Mount Evans Ascent 2009
|Rank||135 of 298|
|Elevation Gain||3,909 feet|
No photos. Just an HD video report of the day. I think it captures things better!
This was my 3rd time doing this race. 3 years in a row. The last 2 years we have had perfect weather. Today, not so great. At the starting line, everyone was in jackets, hats, earmuffs, and gloves. It reminded me of PPM 2008. I wasn't going heavy! So I just had my tech shirt, Moeben sleeves. I carried my thin TNF Hydrogen jacket. Wore flats -- smart move. Much lighter.
Kim and the kids dropped me and headed up the mountain early to beat the traffic. I took a jog around the campground and thought to myself, "Uh oh". My stomach went from fine to a big knot. No worries. It usually works itself out in a few miles.
At the start, the race director informed the crowd that visibility at the summit was 0-20 feet. Given this course runs along an open road with vehicular traffic that isn't race-related, race staff couldn't take the chance of a car taking out runners. Drivers couldn't see you until you were on their hood and that would be a bit late. So they said they would make the determination on the finish line when the leaders hit mile 6. We would either finish at Summit Lake (9 miles in) or push on to the summit for the full distance. Given how I felt and my other successful summits, I was in the mood for the 9 mile distance.
The race started and for whatever reason the rookie came out of me and I was too fast on pace by about a minute. This didn't make me feel any better in the gut. I continued to slow as people passed. I was burping...well, verping, really. I had been doing this all week on the Boulder Peaks. New phenomenon. I don't have it figured out. And I wasn't going to in this race.
The wind picked up and seemed to be steady in the 10 MPH range. That wasn't helping. Plus, it was cold air. So I got the jacket on and tried to keep moving. Fingers started getting cold. Gloves were on but not doing the job. Things were unraveling fast. I had a talk with myself. I wasn't going to DNF just because I didn't feel good but I was going to slow it down and just finish this race. So I threw out the pace targets and did the best I could to keep motoring. I put the fast walks in place earlier than normal. They were great opportunities to settle things a bit. I would often come bolting back out of them for a good bit of running. This made me look foolish to those around me I suppose as I would pass them and then get passed again. Oh well. It was moving me up the mountain so I went with it.
Well, visibility improved so at mile 6 I saw the sign, "Finish at the top!". Drat. Would have been a convenient day for a weather crap out. The temps continued to drop so I stopped for a moment and got more clothes out of the car and bundled up a bit more. Trying to get some warmth building again. It was awesome having my wife and kids following me up the mountain once again. Such a motivator! Again, this remains one of the best spectator races I know of.
The middle of the race is kind of a blur. Miles were coming off pretty quickly as we got to Summit Lake and then started the toughest part of the course. Water was running across the road pretty steadily at a few spots so I had to jump the river the best I could to keep from soaking my flats. As we ascended, the fog that was mentioned pre-race came into play. Visibility went to maybe 50-100 feet at point. You could see your switchback and that was it. No clue what was going on above or below you. The summit was surrounded in a sea of fog. A normal site for those that climb these things -- but not a welcome site on race day in June!
During the last few switchbacks, you can usually see the summit so you can mentally zone out and just push it to the end. I wasn't able to do that. Couldn't see the finish line until you were on top of it. The only clue I had was a stack of cars that suddenly appeared. I figured I was close at that point. So I cut right and was weaving like a mad man through the cars. The other runners (who were walking near me) all were confused what was going on. Experience pays as I probably passed 10 people right there in seconds. Finished up in 135th place. 30+ spots better than last year. Slower field? Probably, but maybe conditions made for a tough day.
I was disappointed to see 3:0X on the clock. I did 2:58 last year with a #2 break at Summit Lake that was 500 feet off course. Figured I was a shoe in for a 2:45 or something this year. Guess it wasn't meant to be today. Better weather and a stronger stomach would have gave me a better day. My lungs weren't on fire like in previous years. My legs were ready to go when I could drive them. My gut wasn't right and that ruined the motivation in my head. This was my first "worser" performance on a course. That was a bummer. Made me feel like I topped out. But I am trying to find the silver lining and remotivate myself for the challenges ahead. I definitely am down a notch on the race level excitement. I see them as more of a chore now because I always want to be better than I really am and can't prove it.
It is time for a break from Mount Evans. Nothing to prove there. Will find a new adventure for next June. But it remains a super event with great race support in one of the best road race extremes there can be.
Time to refocus and regroup for the Leadville Trail Marathon now.