I sit here writing this on the Wednesday before the race. I finished my last run today before the race. For a 100, I usually take the Thursday and Friday off before the race. For a solid 11 months now I’ve been focused on this race and all of my training has been geared toward this. Immediately after last year I said my goal was a sub 20 for this year. I set three main training goals that I told myself I needed to meet in order to be in the kind of shape it would take to achieve a sub 20 at cactus. I easily met all three goals in training and feel as ready as can be.
So what does this mean for Saturday? My pace chart that I created months ago is a 19:25 finish time. My goal splits are 4:20, 4:35, 5:00, 5:30. I plan on going by feel the first 50 instead of even looking at my pace chart. So I have to hope that my comfortable pace gets through two loops in under 9 hours. I love making tough goals for races, and if I don’t meet it I won’t be disappointed. The only way I’ll be disappointed is if I have a bad attitude or don’t try. No matter what my time is, a finish is still most important to me. During a 100, its not about avoiding low points. Its about overcoming them and digging deep til the end because low points are inevitable.
Over the past couple weeks my pacers have kind of been up in the air but seemed to come together perfectly today. I’ve got my friend Matt Doellman pacing me on loop three. I ran about the first 30 miles with him last year and he’s run many 100’s himself including Leadville a couple months ago. For loop 4 I have Matt Crownover. He is the only person I’ve ever really trained with and his ultra resume is a mile long. He probably understands my running better then anyone so having him for the final push is ideal. I’m looking forward to loop 4, because in an ultra there becomes a point when there is no longer a pacing strategy. You just run and do all you can to keep moving. The first three loops I’ll be forced to hold back which is never fun. Last but not least is my bro. He’s the one that’s going to make this happen. He’s my crew and going to have my bottles and food ready at all the aids to keep me moving and my spirits high.
Am I in over my head? Am I getting ahead of myself trying to improve over 4 hours from last year? We’ll see…
well it didn't quite go as planned. My knees have never hurt during training. I take my training runs very aggressively and even after 40 miles my knees feel perfect. still haven't figured out what went wrong Saturday, but my left knee is the size of a grapefruit right now...
|left knee is quite a bit larger then it should be|
At the start i started out in a comfortable pace which happened to be up front. I led the race for the first two miles which i didn't like. I kept slowing down expecting somebody else to take it. Finally after a couple miles a group of 4 guys decided to blow past me. I was relieved that i could now focus and run my own race. besides taking a wrong turn by the bar-o camp ground (added about 1/2 a mile) loop 1 went good. i ran a comfortable pace like i planned. I was very pleased to see that the climbs were very easy and that my hill training had paid off. I left for loop 2 at 4:18ish and two minutes ahead of schedule.
|cactus rose 100 - coming in at mile 40 to nachos aid|
the first section went good and made up a couple more minutes. when i left boyles my left knee felt tight. i didn't think anything of it, but was disappointed to have a pain so early in the race. i made it into mile 35 about eight minutes ahead of my pace chart which was the most all day. i left and felt the first signs of stomach issues. i knew right away it was electrolytes, and took in a few extra s caps. the remainder of loop 2 sucked because it was taking longer to get my salt back up then i thought. I was struggling to stay on pace for the first time. I came into the 50 mile at 9:02ish only a couple minutes shy of where i wanted to be.
|Cactus Rose 100 - coming in at mile 50 at about 9:02|
i knew that having a pacer now that i could get back on schedule. my electrolytes were getting back on track and i was feeling normal again. by this point my knee pain was coming and going but progressively getting worse. every aid station it would tighten up and i would feel it when i would try to start going again. everything was going smooth on this loop until about mile 63 when we were heading back to equestrian from ice cream hill and realized we were on the wrong trail. we were talking and having a good time so i still don't know where the mistake happened. i know this course extremely well, so i looked up and let out some cuss words and told matt we were on trail 6 headed toward the saddle instead of the easy jeep road back to equestrian. we had to back track a little to get back on the right trail which added 5-10 minutes i would guess. i had to shrug it off and not worry about it, because thats part of trail running. especially since this course is marked so well i had no excuse. Besides my knee getting worse loop 3 went good for the most part and i came in with about a 5:09 loop which isn't too far off my goal of 5 hours.
|cactus rose 100 - matt doellman and i coming in at mile 65 feeling good|
I left for loop 4 with a ton of energy with Matt Crownover. Hes an awesome runner himself and really knows what he's doing and the best pacer one could be. I left and my knee was very tight. it was always tight after an aid so i figured it would loosen up as i got moving again. i had intentions of attacking loop 4 big time and really laying down the hammer. my plan all summer was to run my own race the first 2 or 3 loops then attack loop 4. I was right where i wanted to be. we tried to start running and my knee wouldn't bend. so we walked some more. once up cairne's climb we tried again to run but it was very painful. we kept trying but my knee just wouldn't bend. i had a very fast power hike and it wasn't causing any pain so i just kept doing that. we talked about everything and had a good time. i felt bad that matt had come all the way and we weren't "running" loop 4. i had to accept that fact that nothing goes as planned and remember what its all about.
I was disappointed in the fact that my legs still felt great and ready to fire for loop 4 but i never got the chance to dig deep and push myself in that way. in this race i had to push myself mentally to keep a good attitude because for a minute i was forgetting my number one rule of always have fun and have good attitude. i think without matt there to keep me company i would have had a bad attitude and it would have been hard to keep going. an eight hour walking loop in the dark is pretty boring and not what i had in mind. Lorenzo Sanchez and Rhonda claridge both passed me on loop 4 to put me in 4th place. Lorenzo had an awesome run and I was happy to see him do well. my final finish time was 22:21ish (results aren't up yet). an hour and a half faster then last year even though i did loop 4 over 2 hours slower this year haha.
|cactus rose 100 - my brother and i afterwards with my metal rose and buckle. time for a beer!|
i've had a tough time accepting the fact that it didn't go as planned, but you learn a lot every race. nutrition was spot on and i never got sick and i looked forward to that gu everytime. i keep telling myself that i should be proud of myself for staying focused on training and for not quitting when things went south. It was still a fun day and im very happy for everybody that was out there. its always awesome to see people finish and achieve something. it was such a positive environment to be in and i left with a ton of inspiration. til next year...
last but not least there are five people i need to thank. first is my brother. he did a perfect job crewing for me and he has no idea how greatful i am. the next two are the two matts. they were the best pacers one could ask for. this race would have been hell without them, and they kept my attitude positive and kept it fun. next is joe. he puts on awesome races everytime. cactus rose is a special race and i don't think i'll ever pass up the opportunity to run it. a self supported race with peaceful aid stations is ideal. i hate other races coming into an aid station that i don't have a drop bag at. well done once again joe! and last is the volunteers. they are the heart of the race and go unappreciated sometimes.