|Race day pictures courtesy of Michael Lebowitz of Long Run Picture Company|
After not finishing Wasatch the way I wanted to in September, I had two goals for the Frenzy. First, I wanted to FEEL GOOD at the end and beat my time from last year. The second half of the goal is pretty straightforward. All I had to do was just run faster than I did last year when I finished in 5:51. I figured with all the miles I have put in this year, improving my time was a no brainer since I felt horrible last year and busted my face on the ground at mile 22.
On race morning Michelle and I arrived early since she was starting before the official start to give her some extra time. It was raining but the temperature was just about right so that it didn’t chill you to the bone. I gave Michelle a kiss and she was off. We waited around in the rain for a bit for the 6am start and before long the rain was gone and the skies cleared.
The important stretch of the race to conserve in my opinion is the stretch on 5 Mile Gulch after getting off of Watchman. Last year I think I might have tried to continue the side hill pace from Watchman into the climb. Anyway, I paid special attention to my effort level on this climb so that I would reach the ridge feeling good.
When I got to the ridge I was greeted by DJ Ryan Lund blasting tunes on the speaker system which was a big boost. I ran right through the aid station since the next section was only a 1 mile out and back. I had plenty of water and food so it was no big deal. On the way out I started to pass the front runners who were coming back. It seemed like I saw just about everyone except maybe the top 5 runners. The clouds were actually below the ridge at this point and the wind was pushing them up and over the top. It was really a pretty sight although it was very cold. Mike Blessing was at the turnaround point and I told him it better not start SNOWING!!
I felt really good down through Orchard trail until the climb up to 5 Mile. The climb seemed to sap my energy and my feet were beginning to feel the pounding of the miles. I rolled into 5 Mile Gulch and was greeted by about 50 yards of red caution tape blocking the trail where I ate it last year. Sam Collier said he did that in my honor. Another quick stop and I was on my way again.
The climb back to the Watchman intersection was tough but I tried to remain focused and not try and push it too hard. Just before I got to the aid station my heart rate was all over the place. I had sustained readings of over 180 which is not good for me. I made the decision to sit down at the aid station, just for a minute, to let my body settle and recover. Emily, Davina, and Amy were kind enough to let me sit momentarily before kicking me out!
After crossing the creek bottom and heading up towards the intersection of Shane’s Loop and 3 Bears which is about mile 27.5 I checked my progress against last year. At that moment I was 164 feet ahead of last year. At the pace I was going, that was 22 seconds difference. That difference is just a sliver of time over 27.5 miles and over 5 hours of running.
Just around the corner I saw Billie and her friend Erika at the top of Bucktail. I came rolling through without stopping and Billie asked me what she should do. I said run about a 9 minute pace and I’ll try and keep up! Billie went first with Erika following and me in the back. Erika asked if I wanted to pass and I told her she was doing a great job of pacing and keeping me focused. I notice Billie was adjusting the pace to keep me moving and keep me close since she was a faster than me at this point.
After a mile or so Erika let me pass and Billie kept charging. I told her my plan was to walk the little hill just before dropping into Cottonwood Creek where Andrea Simmonsen was directing traffic. That little reprieve was just what we(I) needed to hammer the last 2 miles to the finish line. I felt like I was flying in comparison to how I felt last year. When we got to the stairs just before the finish, Billie let me pass her which kind of confused me. She was doing such a great job and it was occupying my brain to be able to stare at her shoes. Anyway, I passed her and ran up and over the stairs.
I finished at 5:44:22, which was 7 minutes better than last year and I FELT GOOD at the end. Every race is an opportunity to learn. I learned that being conservative in the first half pays off, just like everyone has told me. I guess I am so hard headed I had to experience the hard way for myself so I could appreciate it.