As I lay on my bathroom floor for three hours drinking pickle juice trying to collect myself after Mt. Werner 50k in August (which I still haven’t recapped) I told myself that the ultra distance trail races were over for the summer. That I would use the fall for shorter/faster races in an attempt to get my speed back. I’m fully aware and entirely okay with the fact that that’s not how things would go.
After getting to pace and crew at Leadville 100 and Run Rabbit Run 100 I knew that I wasn’t done for the year just yet. I decided to sign up and run Uber Roc 50k. Uber Roc is the sister race of Uroc 100k, the Skyrunning Championships.
Just because I put this on my horizon doesn’t mean I exactly trained for it. I ran, tried new things, had fun… read as: goofed off and only ran when I wanted to. IT WAS AWESOME! I had two weekends where I did two back-to-back 13 milers and that was about the peak of my running before Uber Roc 50k.
skateboarding counts as cross training, right?
…but still running hard enough to kick my own ass.
ps: recovery coaches are the BEST!
I didn’t set any goals for myself except to have a better day than I had at Mt. Werner 50k. I knew that it wouldn’t be too much to ask for (even with my lack of training) and was entirely doable if I paid attention to my fuel/water and didn’t run like a fool.
So let’s get to the race.
Uber Roc 50k took place in Vail this year. The course starts with an 11.5 mile climb up the mountain, hitting over 11,000 ft, drops down to the town of Minturn where you run through town to the 21 mile check point, turn around and are then greeted with a 2,000 ft climb in 3ish miles. You then cruise back down the mountain into Vail. This race has a touch more than 6,000 ft of climb.
We drove into Vail the day before to pick up my race packet. Before I go any further I just have to mention that thanks to our friend Anna… we got to meet Kilian Jornet! SUCH A COOL MOMENT. Naturally I stood there and couldnt say a word.. hence why there isn’t a picture. I get REALLY shy and quiet around well known people and have a tendency to “freeze”. Especially people that I look up to. It’s weird. I know.
Upon arrival it was snowing and cold. The snow was a “wet” snow. I knew that for the race I’d definitely be running through mud and snow, but was unsure just how much. I decided to go with the attitude that racing in crazy elements just builds character and to embrace the experience itself. Seriously… not everybody is lucky enough to get to experience running up the mountains in the snow, while the aspens are turning and witness such beauty.
We ended up staying in Eagle and made the 30 minute drive to Vail the morning of the race. Race morning went off without a hitch. Woke up, stretched, decided on how many layers to wear, had a last minute “just be cool” conversation with coach, ate my pre race oats, got in my zone… couldn’t have asked for a better race morning.
ps: my “coach” is 9lbs of awesome, keeps me sane and i just love the dude! :)
We arrive in Vail and the temp is 26 degrees with snow on the ground… even at the bottom of the mountain.
The 30 minutes before the race started I spent obsessing if I was wearing too many layers. I was wearing capris, a singlet, a long sleeve, a jacket and gloves with hand warmers. I may have had my doubts before the start but was I GLAD for my choice later on..
The race starts and we’re off running up the mountain…
We started running in the grass which was covered in snow but were soon greeted with a jeep road that had some snow, but had no significant accumulation.
I was really lucky to find a manageable gear very early on. I held this for about 5 miles before I needed to make any adjustments. It was around mile 4 or 5 that the trail became a little icy/had accumulated more snow. I knew that I was in for a long day due to the conditions of the trail. Slipping, sliding and stabilizing can waste a lot of energy. Given the circumstances I was still positive that I could have a good day… I just needed to be smart about.
Around mile 7 I noticed the nipple on my hand held was starting to freeze. The snow had now gone from ankle to calf deep in some sections. It was so cold that in some shaded sections that you had no choice but to run or you would become painfully cold. Even with the hand warmers and gloves there was a point where my fingertips would become alarmingly cold. Luckily the shaded sections didn’t last too long and as soon as you hit a stretch with some sunlight it warmed you to the point of sweat almost instantly.
As I came upon the top of the mountain everything kind of opened up and I could see the scenery that surrounded me and I almost forgot I was running. I wanted to sit down in the snow and take it all in. On either side of me I was surrounded with views of snow covered peaks with the yellow/green foliage of the aspens not far below. It was the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
I hit Two Elks Lodge which is the aide station at mile 11.5. I noticed that a twinging in both hips had started. I knew I wasn’t hurt, but that it was from the stabilizing that I was having to do. Whatever, just deal with it. Being in the sun, I was starting to get really warm and stripped off my jacket to wrap around my waist. I grabbed a handful of chips and some watermelon and starting walking out of the aide station. Unless I’m really struggling I don’t like to waste time in aide stations. Get what you need and leave.. anything else and you’re just wasting time and giving people an opportunity to pass you. See… there’s still a little road runner mentality left in me! :) :)
It was here that the course started to get a little bit sloppy with the mud. You had the mud.. and you had the streams of snow melt running through the mud. It was.. interesting. It was life this for MANY miles. After the aide station the course climbs a bit more and then you hit the descent into Minturn.
The descent was (SURPRISE!) super muddy and surprisingly technical with both roots and rocks. I felt pretty good about my first climb, but just about shocked myself with how well and quickly I was able to run the downhill technical stretch. After a mile or two through the muddy streams the trails firmed up a bit.. this was also the same time my legs finally turned over. It was go time! I started catching people and I felt like a million bucks. I hit the pavement in Minturn and was very excited to see Luke at the aide station at mile 21. I ran into the AS feeling invincible and solid. I stripped off any remaining layers (eff was it hot!) I was wearing aside from my singlet and capris. I asked for EFS in a new handheld, grabbed chips, watermelon and remarked how great it felt that my legs woke up after that climb. I was in and out in less than 2 minutes. Luke later asked, “why can’t you hang out in aide stations longer?!” Seriously though… no bullshit in the aide stations. Get in. Get out. GET IT DONE, SON.
Less than 15 minutes later I was eating my own words of, “my legs finally woke up!” The next climb of 2,000 ft in 3 miles by every way shape and form CRUSHED ME. I got passed A LOT on this climb. I think I almost cried a few times. I still felt “good” but holy thundercats that climb was sucking my will to live. I don’t really want to go into any more detail because during that time I was convinced I was going to be climbing that mountain for the rest of my life.
Once I got to the last aide station I have to admit I was feeling a little defeated. I saw a familiar face, Dan, and heard a cheer of, “GO ROOST!” It took so much will power not to let out some tears. I was asked what I needed to which I replied in the most pathetic voice ever…” I neeeed a hugggg.”
I’m so serious.
Luckily Dan had a hug for me, refilled my water bottle and sent me on my way down the mountain to the finish. He sent me off with the words, “You know what to do, let the legs loose and finish strong.” I left feeling reassured and was excited to put a wrap on the day.
As much as I tried.. the legs didn’t turn over and running downhill wasn’t feeling the greatest. I stopped to walk a few times and even pulled over to pee with 1.5 miles before the finish. While running the last few miles I took the time to reflect on the day. I was excited that I had a much better day than I did on Mt. Werner. I fueled/drank well.. didn’t bonk. Learned that I’m a much stronger technical downhill runner than I originally thought, that I need to spend more time learning how to hike steep uphill climbs more efficiently…and overall.. well done on hitting your goal, self!
After Mt. Werner it was so important for me to end the season on a much happier note, and I believe that’s exactly what I was able to do at Uber Roc!
Big thanks to Luke and Oliver for crewing for me… even though I only got to see you for two minutes. I was also SO EXCITED to see some of my Runners Roost teammates out there too…
I kind of thought I’d finish a little faster than I did… but I know what kind of effort I put in and that my time would have reflected that had the trail conditions been different. But that’s okay!
Overall, I thought the race itself was GREAT. They had race staff out running and remarking the entire 50k course because of the snow. I believe there was one aide station missing due to the conditions, but it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. I try to think of aide stations as just a bonus and not something I rely on.
The day after the race I was dead set on hiking back up the mountain to capture the views I had seen during the race. I figured a recovery hike would be good for my legs too… which surprisingly weren’t sore.
Oliver hiked up the entire thing on his own!
this picutre doesn’t even begin to do it justice.
So that’s a wrap on the 50k’s for 2013! I promise this time… :)