Went out comfortable for the first 6 mile alpine loop on Greek Peak. Ran with Tim (50 mile), Yassine (100), and Adam Chase (50) for 2 or 3 miles before Tim and Yassine took off. We saw some spectacular views look East from high up on the first climb. I think Tim pointed it out at which point we all turned to look. Crazy rich colors and what looked like a sea of clouds with hillock islands. I shouted down to the runners far below to look. After the race someone thanked me for doing so. Adam and I also made note of first sunlight. I told myself that I didn’t want to still be running when the sun came up again. I wasn’t, but not as I envisioned.
Loop two was an 18 mile lollipop up Tuller Hill and then up another hill to its west. Tuller Hill/Sheep Hollow was the section I was dreading from my running of that section over Fourth of July weekend. It turns out that I should always preview a course the day after racing a 50k, because that section was significantly less brutal (I still wouldn’t call it easy) on race day. Not only was I fresher, but the weather was gorgeous – cool and crisp (the July run was hot and humid) – and I was running with/behind Adam. It was great having Adam set the trail in the few more difficult to follow areas. It was even better to have Adam to chat with. I think we spoke pretty much the entire for first 4 hours of the race. We chatted about everything from shoes to attorney life from running websites to relationships. (Perhaps it is “scary” when we’re together.) Unfortunately, at mile 23.5, Adam stopped to change shoes and I went on ahead.
[Ok, less race reporting, more crucial details.] Besides a two mile rough stretch from 37-39 after I chugged a Glucerna I felt pretty darn good for the first 46 miles. When my rough spot ended around mile 39, I was able to lock into a 150 beats per minute heart rate effort and felt smooth. It was only after I came through the Greek Peak aid station (mile 46-47) that things fell apart. They fell apart quickly.
My energy waned and I started to walk a bunch. That’s when I noticed my heel pain. I quickly realized I had bad blisters on the outside of both heels. During the stretches that I did run from Greek Peak to the start/finish (mile 50) I was compensating badly as I couldn’t heel strike. Within 15 minutes I knew I was done, despite the fact that I still had great energy and decent legs.
I walked almost the entire way back to the mile 50 aid station and sat in a chair for 15 minutes. I drank some coke, lanced one blister, and changed shoes. I didn’t want to go on, but I humored the group that had gathered around me. Maybe I would feel better. I wouldn’t. What I did have was a 2 hour, 6 mile hike that took me up and down Greek Peak twice. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day. I listened to some great music and imagined the clouds to be many things. Despite facing disappointment, I didn’t think a lot about “big things.” Nope, I looked at the iron weed and the bird feather. I gazed at the distant ridge to the north and placed aid stations upon it. I considered the old barns and farm houses scattered far below me. A few times I say and reflected. A few times I just sat.
I did try to run on the section. Each attempt only confirmed what I already knew – I was done. on the climbs I has to stay on my toes… which meant my chronic right Achilles barked at me. On the descents I still had to land on my toes. With each such footfall, I used my shins to brake. Sadly, I fell during the TransRockies run and injured the connective tissue at the top of my right shin and it was twinging as I ran downhill. No good. I have no problem sucking up bad heel blisters for 20 or 25 mile. I’ve been there and done that, but I felt that to do so would have a high risk of lasting injury. In the end, I decided that risk was not worth the slow time walking in the rest of the course would have yielded. I’ll save myself for another day.
Ps. Tony Portera was an awesome crew!