Monday, July 28, 2008
Amazing photos are here.
Results and maps are here.
So after my dnf at Devils Backbone a couple weeks ago, my next race was Speedgoat 50k at Snowbird up Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake. My friend, Cole, who I am pacing and crewing at Wasatch was out for a week before Speedgoat for some training. He lives in Ohio (que the tears) so there was some work to be done (or so I thought). He came out Sunday before last and by Thursday, he had logged 70 some miles and 20,000 feet of climbing and systematically kicked my ass. Here are some pictures of our fun:
We took Friday off as a rest day and travelled to Salt Lake after a late start out of Jackson complete with breakfast burritos and ice cream shakes. The ride was uneventful but hot seeing I have never owned a vehicle with air conditioning. We checked into the Lodge or the Inn I forget but it was nice, right at the start with a pool. My only goal for the day was the pool and that got done around 7 that nite. We ate dinner with our friend, Eric Johnson from Logan who was racing too and went to bed.
Not too early of a start 6:30 and we just had to check in and get our bags. Sweet goat shirts, mine's black and looks incredibly menancing. I can't wait to wear it on an overcast day. I think with the sun hitting that thing could kill me within minutes but cloudy, I'm busting it out.
The actual course or vertical weren't really decided on until the last minute and you know I like it like that. Keeps it interesting. I decided not to study the map even though my friend Todd had printed us out a nice big color coded map. I just daydreamed when they were going over it because one look at that thing and I knew it wouldn't help me much, more confusing. I heard words like "intestinal loops" so I knew I was relying on the flagging job of fellow runners who were volunteering.
We figure out drop bag, one for both of us. I put in extra gels, trying to roctane (and loving them), extra socks, shirt and my inhaler. In light of my recent hamburger feet, Cole kindly suggested I try another pair of socks and as a true gear whore (I mean horder), he had an extra pair. So I wore his Wright socks underneath my smartwool and low and behold, not that many blisters at all.
We headed to the start and were off in no time. I should explain where I was in the morning, let's just say I was dragging ass. Too many great days and nites of running followed by palty 5-6 hours of sleep were catching up to me. I had my black period pretty much right off the bat. I woke up in a mood funk (not funky) and in a lot of pain. I had worked on my achilles and calves (constant annoyance) in the car on the way to SLC and proceeded to fire those things badly. You know when you are saying things like "come on, baby, you can do this" in the first 15 minutes, it's not good. I tried to get Cole to go on as he was strong and felt good but wouldn't. We were way back and Cole said he got worried when he looked back and our only competition was the guy picking up the flags, oh god.
But as we all know, these periods do not last forever. Mine usually last exactly one hour, so at 7:30, the monkey slid off my back and I climbed. And oh how we climbed... 4000 feet in the first 8 miles but it's Karl Meltzer race so there were little downhills in the middle of the climbs and towards the end of the race, you didn't want to do the downhills because you knew what came after the downhills. Got to the first aid station at 4 miles, peed, watered and had a little downhill feeling better. We climbed up to 11,000 at the top of the tram and hit the aid station and drop bag there. Saw some folks I know, Becky and Jarrod and said hi. Filled up, grabbed some chips and a peanut butter/jelly sandwich and knew there was some downhill coming.
Downhill wouldn't really describe what was next (see above topo), more like a glissade but with rock and dirt. Dumbass (me) still had the sandwich and chips in my hand and thought I was foot-worthy enough to tackle this without hands. And you are not going to take food out of my hands, but I wised up and shoved everything into my mouth and attached my handheld to my pack and went for it. The first pitch wasn't too bad but the next one was something you wanted to give your full attention to. There was Black Diamond kids patroling the area and they were all wearing helmets. There was a section that was roped and me, having no pride at all, clunged to that rope like my mother would. We pretty much laughed throughout the day about the absurity of the course and how great it was to be doing it. We were then treated to a ridge run that reminded me of the Devils Backbone and totally runnable for at least 15 feet at a time before some climb brought you back to a walk.
After that was a plunge down into Mineral Basin, pretty much 4000 feet down in about 4 miles to that tall drink of water, Roch Horton's aid station. Now, I don't know Roch personally but we both agreed when we grow up, we want to be Roch. First, the name, it's got it all and says it all. And he's supernice, knows what you want and need and always has kind words. I got a popsicle, ice and water for my bandana and they had cold wet towels. This was a runners aid station and it had it all. Finally Cole pulls me out of my swoon and we head up.
Next up was a 2000 foot climb and it was here that we started to make some progress with steady, strong climbing. We passed about 11 guys on this climb, some just looking hot and tired from the big descent (that we had taken fairly easy) and some looking not so great. I commented to Cole that the reason we were making such great progress is that we were working as a team but he totally poo-poo'ed that idea, whatever. We get to the top of the climb thankfully and were still doing okay. We were good to remind each other to eat, drink and take S caps regularly.
We were climbing up something (the climbs gets muddled after a while and I might have things out of order) and we saw Eric up ahead. He was with my friend Todd from here so it was good to see familiar faces. We climbed together for a while and it was a beautiful section with flowers and beautiful views from up high. Sometimes, we would leave a full functioning and lovely singletrack to take a hard left or right on what can only be described as an old abandoned goat path, possibly some stamped down grass but that was about it. We passed some volunteers and the woman said I was running in the top 10 for woman which was surprising in light of my demise at the start but it was just what Cole needed to hear and he said he would keep me there. My goal was just not to dnf.
We then got into the tunnel which was dark and pretty cool. It felt great to be out of the unrelenting sun for a minute or two. From the tunnel, we went down a good ways on a service road and it was a little confusing. I thought we might be off course because there was some construction flagging and it was hard to differentiate between that and the race flagging. And I didn't want to go down if I was wrong and have to head back up. But we found our way and I ran into a woman I ran with at Devils Backbone two years ago. We passed her but I knew what an efficient runner she was and that she would be back.
We had another great climb through some shaded switchbacks on narrow singletrack and then came the (I swear everyone called it this) demoralizing ridge climb. It lasted forever, was unrelentless, hot, steeper than hell, actually it felt like hell would feel and it made me yell at Cole (sorry buddy). He was saying something nice and he stopped and there was no stopping on that hill (besides the "let's just make it to that bush" stops). So he stops to say something and I lose it, "don't stop keep going", there might have been more words than that. I was in survival mode and there aren't that many niceties there. I told him I would apologize later but I could only just make it up that damn ridge first. I have discovered that I am not a multi tasker and being nice and climbing that ridge were mutually exclusive.
So we climbed up to the top of Hidden Peak again and there were two people standing at the top. They were smiling so I knew they were not doing the race. I thought, great, we will hit the aid station, my drop bag and head down to the finish because I thought I had the mileage in my head that there was about 4+ miles.
Imagine my surprise (in my jaunty mood to boot) when the smiling volunteers pointed us not to the aid station but down some more and then back up before we get to the aid station. I asked the dreaded question, how much further? The guy said once we got back to the top (again), it was about 5 miles and he said this all while smiling. I think he had the toughest job of the day because people really broke down on that ridge. So I was about 3 grueling miles off. Demoralized and abused but asking for it, we pressed on. We were still on the homestretch (even if it did involve some wretched climbs), we ran the downhills and there was some great scenery and were able to put some snow in our hats, bandanas and bottles so that cheered me up.
I was definitely looking forward to the downhill because my quads felt really solid and the downhill didn't hurt my ankles. Finally, we get to the top, re-supply, have some coke and food and head off for the downhill to the finish. I swear we were flying downhill and I was barely keeping Cole in sight. It was heating up and you feel it as you descend especially a 1000 feet a mile. We passed a few people on the way down and in all, probably passed about 40 people all day and were only passed twice or three times. Helps to start in way back for that to happen.
So we run and run downhill and start to see signs of civilization. I see the big white tent and look across the canyon to see how low we are. I know we are close and it is heaven to come around the corner and see the finish line. We finish together and come in at 8:47. I was shooting for sub 10 so I am thrilled. I was the 8th woman and third in my age group (when you throw out the top 5 women overall). Those Utah girls are fast and tough and the top woman, Anita Ortiz, is from Colorado and was third overall. There were some amazing runs done by those top people, running the stuff I couldn't even imagine powerwalking.
So we hang out for a while, drink some recovery stuff and then head to the creek. I enjoy a good soak and clean off pretty well in the creek but we head to the pool for some real relaxing. We ask someone in the parking lot for the temperature from their car, 102, that's why it felt so hot. We head to the awards ceremony and I get a cool goat picture and pick up a pair of Native sunglasses. Todd was also third in his age group so I pick up his picture and we meet for dinner with him and my friend Marty. Beef is consumed in large quantities and throughly enjoyed.
Sleep comes quickly that night and the next morning is another early one. I take Cole to the airport and then head home. I pick up tubby dumbo at the kennel and spend a good portion of the day on the couch. My legs feel pretty good, tired but not injured. In the meantime, a little time on the bike and I think an open water lake swim might be in my future. I feel my appetite raging so I see some 5 meals days coming up too.
So if you like the idea of a hot poker to you know where, definitely sign up for Speedgoat. It's a masochist's course put on by a couple of sadists (and we all know who we are). But, I think the confidence and strength you get from finishing a race like this goes far to other races. So I think Cole is ready for Wasatch and I have El Vacquero Loco up next in Afton in three weeks (so excited because I thought it was just two weeks but three is great). Check out the website for more info, it's another great one with lots of climb and great views. Website is here.