leading up the race i heard lots of talk about this "rusty crown" section. apparently out of the 13.5 mile loop, 10 miles were flat and fast and 3.5 miles were just downright nasty. my curiosity was up and there was no way i was going to miss this. i run some pretty rugged and steep stuff so i thought there is no way its nothing i haven't seen. i also knew this course was going to be interesting in the way that it was going to require strategy. would it favor the faster guy with the 10 miles of flats or the mountain goat with the rusty crown? i final look at the entrant list friday night and i knew i had my work cut out for me. i saw that eric had signed up for it, matt crownover would be doing it in celebration of his 40th birthday, and thomas aten who is a fast dude. i knew that all three of them were faster runners then me on the flats. so i knew the flats would give me trouble trying to hang with them. i figured if i have any type of advantage its two things. i do tons of hill training and also i've been doing many many runs in the 30-40 mile range lately so i knew i could run the whole thing hard without slowing.
at the pre race brief dave once again reiterated how difficult the rusty crown was. i thought yeah yeah i've seen it all. i also told him i was going to run the whole thing and he laughed. so yeah i did second guess that statement a little. soon enough we were lined up and as i was tieing my last shoe as we were counting down from 10. we were off and we surprisingly started off pretty comfortable. the 4 of us bs'ed the first 3 miles out there. i started a tad in front but i waited a little since i was wanting the company and at that point i was in no hurry. once we got to the rusty crown a lot of talk stopped. i didn't plan on breaking stride until it broke me. the hills were tough but nothing i haven't done before. eric stuck next to me stride for stride which scared me. i thought shit this guy is faster then me on the flats and hes hanging with me on the hills? i knew it was going to be an interesting day. the rusty crown last 3 miles of just straight up and downs. some steeper then others. after successfully running the first half we came to one in particular that was a beast. i swallowed my pride and broke into a power hike. i guess dave won that one.
|a view of the rusty crown section. a solid 3 miles of zig zagging up and down this hill.|
|pictures never do terrain justice. especially not google earth.|
|this hill could have been accomplished in about half a mile but instead we had to run up and down it for three miles. the down hills were fun for sure.|
upon leaving that section eric and i were shoulder to shoulder. on loop one we ran the flats solid but nothing too fast. we just bs'ed and ran the remainder of loop together until about a mile to go and he took off. my stomach was in pain and i needed one of my pit stops so i had no choice but to let him go. after making my pit stop and grabbing my food/other handheld, i set off about a minute or so behind eric. i figured it was going to take me a while to catch him (if i did). i pushed the pace leaving for loop two wasn't hard since i was now two pounds lighter. i was pushing but i noticed he was getting further and further away. i thought well my only chance is on the rusty crown to make up ground. that section is a true ass whip but i feel like i recover quick from it and it doesn't effect the rest of my race. i attacked it hard once again. i caught up to him about half way through it and once again we were neck and neck. after that section he was really pushing the flats and separated himself again. i had to get outside my comfort zone and catch him on the gravel road because i didn't want to get left just yet. exact same as loop one, we ran the rest of the loop together and about a mile or two from the turnaround he pulled away. curious, i clicked over to my instant pace on my garmin and it read 7:15 and he was pulling away.
i wasn't sure if we would ever run together again so i decided to grab my ipod which i almost never do. i love music and needed something because i honestly wasn't in the mood to run solo and in silence the final loop. my bottles/food were ready to go pre race so my aid stations was much quicker then his and we actually left for loop 3 neck and neck. we set out yet taking it up another notch. a couple time out to the rusty crown i felt him make a surge but i stuck with him, and even a couple times i would try and take off but that dude never left my side. remember when i said that inviting him to come race was a huge mistake? haha at that point it was tough but honestly it was the best thing for us both. we pushed each other and i got in a hell of a training race because of it. plus he's pretty damn cool and it was fun to bs the first two loops with him. so obviously i didn't really regret it at all.
but time to regroup and get my game plan together. my only strong point was the rusty crown so if there was a spot to make my move that was obviously it. we hit it for the third and final time shoulder to shoulder. we now had a 50k under our belts for the day but my legs were ready to rock n roll. i was about to find out how he was truly feeling. that section is a definite make or break. i decided i would attack it harder then ever and see what happened. my ipod was pumping tons of cool shit and i was fired up. we hit the first hill and i didn't break stride nor did i look over my shoulder. i pushed really hard the first half before finally taking a look around. when i did, i didn't see him anywhere in sight. i continued to buckle down and hammer it. my split upon leaving the rusty crown was faster and faster each loop so i was pumped. i knew that the real race had just started. after the rusty crown i knew i couldn't let up because i knew he could easily take the pace up big time so with 7 miles left, the gap cold easily be swallowed. after the final descent on that thing i made the decision to take my pace up on the flats so even if he did too that the gap couldn't be filled. i just stayed focused to the next aid at about mile 36. at the turn around i saw i had about a 6 minute lead so i just kept hammering knowing if i did that he would have almost no way of catching me. and if he did then he deserved it! i had a goal of sub 6 in back of my mind and i knew i was close but didn't think it was possible. i knew if i relaxed and missed it by 30 seconds i would be pissed so i told myself i can't have any regrets. i did all i could but saw my watch click past the 6 hour mark with still a little to go. i finished in 6:02 and i wasn't at all disappointed. i felt like i did all i could.
i was outside of my comfort zone on the flats for probably 2/3 of the race. i questioned big time if it was sustainable or not. i feel that in every race you should go at a pace where you question it from time to time. plus i wanted a good training run so if i wore myself out then i would just have to dig that much deeper. eric ran a solid race and came in 8 minutes behind me. it was perfect having him there to really push me and it made it an interesting day. i've never really "raced" somebody so close for so many miles of a race. to stay neck and neck for 31 miles was insane.
my unofficial splits 2:03:30, 2:00:30, 1:58:30 approx. close to even splits was a goal so to run negative splits on all loops was awesome.
also a bit of breakdown of each loop for my personal records (incase i shoot for sub 6 next year)
loop 1 - section 1 (25:45/8:50pace) rusty crown (32:07/10:42pace) section 3 (28:21/8:36pace) section 4 (36:17/8:25pace)
loop 2 - section 1 (24:54/8:36pace) rusty crown (31:42/10:34pace) section 3 (28:34/8:38pace) section 4 (34/7:54pace)
loop 3 - section 1 (22:59/7:55pace) rusty crown (32:52/10:57pace) section 3 (27:37/8:20pace) section 4 (36:30/8:27pace)
section 1 is from the start to the base of the first climb of the rusty crown (not the aid station). the rusty crown is from the split to the split, again not to and from the aid station. section 3 is from the base of the final descent to the far aid station. section 4 is from that aid station back to the start/finish. times are approx since time spent at aid station is not recorded. pace was a tad faster since some of that time i was refilling/eating. the distances that i got is 2.9 to the base, 3 miles for rusty crown, 3.3 to the far aid station and 4.3 back to the start finish for the 13.5 mile loop.
loved the race and venue. dave does an awesome at these things and the course was marked so well that there was never a doubt in my mind which was nice. the rusty crown certainly lived up the hype and gave this race its signature. it was great hanging out with everybody and congrats to all the finishers and a huge thank you to all the volunteers!