Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hardrock 100

I finished the Hardrock 100 last weekend. That makes the 6th finish for me at that iconic race in the San Juan mountains of southwest Colorado. It was sort of a different experience, as I felt little pressure to perform and tried to just appreciate my time there with friends and to enjoy the area's natural beauty. I felt I ran a strong race finishing 17th (32:56), but didn't push it to the limit for the last 30 miles of the run. This made a huge difference in my recovery and just 24 hours after finishing, I was feeling little soreness at all. So, the 2nd of 4 races in the Grand Slam of the World is complete!

John at Sloan Lake near Handies Peak
View from our campsite
I went up to Silverton, CO with John a week before the race to acclimate. We camped the first four nights south of town at the Little Molas Lake campground (elev. 10,900'). We'd camped at the same spot in years past and in what may be one of the most beautiful campsites in the area. We had an ambitious second day by climbing Handies Peak (elev. 14,048'') which was a 10 mile round trip. The next day we relaxed in Telluride and then at the Ouray hot springs before returning to our camp. Each night we barbecued hamburgers or steaks we'd picked up in Durango at James Ranch followed by s'mores. We had a great time!

Ouray aid station
By the day of the race, I was well rested. I began the run strong and had my fastest split ever to the first aid station at Cunningham Gulch. I continued the pace through mile 42 at Grouse Gulch feeling very good. In the rain and strong winds heading into Ouray, I slowed slightly. Tiff and the kids met me in Ouray and did a great job of crewing. In the dark and rain, I headed out of Ouray for Telluride. The rain stopped long enough for me to make the high steep climb to Virginius Pass and descend into Telluride, where I met the family again.

From the start through Telluride, I'd been running mostly with eventual women's winner Darcy Africa, but out of Telluride, Darcy picked up a pacer and they quickly dropped me on the climb up to Ophir pass. Not without offering to have me tag along however, which I appreciated. My goal wasn't to push it this race, but to finish in good shape for UTMB and Diagonele des Fous in the coming months.

Little Molas Lake at sunset
For race nutrition, I made my own drink mix which was excellent as usual. I've really got this part nailed after years of adjusting the recipe and I credit this as much as anything for my strength during the race and quick recovery after. For shoes, I wore Hoka Rapa Nui, which aren't yet available in the U.S. These provided great cushioning without too much weight. I did make quite a few alterations to the shoe which should be the subject of another post on "How to Fix Your Hoka's."