Monday, August 4, 2014

Hardrock 2014 Race Report - Esse Quam Videri

      This year was my 4th time to stand on the start line since 2009 and I had never been more prepared.  If you are friends with me on Facebook then you know that I have been training seriously since October 2013.   You can see my training log here: JOHNSHARPTRAINIG
      The pre-race hiking and acclimatization days went well as I used some of these times to help me feel confident about what splits were achievable and about what type of shape I was in.  This year was pretty special, some days I hiked alone and some days I went with friends.  My "parents" came and stayed the first week and on 3 July Samantha and Tony showed up. The 4th of July was epic with a 2nd place finish in the beer mile in 10:08 at 9,300ft elevation. 
      Also I got to carry the Hardrock banner in the parade. Scott and Melanie threw a tent up in the yard of the house we rented and it started feeling like Sturgis.   
     One of the biggest changes this year was having a crew and more pacers.  Before, Joyce would crew because Joe and I would be about the same speed and in 2012 Brian Ricketts paced me.  However, this year I had Joe as my main crew with Samantha O'Brien and then three pacers: Brooks Williams, Tony Russ, and Gina Chupka.  Additionally, after consultation with a 9 time Hardrock finisher Billy Simpson, I decided to cut my water in half.  The 3 previous starts, I started with about 110oz.  This year 52oz.  This made a big difference.  I had a pretty solid fueling strategy with Tailwind and VFUEL.  Lastly, even with the late snow melt and predicted rain, I knew my feet would be bullet proof because I was using Trail Toes anti-chafing/anti-blister cream.
     On the Wednesday before the race,  I sat down with Joe and based on some guessing we planned a 33:30 finish time using splits from Billy's 2012 round.  See the link for our mockup: HARDROCK_SPLITS.  This has my 2014 actual splits as well.  This 33:30 guess was also based on conversations and feedback from Billy.  The race check-in went well.  I packed drop bags and we waited.
     Race morning I got dressed and went over to the gym and started working on my video:

     At this point there is nothing to be worried about, just go run and have fun.  The early miles went as expected.  Strong climbs up to Grant Pass and Oscars.  Got some pretty good rain coming into Telluride, but I never slowed down.  As necessary I would drink water from the streams when my water would run out. My first bit of struggle was going up to Kroger's Canteen aid station out of Telluride.
     Before I cleared timberline I had to stop and throw up a few times.  I didn't know why at the time but I was mixing my Tailwind too strong.  I was putting 2 scoops per 16oz in my chest bottles.  After 8 hours I am guessing this was too much on the stomach.  I just wanted to try and get 300 calories an hour.  So I'd drink a bottle and take a gel.  I reached Kroger's pretty low so Roch and Megan gave me an O'Doul's to drink and some soda.
    Since I had low blood sugar, going down the 3 pitches to the road was slower than expected, but by the time I hit the road I felt much better and I hauled ass all the way to Ouray. 
      In Ouray I met my crew the second time, pretty pumped up.  I got to wear my sombrero I picked up at Clines Corners. 
    The crew fed me grilled cheese and chicken soup. I picked up Tony as my first pacer and we reached the Grizzly bear mine before we had to pull out our head lamps.  It started raining again when the sun went down, but by the time we reached Engineer aid station it stopped.  Tony was soaking wet because his jacket was shitty, but I was good.  We peaked and hit the road to Grouse Gulch aid station.  About a mile out, my IT band on my right knee was killing me.  Turns out my Hokas were causing me to pronate excessively and making my IT band hurt.  Paul Schmidt came to the rescue with his piece of panty hose trick.
     Here I picked up Brooks and we high tailed it up to the top of Handies Peak.  We made this section in 2hr50min and in the pre-hiking I made it in 2hr30min so I felt pretty good about how things were going.  I did push a bit going up, so the going down took a tad longer than I expected.  However, once we hit Burrows Park we hauled ass into Sherman and passed a few runners.
     Basically, everything went as planned until about 2 miles out of Pole Creek aid station.  I didn't have a hat or a buff to protect me from the sun.  Dammit.  I basically got overheated and my body started slowing down.  Looking back I should have laid in a stream for 5 minutes, got chilled and got my butt up and start running my tail off.  It's always a double edged sword though.  What if you got wet and chilled and a storm blows in?  We got in and out of Maggie's and made our way to Cunningham.  At the top of the first climb out of Maggie's we ran into a bit of sleet and hail, but nothing major.  It was a God send because it cooled me off and I was able to function a bit more efficiently.
     Brooks was doing a great job keeping me moving, taking selfies, regular pics, and throwing up!
     As we rolled into Cunningham, I was okay but pretty exhausted.  I knew that sub 35 at this point could be attainable, but I'd have to work really, really hard.  My first goal of finishing in the day light, I knew I would make.  I decided I'd take my time getting to the finish.  Does it really matter?   Yea, it does to some extent, but I was happy and satisfied. 
     I picked up Gina as my last pacer and we climbed up to the top of the final climb.  We got a bit of hail on us, but nothing to write home about.  Just kind of cooled us off.  Once we started heading downhill, the last seven or so miles into town I sat down on a rock.  I get a bit nostalgic at the end of events sometimes.  All this struggle, the labor, it will be over soon.  I wanted to hold on to it a bit longer.  Scotty Mills and his pacer went by.  I figured I should get moving.  We walked it in to town.
     As we approached the ski lodge, Bill Dooper met us.  That was a real treat.  He is ultrarunning's biggest fan and I enjoy seeing him at the races and chatting.  Coming down the final stretch on Reese Street,  I could see my crew standing in the middle of the road. For some reason Joe was walking Samantha's dog.  It was comical.  Here is us at the rock:

Reflections: Mostly I feel grateful and thankful.  For standing at the start line 4 times, for my friends who were there crewing me, pacing me, and bringing me to the finish line.  For a great mentor, coach, and friend who's made these Hardrock finishes possible. For the race itself.  That there is an event which demands all you've got.  For the ability to endure.  

               Esse quam videri  - To be, rather than to seem to be".