Monday, September 19, 2011

The After (Steamboat Run Rabbit Run 50)

The truth of the matter is I was "only" supposed to run 31 miles at the Steamboat 50, Run Rabbit Run. My target 50 is next month's Pony Express 50 miler in Utah. The Steamboat race was supposed to be a training day. I knew right away that I wasn't going to stop. Even when the rain started (and remained for 9 hours) and the sleet fell and the hail stung my face I just wanted to run. And the deeper I went...the farther I wanted to go.

Just three weeks prior I had an awful day at the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. From the first mile I was miserable and nothing was going right. I goofed up my nutrition, my shoes were trouble and it took everything I had just to finish. That night I was re-thinking my love for running. Thankfully I am a great procrastinator and at mile 30 of the Steamboat I was starting to enjoy the challenge of 20 more miles to the finish.

When I look back on the 11 hours of running I pick out the one key moment of the day. My wife took my visor and made me wear a winter beanie a little past the midway point. I love my visor and it wasn't an easy exchange for me. Lucky for me since a few miles after the hat exchange the weather got nasty and took out 66 of the runners with some going into hypothermia. Some runners couldn't remember their names...that's scary.

Normally a runner would go into detail about the course and the miles and the competition. Hey, I just ran...I am going to talk about the volunteers. They were the best I have ever witnessed (and that's with almost 200 races under my belt). The Steamboat 50 Run Rabbit Run volunteers were so damn good I would swear they were getting paid $1000 an hour and working just for me. I've never had such great treatment and they were in the nasty weather all day too! One volunteer even offered to call my wife to let her know I was still running ok-wow! THANK YOU!!!

A race this long is challenging on a few levels. Obviously you have to love running, train long hours and not get hurt. Your family and friends have to accept that you will be tired and grouchy and off the social radar. The biggest challenge is asking of yourself more than you ever have and accepting the outcome. Going long is a sober look in the running mirror. As I ran into town posting my fastest mile of the day at mile 50 I winked back and said "Good job."

Thanks again to my wife and the Steamboat volunteers. You were the stars of the day! The winner of the race was Zeke Tiernan who has a reputation in these parts. The course was an out and back so I got to see the leaders after the turn around. Zeke and the others in the lead pack were nice enough to give me some words of encouragement as they passed. Just another reason to love trail runners.

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