Well, not a whole lot to report as far as fireworks. I had a pretty blah day overall and was initially pretty frustrated with how things went, but as things have sunk in I'm realizing the good in what was going on and perhaps some things that I need to work on.
As for the trip, it was a lot of fun. Headed down Friday evening to JT's and had a few beers before heading downtown for more beers and the Lukas Nelson show. Then it was back to "elite headquarters" for some z's before the race.
Race morning felt a bit like any other morning except JT served me my coffee and it was overcast in Colorado. Temps were high 30's low 40's for the start, but it was nice to catch up quickly with some friends I hadn't seen in a while.
From the go I wanted to get a feel on what the big boys would do with the pace, but I let them go within the first 1/2 mile or so as it was too hot for me. I was in between the lead group and a chase group for the first few miles and after a quick stop to tie my shoe I was passed and working to get back onto the chase group. I felt fine, but similar to Way Too Cool, I just wasn't finding that next gear. The course was surprisingly fun with some really buffed out sections and some nice rocky sections mixed in.
Being that I'd never been down there, I was a bit disoriented at times with all the turns, but the course was really well marked and I managed not to get lost. Coming back through the Start/Finish I noted the course a bit long so I took a mental note so as to be unsurprised on lap 2. I didn't grab a split but I think I was somewhere around 2.13 or so for the first lap which was well off what I had planned going in, but about what I deserved given the effort and legs I had.
Starting lap two I had closed on Paul and Marco a bit, I'd get near them on the downs and lose them on the climbs, so I had some small motivation to plug a bit faster. I ended up catching Marco about mile 21 and it was clear neither of us was having a day to remember. Then I caught Paul at the base of the last grinder and put a bit of time on him, but could tell I wasn't going to be hanging on to a particularly good split for the second half and just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I think at these times you want to drop because it'd be easier to say that you know it wasn't your day and blah blah blah. Then you show up to the aid station and realize you're being a little bitch and keep going. I finally started feeling stronger around mile 28 and made good time through the rollers and the long swinging downhill to the finish.
Time at the line was 4:48:08 which was almost exactly 40 minutes slower than cool (I owe a lot of beer) but I think the course was actually quite a bit tougher. Certainly there are far fewer sections where you can really open it up due to all the turning. However, for a first time event, this was a well planned, and well executed race. Certainly there were some Triathalon touches to it with the planned "elite" wave and the actual podium for the overall and a/g winners, but it was a good time on a worthy course. Lucho would feel at home ;) I could definitely see it turning into a bigger event and drawing a lot of folks who otherwise would have run Greenland as the course is much more preferable. Perhaps we'll see an option for a longer race as well 75/100K, which would be a nice way to test some early season endurance.
It was nice to catch up with the CRUD contingent after the race as well as Brendan, Luke, Ryan, Tracey, and Los DeGraves. I introduced myself to Jason in the parking lot and had a good chat. His buddy with him was introduced as that guy who won JFK; Brian Drumm, the man who came out of nowhere (at least in the ultra world) and destroyed the JFK50 field, nice guy for sure.
(Brendan cruising the bridge)
(Leila shows the boys how it's done)
Lots of lessons learned here. I have a tendency to be both over-confident and over-critical and I was the former going in and the latter throughout much of the race. With raw legspeed in the race, there was really no way I was going to win, but I could have been better prepared to run my own race and run faster. What I can take away is that I am actually becoming more consistent and stronger as a runner. I've been finishing closer to the front more often than not so that is a good sign. I also felt like I could have kept racing, I certainly had the legs to run a few more laps and perhaps that's a sign that what I've been doing in training is really laying the groundwork for August. However, with that said, if I'm going to stay in contact with Yassine for more than a mile at FP50K I need to continue to devote some more time to getting some leg turnover into my workout routine. I have some more plans with how to do that thanks to some prompting from Justin Ricks, a guy who if you haven't heard of him, you surely aren't aware of much in the Colorado running world. He'll go after an OT in Eugene next week.
Lastly, thanks again to JT and Katie for letting me crash the place and hang out for a few days. Thanks also to Drymax for yet another blister free race! Good times out there.