Each stage of the 2008 Gore-Tex TransRockies Run keeps on getting better and better. That goes for the course, team Wings of Glory’s fortune, and my personal experience. Actually, today may have been one of the best days of my life. While this post starts with a race report, many of my most meaningful memories are found after the race report.
Sorry folks, you will soon notice that while the text references photos, there are not yet photos in this post nor are there Stage 3 photos hiding away in a Picasa album somewhere. I’ve not had an internet connection for the past two days and I’m sitting in a van in Minturn, Colorado posting this update. Rest assured that we’ll add photos to this post as well as a Picasa album once we get to Vail on Friday. For all y’alls who are looking for the results of Stage 3, go on over to the official write up on Stage 3. While you’re over at the TransRockies website, check out the TRR videos from the first three days. Ok, now onto iRunFar’s Stage 3 report.
As has become the pattern, I ended up rushing around before today’s start despite giving myself 90 minutes to get ready. Perhaps I should stop blogging until midnight, so I can get up with everyone else who seems to be getting an appropriate amount of sleep for a stage races. Ha! Fat chance. [Note: It’s 10:45 p.m. as I type this.]
As the field assembled for today’s race, they made a special announcement – my teammate, Martin Gaffuri turned 23 today. Happy birthday, Martin! Once the field set off from downtown Leadville, Wings of Glory settled into what has become the usual crowd, including Team Salt Stick and Team Montrail. The 3 miles on roads out of town were fine and it was actually the couple mile climb on double track that was more difficult, both physically and mentally. The cumulative exertion of the race has already begun to take its toll. I certainly didn’t have my usual climbing legs off the start. It was also difficult not to race the other teams around us, which we are strongly trying to avoid at this point in the race.
For much of the rest of the day, I suspected that Martin and I may have taken the first hour or so a bit too hard, but that was not the case. Rather, Martin’s quads were getting a bit sore and while he was far from slow, he did not have the strength that I have come to know of the past week plus of running with him.
With Martin not feeling quite up to par, I ended up setting the pace for the day. Once we settled into a pace a bit over an hour into the day’s racing, we maintained it pretty consistently until about 40 minutes to go. The field was definitely spread out by two hours into the stage and we had the sense that no teams were close behind us.
Maybe 17 miles into the stage we came upon and quickly overtook a team that was ahead of us in the cumulative standings. [As an aside, it was about this time that I had a revelation about why I may like pacing so much. You see, I’m not the most empathetic guy, but I think that when I pace I can go into someone’s head, understand what they’re feeling, and react accordingly much better than I usually can.] Martin was definitely sore and not enjoying the downhills, which are usually seem to be his favorite. Despite this, we picked up our effort a bit with about 7.5 miles (12k) to go and did so again with about 5 miles (8k) to go. Part of this second burst came about when we passed one of the top overall teams, which was having a rough day. [We later learned that this team dropped out before Stage 4.]
Once we hit the flat of Camp Hale, we knew we only had 3 miles or so to the finish. I stayed in front and we picked up the pace a hair. Around both 2 miles to go and 1 mile to go, I had a wave of emotion and had the race ended at either of those points I surely would have cried. I’ve had similar feelings during ultras, but never felt this way during a race shorter than 50 miles.
Regardless of my emotional state, Martin held strong and we finished the 24 miles in 3:44:00. I’ve got no clue where that put us on the day. I do think that Martin had an excellent run on his birthday and enjoyed the stage despite the pain.
Ah, with the run over I could begin my day! Per protocol, a bunch of folks stood around chatting while soaking their legs in a cold water, this time in a cool, leech-filled pond. I love the post-stage soak for both its camaraderie and its recovery benefits.
Next came the massage. OH YEAH! My massage even made it into the daily photo presentation. It was that good.
After a quick trip back to my tent, I went out and had a second soak, this time in a picture-perfect, cold mountain river with some great company. During the soak, discussion lead to the realization that there is a the trail running equivalent of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: Six Degrees of Adam Chase. Those in the first tier of this club are known as FOAC… that is Friends of Adam Chase.
Next came a very welcome shower. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned that I’ve showered in an 18-wheeler the past two days. It’s awesome. Another thing that’s awesome this week is my dental hygiene. With a couple hours of eating GU energy gels every 30 minutes each day, I’ve thrown a post-run toothbrushing in to get rid of the inevitable yuckiness.
I tried to write this afternoon, as I’ve been doing, but I couldn’t connect to the internet in the lodge we are staying next to, so while I took the afternoon to sort photos, my entire afternoon and evening was not spent blogging and posting photos. Sadly, this had been my protocol the previous two days. Around 5, a friend came and pulled me away from my computer and I didn’t look at it again until 10:45. The intervening time was beyond good.
First, I chilled on the lawn and ate dinner with Glen, Leslie, Keith, Matt, Tanya, Meghan, and Sean. During dinner, it was noted that it was a “double butter kinda day.” As I had been doing most of the day, I laughed my well-padded ass off during dinner. Then we bought the last brownie from the lodge, which was only topped by the magic flying brownie that followed it. Check out how excited Hart was about the brownie!
We all then moved over to the Gore-Tex area to chill in their really comfy chairs. More gut busting laugher and good times followed. After the video presentation, I ended up at the Salomon campfire, which was a great time. Campfire, smores, cool people, camp songs, etc.
I decided to end the night early and head back to camp around 9:30 to go to bed (without writing). Silly me. After randomly singing my way through the center of camp (I was that happy), I looked up on my way back to my tent. Bad move. I instantly saw the Milky Way and a shooting star. I stood there and stared at the moonless, light-pollution free orgy of stars for 10 minutes before a volunteer from Gore (there are many here) walking by me struck up a conversation. We chatted and eventually I was back at the campfire snagging a sweet Windstopper blanket and absconding with one of Gore-Tex’s sweet chairs to go off and stare at the sky. It was a perfect day!
Ps. The race between Team Nike/Rogue Valley Runners and Saab/Salomon remains hot. With Team Nike/RVR taking today’s stage by a small margin to maintain its overall lead. What is bad for the
leaders (a close race) is good for all the rest of us.