The key word in that last sentence is preparation. I did not adequately prepare for last year's race. This year, I drew up a training plan that began in earnest in April that focused on an increase in threshold training, climbing, and higher mileage weekends to go along with a tempered increase in overall mileage. Formal workouts were primarily poached from Jack Daniels' marathon training plan, particularly his segmented threshold workouts which I feel mimic trail racing. Climbing workouts consisted predominately of biweekly forays to Fort Collins to join in on Thursday evening Towers time trials as well as some jaunts up Pilot Hill and, more recently, a return to the Silent Trails course and my old friend, The Bitch (Death Crotch). All told, I logged around 300 more miles by race day.
Monday morning Chris and I did a quick tune-up workout of 3x1200 at the Central High track. 3:59, 3:52, and 3:44 intervals made me feel like I was heading into the race in a good place. After a couple of easy days, Chris and I drove north Friday morning, convening with the Frenchs in Sheridan. The House of Fuller was quiet that evening with Josh, Jeff, and Nate on the 100 mile course with Cassie, Tina, and Jason G. in support. Unfortunately, none of them would make it past the halfway point. That was a common theme in the 100 this year. The rate of attrition was high.
Jeff, Johnna, Chris and I hopped on the bus heading to the 50K start at East Dry Fork early Saturday morning. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day in the Bighorns, though by the 8 a.m. start, the temperature was already rising. A warm day was something I was not excited about, but I had my pack with plenty of water and made sure I stayed on top of the electrolyte pills.
|On the bus up to Dry Fork.|
|View south from East Dry Fork Ridge.|
|Heading toward Riley Point.|
The climb from Cow Camp back into Dry Fork still sucked. That climb is a little deceptive. It's not steep, but it is five or six miles of gradual uphill. And by 10 a.m. it was getting very warm in the bottom. I rolled into Dry Fork about 2:15 into the adventure. I changed my wet socks and shoes, but was having some lower stomach cramping that convinced me to chill for a bit. I spent seven minutes at Dry Fork. That was too long.
I took it easy coming out of Dry Fork in order to get my stomach settled and hopefully find a rhythm again. Once on the road going down to Upper Sheep Creek, I found that rhythm and kept it going over The Haul and down into Tongue River Canyon. My legs were a little trashed by the time I pulled into Lower Sheep Creek. I topped off my water and started the slog into the heat of the canyon.
|Just out of Upper Sheep Creek at the base of The Haul.|
|Top of The Haul. The flowers were out in full force.|
|Beginning the descent into Tongue River canyon. The finish is about 10 miles away.|
For the most part, I feel satisfied with the result. I trained well and raced well. As with all races, there are things I have reflected on that could have been different. Or I could have made a different decision here or there. The main thing I am contemplating is what do I actually need to carry? I wore my pack this year so I could have all the water and food I needed on me so I wouldn't have to waste time at aid stations. I was also afraid of the heat, especially after what happened on my last long training run down in Fort Collins. I scared myself into thinking I needed more than I really did. The pack was too much. My shoulders were brutally sore after the race, and I could move more efficiently without the added weight. This ultra thing; it is a continual learning process.
The southeast Wyoming crew ran well in the 50K. We placed Chris 3rd, me 9th, Jason R. 10th, Jefe 11th, Nathan 14th, and George 19th, with Johnna bringing home a rock with a 28th overall/3rd in her age group run. A great run in the Bighorns!