About half way through the summer last year I swore I wasn’t running Red Hot in 2014. I was worn out from a long season of running and I wanted a long break over the winter to recharge. The more I thought about it, the more I reasoned that I wasn’t getting worn out from running so much as I was getting tired of running in the heat of summer. So, with that, I started formulating a plan to front load my season in the spring months and take advantage of the off-season strength I would gain at Bomber Athlete over the winter. This past weekend was the first test of this grand “plan.”
|Starting 2014, hoping that some of this work will pay off|
|This was almost as painful as running on slickrock.|
As I set my schedule up for 2014, two goals naturally presented themselves. Since I’m a bit OCD, I like round numbers. Goal number one was to go sub 5 hours at Red Hot. The other is to go sub 7 hours at the Buffalo 50. This would mean that I’d be shaving off about 15 minutes from last years Red Hot race. I thought it was pretty aggressive as I couldn’t recall anything I did in the 2013 edition that went terribly wrong. In fact, I thought I ran a pretty smart race.
This was a weekend of many firsts as Leo would be making his first roadtrip and his first hike the Sunday after the race. We packed our car with more “stuff” than I realized we even owned. Making our way down was easier than expected and race check in went smoothly. We met up with the HUMR gang at Condo de Farka but bailed early to get some sleep.
Now here’s where the details get a bit hazy. The race itself. I actually had a plan going into it. Being a bit more familiar with the course, I decided that I would start out fast and take advantage of the dirt roads at the beginning. So, that’s what I did. The first few miles were at a pace I knew I couldn’t sustain, but in the back of my mind, I knew I would lose some ground on the technical downhill in the later stages of the race.
|Thank you to Matt Trappe for taking this amazing mid race shot.|
This “strategy” seemed to work out alright. Miles clicked by. I felt good. I attempted to keep myself fueled with actual sports/race related food, mainly Honey Stinger Chews. I remember seeing the HUMR makeshift aid station at around mile 7. I also recall seeing Jeremy at another aid station. I apologize if I wasn’t super friendly. I made a concerted effort to not be a “d$ck,” as Breein has told me I can be during races. I even made some small talk with a few runners.
|Gang of HUMRs (or is it a Gaggle?)|
Somewhere around mile 12 (maybe?), I started to run behind two time Hardrock winner Darcy Africa. I felt completely out of my league running near her, but the pace seemed like it was manageable and for some reason it felt like what I should be running to go sub 5 hours. So, I kept her within sight over the next 15 miles or so. After seeing Lane and Cory at their makeshift aid station, she even remarked that “I must know everyone out here.” It was nice to see familiar faces out on the course and this helped motivate me to run hard.
The miles went by and I was able to keep up on the climbs and flat sections. As soon as it turned to any sort of technical downhill, it was apparent that I was out of my league. My quads cramped up at about mile 22. I took some emergency S-Caps and eventually they loosened up. Around mile 28 I was promptly dropped by Darcy, which I assumed would happen at some point. I peg legged it down the slickrock and prayed for more runnable dirt roads.
My prayers were answered as the last section of the course turned into glorious dirt jeep roads. These may be boring sections for some, but I craved the soft dirt. My legs started to turn over again and my mind turned to that sub 5 hour goal. Around this point in a race a lot of F-Bombs get dropped in my mind, and this time was no different. With the end in sight I convinced myself that I wasn’t running hard enough and that my legs didn’t hurt enough. I asked my legs to turn over quicker and they graciously responded. Around the last few downhill turns I saw Britta who informed me that I was only about a mile from the finish. One last check of the watch confirmed that I could probably sneak in under 5. I vaguely remember all of the spectators up the road cheering before crossing the line at 4:58:53.
|#Nosqueak… Solid placement of logo. No chafing issues!|
|Post race after party.|
|Monday Funday run with Britta. Hidden Valley (Ranch) Trail|
|Early morning slickrock running.