Today: Bike 15 miles
Yesterday: Run 25 miles
Thursday: Bike 21 miles
Crow Pass Crossing Race Report:
I can hardly walk today (although biking back to the race start to get my car this morning felt fine) but it never felt so good to feel so sore.
I put a lot of pressure on myself for this race. I knew going into it that it was a lot more likely to be a disappointing run than a satisfying run (because of the pressure I put on myself). And this only makes the current satisfaction that much greater.
I'll try not to bore you all with too much detail but here are some of my interpretations of my race yesterday:
More than anything I just wanted to have myself in position to contend at the river crossing halfway into the race. Last year I was about 10 minutes behind the leaders at this point and I decided this time around that I was going to do whatever it took to avoid having this happen again. The beauty though was that not only was I in position to contend at the river crossing but I was feeling great and dictating the pace as much as any of the 4 of us in the lead pack.
I still had my doubts though. I was running with three other guys who are much more accomplished and experienced mountain/trail runners as I am. A mile later though 2 of them had faded off the pace and then it was just Harlow Robinson and I. I kept trying to tell myself that it doesn't matter what Harlow's done in the past in this race (8 first or second place finishes in a row or something amazingly impressive like that), I've prepared myself for this race and I was feeling strong. More than anything I was trying to convince my mind of what my body had been telling me for most of the race: I was feeling too comfortable and it was time to push the pace even if it seemed unbelievable that I was in this position. A mile later I noticed Harlow had faded and with about 10 miles to go I was on my own. It felt great for a couple miles and then I began to fear that I had made my move too soon. I was quickly snapped out of these thoughts though.
It's funny how running up on a mama bear and cub can so quickly snap you out of whatever you're thinking at the time. I saw the cub first. It even took me a few seconds to think about the fact that where there's a cub there's a mother. For these few seconds I was just thinking about how cute the cub was. The mother wasn't cute. She was pissed. I stopped and backed away slowly but she kept letting me know she was pissed. If you've had a similar bear encounter you know how loud, shocking, and scary the noises they make can be. Yesterday though I didn't feel any fear. I was too focused on my race to be scared. I just wanted to get on my way and not give those chasing me any more time to close the gap I had worked to open. All told it was probably only 30-60 seconds that this bear slowed me down, but it felt like hours standing there just dreading seeing Harlow come around the corner behind me. Eventually I just couldn't deal with the anxiety of being stopped while every other runner in the race was moving so I decided the bear was far enough off the trail to run past her. In no way was this a smart thing to do, but it worked and just as quickly as I had encountered these bears they were gone and out of my mind and I began to focus once again only on making my way as fast as possible down the trail.
The next few miles were some of the most technical of what is a very technical run. This was when I first realized that I was probably going to win this race. For a few minutes I let my emotions get the better of me as my mind began to think about winning in terms of something that had already happened rather than something that I still had to bust my ass for 5 miles of rugged trail to make happen.
With about a mile or 2 to go I came around a corner and saw my buddy, Pete B. who had come out to the finish to pick me up even though he had to change his entire weekend around to do so. He was there both because he wanted to help me with a ride back to Anchorage after the race, but also because he was certain I was going to win and he wanted to be there to see the finish. Well I must admit it felt really good to see him there and prove him right. I still had more than a mile to go but at this point the trail was really smooth and I was able to coast into the finish and enjoy the last several minutes out there.
It was so satisfying to win a race that I was so focused on doing well in. it was also very satisfying to run such a tough race without feeling like I went through several minutes of complete agony at the end. This is going to make bouncing back for a 50 miler in two weeks much easier.
There was a pretty good story about the race in the Anchorage paper. Turns out I ran the 3rd fastest time in the 24 year history of the race and was only about two and half minutes off the course record. Maybe next time.
Thanks to everyone for all the messages of support leading up to this race. It always makes it a little easier out there knowing that you've got people around the country rooting for you, even if you haven't ever met most of them.
Totals for the week: Bike 55 miles; Run 43 miles; 10.5 hours.