Thursday, September 1, 2011

September 1, 2011 - TransRockies Stage 3 - At the Bottom of the Emotional Barrel

Course Description: Stage 3 from Leadville to Camp Hale is a relatively flat stage that covers 24.2miles while climbing only 2,800ft. You start at 10,500 ft. and finish at 9,300ft. There are two small climbs and a long steady descent.

What Happened: Even though there were no major climbs for Mike and I to take advantage of we were hoping that the overall elevation of the course would propel us to another strong day and hopefully help us build a bit more of a lead.

As the gun went off, we once again sat at the back of the lead pack and let some of the other teams set the pace. The first 3miles or so were on pavement, so I was able to relax and run without thinking much. As we approached the trail, the first small climb was in front of us. Mike and I, as in previous days, hopped into the lead and started pressing the climb. By the time we hit the summit we had about 45sec on Team Bend and a bit more on the rest of the field. Max and Ryan ate this lead up pretty quickly on the subsequent downhill and before we knew it they were out of sight.

The plan was to hold a solid pace through the next aid station and work the next small climb. We stuck with the plan, but for the first time all week, neither Mike or I had a lot of "zing" in our legs. I was dragging myself over the course to the first Aid station. The trail and surrounding scenery seemed to all blend to together. I felt as if I was barely awake.

At Aid Station 1, the volunteers inform us we are about 1min back... not too bad considering.
After trudging along through the middle miles, we hit Aid Station 2. We get the news that we are only 2min behind... I am thinking "Great. Maybe we can close a bit over the last 3miles and maintain our overall lead."

The next portion was downhill, winding single track. We pushed fairly hard to ensure we didn't lose much more time... and hopped down the final stretch of trail into Aid Station 3. We are told... "You guys are 6minutes behind!!!.." What the _ _ _ _?!!! How did that happen??.. After cursing for the next 3miles, we picked up the pace a hair and hoped that we wouldn't lose much more time.

As we came through the finish chute, we are actually berated by the announcer. "Well, the Flag Boys couldn't hold on and they lost the lead... The Boys from Bend really put it on them today".. and so on. Ouch!!.. not sure that was called for, but I guess it was true.
We finished in 2hrs 53min 55sec. Team Bend finished in 2hrs 47min 3sec. Last year's winning time was 3hrs 7min 4sec.

The next few hours were undoubtedly the lowest point of the race. We lost the lead. We were tired. Oh yeah, and it's only Day 3. I was starting to make excuses and become resigned to the fact that we may have to settle for 2nd place.

After a few hours of sulking, a few "things" happened at camp that sparked the competitive fires. By the time the Stage 3 ceremonies were over, I was literally on fire... I wanted to race.. now!.. After digging ourselves out from that emotional low, Mike and I now found ourselves with a new, fiery edge. We were ready to compete again. Bring on Day 4!!!

Mike and I making it through Stage 3.

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