Friday, October 3, 2014

2014 Mt. Taylor 50k Race Report

After only racing 2 official ultra marathons, both of which are on the same course, I will still contest that the Mt. Taylor 50k is one of the greatest races in the state of New Mexico.  This race in particular holds a sweet place in my heart as it was the first race I ran after coming back from my stress fractures this past spring.  I signed up for the race late in the summer, and started adding some actual hill climbing into my low mileage comeback routine.  I managed to get in around 50 miles a week, which included one mountain run up and down Pino in the Sandia mountains.  I figured that was enough compared to my last attempt at Mt. Taylor which entailed zero mountain runs.  Both scenarios produced two different outcomes.

This year our posse consisted of Chris Peverada, Aaron Padilla and myself.  Pev and I drove out to Grants Friday afternoon and hung around the popular venues that Grants has to offer... the hotel room.  Once Pev decided to get a new haircut, we took the long trek across the street to the Red Lion Hotel; otherwise known as the host hotel, for some dinner and to gather our racing packet.  After a delightful spaghetti dinner, Ken Gordon (the race director) made some announcements about the course and the two special guest: Craig Curly and Gordon Ainsleigh.  Craig is someone whom I knew from the road racing circuit and he owns a 2:15 marathon pr from Twin Cities.  And Gordon Ainsleigh is an Ultra Running pioneer and legend!  Here's his wikipedia page so I don't screw anything up:  After a nice evening of chatting with other runners, we hiked back to our hotel and bunkered down for the night and were back up at 4:00am ready to go.  Like a blink of an eye.

Aaron drove us up to the start in his pick-up, since my Civic wouldn't be the wisest decision.  We parked, checked-in, gathered around and were off at 6:30am up the mountain!

Just before the Start

Only after a few hundred meters there was a pack of 5 guys in front of me lead by Pev and Craig.  I decided to stay comfortable in 6th and knew we had a lot of running to do before anything was actually secure.  After a few miles, the twilight from the sun was finally pronounced and you could start seeing the beauty of Mt. Taylor in the fall.  Hints of orange and yellow leaves were all around, and the wretched first climb up to the La Mosca lookout were waiting for us.  It was great running this event for the second time, since everything was much more recognizable.  It was also a bit daunting to know what lay ahead around each bend or after each descent.

Heading up La Mosca Lookout

Once I found a good rhythm, and the first major climb was over, I started to feel pretty good.  I was a little worried about my right leg, and I hoped nothing serious would happen to it while running for 31 miles.  Luckily for me, my leg felt fine the entire time, and still feel fine while I write this blog.  

After running with a few guys who either caught me, or I caught up to, things started to settle in for everyone.  I met a dude from Gallup, New Mexico - Andy.  I caught him going up La Mosca, then he dropped me, then I caught him again and kept moving along.  Another guy by the name of Josh also caught me just before the Spud Patch aid station.  We cruised in together and chatted for a bit trying to figure out if we could catch Pev and Craig.  At this point Josh and I were in 3rd and 4th place.  It would be a long path ahead before the next aid station.

Josh and I coming into Spud Patch

The next aid station was at Rock Tank Shelter, and that would mark mile 16 or so.  After running along with Josh for a few miles, I slowly separated myself from him and made it to Rock Tank alone.  I was told the leaders are nearly 10 minutes up, and of course we still had 16 more miles and two huge climbs.  I had a pretty good feeling I would not catch them, but I wanted to maintain my top 5 position so I refilled my water and bolted out of there.  I was starting to feel the pounding of 16 miles, and this next half was going to be even harder.

Next stop would be at Gooseberry Aid station at mile 21.  Ken Gordon and his son were there cheering me in.  Ken, being the experienced ultrarunner advised me to some S! Caps since I probably needed some electrolytes and my coke intake wasn't enough.  I managed to finish my water bottle before each aid station, and took in a gel every hour.  I made sure to drink enough, and treated myself to a coke at each stop.  Granted, that coke was only about 6 ounces, I still considered it a treat.  But I took down an S! Cap and took one more for the road/atop the mountain.  Ken informed me that Craig was 10 minutes up on Pev and Pev was about 10 minutes up on me.  I figured I would lose more ground climbing the summit, and would try to keep 3rd place secure.

Well, after climbing for quite-a-ways, I was being stalked by 4th place.  I was caught before I reached the summit and was now in 4th place.  I guess all that climbing up Pino is nothing compared to climbing Mt. Taylor.  I have some major work to do if I ever want to compete in more ultras, especially any 100 milers.  But anyways, I felt a lot better than the first year running this, and was determined to stay in the top 5.

Atop Mt. Taylor 11,301' above sea level.

Well, the rest of the race was a trek and I managed to keep my 4th place position to nearly the last 10 meters.  After climbing the summit my quads were wrecked!  I thought I could easily roll down those hills into Water Canyon and catch 3rd place.  But this year was completely different.  I hadn't run any workouts, and had zero strength in my quads.  Probably lack of tempo runs, and some speed workouts.  So, it was a struggle going down after Mt. Taylor, and I couldn't close the gap on 3rd place.  The last climb out of Water Canyon was also a tough one.  This last climb resulted in much self profanity.  I really wanted to be done at this point.  One last shot of Coke at the Caldera Rim Aid Station and I was off.  This last section is basically a 2 mile straight downhill to the finish.  It's brutal and not pleasant on the quads.  I was finally caught with about 1 mile to go, and put in a little surge on Michael.  He still rallied and suck with me to the final 400 meters and started kicking pretty hard.  I'm use to finishing hard, but this seemed a little strange being an ultra marathon where the winners usually stroll in without anything left in them.  At this point I figured I better not get out kicked, so I decided to hold him off and finish in 4th.  

The finish line party is my favorite get-together of all races I've run in New Mexico.  We had 2 kegs of Marble beer, burgers and hot dogs on the grill, and plenty of green chile and soda for all to enjoy.  Everyone is in good spirits and we all hobble around to chat and share stories of our 50k adventure.  Craig won the event in 4:19, and Pev was 2nd in 4:57.  I ran 5:08 and Aaron finished his first ever Ultra marathon in 5:55.  It was a great day with tons of support from family and friends!  If I could, I would do this race every year.  We shall see what next year has to offer as far as qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the marathon.  Thanks again to Ken and all the support on the mountain, from aid station crews to photographers, to rescue workers and volunteers!

Chris Peverada finishing strong

Jesse(4th), Pev(2nd), Craig(1st), Michael(5th), Mike(3rd)


Aaron finishing strong

More Cowbell and more beer!
Time off our feet...


No comments: