My most memorable races have a few turning points. These are moments where I consciously have to make decisions that really impact my end race result. This year’s Buffalo Run had three turning points that I can remember which made for an interesting day.
The Buffalo Run was a focus race for me this year. Not only did I feel like I left some time on the table last year, it fit perfectly into my plan to race hard early in the year when the temperature is still cool. I’ve learned that I like to train in the winter months, so why not take advantage of that? I had two goals coming into the race. One was to get a PR and the other was to go sub seven hours.
Race Start –
It was cold. Despite this, I chose wisely to not wear a jacket. This was a good call as I warmed up within minutes. I started up the first climb in around 4th place or so. Scott and Pablo raced ahead. I went up with Zac Marion and Brian Beckstead. The pace seemed fine, but my quads were off and seemed dead already. I chalked it up to not being warmed up yet and hoped they would come around.
Brian and Zac pulled ahead. I felt no urge to chase, especially since my legs weren’t feeling great. Elephant Head was uneventful. Coming up the switch backs I was passed by two other runners. I wasn’t climbing well and I couldn’t do much about it.
Turning Point #1 – I consciously made the decision not to chase. This was partly because I didn’t think my legs would respond and I reasoned that I was on pace and talked myself out of going out too hard.
Back to the start and mile 19 was also uneventful. I came to the realization that I wasn’t going to eat any more solid foods. I didn’t panic and prepped myself for my standard all soda diet for the next 30 miles. My time back to the start was exactly where I wanted to be, around 2:38 with about six runners ahead of me.
Mountain View –
I came down from the fence to the Mountain View aid station with a bit of bad attitude. I was still miffed as to how six runners could be ahead of me when I felt like I was running well. As I went out, I counted the runners coming back. Somehow I picked up a place to 6th with a few runners not too far ahead.
Turning Point #2 – I gave myself a bit of a pep talk and told myself to forget about the placing. I was running a solid race and should focus on my goals of a sub 7 race and a PR.
The flat terrain of Mountain View was actually a welcomed change. I usually dread it, but since I wasn’t climbing well, I was happy to be on the flat stuff. Around mile 23 or so my quads started to seize up. They would loosen up after taking some S-Caps, but only for a short time. This continued to some degree until the finish. Not fun, but I tried to manage it the best I could.
Out to Lower Frary went smoothly. I was feeling a lot better at this point than I was last year which I took to be a good sign. I felt like I was gaining some ground. I passed another runner about a mile from the ranch and Brian was only a few minutes ahead. Pablo was still at the aid station when I arrived. I made sure I was in and out of the aid station quickly and at this point, only three runners were ahead of me.
While heading back to Lower Frary I said hello to all the HUMRs I saw along the way. Curtis and Forrest were finishing up some impressive 100 mile times. Breein gave me an enthusiastic “great job!” Everyone was looking strong and it was motivating to see them.
I came into Lower Frary as Brian was leaving. I stopped to fill my handheld and gave chase again. I finally caught up a mile or two from Mountain View. The second place dude seemed to be fading and I passed him briefly before making a stop at Mountain View to refill the handheld again with Ginger Ale. He didn’t stop and continued to run the hill up from Mountain View. With my seizing quads and inability to climb well, I knew I wouldn’t be able to follow.
Once at the top, I tried my best to give chase. I didn’t seem to be reeling him in, but hoped I might have some luck around Lakeside. Pulling into Lakeside I was told I was two minutes behind him. With four miles to go and beginning to struggle on the rocks of Lakeside I had my last turning point.
Turning Point #3 – I was beginning to get paranoid about how far behind me the 4th place runner was. I’ve never finished higher than fifth in any ultra race and I was determined to keep my third place finish or better. I decided that whoever was giving chase would have to earn it.
By this time it was clear I wasn’t going to meet my sub 7 hour goal. At the 2.6 mark to go, I had 26 minutes to beat my time from last year. Thankfully this math was easy, as I was beginning to lose it. Sub 10 minute miles was all I needed for my PR. The dust was making it hard for me to breathe and I was groaning like a wounded animal.
All around Lakeside I was looking over my shoulder. As I made it to the dirt road to the finish, I could see I was in the clear. There would be no 6 minute mile to the finish like last year. I was worked over. I crossed the line in 7:08 and some change. 3rd place overall.
– I love this race. I feel like I’m better suited for flat(ish) courses. Thanks to Jim for another great race.
– This day was a great example of why I feel so fortunate to be a HUMR. It’s awesome to feel the excitement from the group. I always enjoy finishing the race and taking part in the after race activities.
– I’m proud of my dad for finishing his first 50k.
– Jim seeded me #3 and I finished #3. He’s a smart guy. Must be the engineering background.
– I will go sub 7, but it’s going to take a solid race, one without continuous quad cramps perhaps?
– Our Ultra Team sponsors are awesome. First 50 miler using exclusively Squeaky Cheeks. Absolutely no chafing or hot spots on my feet.