I like pie as much as the next guy: apple pie, pumpkin pie, Boston crème pie, key lime pie…Notice that humble pie did not make the short list, but that’s just what I got a FULL serving of, and then some, at last weekend’s Run Rabbit Run 100 in beautiful Steamboat Springs, Colorado. RDs Fred Abramowitz and Paul Sachs (and their energizer-like volunteer coordinator Brady Worster) put on a super-challenging mountain hundred with a great laid-back vibe with a hometown feel. Here’s how it all went down!
-Noon starts are great! Got to sleep in, catch a quickie 7:30am Mass at Holy Name Church at 5th & Oak St, do a drive-by recon of the road section up to the Fish Creek Falls trailhead, eat breakfast, and really relax prior to the start.
– The first climb under the gondola is STEEP! Managed my effort well here and let plenty of people get out in front, including all the race favorites http://www.irunfar.com/2013/09/2013-run-rabbit-run-100-preview.html , though had Karl Meltzer http://karlmeltzer.com/ , Tim Olson http://timothyallenolson.wordpress.com/ , and Dave James http://rundavejames.wordpress.com/ in close proximity up at the top. Was in no rush to redline it especially getting up to almost 10,500’ at Mt. Werner before the out and back up to Long Lake at mile 11.
-The stretch down to the Fish Creek Falls trailhead was a pretty technical for me and my size 13 Hokas, with lots on angular rocks to navigate around and over. Took my time here so as not to make a mistake like a twisted ankle or major faceplant. Tim Olson bided his time behind me for a little while then darted ahead. Hitting the road for the 4-miles of pavement down to Olympian Hall was a welcome opportunity for me to recalibrate my legs early in the race. We were encouraged to have a pacer through this section if we could due to safety with traffic and Meredith gladly offered to run the downhill. I would say she paced me, but she ran the pace she wanted me to be running which was about 20 meters faster than I was going to run…so we never actually ran together until we hit town. At the Fish Creek Falls aid station, I should have swapped out my race vest for a single handheld. Enjoyed running through town and didn’t have to wait at the traffic light very long.
-Emerald Mountain is a lot of fun! Really enjoyed the 20 mile loop out of Olympian Hall and things were feeling pretty good towards the end of the loop. Women’s leader Michelle Yates http://www.dreamliverun.com/ was within sight and I passed a struggling Dave Mackey http://davemackey.blogspot.com/ at about mile 40. Offered some encouragement (better than a grunt like at Western https://grandkonaslam2012.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/get-it-son/ ) and some thoughts for his family back in the Boulder flood. Even though a conservatively grabbed my headlamp at Cow Creek mile 30, I didn’t need it at all. Small mistake to wear a headlamp needlessly for 12 miles. After a quick Hoka and Drymax sock change, I was back out on the pavement for the climb back up to the Fish Creek Falls trailhead, this time with 2 handhelds. So far so good!
-Quick change of clothes into a shortsleeve shirt, Drymax arm warmers, thin gloves, vest donned with Patagonia Houdini jacket safely stashed away, fresh mp3, and I was off for the approximate 12 mile climb up to the highest point of the course at 12,600’. Got off course a little bit scrambling up Fish Creek Falls after following the path blazed by a couple of earlier –starting Tortoises, maybe a 5 minute detour. Then out of nowhere, Dave Mackey comes BLASTING by me like he’s being chased by something. Very impressive stuff and there was no way for me to hang with him. Settled into my groove and hit Long Lake shortly before 10pm and Summit Lake at about a quarter after 11pm.
-Leaving Summit Lake (mile 58), lightning illuminated the night sky and it was just a matter of time until the sprinkles turned into a full-fledged downpour! Jacket on, hood up, headlamp on, keep on truckin’. Becky Wheeler came ripping by me on the jeep road and I was able to keep pace with her into Dry Lake aid station, which was NOT so dry! Even though I was more than 2 hours behind the leaders here, my mood was on fire, “if it ain’t rainin’, we ain’t trainin’!” Apparently, I was having a time for all at the aid station. Here is a sample: Nick – “are you going to switch vests (meaning fuel vest).” Me – “I have it unzipped a bit so it can breathe.” I then reach for my fuel vest and realize I still have the other one on. My trusty crew Meredith and Nick Pedatella braved the elements and motivated me to keep moving down to Spring Creek Ponds, about 5 miles further downhill. More rain and skooching over to the side of the singletrack trail to let others be. Stayed on Becky’s six until the 70-mile aid station manned by Nick Clark http://irunmountains.blogspot.com/ and family/friends, though Nikki Kimball http://www.neverstopexploring.com/blog/contributors/Nikki%20Kimball/ came blasting by us shortly before we hit it. Hot soup tasted GREAT! But now it was time to retrace the 12 mile climb back up to Summit Lake, ouch, humble pie!
-Here’s where the wheels started turning less quickly. Good steady hiking pace, but nothing that would make me competitive for the last 1/3 of the race. Most of the rain had subsided by the time I got to Dry Lake aid station (inbound), and Nick had me change into a dry long sleeve shirt, dry gloves, and a dry pair of socks, as this would be the last crew point until the finish!
-The last 29 miles were a grind for me, but I kept always moving and making forward progress while out on the trail. Pam Smith http://theturtlepath.blogspot.com/ motored by with a very steady hiking cadence. Hot “breakfast” of eggs, pancake, and bacon at Summit Lake (mile 82) and Long Lake (mile 90) were much needed sustenance as the new day (Saturday) was upon me. Coming out of Long Lake aid station, the 50 milers were out on course and I knew I might see Meredith. She was relieved to see me, fearing a DNF, as Pam Smith told her that she had not seen me!
-Finishing is ALWAYS a relief, and I hit the Mt Werner aid station (mile 97) with about 75 minutes to go until the strike of noon. Yes, there is a chance for a sub-24 hour finish! Finally manned up and bombed the 6 miles (race total mileage: 103+) to the finish in under and hour, but not after loading up on M&Ms and potato chips! Relief. Humble pie never tasted so good.
I’m amazingly thankful for the running and triathlon “gift” that God has allowed me to explore. Words cannot express my gratitude for the selfless contribution of my wife Meredith and crewmate Nick. Thanks to Hoka for sponsoring the race coverage http://www.irunfar.com/2013/09/2013-run-rabbit-run-100-live-coverage.html this weekend. Huge thanks as always to Rogue Running, Jack & Adam’s Bicycles and High Five Events, Pure Austin Gym, DryMax Socks, Bonk Breaker Energy Bars, Soleus Watches, Advanced Rehab, thinksport, RunSmart, and Eating & Living Healthy for enabling me to train and race at my potential.
Thanks for reading y’all!