Where to start.. Well, my plan of running Pikes Peak Marathon was quickly foiled by a bout of walking pneumonia. This was promptly followed by asthma (which I have NEVER had before). For about 4 weeks, my training was very inconsistent and sketchy. I felt like I had a solid base from a good summer and my hope was that this would carry me through the next 2 Races.. Imogene & UROC.
Imogene Pass Run - Coming into Imogene, I was still struggling with Asthma. About 10min into every run, I would start to hyper-ventilate and break into gagging & coughing fits. Kinda scary. The night before the race, I did a 10min shakeout with my wife and it was sketchy at best. At this point, my plan was to start the race very conservatively and just see how it goes.
The next morning at the start line it was surprising warm in Ouray. The gun went off and I stuck to my plan. Keep it slow. Before I knew it, a couple miles had passed and I wasn't having too much trouble breathing. Only a couple coughs, but no "fits".. yet. I continued to "run the fine line" aerobically and before I knew it, I was alone running stride for stride with last years champ, Daniel Kraft. We were cruising at a pretty good pace and next thing I knew I had started to build a bit of a lead. I was running very hesitantly, but I was able to continue up the mountain at a good clip.
Soon enough, I was about 2.5miles from the +13k Summit. I continued to push, but could feel my lungs rattle a bit, so I began to pull back a bit. I had about a 3min lead, so my thought was to relax and not jeopardize having an "attack". The last 2miles going up were SLOW. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 15min miles. This was partially intentional due to my hesitation to push my breathing too hard.. and partially that I was just feeling the race.
When I hit the summit, Daniel had made up the gap and was about 20seconds behind. No bueno. I knew this was going to force me into a battle downhill that I was hoping to avoid since UROC was around the corner... oh well. It was time to get back to racing.
We both sped down the mountain at a "dangerous" pace. No matter how hard I pushed down the technical, washed-out mountain side, Daniel was right there. Finally with about 3miles remaining, I realized that I had a few min lead.. and I was dropping 4:50min/mile. I quickly thought "I am gonna win!". At that point, my right toe caught a rock.. and CRASH!.. I was on the ground cramping... and bleading. Now I thought, "I am gonna lose!". I rolled up and limped down the trail and I could see Daniel reeling me in. That's when the adrenaline kicked in and I got back to rolling down the mountain.
As I flew downhill, I could feel blood squirting out of my knee and onto my other leg, etc. Not good.
When I got to finish, I ended being carted off to the ER, where I received 10 stitches in my left knee.. It was ugly, but it was a win.
UROC 100k - Ready for UROC100k? The field for this event was pretty unreal. Almost every hot-name in Ultra Running was planning on running. Coming in my training was horrible.. battling pneumonia, asthma, & now 10 stitches in my knee.
1 week out, I decided to give it a go knowing that I would not be 100%, but wanting to compete against an amazing field of runners.
This race ended up being CRAZY. Not everyone started that was signed-up, but the field was still incredible. The weather made the already difficult route even harder - - it snowed the night before, making the terrain everything from snow-covered to icy to muddy. This course ended up being a beast!
I ran with the leaders for a majority of the first 20miles, then my race went south quickly. I had a tough go of it in the snowy & icy sections due to traction and it sucked out all my energy - - mentally & physically. I knew coming in, to be competitive, I needed the perfect race. Well, that didn't happen. After 20miles, I hiked / walked large portions of the race. My new goal was to "FINISH". I went into full-blown survival mode.
It took me 11hrs 21min, but that is what I did... I finished. I didn't meet any of my other goals, but considering everything, I was happy with what I had accomplished. The mental battle should serve me well in future races.
Next Up - My recovery is going pretty well after the longest, most painful effort of my life. My hope is to stay healthy and get some solid training before running Bootlegger 50k (mostly as training) and then either JFK 50miler or TNF 50mile Champs. I am signed up for both.. so I am going to see how the training goes.. and then make a choice. I am also considering throwing in a Grand Canyon Tonto Trail FKT attempt before taking some "winter" time off (+90 miles.. current record is ~32hours by Scott Jurek & Joe Grant). We'll see how things work out...