competitive which, for me, was pretty demoralizing. It turned out I would never catch up to the front three and would quickly fall into survival mode for most of the entire race.
At the turnaround the leaders had about 10 minutes on me and 5th place was nipping at my heels. I was being really negative all day and just couldn't shake the funk that I was experiencing. I even entertained the thought of quitting somewhere shortly after the turnaround. This is something that I had never experienced as I am typically pretty good with the mental side of the game. My body was just not psyched about racing this distance so close to Leadville and refused to cooperate with my attempts to accelerate. I suppose this will get better as I continue to build a solid base. I kept reassuring myself that it was almost over and that I could take a break from racing as soon as I crossed the finish line. It is sad but this was the most positive thought I had all day.
I came back through the last aid station at the top of the ski resort and had long since abandoned any thoughts of catching anybody in front of me. I thought the downhill would be a nice way to finish since I was so gassed, but it turned out to be the most painful part of the race. I really did not want to give up 4th place and forced myself to maintain a respectable pace simply out of fear that someone was closing. I finally crossed the finish line in 7:50 securing 4th place.
I wasn't too happy with the result but under the circumstances of that particular day, I'll take it. I was still able to run the 5th fastest time on the course which is a very small consolation. I learned after the race that the guys in front of me didn't have their best days either which is too bad. It would have been really fun if we had all felt fresh.
It was good chatting with the Gunnison contingent after the race. In finishing 3rd, Ryan Burch was able to secure himself an automatic entry into Western States 2011. Ryan has been a huge inspiration to me and I have already committed to pace/crew him there if I don't get in myself via the lottery. Scott Drum was also able to finish a very strong 6th place. There must be something in Gunnison's water that produces sick endurance athletes.
Although I make my experience in Steamboat sound mostly negative, I am really glad I did show up to compete. It is such a great race and the people who put it on are all top notch. After getting lost for 30+ minutes last year, I was looking forward to getting my redemption on the course. Although I was an hour faster than last year, I am sure I still left significant time out on the trail. For this reason, I am really looking forward to coming back to RRR50 and having a good day. All in all, it was a beautiful and fulfilling day and a great end to a fantastic summer of running and racing.
I calculated that I raced 312 miles in 6 ultra races in 5 months on top of thousands of training miles. This was much more than I bargained for and, for this reason, I am very comfortable saying that this was absolutely the best Summer of my life. Now it is time for a short break. Soon it will be time to ski again (and run some more)!!! Stay tuned.