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Naked Bavarian (un)Race Report

As with all of my races, there is a race report tail that goes along with them.   While this race was far from what I expected and prepared for, it is the race report that allows me to grow, identify areas for improvement, and identify collect lessons-learned (which there are many).

Before I get into the details, I will sum it up with a simple acronym.  DNF

This race took place in Pennsylvania just 12mi from where I grew up.  While the elevation in Pennsylvania is greater than what I am accustomed to, and the course had more climbing than I was accustomed to, I was well trained, well prepared, and had a race plan that was going to get me to a sub-7 finish.

To put it simply, I have been a pain here in Pennsylvania.   Even while we are here on vacation I was still adamant on what I was going to eat the week leading up to the race ensured I was well hydrated and adequate amount of fat to support the race plan.  I did everything possible to set the stage for what I was hoping was going to be a perfect race, except for one thing; I did not account for any type of contingencies that may have transpired during my race.

Over the last 4-hours I have gone over every detail of the race seeing if there is something I could have done differently to change the outcome and there is honestly no point.   Everything that I did prior to this race was done for a reason and what I planned on doing.   There is absolutely no room for any type of “what-ifs” to be considered.   I simply need to take what happened and move forward.   My coach said to me “You are allowed to be mad, sad etc for about 5 minutes. Go….”   Well 4-hours later I am now ready to go!

Gear

Shoes – SKORA Tempos

Hydration Pack – Orange Mud Hand Held / Gear Quiver

Drop Bag – Victory Sport Design Bear II

Socks – Injini Trail

Headgear – Orange Mud Buff / TROT Trucker

Prep Day

With the race being only 12mi away, there was very little prepping that needed to be done outside of the norm. #FlatJohn had been prepared the day prior, my single drop-bag was prepped and packed, and the coffee pot was ready to make my coffee.

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I even had Elizabeth mark my aid stations on my arm so I know when to prepare for the aid stations! The only thing left was dinner and sleep.  Dinner was pretty simple.  We had pasta for dinner and salad.  This isn’t unusual and nothing that I haven’t done in the past.   Honestly I don’t really plan anything for dinner.  I just avoid fiber and grease to ensure that I have a happy stomach on race day.   Here is where the first “difference” comes.    Before every long run/race I have a gluten-free beer (Angry Orchard) the night before my race.  Unfortunately there was no Angry Orchard available so I had Wood Chuck instead.  While made with apples, this one wasn’t gluten-free.   Personally I don’t think this had any bearing on race day, but it was still outside of the norm.

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Race Day! 

I woke up at 4:30am to begin my preparations.  TYPICALLY my race day preparations include coffee, Chobani yogurt, and a Banana.   Since I was treating this race much different than past races I thought it would be wise to get some more calories prior to the race.  Instead of the yogurt and banana I stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way to the race and had a bagel with cream-cheese (2-hours prior to the race).   This is where I am going to get the “tsk tsk” from people!  😉    I have never gone into a race with a bagel and cream cheese and today should not have been the day to start.   Much like the beer, I don’t know if this caused an issue, but it was still different.

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I arrived at the race around 6am to patiently wait for the 7am packet pick-up and enjoy the rest of my coffee before the race.  This is mainly for people watching and talking to people.  I talked to some of other runners, actually met some that we share mutual friends with, met another SKORA and Orange Mud Ambassadors;  I did what I do and had fun!  The race actually didn’t start until 8am so I had plenty of time to allow for my bagel and cream-cheese to get into the system, drank my final bottle of water, and patiently wait.   About 15min before the start I went over my race plan one last time, looked at the course profile so I knew where the climbs were, and did a final gear check.   I was ready; the gear was ready; my race was READY!

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After yet another visit to the porta-me (this is very common for me before races) I made my way to the start line.   I didn’t line up where I typically do (towards the back), I was on the line with the lead pack!  Yelling over the German music that was playing I heard the RD make the final countdown;  5…4…3…2…GO!

The first 1/4mi of the course was actually on the road before entering the trails.   I wanted to remain in top 10 hitting the trails and I did just that.  I was able to secure a position that I want and from that point fell into MY pace that I was ready to hold throughout the race.   My goal was to keep my HR in check through the climbs and to avoid chasing any rabbits.   My fueling and hydration were spot on.  Every 1mi I took in a big drink and every 20min I took a SMALL piece of protein (Epic Bar).   This is the approach that I have been using on my fueling runs and it had worked perfect in training.  Here is where another slight difference came;  I had been training with an uncured bacon Epic bar.  For this race I was using Beef.   I didn’t think it would matter;  Epic is Epic, but… who knows.

The Aid Stations where staged 3 – 3.5mi apart.   My plan had me skipping every other age station which had me stopping every 6.5mi, which is also how I trained on my fueling runs.   This part actually made me REAL happy.   I came trucking through the first aid station, tossed up a wave, and thanked the volunteers as I pushed my way through.   In order to hit my race plan, stopping to talk was not an option!   The miles started ticking away and before long I was at 6.3mi and it was time to prepare for the aid station.   My goal here was to be in and out of every aid station within 10-20sec.   I drank the remainder of my Tailwind (which was only 1-2 mouth-fulls based on my fueling strategy) and grabbed another Tailwind pack from my Orange Mud Gear Quiver.   When I rolled into the Aid Station the cap was already off my hand-held, Tailwind was already added to the bottle, and I was ready for water.   MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!  I hit the water and was back on the trail in under 10 sec!  This had to be the most efficient aid station EVER and my next 2 were mirrors of this process!

More and more miles started ticking off as I went into the largest climbs of the course.   After the 6.5mi aid station I went after the 4 largest hills of the course which were all back-to-back.   Mile 10 was the only mile split that I was off on as this segment had the “ski slope”.   All of the other splits remained exactly where I wanted them.   After the 13.5mi aid station the next stop was going to be the start/finish line to do it all again!   This section of the course had the least amount of climbing and was smooth sailing.  I played hop-scotch with a fellow runner through this section.

Along the way I noticed something… I was CHAFING!  How is that possible? I ALWAYS use something to prevent that… Well it was “always” until that morning.   I never used anything while getting ready that morning… OOPS!

Shortly after mile 16 things started going south.   I was getting real sharp pains in my stomach and something wasn’t right.  It wasn’t “cramping” but there were sharp pains and I was getting spasms every few minutes.   Soon I found myself on the side of the trail leaning against a tree.    Something has made my body unhappy.   I have read numerous blogs from runners and the commonality was “I threw up and after that I was back on track!”.   I kept going over that in my head and began pressing.   That didn’t term out to be the case.   Not even a mile later and I found myself holding onto another tree for another bout.   The more I pressed the more off my body felt.  Now I was having strange sharp pains going through my back, legs, and arms that I can only attribute to the lack of fuel and fluids in my body.   My goal at this point was to get to the start/finish so I could get back on track.  I rolled into the aid station, checked in on my Spot3, and began to triage!   I grabbed a fresh bottle of Tailwind, drank some water, grabbed some solid food from the Aid Station, and grabbed a cup of ginger ale.  I needed to do something to get something back in my body and try and keep my body at bay.   I didn’t even make it out of the aid station before I got sick again and off I went.  CRAP!  I still forgot about the chaffing and turned around to get that taken care of.   By this point I wasted 4min at the aid station and was getting annoyed with myself.   To the trails!   By this point I had lost my 8th place OA and had no idea how far I dropped and wasn’t overly concerned.   I was new plan was to save something.

My efforts at getting my body under control were not working.  I continued to have sharp pains throughout my body and emptied my stomach yet again.   There was now nothing left in my stomach as it burnt coming up.    I came back around to the 23.4mi aid station (3.5mi) and waved at the volunteers yet again and kept going.  I was determined to try and maintain some resemblance of my plan.   The more I pushed through the more I knew something wasn’t right.  I wasn’t fatigued and physically felt great, but I kept getting sharp pains in my stomach, back, legs, and arms.   I suppose the only advantage was my stomach was empty and the nausea turned into dry-heaves on the side of the trail.

When I arrived at the 26.5mi aid station I needed to make a decision.  I had not been able to keep anything down for the last 10 miles and that was not going to go well for my body.  After this aid station I was about to go back into the big climbing section of the course and I was concerned that the lack of fluids and fuel was going to end poorly for me.   This is when I made a call that weighed on me for 4-hours after the race.  I had to drop from this race.   Luckily I came across an amazing bearded guy that proved to be my running savior who introduced himself as Leon.  I knew his face but wasn’t thinking clearly at the moment.  It wasn’t until I sat in my car did it click that I was just taken back to the start line by Leon Lutz and his epic beard!  Thank you Leon!

I sat in my car after being dropped off and didn’t know what to think.  I had a wave of emotions going through me.  I was mad, sad, happy, PISSED, concerned, etc.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone and was even afraid to message Elizabeth to tell her what happened.  I know no-one would have thought differently of me but I felt like I let people down and didn’t know how to accept that.   I even took me awhile to tell my closest friend and coach.

Now that I have had a chance to think about this there is no single thing that I did wrong, but there were several things that I did differently that may have contributed to the outcome.   Elevation difference, cold, different food prior to the race, different beer the night before… There simply don’t have an answer but I know what to look for in the future.

With everything there is a silver lining.   I was on track to have the best race of my life and I still walked away with a 30k and Marathon PR on the trails with over 2200′ of climbing.   That is something that I can be proud of.

With that… My 5min is over!

Thank you to @Vets2Victory @Epicbars @Trailtoes @OrangeMud @GoTailwindNutrition @SKORARunning @VictorySportDesign @TrailRacingOverTexas and @Injinji   You were all spot on when it came to taking care of me!  Next I need to work on me!  🙂

This was an absolutely great learning experience for me and will not set me back.  This is a stepping stone to something greater!

 

Burning Hot Durty Spur 30k Race Report! ;)

Many of you know me rather well so I am going to preface this race report with something that will set the stage rather nicely…

I do some REALLY stupid things sometimes (ok… a lot) and had I listened to my amazing wife, this race report would have turned out significantly different.

I have put off writing this for several weeks because it isn’t really a race report as much as it is a lesson on pain, stupidity, and of course sunblock.

I came home from Afghanistan on leave to accomplish 3 things. Go on a cruise, do a race with my son, and sit around being lazy with my family. The good part, I did them all!

It all started on April 11th when we boarded the Carnival Triumph in Galveston, TX. Liz, my MIL, and I were going on a 5-day cruise to Mexico. This was the 2d time we had done this cruise and we couldn’t wait. Our first day at see (April 12th) I thought it would be a great idea to get some sun out on the deck for 30 min (yes…I laid on my back for ONLY 30 minutes) while Liz took a nap. After 30 min my alarm went off and I walked back down to the room to meet up with Liz to go galavanting around the ship before getting ready for the evening’s formal dinner. Looked in the mirror and realized that it didn’t look like I got any sun.

We went back to the room to shower and get ready for dinner and that is when things started going south. I got in the shower and felt the odd sensation of being burnt on my chest and stomach. What was odd was it wasn’t red… it just burnt.

All during dinner it started hurting more and more. So not to ruin my running streak, after dinner we went back to the room and I hit the treadmill for a short 2mi run. Not to keep it short, but because it hurt to run. I went back to the room, took a shower, and that is when I REALLY screwed up. Apparently blisters had formed while running and they broke open in the shower and peeled off in chunks… MASSIVE chunks. That night in bed was miserable. No matter how I moved it hurt. I couldn’t lay on my back because the sheets would touch me. If I laid on my side it pinched and hurt and laying on the stomach… that simply wasn’t happening at all. The blistered that had peeled off in the shower now exposed freshly burnt skin and began blistering.

The remainder of the cruise consisted in a lot of pain killers and finding the softest clothing I could wear that would allow me to move without being in a lot of pain. Oddly enough I found that sweating cooled me off and made it feel temporarily better. This was helpful in that it allowed the streak to continue! Come to find out that everything we had tried to do was only making it worse. We used solarcaine, neosporin, milk lotion ($74 lotion from the ship’s spa). Anything we could possibly find to relieve it we bought and used. The cruise was still amazing, but the painful part hadn’t gotten there yet.

Once we returned home I began living with my shirt off and wrapping myself in a wet towel. While this did absolutely nothing to help the “sun burn”, what it did do is make me feel relief for a little while. This is how we laid around during the day and how I slept at night. I even took a wet towel with us when we went somewhere so I could put it on in the car!

So where does this race come in? Well April 18th (1 week after getting burnt) Anthony and I had the Durty Spur 30k.

NOW we can get to the “race”!

Like all races, I prepared “Flat John” and made sure that I had everything I needed for the race. I kept asking myself how exactly i was going to do a 30k race report when it hurt to even move. Regardless…We were doing a race together and I was going to go toe the line!

Flat John!

The next morning we woke up and headed to the race.  The race was only about an hour away so the ride wasn’t too bad (with my wet towel).    We arrived, checked in, attached the bibs and timing chips, and patiently waited.

Arrived at Circle K Ranch!

Arrived at Circle K Ranch!

My plan when I registered for this race was to finish in 2:30.   Based on what I had been running in Afghanifunland I was confident that I could have accomplished that goal.   As we walked to the start line, I knew what the reality was.    I would be lucky to finish.  There were still blisters on my stomach, I was still bright red, and every time my shirt touched me it hurt.    I had my drop bag with Sarah (AJ’s girly friend) so I could come back and grab a fresh bottle of Tailwind after each loop and there were bottles of water and a towel so I could cool off the burn if needed.  This wasn’t going to be fun, but I was going to at least shoot for a finish!

(Have I mentioned yet that you should REALLY use sunblock out in the sun?)

There had been rain so the course was going to be muddy and wet.   I was actually hoping for it to rain on this race;  It may have made this a bit easier.

Before we knew it, we were off.   Each step off of the line hurt.  The vibrations up my body just happened to resonate perfectly with the blisters and the rubbing of my shirt.  I expected this to subside as we ran and I became sweatier but that never happened.  As a result, I held my shirt away from my body most of the time just to ease the pain a little bit.

My nutrition was spot on.  Like always I took a drink of Tailwind Nutrition every 10 min and other than the burn I felt awesome.   Several times on the first loop we somehow or another even started picking up the pace and logging 8:00 – 8:30 pace.   About a mile from the end of the loop I was starting to get excited… In just a few minutes I could get a cool wet towel and get some temporary relief while we did the entire thing again (total of 3 loops) and grab a fresh bottle of Tailwind.    One we approached the aid station that is when the run went from bearable to miserable.   The course was not setup to loop through the start/finish and I wasn’t going to get my wet towel OR a fresh bottle of Tailwind.   While we had only run 6mi so far… this was a pretty hard blow.   The start/finish line was only about .25mi away.  AJ ran off to get a refill but I could not.   At that point, if I went back to the start/finish… it would have been my finish.

I took off back down the trail, through the water crossing, and out into the field for my second loop.   I only had about 1/4 of my bottle of Tailwind left, had more blisters forming on my chest, legs, arms, and stomach… I just needed to keep moving.   About halfway through the loop AJ caught up with me.  I may have picked up the pace a bit when I got mad (ok…I did).

We looped back around at the end of the 2d loop and like before… I kept on running while AJ went back.  He did offer to grab me something but I was still just annoyed and didn’t care.

The third loop ended up being pretty crappy.   I had not had any Tailwind for the last 6 miles so I had to resort to the watered down gatorade that was at the AS.  The third loop ended up being a combination of walking and running.  It was getting warmer outside and the warmer it got, the more it burned.

Before long we rolled came to the end of the loop, back across the water, and crossed the finish line.   This was one of the shortest races I had done in awhile and was also the worst race that I had done.  Not that it was difficult physically, it was difficult mentally.   Every step I wondered what the fastest way back to the jeep was so I could get a cold towel to make the pain go away.  I was at a pretty low place.

Had it not been for Anthony, I never would have finished that race.   He stayed with me the entire race and we crossed the line together (although I beat him my 1/100th of a second! lol.   Running with him that day made me real proud and happy.  I could not have asked for a better day to spend with him.

The finish...

The finish…

Oddly enough, AJ and I both walked away with an AG award.   AJ finished 2d in his age group and I finished 3d with a time of 3:01.   Looking back would I do it again?   ABSOLUTELY!    I had the best time that day with my son…

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You are probably wondering what happened with the burn?   Well I was scheduled to fly  back to Afghanifunlan on April 27th.   April 21st (now 10 days after getting burnt) I finally broke down and went to the doctor.   I still had blisters all over my chest and stomach and if it didn’t go away, I was going to have the WORST 21 hours imaginable on an airplane….  When the doctor walked in we talked about Afghanifunland and the cruise and I told him I may have gotten a little sun on the ship if he could give me something to relieve the burn…  When I showed him my chest and stomach his said “Oh my god, you have got to be in some serious pain… We need to take care of you!”

I walked out of the doctor that day with 5 tubes of steroids to treat the open second degree burns…

For everyone… Don’t do a 30k road race with open second degree burns… It is not a wise decision and ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS listen to your wife!!!  Love you honey!!!

That was an awesome vacation! 😀

Sugarloaves Ultra Vista Trail Race Report

When I found out I would be deploying to Asscrackistan out of Ft Bliss, TX the first thing I did was looked for some kind of race to do while I was out there.   For the longest time, all I found was a collection of 5ks to do in El Paso.   While it wasn’t my favorite thing to do, I was going to start registering just so I could get a race in before deploying. One day this all changed when I stumbled upon a small race that was located in Vado, NM which was only a 30min drive from El Paso!    Even better, the race was only $35!  Who can turn down a cheap ultra!!! For the next few weeks I tried finding out anything I could about the race.  I uncovered 2-3 race reports, very few photos and Mark Dorion’s (the Race Director) blog.    So what did I learn?  I learned that there was not a lot to find out about this race in the middle of the desert. After reading Mark Dorion’s blog there were things that jumped out at me:  “These trails are VERY challenging after dark, even for experienced runners.”  I don’t think I had even run a trail race that warned of the hazards of running at night.  Hell, I have run Joe’s races at night;  I honestly believe he purposely places additional rocks and roots on this trails!  😉 Regardless of what the other race reports say or the Mark’s mention of the course being VERY challenging, I was going to go have fun at this race like I always do!   This is also going to be my last race before I deploy to Asscrackistan… It was going to be a blast! 🙂 For the week leading up to the start I routinely checked the weather.  With 350 days of sunshine per year, the odds were in my favor… Right?   Needless to say the 2 days leading up tot he race and race day were 3 of the days this year that were not going to be sunny.  In fact, it was cloudy, overcast, raining, and WINDY! Race day arrived and the only thing that changed was the wind.  Luckily the 30mph winds broken and the race was going to have easy 5-10mph winds.  MUCH better!  Unfortunately the rain didn’t break… Many of my training partners know how much I hate getting out of my car and running when it is raining.   If it starts raining after I have started, that is fine… it is just that first step in the rain… UGGH   Driving down I-10 towards Vado, NM was in the rain.  The road was wet, my wipers were on, and even the mountains in the distance were obscured by the yucky weather.   I did everything I could to push the negativity out of my mind.  The last thing I wanted to do was start the race with a negative attitude;  that was just going to make the entire race bad.

Headed into New Mexico on the way to the race!

Headed into New Mexico on the way to the race!

Mark’s directions to the race were perfect!  There were road closures at Vado, NM (actually the only exist to Vado, NM was closed) so you had to take a different exist about 3mi up the road.   His directions were spot on and after driving down a winding road into the desert I finally arrived at my destination!   Everything was wet, the clouds where covering half of the mountains off in the distance that I would be running towards.   I was just hoping for a change in the weather.

Arrival at Sugarloaves Vista Trail

Arrival at Sierra Vista Trail

As always, I arrived at the race early.   I was planning to use my car at the Start/Finish line as an aid station.   With such a short race loop, there was no need to stop at the Aid Stations on the course.   Once I arrived I once again made sure that I had everything I needed and arranged the back of the car so everything was convenient for me when I came in. This race proved to be very different.  Usually I attend races from my house and know that I have everything I need.  This race was planned out of my dufflebag that I would be taking to Asscrackistan.    One thing that always follows me to my races is my bag from Victory Sport Design.  No matter the race, there is something in this bag that will help me.   Well for Asscrackistan I downsized A LOT so that I could squeeze it in my dufflebag.   My firstaid pouch was gone, hand warmers, eye drops.    That’s ok.  I had my Tailwind Nutrition, my UD handhelds, and my SKORAs.   If I couldn’t make it through this race with those 3 things, I probably shouldn’t have been there to begin with!   Due to the forecasted rain and the fact that it had been raining the last 2 days I also brought 3 pair of socks along to make sure I at least started each loop with dry piggies.

Start/Finish Aid Station

Start/Finish Aid Station

I already knew this race was going to have a small field.   After I setup my aid station and picked up my race packet it was obvious how small of a field this really was.     The small area that we parked in, even with precision parking, was not going to hold more than 60 vehicles.    By the time the race started there were probably about 45-50 vehicles there and I would estimate about the same number of runners.

Start/Finish line area

Start/Finish line area

At 8:24 it was finally time to toe the line and hit the desert.  The rain had taken a break but Accuweather was nice enough to let me know that it wasn’t going to stay that way.   I had about an hour before the rain was coming back and I was going to get as many miles in as possible before the rain came back! The start of the race was a short 1mi out and back along the power line in and out of arroyos and soft sand.   This wasn’t that bad and gave me a chance to warm up the legs a little before we hit the real race loop that I would spend the remainder of the day on. No matter how hard I try, I always end up starting faster than I know I should but I wanted to get some ground covered before the rain came.  After the first 2 mi warm up I stopped at my “Aid Station” dropped my light jacket (I carried my rain jacket with me) stripped down to a t-shirt, and was off down the trails!    The course was a 3.5mi out and back that had some interesting terrain.  Their were really 3 sections.   The first mile was in and out of sandy arroyos and through a group of rollers.  No BIG climbs, but enough that when combined with the sand, was going to make the legs work towards the end.   The second section was about 1.5mi and was a flat MUDDY grass field.   Personally, this is the part that actually sucked the most.    For people like T.T. and A.B. this is best compared to our mud run at Pairie Haines.    Footing sucked;  every time I put my foot down I was sliding somewhere and this was before the rain started.    The last mile was a gradual climb out to the turn around point.   This was actually my favorite part of the course.  This was a hard packed trail with absolutely no mud.  There were a few rollers in here as well but it was a smooth running trail!      Leaving the muddy field you cross under an old A-Frame powerline.   The first time running under it was a tad creepy.  The humm from the powerline was VERY loud.  As you approach it, it almost sounded like rain or a giant rattle snake somewhere!  🙂 Just as I was approaching the turn-around point, the rain finally came in.   Luckily I was able to start the race without any rain so I could have cared less at this point (so I thought).   I put on my brooks jacket, turned around, and headed back down the trail towards the MUD.   By the time I got back to the mud field the trail had already filled with water.  This is when the run began getting slower and slower.   The good part is my SKORA Tempo shed mud PERFECTLY!   While my socks were SOAKED, the mud never really stuck to my shoes.   The wide tread pattern on the shoes and the flexibility of the sole made the mud fall off pretty quickly!  I could not have been happier.  Not once did I have to stop and kick off the mud… I just kept on moving.   As I was leaving the muddy section on the way back I went around a turn and that is when things started going down hill. I planted my foot and my body went one way and the leg went the other.   My groin muscle didn’t like that at all.   I didn’t HURT, but it was enough that I knew it was there and it would get progressively more nagging as the day went on. Even ever the rain started, the arroyos didn’t get that bad.   Each arroyo had 2-3″ of soft wet sand that you had to run through but there was never any standing water.   Up and down the arroyes and through the rollers and before I knew it I made the turn onto the jeep trail headed back to the Start/Finish aid station.   All throughout the course there were aid stations about every 2 miles.  These aid stations reminded me more of a Fat Ass run rather than a race.   There were painted cinder blocks with a case of water, a few Clif bars or Bonk Bars and s small bucket for trash.   I think what I liked most about the aid stations were the animals.  There were ducks, rabbits, walruses, snakes, all spread out across the course.  Seeing all of these animals actually reminded me a lot of my trails at Dana Peak park and made me think of my friends that I wasn’t running with.   I really missed running with T.T., T.R., N.D, A.B., and Rasta!   These little animals gave me a bit of home!   🙂 I ran past the start/finish, yelled out my bib number to the volunteers, and headed straight to my car to change socks and rotate bottles.   My plan was to take it easy out there and stick with a 12min/mi pace.  The first loop actually ended up being about a 10:48min/mi pace.  Someone was running way to fast, especially in the mud!  I needed to slow down!

First loop complete! 10:48 min/mi avg

First loop complete! 10:48 min/mi avg

I wasn’t out there to RACE…My plan was just to get out on the trail and have some fun.   Aside from swapping bottles and socks I also did a quick blast on social media on the race, chatted with my wifey, and then headed back out. The second loop was much slower than the first.  The combination of mud and the pulled groin muscle greatly assisted it!    My goal for this race was to keep my pace around a 12:00 min/mi.  Clearly that hasn’t happened up to this point!  After hitting the turn-around point for the second time the rain finally died down and the clouds were breaking!  At this point it didn’t much matter as the ground was already soaked and the center of the course was a mud fest but clear skies always make for a better run.  Now the mountain was actually coming into view and you could see everything around you! 🙂 As I came into the aid station I followed the same routine as before.  Swapped out the soaked soaks, grabbed new bottles, and did my typical social media blast.     I have to admit, the new SKORA Tempo did an amazing job once again at shedding the mud.   Even after stomping through all of the mud, the shoes really didn’t look that bad and never did I have to stop to clean them off.

2d Loop and looking pretty good!

2d Loop and looking pretty good!

After my 15-20 min break at the start/finish aid station my average pace when I rolled back out was an 11:42 min/mi.  That just means that despite my slower pace, and about 30min total of sitting around at the Aid Stations my pace was still faster than what I was expecting.  That’s still ok though… I was having fun! The 3d & 4th loop were pretty much the same.  By the 4th loop I was definitely feeling the effect of the mud and sandy arroyos but nothing that really “hurt”.    I tried dialing back the pace on the 4th loop and talked with people out on the trail, stopped to play with the little stuffed animals that adorned the course, relocated the snake to keep people guessing (someone else moved him too though!  lol), and just had fun and enjoyed the trail. After the 3d loop my pace (with the stops and taking in the scenery) remained much the same as the 2d loop.    Once again, swapped socks (STILL soaked), grabbed another bottle of Tailwind, and I was off.  This time I only spent about 10min at the Aid Station before I headed back out again.   The SKORA Tempo are still running strong and have taken everything I threw at them!

Finish of Lap 3

Finish of Lap 3

My only goal this day was to get out on the trails and get one last race before I deployed and that is what I did.   The way back in on the 4th loop all I could think about was finishing up the race and going to have dinner with the family!    As I was approaching the finish I ran in to Mark Dorion who I ran the last 1/4mi with.   I crossed the finish line and felt really good;   other than the slightly pulled groin muscle I felt GREAT.   Never felt winded, no nagging pains… I was just looking forward to dinner! lol Once I crossed the line I spent about 30 min talking with Mark and one of the other volunteers and told them how great of a race I thought this was and that I would definitely be back if given the opportunity!   It was considerably smaller than the other races I have been a part of and to be honest, I was a little concerned that there was not big buffet lines setup at the aid stations (even though I usually don’t eat off of them anyway).   None of that mattered at the race.  It was literally PERFECT! While I was talking with Mark after the race he handed me an envelope for a “Race prize”.   I didn’t look at it, I simply folded it up and put in inside my pocket.    That night after dinner I finally opened it up.  Mark had given me a free pair of shoes from Up & Running in El Paso!   Mark is an awesome guy and honored to have participated in his race.   If given the opportunity, you should definitely head out to Vado, NM and join him for one of his races.    You can find more info on his races at https://markdorion.wordpress.com/. I finally headed back over to my “Aid Station”, packed everything away and got ready to head back to my sister-in-law’s house to take a shower before dinner.   On the way out I had to stop by the “Sierra Vista Trail” sign for one last photo!

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One final shot at the trail head with my medal!

Race Results: 2d Overall, 1st Age Group!!

Elevation profile

Elevation profile

Once again SKORA and Tailwind Nutrition came through.  The new TEMPO shoes rocked the trails like no other!  This is going to be an awesome shoe on the trail for ANYONE!    As always, Tailwind pulled through with no stomach issues, great taste, and had me finishing strong! I would not have been able to do this race without my amazing wifey.   Even with just a short amount of time left, she supported me going out there to run and I had an amazing time!   I love you honey! The next trail race I toe the line of will be Cactus Rose 100 in October when I return from Asscrackistan with some great friends!! On that note… time to head out for a recovery run! Thanks for reading everyone!  😉