Race Schedule

2018 Races…TBD!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Speedgoat 50k: It Did, In Fact, Get Silly

Oh, Speedgoat 50k, how you woo me.  I went into you expecting silliness, and that is exactly what I got.  However, I didn't expect to fall in love with you.  And you have such good swag!

Most people I encountered that had run this one before usually described their experiences with multiple eye rolls, sounds of exasperation, and lots of 'once is enough'.  

I should have known.

It was awesome to be able to sleep in our own bed the night before a race, and only have a short drive to the start.  We arrived at Snowbird with plenty of time to futz around with our stuff, check in, get our swag, go back to the truck, futz around some more, and make it back to the Creekside pavilion in time to catch most of the pre-race meeting, and pee.  After having us all recite a few times "I will not cut the switchbacks" and "I will not go in the streams", Karl had us line up behind the start/finish arch and then sent us off into the damp and foggy morning.  

A little background on this before I forget.  It's gnarly.  This is officially the hardest race I've run...The Bear, ha!  Pocatello, truly laughable!  Zane Grey, yea, right (even though the heat there is pretty stupid).  This isn't a race you go to to PR, unless you are just looking to get a course PR.  Yes, Sage Canaday ran it in 5:06 (blows my mind), but non-human performances aside, the average finish time looks to be in the 9 hour range.  For 32 miles.  Let that sink in.  There's a lot of different thoughts around what the actual elevation gain is, but Geof and I both came in with 11,000 ft., give or take a few feet.  So that's 11,000 feet of climb, and then another 11,000 feet of descent.  In 32 miles.  I had nothing to compare this to going in, and now looking back, I still have nothing to compare it to.  Except that it is almost exactly 1/3 of the Hardrock 100.  Sick.  The entire course is a breeding ground for rocks of all shapes and sizes, but its specialty are ones the size of melons.  Others have described them as baby skulls, but that just sounds wrong (though, an accurate description).  What goes up must come down, and vice versa.  Always.  No flat, just up or down.  No easy, only effing stupid hard, hard, and a-little-less-hard.  No ugly, only beautiful.  No "I'll never do that again", only "Where do I sign up for 2014?"

Geof and I ran separate, which is a first for us, and was also totally weird.  But, it had it's benefit: we ran our own races.  So when we felt good, we went, and when we felt not-so-good, we eased up, and didn't feel guilty about holding the other up, or dragging them along.  It was a good experience.  But I still prefer to run with my dude :)

Checking in at the start...
Photo credit: The Ultrarunning Scene

The race started out with a nice 8.6 mile warm up, climbing from 7,600 ft. to 11,000 ft. Hidden Peak.  Geof took off a bit and I hung back and chatted briefly with Curtis T. from NUTR before making my move up.  The sea of 317 runners made its way along the switchbacking jeep road the first few miles before dumping out onto the glorious single track of the Ridge Trail which dropped us back down to near our starting elevation before the long looooooooong climb up to Hidden began in earnest.  I caught Geof on the climbs, and he dropped me on any descents on this section.  We would end up being within a few hundred yards of each other like this through mile 17 or so.  Once we hit the talus slope below the American Fork Twin Peaks, I passed Geof on the climb and wouldn't see him for a bit.  It was a grind up this section and a light drizzle began to fall.  I was determined to push hard up this last bit to Hidden Peak.

This was nearing the top of the ascent towards Hidden Peak at the beginning, and the start of the final descent to the finish.  It was like running on broken china plates...the size of melons.
Photo credit: The Ultrarunning Scene

I reached the top of Hidden Peak/mile 8.6 in 2h:13m on my watch.  I have no idea how that stacks up, but I felt pretty good with my time.  LEWIS! and Ada were at the top to greet me, and fellow Wasatch Mountain Wrangler, Zac M. grabbed my UA Cup and filled it with Coke (aka The Life Giver).  I topped off my bottle and then headed out of the aid station.  In-and-out, that's how I kept all my stops throughout the day.  No milling about, no sitting.  Grab and go.  I snagged my tiny rain shell from my drop bag here, as well as the rest of my gels just in case.  The race provided EFS Liquid Shot at all the aid stations, but that stuff makes my head fuzzy and bothers my stomach so I stay away from it.  

The final pitch up to Hidden Peak reduces most everyone to a hike.  It's a glute burner :)
Photo credit: Derrick Lytle Media

Picking my way down the other side of Hidden Peak
Photo credit: The Ultrarunning Scene

You can see the Salt Lake Valley in the background :)
Photo credit: The Ultrarunning Scene

After Hidden Peak 1, you hop onto the Mineral Basin Hiking Trail, and awesome single track trail that brings you down into the heart of Mineral Basin, through a couple of streams and into Larry's Hole AS.  I ran straight through Larry's Hole 1 since it was so soon after Hidden Peak and continued on to Sinner's Pass, another steep climb.  At some point here, Geof caught me again, and we went back and forth until we hit some of the worst terrain I have seen on a downhill section and he passed me handily. I don't know how long it lasted (too long) or what it's even called (I think maybe Mary Ellen?), but I was completely slowed to a very cautious walk.  It was just enough of a downhill angle that it was very easy to get a lot of momentum going and fast, so I was doing a lot of braking.  Picture a wide jeep road, flanked by high bushes and trees, and COVERED in melon-sized boulders.  The only respite from the melon rocks were the far sides, which were at an unholy angle and severe ankle busters.  It was easier to just go straight down the middle.  A mis-step here could mean a nasty ankle sprain at best, or a concussion, loss of teeth and broken bones at worst.  My heart rate skyrocketed!  Steve Pero caught up to me and I latched onto him and followed his expert steps through this section.  We dropped back down below 8,000 feet by the time we hit the dirt road towards Pacific Mine/mi 15.5, and once we did I ran it all the way into the aid station, catching Geof as he was leaving the AS.  More Coke, a water bottle top-off, and I was out of there.  Into and out of Pacific Mine is a short out and back, so you got to see runners both ways.  After hitting the turn-off from the road, we began the very long climb back up to Mineral Basin and to Larry's Hole 2.  Eventually as we made our way up, up, up the jeep road, I could see Geof up ahead.  I gradually caught him and I could see what I suspected: he wasn't feeling too hot.  He told me this would probably be the last time we'd see each other until the finish and to go make him proud.  I was feeling a little less than completely awesome and I contemplated just hanging back with him.  I also knew I was going to pull out of it shortly, once the caffeine kicked in.  I went back and forth in my head for quite a ways, even after kissing each other goodbye and continuing on.  After finally deciding to commit myself to finishing it out on my own terms, I tuned out the remainder of the climb back to Larry's Hole 2 with my trusty iPod Shuffle.

Did I mention this was a long climb?  It felt interminable!  The music helped and got me into a really good rhythm.  The weather was holding really well, and aside from a drizzle here and there, the day remained cloudy and cool with a slight breeze.  Perfect running weather.  Eventually I made it to the top of Sinner's Pass again and rode out the steep downhill back to Larry's Hole 2/mi 21 where I filled up my UA Cup with more Coke for the walk out, and topped off my water bottle.  In-n-out.

BTW, the volunteers at this little shindig are downright awesome.

After Larry's came the nice climb back up to the cat track just above the Basin, and below Alta.  I knew Mt. Baldy was on deck, but was still curious to see how we would be climbing it.  It was a grunt back up to the cat track, and then as we rounded the bend and glanced up, we were presented with our route up Baldy...straight up.  Not even a vague suggestion of a trail, just little blue flags to follow, straight up the south face of the mountain.  I wouldn't even know where to begin with a guess as to the percent grade of the route, but I'd guess close to 80%!  Our heels never even touched the ground and hands were necessary most of the way up, it was that steep.  The best strategy was to just keep moving, don't lose momentum.  Several guys in front of me were taking a beating and stopped to catch their breath every few steps, and I would have to wiggle around them.  I made pretty darn good time up this section and felt really happy to reach the top.

One step at a time, one section at a time.

I should mention here that the one thing I was having the most difficulty with was patience.  While I handled it fine, it was definitely a mind game.  Anticipating what's next, worrying about time/pace/any of that is a waste of energy.  I found that just taking it one step at a time was the only way to do it.  Not getting caught up in passing or getting passed, other people, terrain, climbs, my watch, not of that mattered.  And music on the long uphill grinds definitely helped :)  I had a goal in mind, but I wasn't going to lose my sh*# trying to reach it.  I was staying within my training and doing my best to race smart.  If that wasn't going to be enough, then so be it.  But I had a feeling it was going to work out just fine :)

After ascending Baldy at 11,068 ft., we descended the western ridge down to the saddle between Hidden and Baldy, then continued down the jeep road to the Tunnel AS/mi 23.6.  More Coke, more water in my bottle, and then I walked the tunnel as I downed my Coke.  It was cool to be walking through a mountain.  I'd never been in the tunnel before, so it was awesome to see it finally.  Lots of old photos documenting the history of the area and digging of the tunnel.  At the other end, we followed the flags down, down, down, knowing full well there was one final butt kicker of a climb back to Hidden Peak 2 at 11,000 ft. once we reached the Ridge Trail.  I was ready for it.  I ran the entire downhill to the Ridge Trail head and then plugged the music back in for the 1.5 mile/1,500 ft. climb up the north ridge to Hidden Peak.  Once we cleared the trees, it was cool to be able to see straight down on either side of the trail, into Peruvian Gulch and Gad Valley Gulch.  You could see runners way down in Peruvian making their way to the Ridge Trail, and runners up ahead nearing the top of the Peak.  Another grind, and lots of swapping places with others.  I was feeling really good.

And then suddenly we were on top of Hidden Peak again!  Pete S. was there to help refill my bottle and get me Coke, and then I was outta there.  "Just follow the ribbons back down to Gad, unless you want to climb Twin Peaks," "I think I'll pass on that today!"

With just 5ish miles, and a 3,500 ft drop, I could smell the finish.  Two runners I was near most of the day left the station after me, but soon caught me on the nasty descent of the talus field (pictured above). Dave left us in the dust, and Sadie and I traded spots a few more times.  It was just the two of us, and then I passed her when she stopped to take some salt.  I knew it wasn't for long, though :)  Back on the jeep road, I was completely alone and wondering if I had gotten off route.  Lots of blue ribbons still, but were they from earlier, when we ascended this part at the beginning?  Hmmmm.  I slowed and spun to see if anyone was behind me; no one.  Well, this makes the most sense, and there are ribbons.  When the route hopped back onto single track trail, Sadie appeared out of nowhere and passed me by.  Phew, I'm going the right way :)  I latched onto her pace and we were just screaming down the final few miles of single track.  Holy smokes, I was riding the line between control and absolute mayhem that entire way!  I kept thinking, please don't fall, please don't fall! and somehow I managed to remain upright.  I completely unleashed and was blowing my own mind.  I kept visualizing my feet moving like I was pedaling, leaning forward into the downhill.

It was exhilarating!  Geof would have been so proud to see me running downhill like that :)

Sadie was maybe 20 feet in front of me, and we could hear the finish, and see it, as we switched back and forth on the trail, getting closer and closer, and then finally, we were there!  I eased up a touch, glanced at my watch and nearly kissed the couple walking past just out for a stroll.  I was going to make it under 8:30!  Down the last bit of jeep road, round the corner, and ahhhhhhh the finish line arch!

Done and done.  8:27:48, 24th lady in a very talented field of women.  We got a sweet little finisher's medal and a pint glass with the elevation profile on it.  I also won a pair of Ryder's Eyewear sunglasses, booya!  And, to top it all off, I beat Ultra SignUp's prediction of 8:36...that's what I was really aiming for :)

As soon as I finished, I walked to the truck to change and then walked back down to wait for Geof to come in.  Pizza and PBR helped lubricate the mild discomfort in my legs while I waited :)

Geof's final kick into the finish, just as the rain began in earnest!

Geof finished in good spirits, but he described a less than stellar day.  Just an off day, with a weird patch in the middle, but he held on and finished.  I was so proud of him, and so excited to see him running it in!  Even though it wasn't the race he was hoping for, he still kept at it when many would have pulled the plug.  That's my man!

Looking back, this was one heck of an experience for me.  I'm super pumped with how it played out, and happy with how I ran.  I ran smart, hiked strong, kept it moving, and allowed myself to enjoy each moment for what it was.  I didn't get too wrapped up in how long it was taking, or how hard any one section was.  It was what it was, and I liked it.  I loved cresting Hidden Peak and being greeted by tons (by ultra measures) of people, I loved all the wildflowers, I loved the climbs, I loved the descents, I loved the views, and I loved all the volunteers.  I did not love that one rocky jeep road heading to Pacific Mine.  That road sucks silly a$$.  But one thing out of the whole day?  No biggie :)

I will definitely be back, and now I know what to work on in order to grab a sub-8 next time ;)  I went into this race with no training runs longer than 12 miles (Pocatello 50M being the longest run, two months earlier!), but with plenty of high mountain running and strong hiking, and my legs and body held up amazingly well.  For the most part I think the lack of long runs and focus on shorter runs up high in the mountains were a big benefit.  We partook in active recovery the week following and had some of the fastest running we've had all season.  I feel great!

It was a good experiment, running our own races.  I got to see what I have in me, and I was not disappointed with the outcome.   

That was our last registered race for the year, so now we need to start looking for a couple more before the ski season begins.  School starts in just a couple of weeks, so until then just a whole bunch'a running and funning!

Paige, out.

1 comment:

Johann said...

Wow, awesome race and report, well done both of you! I think I would love that race. Rest well!

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