Zion 50 - 7:41
(I'll come back and update the distance - I think closer to 51 - and the time/seconds)
Logan and I had a plan just to run our own race and not worry about anyone who might try and push the tough early sections and then just have a good solid finish. We hoped that no one killer would be there, but it seemed that there would be a couple threats - of course, there were. We started off trailer Mick (the eventual winner) for the first three'ish miles and then as we approached the huge climb up Gooseberry we pulled up along side him. We hike the cliff and actually ended up being the first ones up. It was great that we had done this before and knew what to expect. Up on top, we were just cruising along and enjoying the amazing views when a lady popped out of no where and made Logan scream like a girl and almost jump off the cliff! When we hit the aid station at 10'ish for a little out and back on the cliff face, we thought we had pretty much lost everyone, when suddenly a group of 6 guys showed up! Where did they come from? Two of them stayed with us for the next while (Mick and ? from Phoenix). We all just kind of moved through the Secret Trail section and in my mind I kept preparing for how horrid this section was - it is a single-track mountain biking section with constant undulation and slick rock; no rhythm, no flow. Last time we ran it I was destroyed; today... not so bad; I actually enjoyed it. Coming out at the Cattle Grate we bumped into a couple guys (Eric S.) that had taken wrong turns (later we pass others that must have taken wrong turns as well, as the four of us were in the lead, yet catching a couple people?).
Logan and I would fall behind a little at aid stations (or our crew stations - thanks Dad and Jerry) and then catch up as we ran. We retook the lead coming down Smithsonian Rd., but my stomach was jacked up. I couldn't drink but knew I had too as it was approaching 90+ out on the course. We got to aid at 27 (DHHS's) and Logan and I planned on really taking care of ourselves here. We hit a lot of stuff and I drank some Pepsi and ginger ale to try and calm my stomach. We also started loading ourselves with ice - in our hats, Logan: other places! We started out and crossed the road over to Little Creek. We were gaining a lot on Phoenix (who had passed us out of the aid station), but decided just to sit behind him. Climbing up the volcano we went into a walk, which was fine because my stomach was still just twisting (around here - 30 - I didn't think I would be finishing; I felt horrid). Mick passed us on the hike. At the top of the volcano we iced again and started off. We moved pretty decent here, but didn't see the top 2, so I am thinking they must be pushing a bit too. Then coming into the aid at the Radio Towers we asked how far ahead and the volunteers told us just like 30 seconds. We started the descent and within a few hundred meters we caught Phoenix - his stomach was jacked and I figured he was done - just one more and I could see him down the switchbacks! I have been working hard on my ascent/descent and now it was time to shine - but Logan kept holding me back, telling me to relax (which was very smart with just shy of 20 left in the race, and I could have used that advice a little later). At the bottom of the hill though Logan's calves started really acting up. We had to stop and I stretched them. I hoped they would loosen and he could keep rolling - if they would, I knew we would easily win. Mick had done great, but he was slowing significantly and we kept easily catching him. Which we did about 6 miles later, just outside of Diamond Ranch (about 1 mile out) he was walking a hill and we were only 30 seconds back. Then Logan's calves went nuts again. We stopped and stretched and walked for some time. It was frustrating because we had worked hard to get back up to Mick - he was no slouch and I didn't want to lose all that time again; and I know Logan was frustrated with his legs. By the time we got to Diamond Mick was 6 minutes up on us again - about 10 miles left.
We got good and hydrated and ate a bit at Diamond. I hoped that the extra time there would get Logan rolling again and I knew we could real Mick in again, but I was getting worried. We took the access trail up to Gould's and then took it up to the highway crossing. Logan said to take it easy up to the road and then he would be able to go again. Unfortunately we weren't moving very well and I knew we were losing more time and Logan was struggling more. When we got to the road Logan knew I was itching and told me to go. But we had promised to cross together and I knew that if I left him he would have a very tough time finishing by himself - but there was a race to win. Could I win now? Mick was surely long gone. I told Logan to come with me another half mile - I hoped the food would kick in and his cramping would subside. It didn't. I was in a tough situation. My mind raced, could I still catch Mick if I left? How big of a jerk was I if I left Logan? I felt so good; what should I do? I finally decided to go for it. I stopped at stretched Logan and told him I was going to go win this race for us. So I took off.
This section (the Jem Trail) is my favorite type of running - a desert single-track with rollers. I started really moving, but couldn't see Mick. Then I caught a glimpse of him way ahead. It looked about a mile ahead and I tried to take a time on it - at this point I was at mile 42.5 (it turns out that he was between 7 and 8 minutes ahead, depending on what hill he was on, it was hard to tell from so far away). I really started flying, but I also could tell that my muscles were starting to cramp. When I would hit a roller down or a dry creek bed, my quads and hammies would both start to resist. I pushed it further back into my head and tried to focus on flying. I came up to the top of a roller and saw him again - timed it, five minutes back. I went into Beast Mode. I was pushing the trail at around 6 minute pace. I knew one last aid station was coming up - my only hope was that he would stop and need some time. As he came up the hill to the final aid (my team's aid station) I timed again and he was 3 minutes up. I had cut 3-4 minutes in 3 miles! I hit the aid station and yelled "ice!" The kids quickly filled my bottle with ice-water and I took a half-melted ice bag and poured it on my head. I hoped the shock would get me moving again. And like that I was off. This last section of the trail is absolutely amazing, but it does have some tough sections around ravines (tough in that you think you are closer than you are when you have to backtrack up a ravine to get to the other side). Mick was well within sight now. I was extremely tired , but I thought I had worked to hard to get here I can't waste it now. The cramping quads and hammies were becoming more and more of a reality on every turn and undulation. The gap was narrowing - 2 minutes, 1 minute... I came around a corner at it was 30 seconds! 3 miles to go. There was about 3/4 mile of trail left than a dirt parking lot/road access and dirt road for 3/4's mile and 1 1/2 'ish highway (or dirt 4 wheeler trail) to the finish. One more push to get him and it would be the knock-out blow. I dug deep. Coming off the trail to the parking lot... 15 seconds back! Then just as suddenly... cramp, Cramp, CRAMP! Every muscle in my legs locked up and dropped me to all fours. I fell so fast that I nearly blacked out and kneeled there spinning. I don't really know how long I was there, but some mountain bikers came over and tried to help me up and get me to there truck. I told them to leave me alone - I realized I wasn't going to win, but I was going to finish. So they helped me up and I walked through the parking lot and access road to where my dad was. I took in some more peaches and drank good and started my death jog. I slowly jogged up the hill and down the highway back to the finish.
It was a bit frustrating to know that I got so close and couldn't close it. But I can leave this race knowing that I gave it every little bit that my body had. I pushed it to the absolute limit and then it told me no more as directly as it could. Mick ended up around 7 minutes ahead of me. Logan came hobbling in about 10-15 minutes after me. I was happy to see him and bummed to tell him that I wasn't able to get it for us.
Now I have two thoughts about how I could have one: 1) Go after him a little slower - From 42.5-48.75 I ran a 38 minutes flat, including my short aid station stop, it was a little too quick. But I think I would still do this because I had no idea how far up he was on me at first and then when I saw... well, it was a long way. So I should have done this 2) when I got to 30 seconds back, I should have sat and recovered. I still had about 2.5 miles and I already knew that he couldn't match my turnover. I should have sat behind him and recovered for a mile or so and pushed the last little to pass him. Oh well... live and learn. Mick did an awesome job on an tough hot day on a course that is much more difficult than people might have thought. So he absolutely earned the win. (NB 110 170.5)
Week was good - glad it is done on all accounts: the race, the aid station, Region track, etc...
Goals for next week: recover the legs a bit, no need to stress anything.