Friday, April 26, 2013

Robie Creek 2013

I always have good intentions to write a race report and get about halfway through then never finish...Boston, Bear, Wasatch, Salt Flats, Antelope.....

SO, I just need to lay something down before I forget it all.

I signed up for Robie back in February.  I always have friends who don't get in that really want to and I don't usually feel strongly one way or another so I decided to sell my number to my friend Brian so his daughter could run.

On the day of packet pickup I was going with Michelle to get hers and transfer mine to Brian. Before going I stopped to see the chiropractor and he mentioned he needed to go and try to sell his.  I offered to take it for him to save him the hassle.  Long story short, I couldn't find any friends who wanted it and decided I would rather run it than sell it to some random person on the street.

It isn't like I wasn't training, but I found out I was running on Wednesday at 6pm.  I did one run on Thursday to stay loose and then the race on Saturday.  I am a numbers weenie so sat down and looked at recent times on training runs with equivalent gain and distance.  I did the same with the downhill sections too but figured I would just blow the doors off on the downhill and the time would be what it was.

After an exhausting numbers crunching session that lasted about 10 minutes I decided my goal was going to be to hit the summit in 1 hour 10 minute and then run the downhill in 28 minutes.  That works out to be about an 8:15 pace on the 8.5 miles of mostly uphill with 2,100 feet of gain and 6:05 pace on the 4.6 miles of all downhill and 1,700 feet of loss.

Race morning I did my normal routine of say hello to friends while mingling around with Michelle.  As the race start got closer I realized I was going to be starting in about 1,500th position which is not good when I am shooting for a good time.  On the other hand it forced me to go out slower than I would have otherwise, so it might have actually helped me.

I was in a pretty thick crowd until...the first hill.  It got pretty thin right after that!  The people who probably shouldn't have been at the front fell back and the people at back that shouldn't have been dinking around slithered through.

I have been on Rocky Canyon many times but the last time I ran up was Robie Creek last year!   I spend a lot of time on the trails that are typically more scenic.  Aside from my time goal my bigger goal was to run marathon HR pace the entire way.  For me that is 165.  I wore my garmin and had the display set to time, distance, HR, and Lap HR.  I looked at my watch a number of times but never knew what my pace was.  I was only paying attention to my HR to guide my effort level.  The watch is set to beep every mile split so I knew how fast each individual mile was but had no idea if I was on target for my 1:10 goal.

The only instance I was aware of my overall time on the way up was when we passed the aid station at Orchard trail head someone asked how long we had been out.  We had just passed mile 7 and the time was 58 minutes.  In the back of my head I was crunching the math to figure out what it would take to get to the top in time and I felt like I wouldn't make it since the last mile before the summit is the steepest part.  No worries, I just stayed focused on holding my HR at 165.

I rounded the last corner just before Aldape Summit and Dennis came down to meet me.  He asked how I was doing and I told him I felt like I was about 30 seconds late!  I had asked Christie to bring me a water bottle with Gatorade in it to swap me so that I could just blast through the aid station.  I took the bottle said a quick hello and thank you to all the friends who were volunteering with the Pulse and was down the backside in a flash.

The downhill is just as punishing, if not worse than the uphill.  I started off flying and a high school aged kid passed me like I was standing still!  My goal of holding a 165 HR was still the main focus which is not an easy feat when descending that rapidly without going insanely fast.  It was a good thing I didn't look at my pace because I probably would have slowed down thinking that I was going too fast.

I kept cruising down until the last maybe the last 1.5 miles.  I somehow managed to hold my HR high but could feel myself starting to fade just before the end.  In the back of my head, I thought it wouldn't hurt to let up. Either way I was going to beat my time from 2010 when I ran a 1:50. On the other hand, it would be over soon and I could push through one more mile.  The last mile feels A LOT harder compared to the three and a half before it because it's a lot flatter (still downhill though).  I was sure my pace had dropped by at least a minute based on how I felt but still stayed focused on the HR of 165.  The last split on my watch before the finish was about 2/3 of a mile since I lapped it at the summit and the finishing pace turned out to be 6:35 which I was ecstatic to see later.

When I crossed the finish line the race clock had just hit 1:40 and I was sure I was shuffle back at the start by at least 1 minute. So that meant I got my 1:38 and change time I was shooting for.  In the final chip time results I ended up with a 1:39:33 which was awesome.  I was the 73rd finisher, 14th in my age group, and I only got chick'd by 5 smokin' fast ladies!

My summit time was 1:11:43 with a descent of 28:18.  Not bad for someone who runs slow on the trails everywhere.  Ultras are way different animal where you are rewarded for lasting FOREVER at a moderate pace.  Before the race Dennis mentioned that I shouldn't dally at the aid station because the goal is to get to the end faster than the other people!  Funny because us ultra guys are not usually that competitive so we need a reminder now and again!

PART I was now over.

PART II begins.....

The other part of the plan on this day was to turn around and run BACK to Aldape Summit and beat Michelle there.  She was hoping to hit Aldape in 2:30 I believe which meant that I had 50 minutes to return 4.6 miles to the top.  After finding my finish line bag, getting some recovery calories, and the camera I headed back out.

I wore my Boston Marathon shirt to honor those affected by the tragedy.  It was fun to see the smiles on the runners as they passed and saw this crazy person going the wrong way wearing a Boston shirt.  I kept whooping and hollering encouragement to everyone along the way.  I even reminded people to SMILE THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!!  I wondered to myself if this was encouraging or deflating to people to see this guy with all this energy and smile that has already finished and headed back for more before they have gotten to the finish.  My friend Claire told me she overheard someone talking about me on the bus and comments were positive so that was good.

Somewhere past the Robie Creek volunteer fire station I heard someone sneaking up from behind.  I wondered what crazy person would be headed back?  There would be a good chance I would know them because there aren't that many crazy people!  Turned out it was Wayne Rancourt.  He finished ahead of me and had time for some finish line refreshments before heading out.  It was nice to have someone to chat with on the way back up because it wasn't quite as fast as the way down!

I was pushing a pretty fast walking pace with little spurts of running so I could beat Michelle and just before the last sharp turn before the summit I saw her blue shirt through the trees!  I yelled at her and told her I couldn't believe she BEAT ME!!  I was glad to see her and happy she beat me because I know it was motivation for her to.

I was so close to the top I decided to go up around the corner to get some aid station stuff and refill my water.  I got to say a proper hello to everyone volunteering and tell them my finish time which they were wondering about.  After a short stay, I headed back down and joined Michelle.  She was moving good and keeping a consistent pace.

As we neared the finish line, there was a woman about 100 yards ahead and I told Michelle she had to TAKE HER!  With each turn of the road we reeled her in little by little.  Michelle passed her right at the start of the finish line chute which was fun to see.  When you are that close to the finish it's easy to coast in (I have done it many times) but it's a lot more reward to give 100% all the way to the end.  Michelle finished in 3:49:33!  This was a redemption from 2012 when she was unable to finish due to the heat.

All in all it was a great day for both of us!

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