Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jemez 50 run/ hike/ fall thing.

The course chewed me up and spit me out ten hours and thirty minutes after I started. 13th place. I was in the front pack, tucked safely behind Nick Clark who would go on to crush the course and run the second fastest time ever (within ear shot of Kyle Skagg's course record maybe?), for the first 7-8 miles feeling joggingly. The pace felt super relaxed and I felt strong on the little climbs we were hitting, I even gapped the group briefly. At mile ~8 there was a descent and I let Ryan Burch (last year's winner) go by... and I realized at that point that my descending is about two leagues behind these guys. Literally every step I would take they were taking three, I was blown away by Nick and Ryan's descending. Within seconds of Ryan passing he was out of sight and he took Nick with him! This is mile 8 of a 50 mile run with 12,000 feet of descending... things didn't look good. On the first big climb up Caballo, Dakota Jones and I brought Ryan back a little bit and Nick was just ahead of him. The climb hit 1700+ feet in 2 miles and tops out at 10,500 ft altitude. We walked about 80% of the climb which made my back ache and shot twinges down my hamstrings. This honestly made Green Mountain in Boulder (anything in Boulder really) look quite weak in comparison. No nice groomed steps, well traveled firm footing or side to side stepping... this was loose scree/ dirt that took a b-line up. Dakota and I topped out together and he immediately disappeared on the descent leaving me to cautiously descend. And this time Ryan and Nick had 2 miles of truly solid descent to work with... by mile 17 they had maybe ~15:00 on me. Mile 17 was also my first introduction in to the type of "racing" that I came to realize I hate. Coming from a 100% road background and still not running trails that much AND running the trails in Boulder which are soft and cuddly and (I realized yesterday) anything but hardcore... the next 2 hours were miserable at best. I stepped off the face of a ~70% grade slope on to loose dirt and scree and slid down on my ass. Stopping at the bottom to empty my shoes (and shorts) which had filled with dirt. Later I found out that Nick Lewis (second at Leadville last year) dropped from the race at this point and Dakota Jones (last years second place at Jemez) dropped soon after. We followed a road for a mile or two before turning up on to a grass plain (no trail) that was awful. Clumps of grass the size of a softball every few inches made it so you were more ambling than running and I rolled my ankles more times than I can count. We then turned straight up a mountain slope (still no trail to speak of) and went up the mountain gaining 1500ft in less than 2 miles. This was a miserable hike over fallen trees. Straight up... no turns. At this point my back and hamstrings started to cramp full on from all the hiking, which I never do. Why the hell would I? I foolishly thought that trail running meant running on a trail. At this point I was cussing out loud and pissed off, vowing to quit at the next aid station. Note: I was training for the Chicago marathon just 8 months ago. I got to the next aid station and asked if there was a way to drop out and they said yes... I sat in a chair and ate a handful of gummi worms and laughed and joked with the aid station volunteers (who were awesome!) and reluctantly turned down the ride back in to town. If I had known what was next I would have taken that ride though. Pajarito Mountain... which Fast Ed (Scott Jaime) had warned me about just a couple days earlier soon broke me over it's knee. A ridiculous climb up a ski slope crisscrossing over a double black diamond slope, often times just climbing straight up. This is roughly a 7 mile climb from 7,700ft to 10,500ft altitude starting at mile ~29. But this was STILL not the hardest part in my opinion... at mile 34 came the descent which finished me off (almost). We went straight down the ski slope, maybe 45% grade with no trail. It took me forever to get down this section! Maybe 15:00 to get down a 1/2 mile slope? I tried to side step but my ankles were wrecked from the grass clumps and I couldn't bend them side to side so I kept my feet pointed straight down. My lower back and hamstrings were tight and sore from hiking and I would fall on my butt every few steps which torqued my back. It was also 80 degrees and I was pissed off and defeated. The last ~10 miles descended through desert and old burned forest and this is where Karl Meltzer caught me. He was out for an easy workout and finished in ~10:00. He put 30:00 on me in the last 10 miles. Ugh.
 A couple of things that become clear to me after this... I am not a good trail racer and guys like Nick and Ryan are in a completely different league! Wow. Seeing Ryan descend (although it was just a brief glimpse) amazed me. I am still shaking my head at him and Nick's run and maybe in a few days I can pick my jaw (and dignity) back up. I am still not sure how I didn't quit, the thought was never far from my mind. My training is good but when I toe the line I fall apart and I'm tired of being a head case psycho with something that is supposed to be fun. 24 hours later I am picking myself up a little more, but something needs to change in my head in order for me move forward with any focus.
 After the race Nick and I drove ~six hours home and I walked in the door at 3:30am. We were up at 3:00am for the 5:00am race start... so a 24.5 hour day. Ugh.

 And if you want to read a race report with a good attitude then go to race winner Nick's blog and read his race report. Funny how I write about the horrid and cruel sections and Nick writes about the challenging and epic running... there's something to that. Attitude is everything.

19 comments:

FastED said...

I 'believe' what you are experiencing is the normal transition from road to trail ultras. I remember going through the same process mentally from "I'm never doing a f***ing ultra again" to "I wonder what would happen if I tweaked my training; did a little more of this, and a little less of that" within a few days time. And here I am 7 years later still coming back for more and still learning.

We all desire to be the best and look for "the next challenge". Genetically speaking you have "it". But "it" will take some time to cultivate as the learning curve for these trail ultras is long. When things start to come together it will become fun again. And when I say "fun" I mean by you gettin some CRs and having some beers afterward.

I look forward to getting out in the hills with you and the other Boulderites soon.
Scott

Brad Poppele said...

Good Job!! Way to stick it out. Sounds like a brutal course.

Anonymous said...

Dude, Sounds like a wicked race!!! U got nothing 2 b ashamed of...Going from road to "trails" is no joke!!!

ghostfeather said...

Tim, you're a rock star for hanging in there to the finish. There's no doubt in my mind I would've dropped in your situation. A race like that is just what you need, believe it or not. AND, I'm on board with you on wanting a "trail running race" to have more running than crawling.
Good work my man!
TL

Brett said...

Thats a darn good race. If you had been running ragged trails like those all the time I could see why maybe you would be upset with 'only' finishing 13th. But jeezeree you beat some tough as nails people.

Eric Bart said...

Huge accomplishment to tough it out to the end.

Lucho said...

FastED- Thanks man. I need to hear that.

Thanks Anon and Tim and Brad and Eric!

Brett- I would never intentionally run on some of that stuff! Training on 'ragged trails like those' would be more adventure hiking stuff... but I do see your point. Thank you.

I hate to be so negative and I don't like feeling like that.

Brett said...

'adventure hiking' - ha ha ha, no crap!

But if it was always easy, what would be the point? I like ultras because you learn a lot about yourself and your priorities in life.

I don't want to get too deep, but think about it. If you want easier, go run a 5k. On a bad day you might be off 20 seconds. In an ultra a bad day can mean hours and cursing the day you registered for the damned race.

But then when you walk in the front door and see your family, who the hell really cares anymore? The only reason your kids probably want you to win is so you can get back home to play with them faster.

Lucho said...

Definitely Brett! When I would toe the line of a marathon (or even an Ironman) I knew that I would go well and even a bad day would be fairly fast. But Saturday was like you said... hours of bad shit. I just wish I could embrace that. Those unexpected difficulties. But the funny thing is that I am already kind of stoked thinking back on the day. Fast Ed was right in his comment above. That negativity wears off quickly.
You have SJS coming up! Kind of the same course but with 14 river crossings. Nice :)

Matt said...

Shake it off and keep running, Lucho. Some great comments above.
You survived and are MUCH stronger for that. Way to stick it out. Geez. Brutal stuff. Think of how those moments/hours will help you prevail down the road.

Keeper rollin!

Lucho said...

Thanks Matt. Ya, I have shaken it off and already feel the challenge of all of this calling to me. Funny.

Nick said...

Tim - what Scott said. You just need to run more trail in training. See it through!

Thanks again for doing the driving back to Denver, and sorry I wasn't better company. That last hour up to FoCo was brutal - worse than Jemez.

Lucho said...

Ya. with a little time behind me I do think I need to stick it out. You amazed me on Saturday! I think you could give Skaggs' CR a run...
I hear you on the drive home. I felt pretty good and that last 30:00 or so of chatting brought my head back around, but the 1:00+ drive up home was horrible! I swear I was seeing things. Like hallucinations! I walked in and ate the first thing I could find and then passed out until 10:30am. Like I was saying about the multiple day adventure racing and the sleep deprivation, that's a whole 'nother animal!
Cheers man. Bloody good show.

Brett said...

Yes, but I think SJS doesn't have the 70%/bushwhacking parts. I think its +12,000'/-12,000' are a bit more mellow...whatever that means!

Mary IronMatron said...

Dude, I can't even run on GRASS (thinking florida 70.3 last weekend.) Trails are wicked... and to go that long on trails?... Of course it's going to take a long bit of time to adjust and start kicking everyone's asses.
You are on your way. You have mental tenacity--even when racing. Cut out the mental head case psycho crap talk in your head. If you say that is your trouble, it is. So stop saying it.
:) AND CONGRATS.

GZ said...

What is next? (implied here is move on, move up).

Lucho said...

Brett- To quote Nick... you'll have 'Colorado single track' as opposed to New Mexico single track. It will still be rough though.

Thank you Mary!

GZ- Not sure. This week it will be IPA beer and walks with my kids. Not at the same time though :)

Jeff Valliere said...

Tim, though you did not meet your expectations, it sounds like it was a great learning experience and you still did quite well. Keep your head up, you will soon look back at this and laugh. I'm big time stating the obvious, but the more you run the technical trails (and even off trail/talus/scree etc...), you will improve quickly. I have seen Brandon improve dramatically just over the past ~6 months.

Wyatt Hornsby said...

Tim: I can identify with your thoughts on downhill trail running in the mountains. I've only been here for about 7 weeks (moved from Ohio) and downhill trail running here has been a challenge...and humbling. I won the Mohican 100 Mile in 2009 but out here I'm getting toasted on the downhills and look like a schmuck on the descents as others are letting it rip. I ran with Fast Ed and Geoff on Saturday (great time too and super guys!) and they hammered me on the downhill (as they should!). Anyway, I have convinced myself that in time I too will develop good, aggressive downhill running skills. It takes confidence and some technique, I think--but first and foremost confidence. Until then, I will heed Karl Meltzer's example and invest in a good pair of gloves to protect my hands when I fall giving the downhills my all (check out Karl's YouTube video on downhill trail running). Good luck, bro! E-mail me at wchornsby at yahoo dot com if you want to commiserate. - Wyatt