We got down to Snowbird and checked in around 8:30. We got settled and ventured out to find the pool and watch the sunset which was awesome. It was the opening night of the Olympics too so we spent more time watching the opening ceremonies than I should have but it only happens every 4 years!
Michelle and I chatted with Vince and Chriss Romney while we waited for Karl Meltzer to give the pre-race briefing. There wasn’t anything terribly noteworthy in the pre-race other than the fact that he DID NOT want anyone to cool down, ice down, clean off, or for any other reason enter the creek near the finish line after the race. He told everyone repeat after me, I WILL NOT GET IN THE CREEK! Everyone got a good chuckle out of that.
After the race started they all took off like lightning and I settled in to my plan of sticking with my heart rate in the 150-155 range (whatever that pace happened to be). It dictated when I needed to walk, run, speed up, or slow down so that I had a consistent effort over the varying terrain. I had a very rough plan of what time I wanted to be at each aid station but realized very quickly that races are always easier on paper! So my plan turned into following my heart rate, staying comfortable, and feeling good enough at the end that I could push if I wanted to.
The conga line never really happened in the first couple of miles, which was perfect. I had settled in with a group that was going just the right pace for me up the hill. There were only a handful of faster people that were trying to get around and we only passed a few people too. The trail goes from single track to road to cat track in places so there was plenty of room to get around. The amazing views of the mountains across the canyon, the rocky face above, and valley below began to open up as we climbed and climbed. To my surprise I decided to skip the first water stop. Anyone who has ever run with me knows that I never pass on the fluids but at Salt Flats I spent more time taking care of business than running in the second half so I wanted to be a bit more conservative with the water. When I passed water stop at just over 4 miles I had been out for only 50 minutes (1700/700 gain/loss) and I had plenty left.
Before the race I was torn on whether or not I should take trekking poles. Of any race, this is probably the one for poles with all the elevation gain and loss. Michelle has some really nice Black Diamond Z-poles but I have used them exactly zero times. When I climbed the ski slopes at Bogus with Dennis and Lynette I used a ski marker I found in the weeds and it seemed to help. I normally carry hand held water bottles which made it even more of a decision since I am not used to carrying a pack either. SO, I compromised and brought everything but the kitchen sink! I started the race with my two hand held water bottles and wore my UltrAspire Spry race vest for pockets. My plan was to put the poles, my Nathan Trail Mix belt (that has two 10 oz water bottles), and a 20 oz water bottle that would fit in the front pocket of the Spry once I ditched the hand helds in my drop bag at the Hidden Peak aid station. I even borrowed Christie’s Nathan pack and took with me but left it at the hotel. My thinking was that I would switch out my stuff after the first climb so that I would have the poles for the second climb.
So after all this over-thinking, when I got to the aid station I said screw it and blew out of there in record time! I was feeling good and didn’t want to mess up the good day I had going!
Just as I was about to turn uphill at the end of the out and back I saw Dennis coming towards me. I thought I might have been ahead of him but wasn’t entirely sure. It’s no secret that I have wanted to beat Dennis in a race and see his famous clap pushups at the end when he finishes. When I passed by I knew that I was ahead by 20 minutes. At this point I was focused on keeping up my nutrition, hydration and uphill power hike but I definitely used this as motivation to keep pushing. Dennis has better endurance than just about anyone and always finishes as strong as he started which I found out at Bear last year when he put an HOUR on me in the last 7 miles!
At the top of Mt. Baldy there were some spectators there with a cooler and lawn chairs just hanging out. I asked if they wouldn’t mind taking a picture of a baldy on top of Mt. Baldy which they were happy to do and then I headed down from there. The descent was rocky and technical but a welcome sight after the last two miles. At the bottom in the saddle between Baldy and Hidden Peak there were more spectators that offered me a Popsicle which was heaven. I took the whole thing in one bite and handed the wrapper back with a big Thank You!!
The next aid station is the Tunnel Aid Station that came at mile 24 just after a short descent from the saddle. I arrived there with a time of 6:06 and was cheered in by a number of spectators who had ridden the tram to the top of the mountain and walked down to see their runners. It was a very uplifting moment to hear the cheers. I waved my arms a bit to get them excited and came rolling in with a huge smile! A very quick refueling that consisted of bananas, grapes, 2 PBJ squares, coke, and another popsicle for the road hit the spot and I was on my way very quickly again.
All in all I had a great day, never felt sick, ate like a king, drank like a fish, never peed once, stunk on the downhill, killed it on the uphill, and had a wonderful time! The course was beautiful, challenging, and worthy of the nickname Karl gave it, Speedgoat 50k - A REAL MOUNTAIN RACE!
After each race I like to do a self-assessment to remind myself what went right and what I can work on in the future:
• They didn’t have any gel on the course, strange? I ate real food from start to finish with the exception of one gel I had in my pack.
• I can’t run downhill with any efficiency but have asked advice from a number of people who are more experienced and smarter than me. I’ll get it figured out.
• Keep the gear, bags, and distractions to a minimum. This was probably the best day I have ever had at aid stations. I am learning through experience what is actually necessary.
• Run my own race and make time and goal decisions near the end of the race, not the beginning. Making the decision in the beginning leads to meltdown from going out too fast and over-thinking the entire thing.
• No matter how you feel or how the run is going, remember that you are lucky and fortunate to be here, right now, in this moment, surrounded some of the most beautiful scenery mother nature has to offer….and always have a smile on your face. NO MATTER WHAT!
......(Pictures and garmin stuff I posted earlier)