|Part of the Rudy Project Ultra Running Team|
|Photo: The amazing Jayme Burtis |
I officially survived Old Goats 50 mile. I say survived because I think it's the toughest 50 mile in the country besides Zane Grey(from what I have heard), and Red Rock 50 mile. I always think as humans when we put ourselves in situations where we push limits we never knew we had it becomes: survival. Yes survival. We resort back to childhood where you are completely in the moment, and all that matters is getting to the next moment. Drinking, eating, salt, one foot in front of the other; repeat. This will begin my story of survival at Old Goats 50 mile.....
Race week for me was actually very busy. Crazy busy. My INKnBURN family are somewhat slave drivers(OK NOT!!), but we have been wicked busy there to say the least. The company is doing nothing but growing, growing, growing, and we are all just working, working, working. Megan; who is one of the owners never ceases to surprise me. She works so hard, manages a household, and is the most amazing mama I have ever met. She wears like ten different hats, and sometimes I wonder how she does it all. She is amazing. So needless to say she has been holding down the fort for all of us and things have been nuts! All good though as we cannot make enough apparel to keep ya' all happy. So great! Ok so back to the re-cap! Race week flew by, and before I new it Friday afternoon was here, and I was picking up my son from school. In the car he asked me how I was feeling about the race, and I said, "its just another race". He looked surprised, and asked me if I planned on winning. I laughed, and said ,"Nope. No way... In Ultra Running there is no planning". There ya go. Thats my statement of the week-
Friday night rolled round, and me and the boys(Jesse and Tyler) had dinner, and then I packed my drop bags and got my bottles ready. I laid out my race day clothes, and laid down in bed. I tossed and turned until about 10:30 when Jesse finally starting rubbing my back. He told me to stop worrying as once the race started all the nerves would go away. It only took me about 10 mins after that to fall asleep...
I stood at the start line(as pictured above) in a pretty calm state. These mountains were my back yard, and I spend about 75% of my time training in them. I knew this course very well, and would most definitely use that to my advantage later in the race. I took a deep breath and stepped to the front of the line with the boys at the start. 5,4,3,2,1...and off we went. I quickly watched 3-4 women pull pretty far out in front of me, and Katie Desplinter and myself tucked back in a soft pace. I really like Katie. She reminds me SO MUCH of myself four- five years ago in this sport. She is talented, and full of competitive energy. She is extremely articulate(just read her blog), but what i love the most about Katie is she is confident, talented, and makes no excuses for it. She is bold and outspoken, and cross her path and it won't be a good day. I really appreciate all of those qualities. She is young, fearless, courageous, and I may even go on a limb here and call her a little dumb sometimes. Please forgive me Katie as I mean that with all due respect. She just runs way to many miles, plays for hours on end with Dom in the mountains, and over trains. She knows it, and could give a shit if you care about it. This was me exactly 4-5 years ago, and I had the time of my life doing so. Getting better in the sport was all I was focused on, and it drove me every second of every day. It was fun, and filled up hours and hours of life moments. Mark my words Katie Desplinter will be winning big races in the mountains in the future. Not so sure about near future, but it will happen. Love this girl, and I cannot wait to watch her fully blossom. Ok so off we went, and we actually hung together for almost the entire first 21 miles. She would pull a little ahead of me on some of the ups, and then I would catch up to her again. We chatted, talked, and I admired watching her float uphill. At times it looked as if she wasn't even giving an effort. She would just be talking away, laughing as I pushed on steep climbs to stay with her. Such talent this little thing is-
I struggled in the first 21 miles tremendously. I am not sure why, and ran the first loop 15 mins slower than my slowest time on the course. My legs just were not feeling it, and for some weird reason I just could not get in my "keira" groove. I literally was 20 mins off my goal split for the first 21 miles, and never once that entire time did I feel good. It was just a suffer fest for me, and my legs felt as heavy as lead. Normally I love this section, and we run this loop a ton during training. I always run it super fast with the boys, but race day was not that way for me. I decided at the mile 11 aid station to just suck it up, and see how I felt at the top of the mountain at mile 21. It was so awesome to see my Jesse at mile 11, and he handed me off fresh bottles, and my Rudy Sunglasses. God I LOVE this man so friggin much. He drives me batshit wild. Love you Jesse!!!
Something else very weird that happened was another woman whom I do not know stayed right on my heels(literally she ran on my heels) for the entire first 21 miles. I didn't talk much with her at all because she was breathing heavy, and really seemed to be pushing it. It was just odd as many, many times I would slow down to hike to get her off my feet, and she would do exactly the same. I would push at my own pace running my own race, and she would be right behind my ear pushing at my pace. Slow down; she'd slow down. Speed up; she'd speed up. I have actually never experienced this before in an Ultra, and a few times pulled off to pea in hopes of dropping her, but my pace was to strong, and I would quickly catch her again. I didn't wanna push it to much the first 21 as I had to hold back in order to survive the 2nd half of this race, but also I was really struggling with energy. Even if I did push it and get ahead of her once again she was there breathing heavy right behind my ear. Eventually I made the hard decision at mile 21 to pull back quite a bit on the big climb and let her go. I just wasn't about to let this woman draft off me anymore, and mentally break me. I knew I needed to get my shit together and turn this race around.
Miles 22-finish: Where my race began-
I got about a 1/2 mile up the main divide, and began to focus better as I was working on one of the bigger climbs of the race. Miles 21.5-23 are on an open & exposed very rocky Fire Road. I dug in, and just decided to put my head down, and get the job done. I still was feeling pretty shitty, and had almost mentally thrown in the towel. I watched Maggie Fade way off into the distance as did this other woman. Suddenly though to my surprise my dear and best friend Pam Everett came flying down the road towards me. She was out that day doing a training run, and was all smiles. She explained she was on her way back to Blue Jay, but could run for a minute with me up the Main Divide. I won't go into detail, but lets just say Pam completely pulled me outta my funk. She reminded me of who I was, and to just not give up. She knows me so well, and it literally took her all but three minutes to say all the right things, and just get me back to the fighter I usually am. Within minutes she was gone, but had turned my entire race around. As I approached the Trabuco aid station I was super excited to see Jesse again! He was having all kinds of fun getting in miles, and cheering all of our friends on at the same time. He helped fill up my bottles, and was very encouraging. I sucked down two Hammer gels, and left this aid station like a bat outta hell.
This section is ran on the Trabuco trail, and descends into Holy Jim Canyon. It's 5 solid miles of extremely technical, rocky, rugged down hill mountain running. To me it's what trail running is all about. Every inch of it is VERY technical, and I give this section a 5 out of 5 for gnarliness. You drop over 3,500 feet into the canyon, and if you fall anywhere on this trail you are done. I turned up my tunes, and quickly dropped into a very fast downhill clip. My goal was to cover this 5 miles in 35 mins. I ended up running it pretty close to that, and felt great once i arrived at the Holy Jim aid station/mile 28.5. Baz helped me fill my bottles, and I quickly tried to get outta there fast as I had arrived right when Maggie and the 2nd place woman were leaving. I had to stop to use the bathroom. I found a spot in the bushes, and took care of my business. I also chugged a Guayaki Yerba Mate shot, and regained my focus. Love these energy shots!!
I left here feeling amazing. The next section is a beast, and I was ready to bring this race back into my corner. It's the biggest climb of the race. Like big giant thousands of feet Mountain climbing. This was the climb to the summit of Santiago. It's just brutal, and what I LOVE to do. I dug in; switch back after switch back. I turned my music up, and just pushed. I looked at my watch, and was very focused on covering the last 30 miles in 5:40. It has a little over 9,000 feet of gain, but I knew I could do it if I pushed hard enough. I kept thinking about how much time I had lost in the first 21 miles, and how it was impossible to make that 20 minutes up. I adjusted my goals at this point, and decided the #1 focus was to just try and get in under 9 hours and go for the win. As I started to approach the top of the Holy Jim Canyon Trail into Bear Springs Canyon I could see Maggie and the 2nd place woman moving up the trail. Maggie was her awesome, sweet, and cheerful self as was the other woman. We all pushed on ahead together, but just a little ways ahead I broke away. At this point it became a race for me without a doubt. I knew if i dropped into my top power hiking pace neither of these women would be able to hold on. Before long I was alone, and fighting. I started to see all the front guys on my way up as they were heading down from the Summit. I had missed Chris Price as he was to far out in front, but it was awesome to see Dom, Jorge, Wick, Fabrice, and Tommy. They were all so encouraging, and looked amazing. I am in such awe of all of these guys. Honestly they are all so amazing. Once at the summit I became even more focused, and was determined to not loose this race. Suddenly I could feel all the speed work that Jimmy has been having me do come into play. I was flying like the wind, and felt very strong.
Ok so nothing about this section is pleasant. It's ran on 100% open, exposed Fire Road with big rolling climbs, and many sections have pleasant little fly's and bugs that love to bite. This entire section sucks. Bad. Mentally it can break you. I simply refused to let it, and used everything Jimmy has taught me in the last few weeks to my advantage. I ran a ton in this section, and really pushed the pace on the rolling or flatter sections. Eventually I could see the Trabuco/Main Divide aid station, and at this point knew I only had about two miles to the finish. I decided to not even stop here, and blew a kiss to Deb Ocasta, and mumbled to George Velasco that I hated that Main divide section and powered on. The last two miles of this race are broken up into two parts. 1.7 miles of running downhill on the Main divide, and then a half mile of pavement(UGH!), and a bit of single track to the finish. As I approached the last bit of this course I felt amazing. I had given everything I could, and was stoked to be done!! Snuck in just under 9 hours, and ended up with the win. The 2nd & 3rd place women were right behind me. On the mens side Chris Price won, and crushed it. He also broke the course record. Very impressive talent that guy is. Next was Dominic Grossman, Eric Wickland, Fabrice Hardell, Jorge Pacheco, & Tom Neilson.
Below are a whole bunch of cool pics from the race. I wore all INKnBURN apparel, and of course ran extremely comfortable the entire time. Absolutely the best running clothes on the earth!!!
ALL PHOTOS BELOW WERE TAKEN BY THE AMAZINGLY TALENTED JAYME BURTIS~
I highly recommend this race. It's very well organized, has great aid stations, a well marked course, and an incredible finish line party. Steve Harvey and his crew do a fabulous job. Thanks again Steve for everything!! Saturday night was spent celebrating with my awesome son Tyler, and my man. We had so much fun. Love these boys with all my heart. They are my life, and I am so lucky and blessed to have them both.
So my schedule has changed a little bit in the last few weeks. I was invited to come up and race Lake Sonoma 50 mile, so Zane Grey is off the list. Tons of friends and family in the Ultra Community will be there, and I cannot wait. I am bummed about not doing Zane Grey, but I will get out there one of these years. I would never pass up an invite from John Medinger to hang out all weekend with everyone. SO EXCITED!! Tyler and I are gonna go up together, and take a nice little weekend vacation. Should be a super fun trip, and I hope to run a decent race. Not really to focused on this race though. Just all good fun, and good training for AC100.
So I guess thats it for now. Another race under the belt. Life just keeps on flying by. Crazy! On,on,on with life my friends!!