This is a little long winded but it WAS a 50 miler......
This race for me had a history; over a period of time I've heard many things about the Twin Peaks 50/50 race. Some good, some not so good, it was because of this that I didnt have to many expectations for it to be monumental. I was however planning on it being tough because no matter how you look at it; the mountains not coming down for you no matter who organized this one; its 17,000 feet of gut check; one way or the other….
With everything prepaired and handhelds in place I set out casually ( ok, I wasn't quite ready at race start but I didnt feel the urgency to just go when they said go....after all its 50 miles. In the beginning of this run I had forgotten to turn on my brain, as a result I followed some of the front runners as they made their way through the neighborhood....I blindly followed them until they stopped, confused, and turned around to run the RIGHT way!...Oh my, how’s the rest of the race gonna go.
I continue to press on feeling good, feeling strong. Before I knew it I was in front heading up Indian Truck Trail....after about 5.5 miles I was quite a bit ahead and on my own, but not for long...a light turned on behind me......turned on? Sneaky...the old don't scare him to run faster trick!!! ha ha ha after awhile I watched him pass; after all I had a long way to go...I was settling in to feeling comfortable and definitely not going to chase anyone right now.
As I approached the Main divide I was now in 3rd and feeling good, it was on to W. Horsethief. Wheres the A/S … oh there it is… a pile of boxed up water…..oh well, It felt good to fly downhill, I had to watch my speed as I dance on the large rocks that live here on this trail and by the time I reached Holy Jim A/S I was feeling tired but good, it can be to easy to pound your legs going down that one. Good to see a familiar face as I was greeted by George Puente Valasco, I shed layers here and enjoyed some calories and laughter as I joked around, ok, ok it’s been long enough....so off I went again to tackle the Holy Jim Ascent. As I approached the lower streams I enjoyed the mental break in scenery as I balance across logs or hopped from rock to rock across the stream. It was here that I felt my Hip Flexor quietly remind me of a past injury, I chose to slow down, to moderate and see how it was going to play out. I also think that it was here that I mentally chose to run this race more casually and try to enjoy myself more...so I did.
I reached the top of Holy Jim and was surprised at how informal it was… a few boy scout types hanging around, a small table off to the left about 15 yards with some lone water jugs and such, I could’ve even missed the table if I had my head down and continued up Santiago. Hey! But waters water! I gulped down half a bottle and filled both handhelds back to full. I then began my assault of Santiago peak - well strong walking assault I guess. I think that my future races will be more disciplined in sections of running and walking I need to work on that I guess J . The trip up Santiago was slow, it seems that once I start walking my legs feel more like weights than anything; I actually feel better jogging up. ( I tell you that in hindsight……I still walked up quite a bit ). When I get done with this I’m gonna focus on my quick hiking skills, I’m getting passed up and its starting to piss me off….. me and my less than long legs ha ha ha. By the time I reach the top of Santiago I’m feeling good, the snow cooled me down and thoughts of me laying in it making snow angels cheered me up a bit.
The Santiago Aid station was stocked and I sat down and joked around a bit again, Damn socializings gonna cost me ha ha ha….. quick rock from shoe removal and I was out of there. The day was amazing and the temperatures were great, its amazing up here and I’m happy to be living in an area with such running opportunity. I sailed down Santiago and before I knew it I was bouncing down Upper Holy Jim trail, with the latest rains this area was a series of jumping from once side to another to avoid the water and mountain bike torn path. At the bottom I searched for guidance, arrows, signs but it was only my past experience of the area and route study that lead my direction, I was worried that other 50mers might continue left on the divide in confusion.
Back to the water table at the top of Holy Jim and down! Down! Down! I remembered chasing LT down this and sailed to the bottom catching a few runners as I did. I began to run into friends on this trail as they were ascending like my Grand Canyon Brother David Cristof who was his cheerfull self, always good to see David. I past by the man himself Greg Hardesty and the energizer bunny Lorraine Gersitz who was running up Holy Jim….very nice. I ran into another friend coming up David Colwick, man, I’m seeing everyone now and it helps boost me. David mentions another friend who was supposed to be here today.. Maura Priest, I was concerned at first until I found out that she got lost and couldn’t find the start of the race ….man…bummer!. Ha ha ha …. Sorry just remembered, as I was running through the lower portions of Holy Jim theres a section where the brush has formed a tunnel over the trail….. I was sailing through here and saw some hikers with kids on the other side, I was feeling good so I picked up my pace (yes – to impress) …… didn’t see that a branch was hanging lower than usual….almost scalped me; blew my hat right off and clipped the top of my head ha ha……”man, you ok!” said a hiker….”oh, yeah…didn’t really hit me” I said. Wrong!, my head was ringing….I’m such a dumbass ha ha Got what I deserved. Always run with caution and humility or nature will remind you were you really are!.
As I approached the Lower Holy Jim A/S I was greeted by a few runners that hadn’t set out yet; I joked around again this time about wanting a helicopter or something, can’t remember now. I was glad to see my drop bag and the goodies that it contained, gulped down a chocolate milk ensure and was good to go. If I hadn’t mentioned this before….I don’t like W. Horsethief trail; particularly the going up part so as I headed out, I was in a battle that was more mental than physical and it continued till I got to the top. Of course on my way up I met with Andy Kumeda and Catra Korbet who seemed to have more vigor here than I; Catra turned down my request for a piggy back ride to the top….dang! ( that was with her giving ME a ride to the top) Wheres the dang elevator!
At the top of Horsethief I was glad to see that they had set up a small ez-up and were manning and womaning this area, It would have been a big boost though to see my friend Steve here…….. well, gotta push on. Moving along the Main Divide was nice, I’ve run this so many times that I felt pretty comfortable cruising along and before I knew it I was at the Indian Truck Trail A/S……talking, joking around, sitting down…wasting time ha ha…. And with a pat on the back there was Keith Swiatkowski!, great to see him! And then Beiyi Zheng and Carmela….Hey it’s a party! Guess I need another Dr.Pepper! but with a few more laughs realization began to sink in as they all began to leave for the top of Santiago again……. Wait…hey….but…..Dang…..After suggesting that the A/S be supplied with cots and getting laughs (I was serious though) I took off again. Keith had mentioned having beer in his car… hhmm… I could just run down Indian Truck Trail right now…call it a day and give up my domino – or – continue my pain and hit Santiago one more time; Damn, Keith has the car keys and he’s left already……so I chased him.
I hit Santiago harder this time, my body had understood that I was going to fight through this one and It gave in to me and my TrailHeadz mentality so I ran and ran…. Passing By Beiyi and Carmela again I joked around took some pictures and headed up stronger than the first time. Once I reached to top I sucked down some warm soup and watched to sun set….AHHHH. Other runners were suiting back up as the temperatures dropped and now with my headlamp in place I headed out just after Keith again. With the mountains in covered in dusks light I ran down Santiago without my headamp on, almost in a trance, the focus can be so intense that you feel like you are aware of every stone before you…. You take in the whole road beneath and ahead of you without looking at anything in particular and just sail; it was amazing.
I headed down Upper Holy Jim and with my Headlamp on now I bounced again from side to side, passing a few runners on the way, I approached one runner that didn’t have his headlamp and felt sorry for him, whatever the reason he was going to have problems unless he had nightvision.
At the Indian Truck Trail A/S I downed another Dr.Pepper and joked with Keith again about my drive to aid him with any drinking of beer that might be done after we finish and with a laugh he again was off “see ya at the bottom”….. a few final jokes and thanks to the crew I was gone once more, this time for good. I ran the final Length of the Indian Truck Trail feeling really good, I remember chasing Greg Hardesty down here on a training run a few weeks prior, had a great time then and looked forward to my run down. This time I was chasing Keith; I passed a runner on my way and had gotten pretty close to Keith when suddenly a rock came out of nowhere and grabbed my big toe sending me wildly sprawling in long strides…I went down on my right handheld and thanked the powers that be. I didn’t eat it; somehow. I went back to pick up my remaining bottle that ejected in my spastitude and I continued on…… I looked down the dark hill and spotted Keiths light in the distance… I wondered if he’d seen my light fly around as I did my downhill lunge techniques.
I gained ground after time and soon was just behind Keith as we passed by Andy Kumeda and Catra Korbet, both great runners and people. Joking around about my extra fast food weight assisting me on the downhills we were off in pursuit of the finish now. It was dark, very dark but the temperatures were not that bad and I was in rhythm now heading downhill, I ran behind Keith as we headed toward the finish and stayed there until the end, In a long race like this, not sure if it’s just me……but near the end I noticed a light behind me trying to gain ground. I was hoping to push Keith with me behind him to stay in front of whom ever it was; Keith being the strong runner he is kept with a faster pace until we crossed…….now my point. I just feel that out of a certain respect for the actual distance, if you are running a 50 mile race and you are within say….200-300 yards from the finish….I personally am just going to keep my place as long as the person ahead of me is running strong. I’m not going to try to sprint at the last moment to move up a place…..not sure if there is a name for it; but that’s just not me. Anyway as far as Keith is concerned he wouldn’t have made it easy for me if I would’ve tried that move anyway… ha ha ha.
Sitting down and thinking about the race at the end, looking at my Medal – not domino, I was thank full that I ran it……not as much for the race but for me….on to the next one. Better and stronger next time!
Early morning A/S were not set up as I had hoped, but I was ready for that. As the day went on these issues were corrected and the aid stations were stocked with all that was needed. The volunteers were great and appreciated! As always.
Directions………..the surveyor – or whomever they were that went up to assist in the guidance left much for improvement…..I’m very familiar with the trail and I studied the course before I ran it like ALL should do. There were moments of insecurity for me even with preparation due to lack of signage but again…. Everyone that deems themselves prepared to try on a race of this distance should be prepared both physically and mentally which means that they ashould be aware of the course changes and know the general routes prior to running. With the google earth and images given there is really no sympathy for someone making long distance critical errors in direction.
The runner tracking option for this race was a waste of energy that could have gone to something else….my family tried to track me and had nothing but confusion; maybe given time….just not now it was a innovative attempt but unless your sure it’s going to be effective….don’t do it.
Great day, great friends……overall….a Great day…………..