It was mile 40. The last 12 felt pretty horrible. I managed to keep grinding out a respectable pace, but I didn’t know how long that would last. My stomach was empty and with no real plan to keep adequate calories in, I was all but resigned to the fact that I may be suffering through the next 10. My Dad had come down to a random spot in the trail from the road above. I hadn’t been very pleasant during the last few aid stations and I’m sure he knew I wasn’t eating much. The conversation was brief (and a bit one sided), but I think it changed how the last 10 miles of the race would play out for me. He said something like, “You know, that guy in the red is just ahead of you. You might as well just grind it out.” I’m not sure if he meant it, but I translated that into “You need to run him down.” And with that, I made it my mission to try to gradually close the gap. Over the next hour and a half, I would repeat “5thsounds a lot better than 6th” over and over in my mind.
(Feeling super at the Ranch…)
The weeks between Red Hot and the Buffalo Run had passed quickly. I had been putting in some pretty serious hours at work and it was starting to wear me down. Due to my overall fatigue, I hadn’t really thought of “race strategy,” “splits,” or anything race related that someone should probably plan for. I had looked at some past results and for some reason the time 7:15 stuck in my mind.
Other than the aforementioned event described in paragraph one, most of the race was a blur. My Dad & Mom had flown out for the race and although it’s certainly not their intention, it adds a bit of pressure to run well since I want to make their trip worthwhile. The first 10 miles were pretty uneventful. Jon and I had started out together. The pace may have been too quick, but it felt comfortable. Coming down off of Elephant Head is where Jon and I parted ways. I would be running solo for most of the last 40 miles. Overall, the White Rock/Elephant Head/Split Rock sections were good. I came through mile 19 at about 2:40, which was probably 20 minutes faster than what I should have been.
Around mile 22 on Mountain View is where the real grind started. My Skittles strategy started to fail miserably. It turns out that four packs may be my Skittles limit. I couldn’t stomach any more. As soon as I arrived to Frary Peak on the way out to the ranch, I told my 3 person crew that Pepsi and chips would be the only things I would be eating the rest of the way. I made the turn at the ranch in 6th place and immediately realized that the headwind going back would be rough. During the next few miles I passed Ryan, Jon, Aric, Curtis and all the HUMR gang as they made their way to the ranch. Everyone looked so happy with their smiling faces. Hopefully I didn’t look too pissed, but I wasn’t feeling the good vibes as everyone else seemed to be.
Frary Peak Aid Station came and went again. The grind continued. My Dad and I exchanged some words at mile 40. I decided to stop being a little bitch and get to work.
The fence at mile 43 came into view and lifted my spirits further. As I hiked up the hill I caught another glimpse of the “guy in red”. After talking to my Mom for a quick second, I continued up the hill. At the top of the dirt road I put on some Pearl Jam greatest hits. This band means a lot to me. I have more good memories than can be counted spent at concerts with my brother. It pumped me up and sealed the deal for me that I would not be coasting it in for the last 6.
(So happy to be hiking…)
Suddenly 9 minute miles became 7:30s. I struggled through Lakeside, but noticed that I may be gaining some ground on “guy in red.” By the time I made the turn around the last corner and the finish came into view, I was probably only a few hundred yards behind him. With the last mile being pretty flat, it would come down to who had some leg speed left. We made the last turn down the dirt road to the finish and I decided to make a move. I flipped the iPod to “Do The Evolution” and put my head down. As I passed on the right he turned and gave me a quick “congratulations” on a good race and high five. I said the same and knew at that point that he wasn’t going to try to follow. I glanced down at the watch which read 5:56 for the pace. I held it as long as I could and with one last glance back, eased up to the finish for 5th.
(Pretending to be fast, “guy in red” not pictured)
As is now customary with these reports… below are a few things I’ve learned from the Buffalo Run.
- I listened to Suit & Tie by Justin Timberlake and Hey Porsche by Nelly at least a dozen times each during the race. Apparently I have the musical taste of a 14 year old girl.
- Flat 50 milers hurt
- Man does not live on Skittles alone.
- Just because you feel terrible, doesn’t mean you can’t keep running hard
On to Zion…