Summer’s here. It’s time to change gears.
Among other things, that means it’s time to get running. The races are right around the corner.
Actually, they’ve already started. The Golden Gate “Dirty 30” 50K was Saturday. I realize we were completely immersed in ski mountaineering just two weeks ago, but that’s just how it is sometimes. We like to keep the calendar full.
Christy and I first ran this hilly race near the front range last year and found it to be a well organized and fun race along a challenging and scenic course. When we consider the schedule we have lined up, it’s the prefect long day of training we need to ramp things up for summer.
The race itself went pretty well. Everything felt good, we both had a fun time out there, and neither of us felt too beat up afterwards. Since it was our second time running here and we were now familiar with the course, I decided to try for the new Dirty 30 “360 Club” award for anyone finishing in 360 minutes, or 6 hours. Last year’s fairly casual pace had me finishing in 6:19, and I thought it was reasonable to shave off 20 minutes, or 40 seconds per mile.
As always, I started out conservatively. Through the years I’ve learned these long days can be pretty miserable if you go out too fast and blow up, plus it always feels better to pass others and not be passed. Of course with that you’ll always run the risk of going too slow and finishing without actually putting in your best effort.
Long-story-short, I started out a bit too slow. As I worked my way up through the field and did the confusing math in my head (“…mile 17.5 x 11:30 minute/miles divided by 60 minutes in an hour equals, wait, what was that first number?”) I was fairly certain I was faster than 6 hours. But as the finish neared, it was looking like I would be really close, if not too slow. At the last mile, despite an increasing pace through the entire back end of the race, I found myself gunning for the sub-6 at full speed with Jon Webb and Krissy Moehl, barreling downhill at near-crash speeds. When we crossed the line the clock said 6:00:24. Ouch.
This wasn’t the big focus of the summer though, so there wasn’t much energy put into feeling disappointed. And that’s when the surprise news came. As I was putting this post together and looking at the race results I saw the 360 Club specifics and it just so happens that it’s for anyone who finishes in 360 minutes, all the way up to 361. In other words, anything under 6:01 counts, so we actually made it. Phew.
Lesson learned though, don’t wait too long to make your move. Broken down, the math says I was 0.77 seconds per mile slower than the 6 hour goal. In hindsight I can come up with 400 different moments that I could have saved either 24 seconds or 1 second a mile through the race but didn’t. Those extra hiking steps I took when I could have run, the conversation I had with the aid station volunteer, retying a shoelace that wasn’t double knotted, starting ten yards back from the start line instead of right on it, stopping to pee instead of on-the-go, splashing water on my face at the creek by aid station 3– it’s actually pretty crazy to think about, how even in something this long, seconds count.
So with that behind us, we’ll start looking ahead. After Saturday’s effort, Christy and I will be at the San Juan Solstice 50 in Lake City on June 23rd. Hopefully I won’t get lost like I did last year. After that I’ll be at the Hardrock 100 again, and the following weekend, we’re going to California where Christy will check out the Tahoe 50 for the first time. We’ve actually kept August open, but are thinking about running a couple more long ones in September. We’ll see.