Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jemez Race Report

I stood at the base of Caballo mountain and said, "You're mine!" And Caballo replied, "Like hell!"
That's kind of the way it went. Let's start at the beginning. I had to go alone because Aubrey had to work Saturday night. So I took off early Friday am and got to Los Alamos around 3pm NM time. I checked into the hotel and then took off to find where the packet pickup and pasta dinner would be then around to the race start. Los Alamos was really easy to find your way around. I got to the posse shack and saw Shanna Armstrong's van, so I talked to her for a little while. Shanna is an AMAZING athlete. You can read all about her at her website, She has won the Ultraman in Hawaii three times and the RAAM twice. Just awesome. Plus she lives in Lubbock so that's cool too. Anyway, I went to the prerace dinner and just hung out for awhile. I saw Kyle Skaggs and Karl Meltzer which I thought was really cool.
Ok, so Saturday morning the race started promptly at 5am. It was around 40 degrees and still dark so we ran to the first aid station with headlamps. I felt really good going out and enjoyed the company of the other runners. Once we got to the base of Caballo mountain is when things started to kind of go wrong. I just wasn't prepared for what lay ahead. I thought I understood the course profile but I guess I was wrong. Later, Shanna and I just laughed it off and blamed it on naivete'. Anyway, going up the mountain was AWFUL. There was no way that I could run, just hike. My quads were burning and I think I even smelled smoke a couple of times. ha So I kept plodding along waiting for any kind of a downhill that I could run. They came few and far between. Once we made it over the first part of Caballo we got to run down the Guaje ridgeline. I REALLY enjoyed that. It was fairly steep and had tons of switchbacks which really made it fun. Every so often there would be a tree at the switchback that you could grab and just swing around it to take the turn. Pretty fun. So at the bottom of this area we had to CLIMB A LADDER to get up to the next section. ha The next section was GORGEOUS. We ran along a beautiful little stream and had to leap over it several times. The foliage here was incredible. Like a green fantasy land in a fairy tale. I like that part. ha Ok, so then the nightmare that is Caballo really began. The climb, I felt, was pretty steep. There was definitely no downhills. At the base there was an aid station and they told us that the summit was 2 miles up then we turn around and come back down. So up we went. The top 1/3 of this portion was snow and slush. I made it to the top after a LONG time. Once at the top, I saw that I had a cell signal and I called Aubrey. I let him know that I was on the Caballo summit and had just gone 12 miles in over 2 hours and 30 minutes. So we laughed! haha After my call I headed back down. It was really precarious going down. Obviously.....since it turned me into a yoga guru without blinking twice. Man, I hit that patch of snow/ice/slop/shit with my left foot and it was GONE! My crotch was in the muck and my left knee started screaming. Strangely enough my groin never hurt. Anyway, I continued to try to run on it and it was no use. I gimped back down to the aid station and knew that I would have to keep going to the next aid station where the drop bags were because these people at the Caballo base aid station had to hike in. So at this point I refilled my bottle and had to hike 3 miles uphill to Pipeline. Once I got there it was over for me. I knew that there was no way that I could make the cutoff with my knee like that. There were two ladies that were dropping as well. One of them had fallen coming down Guaje ridge and had a possible broken arm and the other "Just wasn't having a good time!" haha I loved that! We had to hike out another 3 miles just to get to a car. On the way there we ran into Shanna and she had been accidentally directed off course by a confused aid station volunteer and had also twisted her ankle several times so she was none too happy. Once she saw us she decided to give up the ghost as well. Also on the way to the car Kyle Skaggs came running through on his way to an amazing 8:08 victory. Karl Meltzer was about 45 minutes behind him. Myself, I made it a total of 20 miles including the hike out to the car. haha I can't say that I regret my decision to drop, simply because I just had no idea that the course would be that brutal. In my naivete' I just thought this would be a nice mountain run. Oops!! Sometimes we have to learn our lessons the hard way. Anyway, thanks to Shanna, I really enjoyed her company Saturday evening and hope we can get out for some good long runs there in Lubbock. She had to get up early this am to go and ride in the Santa Fe Century. Hopefully her ankle held up okay for it.
I did enjoy the beautiful scenery and vistas of this trail run ("hike" is more like it) but I would really like to warn people that this course is not for the faint of heart nor for a flatlander that hasn't trained appropriately. It is a really tough course with lots of climbing and steep quad-killing downhills. So next year, I will make sure that I have shitloads of hill training under my belt and give it another whirl. It was definitely well run and the volunteers were great!
Once I got home today I went to my massage therapist and had him hammer my legs so I should be able to get a nice little recovery run in tomorrow.
Next on my agenda is something a little less brutal and a helluva lot flatter!! I'll keep ya posted.
PS Sorry the pics are so blurry, they were taken with my cell phone.


AnthonyP said...

Sorry to hear about the knee. Good choice calling it a day and not risking further injury.

Mark "The Naked Runner" said...

It still REALLY hurt the ol' pride having to hike off course. I gained a LOT of respect for mountain ultrarunners that day.