On race morning, Rain and I drove down to the start at the mouth of Provo Canyon. It had rained almost the entire day before the race, so we weren't sure what to expect as far as course conditions and weather go. We were happily surprised to see that the snow level overnight was still a good 1000' above the highest point on the course, and the route was almost entirely mud-free. The temperatures at the 8am start were in the 40's, so it turned out to be perfect fall running weather.
|Race morning with fall color and low clouds. Photo by Kristen Brinkman Olsen.|
|Not too shabby! Photo by T3 Triathlon.|
Typical of small trail races, the race directors casually yelled "go" after assembling the ~60 runners at the start line. The half miles or so is an uphill grind, which is a little rough to run when you're not really warmed up yet. Rain and I started together and ran for most of the first hill side-by-side. At one point he said "see you at the finish", expecting me to take off in front of him. I wasn't about to increase my already anaerobic running pace up the hill, so he caught back up to me in a few strides and then headed off down the trail. This would be the last I would see of him until the finish line, as he gapped me on the ~2 mile flat pipeline trail that followed. I was okay with this, as I tend to take longer to warm up and he has much more flat running fitness than I.
The first half of the race is relatively flat, with a few smaller hills thrown in for good measure. I was doing great on these small hills, but struggling to maintain a respectable pace on the flat fire road sections. Thankfully, my legs started to get into a rhythm near the end of the longest flat stretch and a good numbers of miles flew by without notice as I chatted with my new running friend Angie. We discussed ultras, triathlons, nutrition, and other items as we rolled along the foothills to the mouth of Dry Canyon. This marked the spot where things got a bit steeper, so I was pretty excited for the change of terrain. From the aid station, we climbed almost a thousand feet in less than a mile (which at times meant stairs cut into the slope), so I was now in my element. I power hiked the hill rather efficiently, and promptly dropped my new friend and passed 3-4 additional runners before cresting the top. Now the real fun was to begin... the last 4 miles of the course were all downhill and completely runnable. There were a few times I had to slow down to check course markings at trail junctions, but for the most part completely bombed the 1500' descent back to the start/finish. Damn that felt good. There was a pretty big gap behind me by this point and I hadn't been passed by anyone since mile 2, so I was pretty happy. Coming down the final stretch of technical downhill, I was only 50 yards behind another runner, but once we hit the flatter gravel fire road near the finish she completely dropped me. Oh well.
The whole race I expected to come around a corner and find Rain right in front of me, but he ended up having a great race and finishing a good ten minutes ahead of me. Not too shabby for his second trail race ever. I ended up finishing in 2:32:57, which was almost 5 minutes quicker than my time from 2.5 years ago. I'll take it. Makes me wonder what I could have run on this course if I had trained more leading up to it :)
All in all, I consider this a huge personal "win" for me. After spending the better part of the last six months on the disabled list (this was my first race since the Buffalo Run 50 in late March), running strong at this race has given me a good shot in the arm. I am now looking forward to getting some solid fall and winter running in, and I look forward to next season's race schedule.
|Our crew view from the car come Friday at the PE50. Photo by Ashley Gleason.|
Before I start looking too far into the future, there are still a few more happenings this fall. This coming Friday I will be crewing and pacing my friend Jennifer Cline from Denver at the Pony Express 50 out in the west desert of Utah. It should be a fun experience to be out there on the course viewing the race from the other side (I ran it last year), and I am looking forward to getting in some decent miles as a pacer as well. A few other friends are running the race as well (some in the 100 miler), so I look forward to seeing them out there on the course! Beyond that, we have a few weeks of down time before heading to Zion National Park for some trail running with Ashley's parents for her Dad's 60th birthday. Such a tough life...