Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Leading up to this race I was what I would consider a little out of shape, well at least compared to last years Bandit 50K. The beginning of the year is always a little tough coming out of the holidays and such, but I was also faced with a lot of set backs that just compounded my lack of training at the beginning of this year. The first week of January I got really sick and at the same time I got hit with poison oak, while my body was to busy fighting off the cold it let the oak spread out of control, next thing I know I looked like a walking measles case! It was bad and I was out of commission for at least two weeks before I could start running again. Come end of January its off to Florida for a work related trip, ate huge meals, went to meetings, stayed up all night and drank lots of beer.. rinse and repeat for five full days. Needless to say my body was not very happy with the Florida diet, jet lag and lack of good running all week. Back to my regular running schedule right? wrong... Jury duty calls, yes I probably could have gotten out of it or ignored it like I have done so many times in the past, but I felt a slight twinge of civil duty biting at my ass. The plan was to go in for one day, read my book and relax till its time to head home for a run, wrong again.. I got chosen to be on a jury and wasted my time for three full days on a drunk driver that parked his car 50ft onto Mandalay Beach. Time to get back into training with a whole two weeks left till Bandit! Week 1: run my ass off all week, week 2: taper time, just a whole week of quality training before Bandit, needless to say I was not very confident going into the race. Enough excuses already, on to the race.
I drove into Corganville at 6 the morning of the race to give myself plenty of time to mingle and get prepare to run. Parking this year was a half mile from the starting line and I had to walk back and forth twice, so I figured a two mile warm-up was fine. After a few pictures and well wishes I lined up at the starting line to embark on my journey through the Simi hills. The first mile of the race is a "warm up" lap around Corganville and most runner set a fast pace looking as good as they can for pictures as they run past Bandit village. After the warm up lap we hit the first and arguably the most difficult hill of the race, this is where the race really begins. The steep hill brings you up switch backs, underneath the freeway and up to Rocky Peak, I was situated nicely in the lead pack of runners going up this first hill along with three others.
After we hit Rocky Peak the pack thinned out, its the two leaders chasing each other out front, then another runner and me fighting for third and forth place. There is not much relief from the uphill grind at all coming into Rocky Peak, its still up, up and away as we eventually hit the top of Rocky Peak. Next comes one of my favorite down hill single track and possibly my favorite part of the race, Chumash, I came out of the aid station at Chumash right behind third and chased him all the way down to the bottom where we ran a 1/2 mile road section together into Marr aid station (about mile 9 of the race). I leave the aid station before him and its UP we go again, this time up a single track known as Hot Dog Hill, its definitely a steep exposed climb and its starting to get hot, its a shorter climb than Rocky Peak and on the back side you get rewarded with another amazing single track down to Tapo Open Spaces. I don't see anyone during this whole section of mile 9-14, I guess I am sitting comfortably in third at this point. 1/2 a mile before the turn around at Tapo Open Spaces trail head I see first and second place runners coming the other direction (so I'm about a mile behind). I take some time at the aid station to fill up water take a gel and cool off, just as I am leaving in comes forth place, I've got work to do..
Forth place catches back up to me real quick while running back through Tapo Open spaces and I trail him about 50-100ft behind all the way back up and over Hot Dog Hill, a fast downhill into Marr aid station. I fill up here, take another gel and leave the aid station well before the forth place runner this time. Running up Las Llajas is my least favorite part of the race, every one says "its flat, you can make up good time" Oh hell no its not flat, its a constant deceptive uphill the whole way and destroys me mentally and physically. However I do end up running most of this section with an occasional 30 second walk break, every time I turn around to look and see who's coming up behind me there is no one to be seen. 30K runners have now joined the 50K runners and are super supportive with words of encouragement. Shells!! Yikes F*#%ing Shells! anyone who has run this race knows exactly what I am talking about, Shells is steep and long, after running 25 miles Shells is where most runners fall apart. Its now getting super hot out, my legs are burning and I am running scared that someone is going to take 3rd place from me. I jog, I power hike, I jog, I power hike, over and over. There is 30K carnage all around me, people are walking and overheating everywhere. I hear "How far till the next aid station?" "I need more water" "More uphill?" But I still get "Good job!" "You rock" "Keep it up"... Trail runners kick ass! I never hear encouragement like this during road marathons, especially in the midst of suffering. Just when you smell death from dehydration all around you and you take your last sip of precious water, an American flag comes into view like a glorious monument atop Everest (okay just Shells). No its not a mirage its Roxy Rockit with popsicles in her hand asking which flavor you prefer! wow it doesn't get much better then that!
After a sweaty hug of appreciation for Roxy, I jet off on a short 1 mile downhill with no 50Kers in view to the front or back of me. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing because I start to get comfortable with my 3rd place position and I don't feel I have to push the pace as hard. I run most of Rocky Peak back to the Corganville turn off with a few walk breaks, I guess I felt like I took more walk breaks and didn't push as hard as I did for No Name 50K or Bandit 50K last year. I had several runner assure me that I was 5 minutes behind 2nd place, at this point 5 minutes is too long to make up, so I didn't charge like I probably could have. Now down the finally descent into Corganville, I hate this descent, I will say it again I HATE THIS DESCENT, I find myself cursing Randy going down this descent every time. What cruel ahole puts this technical downhill at the end of a race with two miles to go? My legs are trashed and the downhill just shreds what's left of them. A fast last mile through Corganville (or at least what feels fast after 30 miles) and as I come around the bend I hear the crowd go nuts, 31 miles or not its time to look like I know what I am doing, cameras are taking picture and people are watching, Just a 31 mile stroll through the park right? Cross the finish line 3rd overall in 4:34:05.
Hear is the part of the race report where I get all boring and cheesy, but don't stop reading now because we need to give credit where credit is due. I just want to take a moment to thank a few people and you (the reader) can be on your way.. and the Oscar goes to... Randy and Sarita Shoemaker for putting forth so much time, resources and dedication to make such an awesome race happen every year, you guys are truly the best RDs out there. None of this could be done without all the awesome volunteers who sacrifice there day to come out and mark the trails, clean up after us, feed hungry runner and cheer us on, it is appreciated! To the trail running community, each and every runner out there pushing there hardest to run through the brutal trails and heat while still have the good graces to offer kind words and help each other out. To Desirae for being an awesome wife, supporting my goals and putting up with my craziness, love you! Major props go out to my brother Keith for running his first 50K (your hooked now). Its over already but I cant wait to get out there next year, hopefully better trained and fully prepared to run a PR.. Till then a beer to celebrate and a trail to run..