10 March 2013

Salida Marathon

People forget how fast you did a job - but they remember how well you did it.      -Howard Newton

Distance: 26.2 miles 
Elevation: 4,750 ft
Time: 5:55 

I now know what it feels like to run a marathon with a head and chest cold. An easy, 13 min/mile average feels like a hard effort. I mean, this marathon took more out of me than last month's ultra. Within 20 minutes, I knew that my A goal of a 5-ish hour finish wouldn't happen and settled for my B goal of keeping it under 6 hours. (My C goal is always to beat the cutoffs, but that was never a concern.) 

The Salida "Run Through Time" Marathon was my first mountain marathon and I wasn't going to miss it on account of excess snot production. This particular virus has been wearing J-man down for almost two weeks. I got it a week ago and as a result, I ran exactly two times since then. Good thing I got it on a taper week. With Good Old War's Better Weather waking me up at 6am, I took some DayQuil to mask my misery and headed out.

Sheila joined me at the last minute to use it as a training run, which meant she needed to stay with me and not chase people down. Since I have no difficulty running my own race, she tucked in behind me and obeyed the pace setter like a good girl. It was great having her company for the trip.
This course starts at 7,000 feet and climbs to 9,000 feet at the highest point and includes snaking, sometimes technical singletrack, rocky jeep roads and a 5 mile dirt road that steadily climbs to the turnaround point. The course had snow at the higher elevations and with the storm that moved in about two hours into the race, we had some "weather" to contend with. It was actually quite beautiful and with the exception of the periodic gusts of sleet to the face, I didn't mind it at all.

After the first four miles we began hiking most of the climbs to save energy. I kept telling myself to just get to the half-way point so I could get some assistance from gravity. We then discovered that the descending trails were slippery and more technical, so there wasn't as much of a pace quickening as I'd hoped. At least we managed not to face plant but there were plenty of toe-catching near misses on the rocky descents.  

I continue to meet more cool ultrarunners at the races. Yesterday, I met and ran the first part with "Hawaiian Shirt" Ray who then ran on to finish in 5 hours. Bob Read made the long walk/jog up Road 175 more enjoyable with his company. Bob's paced several sections of the Hardrock course and will be running it himself this year, so we had plenty to chat about.  
Sheila and Ray at the Start
5 miles in before the blowing snow started
Miles of douche grade...
...made more pleasant with Bob's company
What I wasn't prepared for was that dang climb at the 20 mile mark. At that point, the difference in how I was feeling vs. how Sheila was feeling was evidenced by her giving me the full rundown of the Leadville course and aid stations while I hiked euro-style - hands on thighshyperventilating and feeling slightly woozy. I only retained about 20% of what she told me. It was all pretty amusing -- me on the verge of keeling over and Sheila jabbering away behind me like she's out for an easy walk.     

Once we got past that climb I just wanted to get it done, so I did my best to put the pedal down and start hammering the descents. We passed a bunch of runners and finished in 5:55, which ironically was only 50 minutes slower than my first marathon 15 year ago, on flat pavement. I'm slow, but faster than I used to be, folks. 
My only scenic picture of the day
Since we were finishing a good 2+ hours after the fasties, I wasn't expecting to see them at the end. However, a few nano-celebs were still hanging around so I had a quick chat with Slow Aaron (Faster-than-Shelby Aaron), Burch & Katie and Brendan Trimboli before heading back home. I'm looking forward to seeing some of them again at Quad Rock.
Recovery meal fail. Tasty nonetheless.
All in all a great day, despite less than stellar health. Sure beats any day sitting at home not running. The race is well organized and the aid stations and volunteers were awesome. I'll be back again to tackle this course and shoot for my A goal of sub-5 hours.

If you hear the following ringtone somewhere, it's probably my cell phone.  

Next up...the Big Ditch!   

Happy Trails,


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