From the off I was sure that the day was going to be average at best, but despite that I was feeling pretty good once the climbing started. Initially, I thought that I would be fine with 14:00/min miles for the first 6 (+3400') miles and then try to just find a pace and settle in. At the top of Storm Peak I figured I was somewhere in 30th place and feeling rather good compared to last year. In fact, the climb seemed a lot less steep than the year prior which was a pleasant surprise. Having two bottles I opted to skip the aid station and picked up a few spots while settling in between two runners who seemed to be clipping along at a decent pace.
The 6 or 7 miles from Storm Peak to Long lake were fairly uneventful and I just zoned out a bit and took in the unbelievable scenery. The burnt orange and red were almost smoldering; a wonderful image of autumn. Arriving at Long Lake I dropped my second water bottle (probably a mistake), my sleeves, and my gloves as it was warming up. Picked up some water and got out before the others I was running with. Skipping past Long Lake and subsequently Elmo Lake, I was finally feeling a bit free, the terrain is much more manageable and I was opening up the throttle on the flats and engaging the climbs.
Upon reaching the aid at 18.5 I topped off water (hadn't drank much, possible foreshadowing) and powered on through. From here it's mostly downhill into Dumont and I was able to run strong, though not as strong as I had hoped. I was probably averaging somewhere around 8:15's or so when a good day should see me :30/m or more faster. The terrain is similar to Sun Mountain where I was running sub 7:30's for a dozen or so miles. In any case I passed Helen Cospolich and she asked me about if there were any females back but I told her she was in the clear. Coming into Dumont I had expected to see the leaders (last year I was at least a mile out when Burch came flying by) but was surprised to not see any hint of them so I continued on (skipping water again, dumb).
The dirt road out of Dumont was the best I felt all day and I picked up the pace passing one more guy and then turning onto the trail leading to the Rabbit Ears. About 1.5 miles from the turn Roes came by, but didn't look to be killing it as I had expected (moving fast none the less, but I was expecting superman I guess). Then came Bill Fanselow and his superhuman abs (dude has an 18 pack I swear), followed by Burch all within a two or three minutes. I remembered the steep nastiness of the climb to the ears but it will hit you upside the head anyway and I was suffering for the first time getting up to the turnaround. Once up, I stopped to tighten up my shoelaces, mentally telling myself that this next 25 was going to hurt but it's time to toughen up (little did I know the torment I was really in for!). Helen passed me as I was tying my shoes (girl can climb, damn!) and that was the last I'd see of her making me F3 I guess ;)
Back to the turnaround and I was still feeling OK, but after gorging myself (knowing I was behind on calories) at Dumont I headed out. Not more than 100 feet down the trail and everything I had just taken in was on my shoes in one of the most amazing projectile vomits of my life! It was crazy, I had just pounded some serious coke and it was all fizzy and brown spewing from my face! Awesome to watch I imagine, but this is where the downward spiral started. I forced myself to keep the pace nailed down on the two track dirt heading back to the first climb inbound and then I power hiked that section (stopping to puke again) and tried and tried to keep myself in rhythm. Unfortunately, my stomach didn't think that was a good idea and I was in a sort of run a mile, puke/dry heave a mile, run a mile routine and my pace was falling off sharply.
*Note* I was on pace to run low 8ish inbound hitting the turnaround about 4:15:00 ish. Course is faster inbound by about a half hour if you play it smart I'd give it, more if you're nails. That could tell you something about how badly I fell apart from mile 28 in :)
Making it back in to the 18.5 to go aid, I was getting looks and had a hard time telling the volunteers what I needed. I ended up sitting down next to the aid station tent and eating a slice of watermelon and taking in some succeed drink (which is nasty stuff in my opinion). Feeling a bit better after a few minutes of sitting in the shade I took back to the trail, a nice technical section of downhill and BOOM here comes the watermelon! Woof, I shook it off and walked a while while I tried to gather myself and then started to lightly jog which was about all I could muster. I was not feeling good, wasn't sweating and hadn't been able to pee. I stopped to try and force myself to pee and could only manage a tiny bit that was dark yellow (like dijon mustard, not brown or red so I figured the kidneys were OK, but I was in some serious dehydration).
On my way into long lake, I caught up with a few mountain bikers and they were encouraging me into the aid stop which was nice, but I had not been able to return much in the way of banter. One of the volunteers walked right up to me and said, "you need to sit." So sit I did and they were kind enough to bring me a bunch of water and succeed while I tried to eat some shot blocks. I was probably there 5 minutes and felt a bit better so I decided to get going, and 50 feet down the trail I puked up all that junk again! I was not really having fun here at all, noting that I had no shot at going under 9 if I couldn't get this crap together. Unfortunately I couldn't, the technical trail and my puking slowed me to a shuffle and I was in all out survival mode knowing I didn't have an out until Storm Peak so I needed to keep moving. Here, about halfway to Storm Peak I found the mountain bikers (a couple) as I stumbled to the side of the trail to try and puke again. The lady mountain biker took some pity on me and offered cold water from her pack which I let her pour over my head for a couple minutes, Wow that felt good! I was still unable to ingest much without puking it up so I moved on having been cooled down by the miracle woman (as she will forever be know to me).
I remember vividly this next section of climbing and descending from last year so I was confident and running well (ish) but having trouble with foot placement and I was kind of stumbling and swerving all over coming into Storm Peak aid. They have a great view of runners coming in so the EMT there took me off the trial and sat me down immediately without any pretense (must have looked like a bucket of roses there). He started questioning me about eating and drinking, asking me what my name was and where I was from. I was pretty confused and dizzy and I think I asked him to start over, but he was doing some dehydration tests I guess and pinching me, then taking my pulse. He then said he wanted to take me down the mountain to which I replied, "I don't' think that's a good idea." So we settled on me not leaving until he was sure I could make it. So I sat and drank Succeed and ate a slice of banana and some tums. I don't know how long it was (10-15 minutes maybe, maybe less, I can't remember for sure) but I asked him if I could go and he allowed me to so off I was again.
6 miles of downhill on a packed dirt road (far less scree and rock this year, must have been grated recently) was its nasty self and I settled into a nice 8:25ish pace and was feeling actually OK for the first 3 miles but it was hot and as I got closer and closer to the finish I became more and more dizzy. I tried to drink my water and pour some over my head but it was only working enough to keep me upright. The construction near the finish had me a bit confused and I misstepped and damn near ate it with about 50 meters to go. Crossing the finish line I was toast, and while trying to stop and sit I just kind of fell. Thankfully there were 2 EMT's there, one of which caught me as I was falling and laid me on the ground. So a few minutes of question asking and water over my head, I was sitting up, seeing my wife and son and just glad to be done. Total finish time for me was 9:34:03 . When all is said and done, that was 35 minutes faster than last year, so I can't be too unhappy, but I think I left a solid hour out on the course and perhaps more.
Poor planning, well, little to no planning I think set me up to make bad decisions on hydration and fuel, which I attempted to compensate for and never recovered. This was the first time that I have puked on course and it was not a fun experience, though I wish there was some video of the first one as it was pretty epic!
I got to meet Jim (who rocked it!), and chatted with him and Aaron before Woody arrived, followed shortly by Gunner. I did manage some pizza and beer post race without puking and a meatball sub later on, but felt woozy, and still don't quite feel right. I've been eating tums all day to quell the crap going on in my stomach, weird and gross. We were late (and missed) the awards but got to have a nice chat with Ryan and Megan Burch, and I gotta say, two of the friendliest folks around. Truly and honor to share some space with them for a few moments, and Ryan killed it running on a bum knee pretty close to his CR last year.
I'll have some more to come about the rest of the year and my thinking about what my running has to offer going forward. We'll see, it was a tough day for me mentally, and I think I'll let my mind cool off a bit before I dig into what I'm thinking.
As for the rest of the trip, it was excellent! Saturday post race, and pretty much all day Sunday were spent sitting in the Yampa River which was about 6 feet from our cabin. Xavier emptied the shore of all rocks and deposited them into the middle of the river which was just classic little boy stuff. Loving the fall weather here. See ya on the trails in a few weeks.