Okay so I know this is more than just a little late. Within a month would have been an acceptable window. My dad even remembered to call for my birthday within a month. Sorry for throwing you under the bus Dad, it was my feeble attempt to not look so bad.
Anyway all has been well. As you all can see I’m trying a new web hosting service for my blog. I was using iweb on the mac to write and post my trips. However, the web pages didn’t really show up properly on some browsers and the $100 annual cost seemed a little high. I’m pretty happy with how this one is shaping up. The only thing is that my photos are stored in a different location but I put a link on the homepage. My favorite new feature is that I was able to set up an rss link to my Twitter updates. This is a geeky social networking site where you just post text message length updates on what’s going on. You can follow friends, random people, celebrities, and even port stars. Seems silly but I warn you it’s pretty addicting.
On January 3rd I ran the Fat-Ass 50k right here in Las Vegas at Red Rock Canyon. This is a very low key annual event of local runners, there’s not even an entry fee. In the past this even actually attracted some of the top ultra-runners. However, this year there was only about 10 starters of which half finished the race. As 50ks go the Fat Ass is pretty tough. The trails are steep, rocky, and relentless. An elite runner I know said it’s one of only two races at the distance that he hasn’t broken 4 hours in. The small field and lackluster of the event was actually pretty nice. We were just a wacky group of people out there running because we love it. I was especially excited because I actually knew someone there at the race. The other ultras I’ve ran I showed up not knowing anyone. The ultra community is very welcoming and friendly but it’s not the same as having a real friend there.
For months I’ve been dropping “suggestions” to my friend Shane that he try an ultra. He loves trail running and is a much stronger runner than me. We run together quite a bit and I’ve kept a tally of how many times I’ve looked ahead to see him waiting for me…the answer is 48,000. Feels that way at least. There was no doubt in my mind he could pretty easily complete a 50 mile ultra let alone a 50k (31 miles). He just hadn’t done it yet. It’s interesting how one’s perception of what one can do is limited by previous experience. Okay I don’t want to get too off track so back to the race.
As we all stood there freezing our buts off listening to some instructions from the race director, Dennis. The course is familiar to me because I run out there all the time. A local runner, Britta, was kind enough to volunteer a whole Saturday supporting us with an aid station. We passed her three times on the course where we could fill up water and whatever we had in our drop bag. Thank you so much for doing that Britta, the event couldn’t have happened without you.
It didn’t take long for the field to spread out along the course. The speed demons took off, the slow pokes lagged, and I was somewhere in the middle as always. Shane was right up there just behind this guy from Southern Utah, Kamm who you could just tell was super fit by looking at him. As I approached Britta’s truck for the first pass after about 9 miles I kept expecting to see Kamm pass by. I figured he must be at least 1.6 miles ahead of me. Just before I got to the aid station I saw Shane coming the other way and he hadn’t seen Kamm either. Unfortunately, he had got off course and now Shane was in the lead and I was in second. Ultras for me are not about placing at all but I have to admit this felt pretty good, even considering the small field.
After the aid station we completed two laps around this loop I’ve done dozens of times. I just relaxed and kept pushing a good pace. I felt really good but I was hesitant to push too hard and risk falling apart. There is one stretch of about 5 miles of just punishing uphill. I felt pretty crappy reaching the apex but I was surprised how fast I recovered and sped through the last 3 miles to the last aid stop. I only had 9 miles left consisting of one huge hill pretty early but I was home free after that. I was still in second and knew this girl from Reno was behind me somewhere. I really didn’t want to get passed. This had nothing to do with her being a girl; I just pride myself on managing races well and finishing hard. Getting passed on the homestretch is blasphemy in my opinion. She was actually a very attractive girl. So i developed a backup plan that if I saw her I figured I could “draft” her and watch her but for a few miles and then kill myself to pass her at the end. Didn’t materialize though.
I ran most of the big hill and the crux of the race. At the top I was dumbfounded as I glanced to my left where a photo shoot was in progress. This totally hot model was spread out on the rocks in a bikini. I certainly looked but didn’t really slow down. Mostly I was thinking how tough that chick was because it was pretty cold that day, particularly at that time. I had a long sleeve shirt on and had to keep running to stay warm.
I saw a runner from Salt Lake who had decided to cut the race short but finish under his own power. I passed him in a sandy wash that is similar to running on a beach. He was very supportive and started clapping and cheering. His energy was much appreciated and sparked me to really finish tough.
Soon enough I was back at the start. I finished in 5 hours 55 minutes. While not Speedy Gonzales by any means I was really happy because this was 1 hour and 40 minutes better than my previous 50k times. The cooler temperatures helped but the course was as tough as the others for sure.
Well that was about it for the Fat Ass. I’ve been running pretty well since then and am going down to Phoenix this weekend for another 50k. Hopefully it won’t take so long for the writeup.
Let me know what you think of the new site. My twitter updates and links to photos are on the left.