For the first time in a long time, I actually came into a race prepared and ready to roll. Having graduated college in May, I no longer had to balance full time studying with full time partying AND full time training. My attempt of doing that for Boston left me perpetually tired, battling injury, and hungover more often than not. Since graduation in late May, I've focused much more on training and longer days in the mountains now that I'm living out in Lander, WY. In short, I'd put in some big days and higher mileage and drank less. But dancing still counts as cross training. Wahoo!
|Living in Lander has meant a few great sojourns into the high country of the Wind River Range. This is Wind River Peak (13,192'). About a 30 mile round-trip jaunt, but I missed a turn and made it 36 or so. Ooops.|
I camped out the night before with Evan, another intern at NOLS, Mark, a runner I met when previewing the course, and Amanda, who recently moved to Lander from Mark's stomping grounds of Steamboat Springs. Mark and I carpooled to the start around 4:00am, and Evan slept in, planning to meet me at the mile 18 aid station and crew for me throughout the day. I had never had a crew before, so I was super stoked to see what it would be like racing with someone ready to lend a hand at aid stations.
The race started at 5:30am, and about 275 of us set off for a fabulous day in the mountains! I tried to show as much restraint in my pacing as I could for the first 18 miles, knowing that the steepest and most brutal climb of the day started right after the mile 18 aid station. I ran for awhile with Elijah, another person I met at the course preview weekend. Eventually I caught up to Gabe, a Lander local, and found out that we were the two frontrunners. Whoops! I hadn't meant to go out that fast, and rolled into the mile 18 aid station in the front pack and met Evan to swap out trash for more gels and take off my singlet.
|Delicious singletrack in the American Lakes basin (~mile 12), just north of Rocky Mountain National Park.|
|The climb up North Diamond (mile ~20) is worth it. The views and ridge running are both spectacular.|
|This was looking down to Kelly Lake on July 3rd. Come race day, this pass (~mile 33) was totally clear of snow.|
On the two miles of winding, wide, buffed trail back to the Gould Community Center and finish line, I cruised as fast as I could. I passed the 3rd place runner with about a mile to go, at this point moving very quickly. Crossing the line after 12 hours and 51 minutes was incredible, and I couldn't have been happier with my race performance. Gabe ended up holding on to the lead for the win, followed closely by Chris, who I had shared a few miles with. As always, I'm amazed at how incredible the ultrarunning community is - there was a beer and fried potatoes in my hands before I could even realize how tired I was. What an excellent day in the mountains! Full results here.
On Sunday, the top three were presented with awesome engraved axes and I also got an award for being the youngest runner. Huge congrats to everyone who made it through a wonderful day in the mountains! Shout out to Evan for being a kick-ass crew person, and thanks to all the volunteers that made this race so amazing. Super amped to race again and spend a lot of the next year focused on training. Maybe I'll even post on this bloggy thang some more.
|Myself with second place finisher Chris Schurk (12:30:33) and winner Gabe Joyes (12:29:21, new course record!) wielding our axes.|