This weekend was the running of Calicoracing.com Labor of Love 50k and ultra running weekend of events. Last year at this same time I volunteered and was solely in charge of aid station mile 4.5ish. It was cold, windy!!!! and Snowed!! I had music, decorations and tried to give as much excitement as I could.
This year I was on the race course and passed my aid station un-manned and unattended!! Anyway, the start of the race there was only 13 of us and 1 had just finished the 100 miler in 22 hours-ish and decided he wanted to run the 10k with a friend of his so he did! and oh this guy is 59!! Awesome. The race started off and I was running with Cynthia, a great running buddy that also ran Headlands 50 last year with me and other Vegas peeps. We ran together for about 6 miles chatting and catching up on things. I then took off and started running a little faster and soon found myself running alone.
I soon pulled into mile 11 which was the last aidstation-only drop bag location and quickly grabbed my PB&J and Gatorade. I was quickly off and running again up the Now dirt road/trail section of the course. Ohh, yeah, the majority of the course is on asphalt road. I was now also power walking as the hill section is one of the steepest of the course and I soon came upon a different lady, Yoland, who didn't start with us but start running the events on Saturday! She ran the Marathon first, then the 50 miler, and now the 50k, all in a process to complete a series of 26.2 miles to put toward her goal of breaking the most marathons run in a calendar year. I think she said the record was in the 90's! and was only on #32. Anyway, Yoland wasn't feeling too good and a little down on enthusiasm and didn't think she was going to make the 9 hour cutoff. Well I quickly dismissed that from her mind and made her power up the hill with me talking about the course, where she is from, etc.. anything to keep her mind off the work of the 12-16% Grades we were climbing up. Oh and the Snow.. yes there was snow patches on this part of the course. Once we made it to the top of the road It was run time downhill and that is what I did. I quickly told Yoland to enjoy the downhill and recover because when we got to the bottom we basically had to come back up but that it wasn't as steep just long grades.
I took off down the road and after a while I started looking for the runners coming back but still didn't see anyone (the first runner passed us going back down the road as we were still climbing up) but the rest of the pack was still not in sight. After a few more minutes I started seeing them and by the time the last person went by I was almost to the turn around. I checked my time/distance and realize I could catch that person before getting back to the top. I made the turn around and started heading back but realized I just wasn't going to catch that last guy with the yellow jacket. Before I got to the top of the long gradual climb I was reeled in by a lady from Texas that had been leap frogging each other all day. We chatted and ran down the other side of the steep ass road back to the aid-drop bag station but we caught and passed the guy with the yellow jacket!! Yes, I was not the last male runner anymore!!! I again quickly grabbed my stuff and was off.
No sooner back on the asphalt I had to stop and get a rock out of my shoe and it is then I was put back in check to the last male runner as the Yellow jacket guy passed me. I thought no worries, I will catch him in a few minutes, Wrong!! He bolted out there and I noticed his foot turnover was just too fast for me so I had to let him go. Mind you it is only mile 22. I was then soon passed by the TX lady and she too had no shame in laying down the tempo and once again I was running by myself. By this time I realize I am in what I call "the witching hour" Its where I feel like shit, I dont want to run, maybe walk, cant take any nutrition in and everything is just starting to hurt. It's always been like this for me at this time.. somewhere around mile 18-23.. but then I hit mile 24+ and I am charged and good to go!! (I think its a fueling problem which I hope Infinte will solve!!) I push through the time and miles, walking and running and next thing I see far far up the road is the last Big Ass Climb and lots of people walking, which must be a crew for someone on the 100. I finally catch them and sure enough it is, they are pacing and helping her get to the top off this climb, which is about a mile lone and ranges in grade from 6-15%ish!!! I chat with them as I power walk past as my radar has locked on Yellow Jacket guy!! He is wounded! He is barely putting one foot in front of the other and now is the time to real his ass in. I kick up the power walk and I am closing faster than I thought. I finally catch him and notice his ankle doesn't seem to be in good condition. I ask.. How are you doing? He says his ankle hurting and although we are almost to the top I pass him but he sticks with me. As soon as we hit the top I am just a few meters ahead of him and I start running. Now is the time I have to attack!!! I have to drop him now or it wont happen over the last 4 miles.
I started running and sure as shit he starts running with me!! WTF!! I start to run a little faster and I see that he is dropping back. I then feel I got him and with a slight down hill I drop what speed I have left and lay it down because this is it!!! I look at my Garmin and holy shit I am running a 9min/mile I know this wont last long so I better get as much distance as I can from him! I also know that this is the mental breaker from him seeing me run and realizing he cant stay with JT!! Sure enough it works! I am completely out of breath and my legs are screaming to stop but I slow up and run a little farther. When I look back he is at least a 1/2 mile behind but that doesn't sink into my mind and it's not enough. So from now to the finish I looked over my shoulder like 10 times and when I stopped to walk I could only think that he was running and closing in on me. The last 2 miles I also realized that if I didn't continue to run I would not break 7 hours and so now that I was not going to be the last male runner I wanted to break the 7 hour mark. I actually visioned it as running into the finish line with the count down and people cheering me on to hurry my ass up before the 7 hit.. almost like an Ironman countdown till the next hour but when I got finally got there, there was an older guy clapping for me and the photographer.. welcome to Ultra Running!! hahaha.. I finished and they took my chip and sure enough, I finished 6 hours 59 mins 19 seconds!!! YES!!!
As I sat down and rested, I got some cookies and coffee..Yup that is all I really wanted. Next thing I know Joyce, the RD, comes over with a small catus and says.. Congrats John, you won your Age Group! I quickly said No way!! She said ya, 2 others placed and one guy dropped so you win!! HAHAHA.. I rock!!
I recovered fairly well this week and actually hit the gym a couple of times for some weight training. One thing, I did use my super new Camelbak Octane 18X and although I really liked it, it's light and worked well, somehow, I could not get it balanced on my shoulders and it nagged and pulled at my right trap the entire race and as a result I ended with a very sore, tired and tender trap. I will looking to solve this misalignment over the next shorter training runs.
This week I did receive my Infinte and new but same running shoes so I have some new gear to work with.
I have also made it official that I will be crewing once again at Badwater 135!!! for a great lady from Australia!!! It will be her 1st attempt at BW and the opportunity presented to crew so I had to take it. Yes, it is the week of my Leadville 50 miler but hey, it's Badwater!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am EXCITED!! For now it's time to settle into some good quality consistent training days and warmer weather.