Mrs. Schlub and I arrived about an hour before the race. We took the time to walk some of the trails and also take some great pics. Photos courtesy of Mrs. Schlub.
The minutes leading up to the start were a mess for me; I don’t know what I was doing. The nerves were getting the best of me at the start line and I told Mrs. Schlub I had to run to the restroom again, only ten minutes until start time, what is wrong with me. I rush to the restroom and back and we only have a couple minutes before the gun goes off. As they count down from 20 seconds I realize I didn’t start my watch to find satellite connection, again what is wrong with me.
The gun goes off and we are out and running. The lead pack was filled with strong and fast runners and of course my ego gets the best of me and I latch on and hold on for dear life. My watch finally syncs up about a quarter mile into the run. My goal was to hit the first 3 miles hard, there was a small climb for the first two miles then some downhill and rolling flats for the remaining mile. I looked down at my watch and realized I was at about a 7:30 pace; I just about had a panic attack on the trail. I told myself to stick to the plan, get up the first climb and you get a nice downhill that you can catch your breath. I made it to the climb and the downhill was a nice sight and I was able to get myself under control.
Coming into mile 4, we started to hit the sandy wash which I planned to have a steady pace and hopefully make up some ground. Well my legs felt like jello and I wasn’t running as smoothly through the sand. I’m sure it had plenty to do with the 7 min/mile pace I was holding onto in the first couple miles. At this point the one thing I told myself is that I COULD NOT walk in the sand. My pace was considerably slower in the sand if I walked so I just had to keep moving. About mile 5 my legs finally started to feel good and I was able to finish the sand strong.
The next section was again some rolling flats that allowed me to hold a pretty good pace. I was coming up to what I call the midway point, it’s about mile 9 and there is a side trail that leads back to the start/finish line. I had told Mrs. Schlub about this trail in case she wanted to see me crossing here. At the time she mentioned she probably wouldn’t be there as our friends would be with her at the finish line. Still, a part of me hoped she was there for a little moral boost. In the end she wasn’t there but I’m really glad she wasn’t, I ran right through that section continuing on knowing I only had 4 more miles to go (in actuality it was 5 more miles to go, who marked this course??). I know if she had been there I would have stopped longer than I actually did and thrown me out of rhythm.
Now we come to the climbing. There are actually two climbs in the last 3 miles. We go up and over a smaller hill which gets us to the base of the final mountain. I stayed steady on the first hill only power hiking the last 50 feet. Once over the hill, it’s a nice long downhill that I was able to open up and make some good time on that section. THE MOUNTAIN! To this point I had given it my all and was just going to hang on for this last climb. I started with a very slow steady pace which quickly turns to a CRAWL up this mountain. My steps were so small and slow that young kids were passing me on the way up lol. There are no highlights here, it was brutal, and I had to take 2 full rest breaks, but was very proud of myself for making it to the top as quick as I did. I don’t see me handling that mountain any better than I did yesterday. You know the saying, “what goes up, must eventually come down.” As you hit the high point of the trail, it jumps right down the other side of the mountain. I did a good job getting down quick and quickly got into a smooth run for the last mile to the finish, and then it happened!!!
CRAMPS!!! Yup, the last mile was filled with cramps in my calves and hamstrings. I swear 4 or 5 guys passed me in this last mile all because I couldn’t finish the run strong. When I crossed the finish line, Mrs. Schlub and our friends let me know that by forehead and face was covered in salt. I will need to re-evaluate this for next time.
Hit the finish line in 2:13:38 seconds. I was planning for right around the 2 hour mark but the mountain slowed me down and the cramps got the best of me in that last mile. So here is my take away:
1) I have the best wife and friends in the world. To be out early on a Sunday to see me off and hang out until I get back is awesome. It means a lot to have that kind of moral support and really made it easy to get over the struggles in the last mile.
2) These guys in the lead pack were fast. I was able to look at the results after the race and the guy who won the half marathon distance was able to average about 7:30 min/mile pace. That means he was running 6 min miles in the flats to make up for the slower pace on the climbs.
3) I need to TRAIN HARDER. Like the last point, these guys are stronger and faster than me right now so I have some work to do. I need to get stronger in the climbs.
4) I need to warm up better. It can really impact my performance if my legs take a few miles to warm up and start feeling good. I don’t like to have tired legs but I need to start with a warm up mile or something like that.
5) I was able to hold my own in the flat sections. I could hold pace with the other runners in the flat and downhill sections. The climbing is where they are stronger and that is where I need to start focusing my training.
6) The volunteers were awesome!! Each aid station had plenty of staff, they offered water, Gatorade, and PowerBar gels. The staff was friendly and cheering the whole time.
I loved the event and I am already planning my next trail race. I need to really focus on strength training and I need to focus on running my training runs much harder. It’s going to be a lot of hard work to get to the next level, so challenge accepted.
Any suggestions for losing salt and cramping during the race?