Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Red Hot 55k - woah

The temperatures were great!  Not hot, but warm enough I had to take my shirt off by mile 5 or so. Thought I'd come away with a nasty sunburn but barely any at all. We were lucky to have very little wind and overcast skies most of the day.
Mark and I after the race. Was fun having him drive down and stay with us!
Zac chasing my 10 year old Mckayla and I the next day at Delicate Arch. She gave us both a run for our money :)

Mark, Zac and I walked the 3/4 mile to the start and pretty much just as we got there but before I was ready they started the race. Oops. I assumed since I was wearing a timing chip that it wouldn't matter since your time started whenever you went over the mat so I started about a minute late and ran to catch up with everyone (turns out there was no start mat so I own that 1 min). This was probably a good thing because it got me moving quickly. I said hi to lots of friends in the first mile or two as I found my place. Felt like the pace was fast but comfortable for the first 4 miles and my friend Jen who I really wanted to be able to keep up with caught back up to me so I tried to hold on as she'd move ahead a little. The first 8 or so miles was mostly dirt road with a little bit of slick rock sprinkled in. 
Photo: Matt Gallegos

We got to our first big hill at mile 5 or so and I almost stopped to walk it but decided to keep riding the energy I had and to make a move and ran up it. Passed Kendall and Kelly and then immediately worried a little if I was going out too fast. Those guys are fast!  I felt like I was under control but a little fast and felt a few fatigue twinges by mile 7 so decided to reign it in just a little. Hit the first aid station around 45 min, 15 min fast (aimed for 10min mile average giving me a 5:42, or 10th place based on the last 2 years results).  Aid stations had great food and support by the way. I was focused on fast aid stations but the Reece's Peanutbutter cups were so calling my name. Wish they'd had them at the finish. 
We started going up and down technical slick rock mixed with dirt roads now, it was definitely time to pay attention. I really worked to push down those downhills, even the technical ones with fast lifted swift feet and I know it made a difference in my day. Around the first aid station I saw this lady in red and black with a nice pack on ahead of me, I watched her form. Looked like she was putting out energy of a 6 min mile yet was running an 8 min mile. She never walked any uphills even when they were certainly warranted. I thought there was no way she'd keep that pace up, but she did look talented so I could only focus on my race and let her go hoping to see her by the end. Helped me focus on running light and easy and efficiently (looking anyway).  I passed her around mile 10 once but she took off and I let her go. 
Photo: Matt Gallegos friend Steve I believe

Hit the 13 mile aid station about 2:00, 10 min early. After that I rolled my right ankle around the point where we look over the start line way below us. I did the whole quick hop up high in the air thing I do and kept going, but it gave me some pain a few minutes later. Had me worried, that's for sure, mostly for Sonoma coming up in 2 months. It calmed down but shortly after I rolled it again. This one didn't seem to hurt after (I have a theory that maybe I always roll that one because it's the foot I broke in 2010 after the tendons and ligaments around there refused to stretch any further). I was on my own around this time, several girls had passed me and it was a little lonely. Caught up to a few and with a quick stop at 17 mile aid station I was with them. Hit 17 just under goal time of 2:50. 
From there I met up with Courtney, a girl Who also ran the fruita 50 last year. I love her because she doesn't wear fancy clothes or gear but runs well. We chatted a bit while I messed around with my iPod getting it out and untangle and going. Probably slowed me down a few minutes, darn technology. Later I saw Zac up ahead. Had another "oh crap did I go out too fast" moment as he's a speedy, but something seemed off when I passed him. He was having a hard day with some heart rate issues. I wasn't keen to leave a good friend in a position like that, but I know he's a smart guy and there were lots of people around him. We were into the thick of the slick rock now. Steep up, down, some long some short, lots of keepin the eyes peeled for flagging as sometimes you had to go off a trail to stay on course and sometimes on slick rock there is no trail. It was well marked but kind of like where's waldo sometimes. I was grateful to run with a small group of 3-4 for almost 10 miles. We took turns sighting and leading. Thanks Brian and Courtney!    

Borrowing this photo from http://runjunkie.blogspot.com/.  It's a good representation of much of the slickrock.
Some was steeper and rougher :)
 Let's see, mile 21 aid was right on time at 3:30 and was at the top of a long steep climb, was nice to get to. Was the only place I grabbed anything besides water and coke from an aid station. Grabbed a small square of pb&j to help the 2 ibuprofen I was taking for my hips that were sore for whatever reason. From there there was plenty more slick rock to jump up on, down from, run sideways on, you make it.
Photo: Matt Gallegos
We got to the last aid staton at mile 28 on time at 4:40 and I was quick in and out and left. Had 3 or so big steep almost hands on rocks climbs to get up, ran down through a cool little canyon where I saw the only water pool of the day and then hit a dirt road where I turned it on!  I knew it was under an hour left and I ran. I felt in my recent road racing element and knew I was going about as fast as any women around me were going to go, so felt fairly safe but still ran hard because it felt good. Felt great to open the stride up and still have legs. I imagine I was running 7 min miles on the flats. Brian caught up again and I gratefully followed him through a little more route finding areas and he encouraged me to pass a girl up ahead. We got past her and after looking for hours finally spotted the red/black lady. I said I wanted to catch her and he said to go for it but that he may not be able to come. I kept my eyes on her and ran hard, not 100% but a strong fast pace. I wanted to approach her quietly in case she wanted to put up a chase, wasn't sure I had that much energy left. When I finally caught her she apologized for almost blowing snot on me and I told her no problem and took off up a hill faster than was comfortable but I had to. I ran the last mile of downhill switch backs worried she or Jen would catch up but I was pretty confident I had it. I can't believe I caught and passed her. And nothing against her, she was a work horse out there and turns out she's a pretty big deal (her name is Anita Ortiz) and I ran a race well enough to catch her at the end. I was thrilled to pieces! I wondered how far the finish was but as I saw older spectators and smelled food I knew it must be close and there is was, right around the corner. I ran hard with a smile on my face at what a great day I had had and to see my 2 year old Birthday girl waving and my other kids clapping up on the rocks above. So happy with the day! 

5:27, 11th place in a very stacked field!  Ahead of people I admire very much and just a few people behind women like Darcy Africa and Jen Shelton. Wow. Almost 20 minutes faster than I had planned and when I asked legend Karl Meltzer (who also took 10th in the men's race) if it was a fast day (meaning easier conditions) or just a fast field, he said a fast field, made my day. I overcame a few mental lows, one section of fatigued legs, a few minor ankle rolls and pushed a harder pace for most of the race but didn't blow up. This was not an A race, it was a somewhat last minute training race but I wanted to go out strong still, not sure I expected to feel this strong.  I just wanted to see where my ultra fitness level was. Nailed my nutrition and hydration (thank you UltraSpire Quantum belt (held 2 flask I filled with water every aid station), ViFuel (every 40 min), a few caffeinated GU's (every 3rd gel), metasalts, Gu salts, sport legs, hammer tissue rejuvenator) and loved my Altra Lone peak 2.0's which release in the summer (no slips at all, great to have confidence on the rock) and Injinji trail socks. 
I know many friends had a rough day out there, sorry guys!  I believe I had the kind of race I did in some part because of my marathon training and race at the end off last year. To learn to run at threshold was key for me, to learn I could push harder longer than I thought. I ran faster than my goal yesterday and saved myself some muscle and joint fatigue by not holding back on the downhills but picking the feet up quick, always reminding myself to not hold back, and by stepping quickly with less impact. I was very happy with how my downhill has improved and went and it gave me a lot of confidence to know that if I could keep up on the downs that my pulling ahead on the ups would not be for naught. I'm so thankful for the support of my family and friends, looks to be a great year!!

1 comment:

Jen said...

GREAT race report, Leslie! You had an inspired race, but also one you've put in the hard work and mental training for. I'm so proud of you!