My training wasn’t lacking (legs felt pretty good all day), it wasn’t for a lack of course knowledge (I knew the route well and where the difficulties were), or that I had forgotten gear (I was properly packed and stocked up). It was two much more minute details that led to my unraveling at the Quadrock 50miler this past weekend; lack of sleep and a little dehydration. One thing I learned long ago is that sometimes on race day you have it, and sometimes you don’t.
After crashing at a friend’s place in Fort Collins, Amanda and I woke at the crack of 4:30am, much earlier than I would like, but the latest possible time to get to the race start. It was a surprisingly pleasant morning, and promising to be a warm sunny spring day. The start line was bustling with all the runners and there was definitely a mix of excitement and anxiousness in the air. A few minutes after 5:30am we all lined up in the parking lot and off we went down the dirt road into Lory State Park. The climb up Sawmill/Towers went fairly uneventfully and I finally got to open up the pace heading down Spring Creek into Aid #2.
The day was already warming and as I headed back up the Horsetooth Rock trail something wasn’t quite right, I couldn’t keep my heart rate under control, even at an easy hike and I was feeling very fatigued. While I made decent time back to the Tower’s Aid Station I had the feeling it was going to be a long day on the trail. Heading down Mill Creek I was terribly out of breath and my exertion did not match the pace and how my legs felt.
I was run down and sluggish the entire day and hit the 25mile turn around with thoughts of dropping to 25miles and just laying down to take a nap the rest of the day. Thankfully a little good spirit from the race volunteers brought me back to my senses. The internal monologue went as such…
“I’m just wiped out and could just lay down in the sun and take a nice long nap and be done.”
“WTF are you saying? It’s a beautiful day out, you’re moving just fine and you have no legitimate reason to drop. Don’t worry about what your time is going to be, and suck it up and get back out on that trail”
So off I went back up the Timber trail on lap number two, trying to slow jog a little of the gentle uphill as my breathing would allow. The next lap went by fairly quickly thanks to some good company, despite how labored I felt on every uphill I was able to just let my legs flow downhill. As a group of us ascended the final climb up Spring Creek dark clouds began to roll overhead and the load boom of thunder continually echoed through the valley. Finally after 10 minutes a light rain started to fall, which soon turned to pea sized hail that pelted us with stinging force. Several of us donned jackets, but we all kept moving, soon arriving at the Towers Aid Station for the final time. Ahead lay several miles of downhill and flat, clearing skies and the home stretch. I headed off down the hill, legs still feeling pretty good I bombed the hill to the best of my ability. The final few rolling miles were not pretty, but I got through them and crossed the finish line in 10hours 23minutes, good enough for 40th place overall.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed with my overall time at Quadrock, as I was hoping for a stronger run closer to 9-9.5hours, and my legs definitely felt up to that. I am happy that I stuck it out for the full 50miles even if the run did not feel good, I’m hopeful that these tough miles will pay dividends at Hardrock and UTMB. Pete and Nick put on a wonderful race, Fort Collins has some beautiful trails and the great spirit and support of all the spectators and volunteers really make this a fantastic overall event, one that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a tough 50mile race. The course is truly unrelenting, and even if I was feeling better the constant ups and downs (total 11500ft gain/loss) will wear down even the strongest of runners. In all it was a good weekend, and I’m looking forward to catching up on my sleep and continuing to push the training forward toward the main goals; Hardrock and UTMB. Special thanks to my sponsors; Hind activewear for the comfy clothing and Vfuel Endurance for getting me through the day.