Category Archives: Adventure Racing and Ultra-running

2017 Uhwarrie 40

 

  • I’ve run this 7 out of the last 8 years, so I’ll just bullet point it…
  • Same routine as normal – wake up a few minutes before the alarm was supposed to go off at 3:50, get up, make coffee, make my breakfast to eat on the way over, etc. Load up the car and head out.  This year I picked up Heather and we were on the way to El Dorado Outpost, the shuttle area, by 4:40 a.m.
  • I rode the shuttle over with Tori, her first ultra, and tried to help her remain calm.  Timing was perfect as we arrived, waited for the port-a-loo, and finished just in time to drop the warm clothes and head to the start.
  • Obligatory profile:

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  • This year I was in the top 5 or 6 up the 1st climb (a real monster!), until I tripped and fell, and was passed by a couple runners.  I ran with Tim, with a bit of back and forth, from maybe mile 5-18.  I’d make it to the turn in 8th, in 3:28, about 5 minutes faster than last year.
  • The turn was smoother for me this year than last – I went in knowing exactly what I was going to do – drop the vest, keep the arm warmers and gloves, get my one small baggie from the drop bag.  I took off the ipod from my vest before getting all tangled in the headphones like last year.   The only problem was they couldn’t find my drop bag!  Bummer!  Here’s a photo Sam took of me looking sad:

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  • I was determined not to mentally let my missing drop bag get me down.   It had two vfuels and two date coconut rolls, and that’s it.  But it did mean I’d have to fuel on things I’m not used to.   I gave Sam my vest who promised to get it to me at the finish, and took off, feeling good.  I did have to eat a cookie there, which would not have been my 1st choice, and later had a hammer gel which I haven’t had in years.  My stomach was a bit so-so around mile 30-35, but I’m not pinning it on those foods.
  • Around mile 28, I saw this guy in bright orange standing just off the trail.  He looked like a hunter and was staring me down, and it felt a bit odd.  Why was he staring at me so intently??   He finally asked my number and when I said “17” he said “ah, this is for you” and handed me my food!  I really appreciate that he hiked in all the way from the 29 aid station to find me!  Again, at that point I’d already had a few things I normally wouldn’t have eaten.  But as an ultra runner it’s important to be flexible.
  • Somewhere around mile 25, after the 2nd climb up and down Dennis Mtn,  I started feeling the hard effort.  I struggled for the next few hours, not running nearly as much as I wanted to on the ups.  I was slow on the flats.  I was running the downs, but my feet were really starting to hurt.  I had to use a brand new pair of Altra Superior 2.5’s on this run, as the week prior on my last long run, my old one’s ripped!  Ugh!  The Superior has a history of that, but a the same time, I love them.  😦   For some reason this new shoe, whether I didn’t quite have the lacing the way I like or it’s actually different, my feet were shot! (I did verify there was indeed a rock plate in both shoes.)
  • It was frustrating to struggle as much as I was — it was a real suffer fest!  It took me 40 minutes longer on the way back in vs. the way out, but amazingly I was only passed once.
  • Results:  7:43:54, 9th overall:

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  • (I do feel like I was in the turn longer than 32 seconds as the volunteers frantically looked for my drop back, but it still was not nearly as long as last year!)
  • How do I feel about the results?  Well, while I was out there it was disappointing to feel like I fell apart so much, disappointing to take 40 minutes longer on the way in vs. the way out.  But I went in saying anything under 8 would be good, so I am not disappointed.  Plus recovery was very easy – very minimal DOMS for the next couple days was it.

Strava race analysis shows the real problem was mile 27 – 36 or so, and I did pick it back up the last 4.

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  • I mentioned tripping and falling on the first hill, but I went down several times this year and seemed to be kicking roots and rocks more than normal.  For some reason I opted to leave my glasses behind at the last minute.  Legally I can drive without glasses, so my eyes are not that bad, but I have been running in my Oakley prescription glasses almost exclusively for several months.  In hind sight, it was a bad call to not wear them on race day!
  • Gear:  Nike shorts and compression shorts, Injinji toe socks, Altra Superior 2.5’s, Icebreaker 200 short sleeve top, turkey trot arm warmers, Icebreaker gloves, buff, arc’teryx hat, ipod, UD AK pack, one UD bottle.  Dropped the vest at the turn and that was it.
  • Pre-race food:  coffee with HWC, gluten free coconut oat meal with coconut mana, almond butter, part of a ucann mix
  • Fuel:  3x vfuel, 4x coconut date balls, 1 hammer gel, a Uhwarrie cookie or two, boiled potatoes, a few potato chips, a bit of mountain dew, noodle broth at mile 35 — why did I wait so long to have broth, it was awesome!
  • History of my Uhwarrie results:
Year Time Place
2010  7:57 (short course)  30/71
2011  8:50:22  30/88
2012  7:57:17  27/148
2013  8:49:06  33/90
 2015 8:05:07  17/88
 2016 7:31:30  7/101
 2017 7:43:54  9/94

2016 year in review

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It was the best of times:

It was the worst of times (not really!):

So all in all a solid year.  Most ever miles run (since I started tracking):

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(I’m pretty sure 2014 has all the data, prior to that Strava does not.)

Elevation fell off a bit but the 75 miles on the ATT run in 2015 and a couple 14ers was the difference.  Pinhoti in November didn’t hurt, either!

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For all activities:

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Sure hope 2017 holds more paddling!

Looking back at last year’s year in review post, I wrote:

Looking at 2015 I see some of the same problems I had in 2014 — I need to work heavily on strength, especially leg strength and core strength, to improve my running.

In 2016, beyond strength, I will continue to work on my mountain biking.  I also somehow need to work on mobility — some kind of movement practice like MoveNat or the Mobility WOD or even getting back to some yoga.  Something to reverse some of the “damage” just running and riding cause!

I did not do great with strength work — it fell off a fair bit after a strong-ish start early in the year.   The mountain biking picked up a bit though not in total miles (759 in 2015 vs. 568 in 2016), but in time spent with R2 on the trails so that was perfect.  (If Leadman is ever going to happen – maybe when I’m 50? – I need to seriously pick up the bike miles.  But right now I’m focused a bit more on running.)

I still have serious work to do on mobility, especially in the right SI -> Hip -> Knee -> Ankle chain, which has always been my “achilles.”

What’s on tap for next year?  Uhwarrie 40 in February and Mountains to Sea 50k, as part of the Tough as Trails series.  I’ve already lost significant time in this year’s series as I did not have a good run at the Eno River 11 miler.  That was in the middle of my “month off” so I ran it w/o looking at my watch.   I’ve still got 71 miles to make up some time, but a repeat as 1st overall seems doubtful right now!

Beyond that, KB, R2, and I all signed up for Hinson again in September.  I’m not sure if I’ll make that an A race or not.  I’ve got the Bryce monkey on my back which may need to be taken care of in June– but I’m going to wait until after Uhwarrie and/or the MST50K to make a decision on that.  It won’t be a big family trip this year — it will be a “business” trip to knock it out.

Cheers to all on a happy and healthy 2017!

6BC – Briar Chapel 6 hour mountain bike race

I only raced the 3 hour, not the 6 hour, and jumped in the beginner/NOVICE category, as it’s the 1st mountain bike race I’ve done in 10+ years.  I’ve only done one short Huck-a-buck mtn bike race at Lake Crabtree a long time ago, and one 24 hour mtn bike race as a 2 man team with Charlie way back in the day…

I’ve mostly ridden with R2 recently, and hadn’t ridden more than 11-12 miles in quite a long time.   I was able to ride 4 loops in 3:02, for about 26 miles, and WON the NOVICE category.  I have to admit, though, the EXPERTs were amazing!  The top 3-4 would pass me once every loop, and they were riding about 2.5 miles more than me.   There’s also the OPEN category which is the largest, and I would have been lucky to be in the top 50% there!  But I’ll take it.  But I guess that’s the last time I can race NOVICE.

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Hinson Lake 2016

Where to start on one of my favorite races, now that I’ve run it three years in a row?  Round and round we go, until we stop or the clock strikes 24.

After Bryce I had planned to take a break from “structured training,” but then I had my 1st ever DNF, and I was ready to come back stronger than ever.  And while I didn’t quite train like Rocky in Rocky II (I wanted to!), I put in some solid mileage (at least for me).   (That 11 mile week was just crazy busy but I did get in a lot of walking and a little riding — that’s the XT bit.)

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So, what would Hinson 2016 bring?  I so wanted to find the form I had in 2015, when I ran 83 miles in 15 hour 45 minutes.  The only reason I stopped then was because I had Pinhoti 100 six weeks later, and thought any more mileage at Hinson would start to jeopardize my ability to run well in Alabama.  I’ve struggled with that decision since then — I think it was the right call — but it was so difficult to stop when I was running so well — sub 20 hour hundred in site, possible 115 at Hinson, 2nd place…  So I’ve thought about Hinson a lot since then.  Going in this year, I just wanted to keep moving for 24 hours.  And of course I had mileage goals (105+), but my biggest goal was to finish — meaning make it to the banana lap still moving, without haven taken a long nap.

This year Kelly and I decided to keep the kids with us.  They weren’t excited by the prospect at first, but in the end, I think they enjoyed it.  We drove down after Reece’s XC practice Friday evening, so we got there a bit late, which meant we had the tent farthest out from the start.  The good thing about that is that it was much more quiet Friday evening.  The bad thing was how far we had to walk in the gear, and the walk to the bathrooms and start in the morning.  :-/  Post race we had a dolly to help move things, so that wasn’t too bad, though unpacking after running all day is never fun.

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After we set up camp, we headed out to the same place we ate last year downtown – Pattan’s downtown grill.   I saw this picture of Hinson snowed over on the wall at the restaurant,  and took a photo as we all needed cold thoughts with the predicted heat for race day (90F with heat index of 100+):

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We got to bed at a decent time and it was nice to be a bit further away from the noise of the busier camp area — I didn’t even need ear plugs!  I still didn’t sleep great, waking several times, but that’s about what is expected if you are not at home in your own bed.

At 6:30 a.m. or so, we got out of bed, I made coffee, and we made the trek to the bathrooms and back.  Then it was time to get dressed and walk back over to the start.

Last year, I ran the 1st two loops with Kelly, and that helped me from going out too fast.  So this year, I planned to run one with her, and then just use PE to keep it easy (no HRM).   After the 1st loop, easy seemed to be about 10:00/mile including stops at the aid station or our tent for water, etc., so I settled in there for a couple hours.  As the heat increased, I dialed that back to 10:30, and eventually even to 11:00’s, as I was worried how much the toll of running in that heat would take.  It still felt easy, but I was worried it wouldn’t for long and that a drop in performance could be sudden.

My strategy to deal with the heat was to put ice in a buff and put that under my hat.  That worked well for a while, but I also started to douse myself with water from the aid station cups, and eventually I started carrying a small hand held of water that I could squirt on my head or on my face.   I also started putting ice in a towel, wrapping that up, and putting that around my neck.  Those strategies were working well until somewhere around mile 42 or 43, when I felt this heavy cloud of heat around my head that would just not go away.  I backed off to a walk for several minutes each on the next couple of loops, and used more ice, and eventually felt the cloud of heat dissipate.

It was somewhere around here that I recognized Leigh Ann from Umstead, who had really pushed Jason there for the overall win in the 100 miler.  She jumped in for a loop with me and that helped a lot — I got back to a decent pace and it was nice to have someone to talk to.  She’d run another loop with me later, and about half of a 3rd after midnight when she found Ron on the side of the bridge and stopped to help him.

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I had a resurgence for a few miles, but then the pace began to slow again.  I walked a bit, and after a while finally felt that I was getting back into a groove and picking things up, when the wheels fell off the bus — all of a sudden my feet were shot.  I had a huge blister and could put almost no pressure on the left foot, and overall the feet felt hot, swollen, and painful.  But it was mostly the blister that was unbearable.  I had to call it at 83 miles around 2 a.m.   Definitely not the same form as last year when I had the exact same mileage more than 2 hours earlier!  But the conditions were so different.

Here’s what the feet looked like in the morning.  Besides the big blister on the ball of foot, my feet had several other smaller blisters but also a terrible rash.  I’ve gotten the rash before after long events, but this time the feet were very very swollen:

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Here’s Strava’s race analysis:

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Pretty steady until mile 30 or so, a pick up after the “heat wave episode” around mile 45, then a decrease from 60 on as I began to fatigue, and finally a huge drop when the feet were gone.

In hindsight, the strategy to keep cool in the heat using ice and water over my head worked great for the heat, but the water in the shoes was too much for the feet.  Last year in the constant rain at Hinson, I had no blistering.  And the grit didn’t bother me.  This year the grit seemed worse, and it was drier!  Also, I’ve been using a Saucony Kinvara 7 and Nike Terra Kiger, both with 4mm drops, to alleviate some achilles soreness, but neither has the large toe box I like.  I started in the Kinvara but switched fairly early (10 or 12 miles) to an Altra One^2, as I could feel the narrow toe box rubbing my toes.   I used the Altra’s for a while, then switched to the Nike’s, and those felt tight.  I used those for a while before switching to Hoka’s.  Nothing felt good!

In the past I’ve never gone through so many shoes, and I could feel the different shoe structures bothering me a bit… My arches definitely noticed the changes, and the feet in general noticed the constrictions of the smaller toe boxes.  If I could do it again I probably would just run in the 0 drop Altra Superior 2.0 from the start, which I didn’t even bring to the race, and only switch to the Hoka’s after 50 miles or so.

I should call out that Kelly got in her 50k, all on sore heels, and then she and Riley headed out to a 60th birthday party about 40 minutes away, before returning.   Reece-man was an awesome handler — he ran 5 or 6 loops with me throughout the day and one at night, but also always had ice ready to put in my bandana, water or tea to drink, and even made me an iced coffee a couple of times!  Now he wants to come back as a registered runner next year, so I’ll be flying solo in terms of crew!  🙂

Here are the splits and other data made possible from the electric timing:

Lap Lap splits Total time distance lap pace overall pace (min/mile)
1 0:15:46 0:15:46 1.503 0:10:29 0:10:29
2 0:14:21 0:30:07 3.006 0:09:33 0:10:01
3 0:14:10 0:44:17 4.509 0:09:26 0:09:49
4 0:14:05 0:58:22 6.012 0:09:22 0:09:43
5 0:15:38 1:14:00 7.515 0:10:24 0:09:51
6 0:14:05 1:28:05 9.018 0:09:22 0:09:46
7 0:14:30 1:42:35 10.521 0:09:39 0:09:45
8 0:14:22 1:56:57 12.024 0:09:34 0:09:44
9 0:14:59 2:11:56 13.527 0:09:58 0:09:45
10 0:15:35 2:27:31 15.03 0:10:22 0:09:49
11 0:15:26 2:42:57 16.533 0:10:16 0:09:51
12 0:14:49 2:57:46 18.036 0:09:51 0:09:51
13 0:14:53 3:12:39 19.539 0:09:54 0:09:52
14 0:16:40 3:29:19 21.042 0:11:05 0:09:57
15 0:15:42 3:45:01 22.545 0:10:27 0:09:59
16 0:17:04 4:02:05 24.048 0:11:21 0:10:04
17 0:15:54 4:17:59 25.551 0:10:35 0:10:06
18 0:15:25 4:33:24 27.054 0:10:15 0:10:06
19 0:16:25 4:49:49 28.557 0:10:55 0:10:09
20 0:16:26 5:06:15 30.06 0:10:56 0:10:11
21 0:16:32 5:22:47 31.563 0:11:00 0:10:14
22 0:16:21 5:39:08 33.066 0:10:53 0:10:15
23 0:17:55 5:57:03 34.569 0:11:55 0:10:20
24 0:16:28 6:13:31 36.072 0:10:57 0:10:21
25 0:16:05 6:29:36 37.575 0:10:42 0:10:22
26 0:16:12 6:45:48 39.078 0:10:47 0:10:23
27 0:20:16 7:06:04 40.581 0:13:29 0:10:30
28 0:17:14 7:23:18 42.084 0:11:28 0:10:32
29 0:18:15 7:41:33 43.587 0:12:09 0:10:35
30 0:22:28 8:04:01 45.09 0:14:57 0:10:44
31 0:21:15 8:25:16 46.593 0:14:08 0:10:51
32 0:19:11 8:44:27 48.096 0:12:46 0:10:54
33 0:22:44 9:07:11 49.599 0:15:08 0:11:02
34 0:17:42 9:24:53 51.102 0:11:47 0:11:03
35 0:16:47 9:41:40 52.605 0:11:10 0:11:03
36 0:17:51 9:59:31 54.108 0:11:53 0:11:05
37 0:18:47 10:18:18 55.611 0:12:30 0:11:07
38 0:16:57 10:35:15 57.114 0:11:17 0:11:07
39 0:16:45 10:52:00 58.617 0:11:09 0:11:07
40 0:18:32 11:10:32 60.12 0:12:20 0:11:09
41 0:24:58 11:35:30 61.623 0:16:37 0:11:17
42 0:22:59 11:58:29 63.126 0:15:17 0:11:23
43 0:21:30 12:19:59 64.629 0:14:18 0:11:27
44 0:23:14 12:43:13 66.132 0:15:27 0:11:32
45 0:29:23 13:12:36 67.635 0:19:33 0:11:43
46 0:21:50 13:34:26 69.138 0:14:32 0:11:47
47 0:22:35 13:57:01 70.641 0:15:02 0:11:51
48 0:20:56 14:17:57 72.144 0:13:56 0:11:54
49 0:27:32 14:45:29 73.647 0:18:19 0:12:01
50 0:31:13 15:16:42 75.15 0:20:46 0:12:12
51 0:24:36 15:41:18 76.653 0:16:22 0:12:17
52 0:28:06 16:09:24 78.156 0:18:42 0:12:24
53 0:35:39 16:45:03 79.659 0:23:43 0:12:37
54 0:42:36 17:27:39 81.162 0:28:21 0:12:54
55 0:29:01 17:56:40 82.665 0:19:18 0:13:01

I probably shouldn’t compare 2015 to 2016, since the conditions were drastically different, but spreadsheets make it so easy!  This does show how much more consistent for a longer period of time I was in 2015…  The negative difference shows I went faster in 2016, but a solid 3 minutes of that was from running just one loop with Kelly to start instead of two.  I still increased the difference for a short amount of time, but not for long — once the heat started kicking in…

2015 2016
Lap Distance Total time Total Time difference
1 1.503 0:16:15 0:15:46 -0:00:29
2 3.006 0:33:34 0:30:07 -0:03:27
3 4.509 0:47:54 0:44:17 -0:03:37
4 6.012 1:02:28 0:58:22 -0:04:06
5 7.515 1:17:04 1:14:00 -0:03:04
6 9.018 1:32:21 1:28:05 -0:04:16
7 10.521 1:46:09 1:42:35 -0:03:34
8 12.024 2:01:33 1:56:57 -0:04:36
9 13.527 2:15:50 2:11:56 -0:03:54
10 15.03 2:30:27 2:27:31 -0:02:56
11 16.533 2:44:10 2:42:57 -0:01:13
12 18.036 2:59:39 2:57:46 -0:01:53
13 19.539 3:14:38 3:12:39 -0:01:59
14 21.042 3:29:38 3:29:19 -0:00:19
15 22.545 3:44:02 3:45:01 0:00:59
16 24.048 3:58:33 4:02:05 0:03:32
17 25.551 4:17:46 4:17:59 0:00:13
18 27.054 4:34:06 4:33:24 -0:00:42
19 28.557 4:48:49 4:49:49 0:01:00
20 30.06 5:03:16 5:06:15 0:02:59
21 31.563 5:17:19 5:22:47 0:05:28
22 33.066 5:32:59 5:39:08 0:06:09
23 34.569 5:48:26 5:57:03 0:08:37
24 36.072 6:05:12 6:13:31 0:08:19
25 37.575 6:20:12 6:29:36 0:09:24
26 39.078 6:35:10 6:45:48 0:10:38
27 40.581 6:51:23 7:06:04 0:14:41
28 42.084 7:07:08 7:23:18 0:16:10
29 43.587 7:22:01 7:41:33 0:19:32
30 45.09 7:40:17 8:04:01 0:23:44
31 46.593 7:55:40 8:25:16 0:29:36
32 48.096 8:11:42 8:44:27 0:32:45
33 49.599 8:30:31 9:07:11 0:36:40
34 51.102 8:47:46 9:24:53 0:37:07
35 52.605 9:06:52 9:41:40 0:34:48
36 54.108 9:22:27 9:59:31 0:37:04
37 55.611 9:40:30 10:18:18 0:37:48
38 57.114 9:56:31 10:35:15 0:38:44
39 58.617 10:12:49 10:52:00 0:39:11
40 60.12 10:29:42 11:10:32 0:40:50
41 61.623 10:46:47 11:35:30 0:48:43
42 63.126 11:04:59 11:58:29 0:53:30
43 64.629 11:23:27 12:19:59 0:56:32
44 66.132 11:41:54 12:43:13 1:01:19
45 67.635 12:01:40 13:12:36 1:10:56
46 69.138 12:21:07 13:34:26 1:13:19
47 70.641 12:42:44 13:57:01 1:14:17
48 72.144 13:11:39 14:17:57 1:06:18
49 73.647 13:38:28 14:45:29 1:07:01
50 75.15 14:00:17 15:16:42 1:16:25
51 76.653 14:23:20 15:41:18 1:17:58
52 78.156 14:41:51 16:09:24 1:27:33
53 79.659 15:03:56 16:45:03 1:41:07
54 81.162 15:24:01 17:27:39 2:03:38
55 82.665 15:45:26 17:56:40 2:11:14

I don’t think I’ve ever, in any race from 2-3 day adventure races, to 100 miles ultras, to Rogaine’s, or even the MR340 when we paddled for 38 hours — I’ve never said “I’m never doing that again.”  But about midnight Sunday when I started falling a part, I really started questioning the whole ultra thing.  I seem to have found a sweet spot this year in the 50k – 50 mile range, or even up to 12 hour events.  But beyond that I’ve struggled.  Yet by Sunday evening the thought of going back to Hinson or signing up for another 100 didn’t seem like such a terrible thing.

I am going to take a break from “structured training,” though, I think that is necessary.  I look forward to getting out on the mtn bike, hiking, strength work, etc.  And even a little running.  But not with the aim of building up to a race.  At least not until Uhwarrie 2017 comes around the corner…  🙂

Strava data

I was poking around Strava and found this interesting data…  I’ve run almost twice as much this year so far as last year at this time…  100 more miles this year and I’ll pass last year.
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Similar story for elevation!
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Bike wise I’m a little behind.. (I’m actually not sure where the target comes from, but it’s skewing the graph a bit.)
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(I think I probably don’t have all of 2013 data in strava — I was using Daily Mile back then…  I tried to copy everything over, but I’m thinking some stuff is probably missing…)

Beech Mountain Xterra 5k

On the day I started my 46 revolution around the sun, I was talked in to running the Beech Mountain Xterra 5k.  There was also a 15k, which is much more my kind of thing, but timing wise I just couldn’t make it work — we had to get off the mountain and get R1 off to camp.  Plus Lucho suggested a hard 5k would be better for me with where I am in my training right now.

I got quite the birthday present — the young gun that must have gotten 90-120s ahead of me missed a turn, and so while I thought I was running for 2nd place, I came in to the finish and was told I won the race overall!  Hardest 5k I’ve ever run (not that I run many, it’s been over two years since the last); slowest 5k (28:11) I’ve run at least in the last 25 years if not ever…  But I’ll take the win!  (It’s the 1st time I’ve ever won a race outright!)

 

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The data shows I was in the 5:15 range on the downhill….

The Pursuit of Happiness

This article on irunfar.com came across my reader today:

http://www.irunfar.com/2016/07/the-pursuit-of-happiness.html

And a couple of quotes really stood out to me, especially in light of my DNF at Bryce:

At some point, and I forget exactly how his comment came about, he said something along the lines of “isn’t this what it’s all about? The pursuit of happiness…not the race as such, that’s just an excuse to get together…it seems to me that what’s important is the shared experience…for better or for worse this is an incredible moment.”

And:

Ultimately, it is not about the race, how fast or slow we run, it is about the people and the shared experiences, and that togetherness is for me what makes running in the mountains so meaningful.

This holds true for me for Bryce…  I had a great time at Bryce, both the family and friend time before and after, but also the race.  Would I liked to have finished?  Of course, but that wasn’t what was most important about the experience.