|Nice looking elevation profile!|
So I was forced into taper mode without getting in much of a final training block. After a few days of no running, I headed out to test the legs and it was bad news. I just felt run down and slow. My runs continued to be a struggle and I was not sure how much the extended taper and sickness had taken out of me. As seems to be a common occurrence in this sport, my hopes of a good race were fading quickly in the weeks leading up to the race. My strategy changed from race hard and go for the win, to run easy and hope for the best.
Race day came and my crew and I were out the door early for the short drive to the start. My wife, son and dog would be joining me and everyone was up early and loaded without a hitch in the plan. We got to the race start, checked in and I headed out with the dog for a jog around the picnic area for a short warm up. It was nice to chat with a few people at the start who I had met last year.
At the start I headed out as planned, at what felt like a really relaxed pace. It helps that the first couple miles are a pretty gradual downhill. My legs were feeling better than in the previous weeks, but still not great. Initially, I was running in second and was happy to let Mike blast off down the trail without giving chase. It was early and the plan for the day was to run steady in hopes of having something left in the tank at the end, for what I expected to be a battle to the finish.
|Pecos wishing he could run with me as we hit the trail near the start.|
|A rare stretch of smooth trail. Photo: Perky Garcia|
After the first aid station, there is a 1.5 mile climb to the top of the steepest descent of the race. This is also where things started to get rocky, really rocky! I took it nice and easy on the climb and before long was at the start of the 2 mile rough rocky downhill. Just after starting the descent, I caught and passed the unknown runner ahead. He was running strong but seemed to slow a bit on the more technical terrain. Last year, I had a blast tearing up this descent but paid for it later on in the race, so I stuck with the plan and kept things under control this year. Towards the bottom, I started to close the gap on Brian who was still ahead.
|And here come the rocks! Photo: Perky Garcia|
|Steep rocky jeep road climb. Photo: Perky Garcia|
I ran into the Cedro aid station at mile 12 about 1:38 into the race, this was a couple minutes faster than last year so I was still ahead of schedule even though I was taking it easy and feeling good. I ran in and dropped my bottle and grabbed a 10oz bottle mixed with Tailwind from my wife for the short out and back section up and over Cedro Peak.
|My crew and personal aid station waiting for me at the Cedro aid station.|
|Top of Cedro Peak as seen from Cedro aid station.|
|Single track leading off the top of Cedro Peak. Photo: Perky Garcia|
After the turn around it was like a flashback to last year. The second through fourth place runners were right on my tail. All I could think was that this was going to be a replay of last year--running in the lead, only to be passed right before the finish. Only one thing was different, I was running a real comfortable pace this year and I knew I had plenty of gas left in the tank.
I ran back up and over Cedro peak for the second time, once again redirecting confused runners at the intersection and was still feeling good coming back into the Cedro aid station. I ran through the aid station with 2:17 now on the clock. I grabbed my refilled 16oz bottles from my wife and headed back for the finish.
|The rocks never end... Photo: Perky Garcia|
|Heading up the biggest climb of the course. Photo: Perky Garcia|
|Getting steep near the top! Photo: Perky Garcia|
Now through the last aid station, I started to debate with myself whether or not I should hammer it home or just keep cruising. I settled on cruising and I thought I would maybe pick it up the last three miles. As I approached the last three miles, there was still nobody in sight. I finally gave myself permission to pick up the effort, so I was able to crank out a decent pace on the flats and small downhills. I felt way better than at this point last year and was able to run pretty much all of the climbs to the finish. I covered the last 4.5 miles to the finish in ~40 minutes, 3 minutes faster than last year.
|Home stretch into the picnic area.|
|Cool handmade metal award.|
Overall, I had a great race and ran according to plan. I didn't have any low points and felt great the entire way. My hydration and nutrition intake seemed to be just about right and I didn't have any stomach issues.
|Hanging with my crew after the finish.|
Watch Splits: 2013 2014
Juan Tomas(4.5mi) 38:00 35:36
Cedro(12mi) 1:41:20 1:37:40
Turnaround(14mi) 2:00:11 1:57:30
Cedro(16mi) 2:17:58 2:17:15
Juan Tomas(23.5) 3:27:20 3:25:40
Finish(28mi) 4:10:43 4:05:25
Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 shoes
Patagonia Strider Pro shorts
Amphipod Ergo-Lite 16oz bottles
Nathan Quickshot 10oz bottle
Suncloud Star sunglasses
~600 calories Tailwind nutrition