Q: "Where is Cuba?"
A: Dead-smack in the middle of nowhere.
I hit the road late Friday morning to embark on the 6+ hour drive. En route I encountered snow going over La Veta pass in Colorado, sun and blue skies down the Taos, NM corridor, and finally, rain, sleet and cold temperatures in the high desert in, and around Cuba. Other highlights included the purchase of an authentic Mexican poncho in Taos, and my getting lost near Espanola and nearly running out of gas as I approached my destination.
Q: "What is the town like?"
A: A much crappier version of Fruita, CO or Moab, UT.
I arrived in town around 4:30 pm and decided I'd be better off snagging a motel room rather than sleeping in the front seat of my car. This was primarily because of the cold temps, not so much for comfort reasons. Choosing was a breeze as there were only two motels in town and I picked the first one I saw out of convenience. The Frontier Motel had a vacancy... I wonder why?
In addition to the selling points I mention in the video, the room smelled like urine. I didn't dare walk around without socks since the floor was damp for some reason (urine?), and neither did I pull back the covers on the bed. Instead I slept on top in my sleeping bag. This place was so nice, that while laying in bed watching TV, the shroud on the fan fell off bounced off the bed and rolled halfway across the room. It wasn't even on when this happened. No joke:
Q: "Why would you go there?"
A: Good question. For me, to run 50+ miles on the CDT at the 2010 Deadman Peaks Trail Run.
It was chilly in the pre-dawn hours as it had been drizzling all night, thus I was staying warm in my car taking care of my last minute gear checks when I noticed people running. Lots of them. Apparently my watch was off and I missed the race start. What a good way to get things rolling!
Within 1-2 minutes I was in hot pursuit of the headlamps ahead of me, and within a couple miles I was running with the leaders. Since it was overcast the nearly full-moon didn't help illuminate the way so the early pace was slow due to the constant cairn searching with our headlamp beams. Since the entire race was on the Continental Divide Trail the course was marked with fequent rock cairns, painted wooden posts and the RD had placed the occasional orange flag in critical areas.
Until mile 7-ish, I alternated turns leading the group of 4 that had gotten out ahead of the main pack. At this point I regrettably took my obligatory pit stop in the bushes. I say regrettably, not because of the 2 minutes or so the bathroom break cost me, but rather because of the 10 minutes I lost by getting off course as soon as I resumed running.
Since we had been running on the high mesa for a couple of miles on a defined double-track trail, I didn't anticipate the course taking us right of the edge of the cliff, so when the flags pointed that way I chose to keep going straight on the trail. It wasn't until I hadn't seen a trail marker or another runner for 5+ minutes that I decided to backtrack, finally discovering the trail DID go right off the edge of the mesa shelf and down a steep technical descent for several hundred feet.
I was infuriated when I realized I had lost quite a bit of time and a few positions, but I had nobody to blame but myself. After calming down and getting back into stride, I was supremely motivated to play hunter and catch back up to the leaders.
Around mile 17 I finally started catching glimpses of the runner who was currently in 2nd place, named Leif. After about a mile of playing pursuer on the tecnical terrain, I made my pass into what would end up being my final finishing position.
The course took us in, out, and through sandy canyons, slickrock shelves, high-mesa's and chapparal filled clearings on technical terrain. During a steep descent around mile 12, I had my only flirt with disaster when I stubbed my toe on a rock while in full stride. Only wearing 7oz shoes has its advantages, but toe protection is not one of them. Because of the sheer force with which I struck my foot and searing pain that followed, I was led me to believe I might have broken a toe... after the socks and shoes came off, my theory was confirmed.
Anyway, I'm not complaining, as this is all part of the sport. I kept moving as hard and fast as I could without depleting all my reserves, fully expecting to see the race leader Tim Long around the next bend. By the time I reached the mile 21 (more like 23) aid station I discovered I was about 4 minutes behind Tim. This was reassuring as I now knew I had been gaining on him.
Just before arriving at the mile 27 turn-around, I finally crossed paths with Tim for what would be the last time until the finish. His lead was still only 4 minutes so I was now ready to go for the kill and reel him in... or so I thought. I gave the next miles my hardest effort, but in doing so I realized that my legs where quickly turning to lead from the early push to catch up. I began walking the steep ascents at this point. By the time I reached the next aid station, I found out Tim had put 5 minutes on me in as many miles. Still, with only a 9 minute lead and 23 miles to go, I didn't completely rule out the possibily of catching him.
Eventually, around mile 35, my right hamstring began to cramp badly and this remained the standard for the rest of the race. Because of this, I had to begin walking the steeper climbs and just running the flats and downhills. I let my thoughts of winning go away at this point and then focused on CFM, or continuous forward motion. I was determined to hold on to second place if nothing else.
I eventually did reach the finish in 2nd place in 9:26.xx. (54 miles).
It had been overcast, cold, and at times drizzling throughout the day, but within 10 minutes of finishing the floodgates of heaven opened up, and I decided to hit the road rather than risk being murdered at the Frontier Motel for a second consecutive night.
To top it all off, I was pulled over in Walsenburg for having a headlight out, but the officer clearly could tell I was already beat down enough for one day and let me go with a warning. Talk about a long day. In the end, I'd been up since 4:00am, run for 9+ hours, and had driven for 6 more.
So another one is officially in the books and now it's time to get serious about training for San Fran in December!