Thursday, July 18, 2013

Quad Rock 50

Been awhile since I’ve been here but I’m going to try to revive a somewhat irregular posting schedule. I’m really not down with the whole weekly summary thing, and more interested in posting about runs and races when they give me a creative spark.

I’ll move through some updates in chronological order.

First off, the Quad Rock 50 went well. Despite falling behind on hydration in the heat, I managed to slog it out and take 12th in 8:52, at the tail end of a good pack of guys – Hinterberg, Bryan Williams, and Troy Howard. I started the race brisk but manageably, keeping a very conservative pace up Towers Road and the climb up Horsetooth Rock trail. By the Mill Creek descent I was sinking into a nice groove, and I essentially coasted on up over Arthur’s Rock and down Timber trail. 

The climb up Timber was a nice kick in the shorts, a reminder that the course is damn tough (11,000ft of gain!). The valley trails were starting to bake as I started the climb up Mill Creek, aka El Gran Pendejo. I certainly agree with others on this point: the Mill Creek climb on the second loop of Quad Rock is the hardest part of the course, mentally and physically. You’ve run a touch over 33 miles and have ascended and descended Horsetooth and its accompanying ridgeline four times. The trail is steep, at times requiring you to clamber up rocks and roots, and oh do those breaks in the trees heat up. You need grit to pull yourself through.

 The meadows below Arthur's Rock in Lory State Park.

As I reached Towers it started sprinkling, and I used the brief respite from the intense midday sun to rally and pick off a few runners on Westridge. At the bottom of Horsetooth it was clear that I was way, way dehydrated. I stumbled up to the final climb up Spring Creek and spent a good chunk of time at Towers aid chugging water. I knew that aid from here on in was going to be sparse, and I didn’t like the soreness I was feeling in my kidneys. I hit the descent with conviction and turned onto Stout ready to bring this all home.
On the first loop, I lofted myself over all of the downed tree trunks on Sawmill. I figured I could do the same maneuver after 46 miles of running: big mistake! I put my right foot on a trunk, and when I tried to push myself up and over, my quad didn’t respond. Instead, I smashed into the tree and curled around the front. For a minute, I panicked and thought I broke something. After a brief episode of limping and shouting expletives, I was back to ripping it down the contour trail – this time gingerly stepping over each tree.

By the time I made it to Arthur’s aid, a thunder cloud had parked itself over the finish area and was peppering the sky with lightning. All hell broke loose as I was pelted with hail and cold rain over the last two miles, thunder clapping all around, until I reached the finish line. Finally, the sky cleared.

Given the amazing runners in this race, I’m more than happy with my performance. As always, though, there are things to improve.

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