Thursday, August 4, 2011

Surviving White River

Don't let the post title deceive you - I have had much bigger suffer-fests, by far - but that doesn't mean White River was a cake walk, or that things went exactly as planned.

(Mt. Ranier - The backdrop to White River.)

(Getting the low-down on the route from Mr. Henshaw.)

(Time to square off.)
To start with, the weather was pretty hot, which generally leads to slower times. Judging from the complete results, this was a slow year, even for the elite-level guys. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had thrown all definitive time goals out the window when I discovered snowy conditions still existed on sections of the course, and it's a good thing I did. 7:15 ended up being the time Andy ran, and his goal was sub-7. Even Uli ended up running a time of 6:49 that, while fast, was well slower than his previous best of 6:32.

(The start)
The race starts with about 4 miles of flat and then rolling terrain, before you hit the longest and steepest of the 2 climbs on the course - a 12 mile ascent to the Corral Pass aid station. I was able to run nearly every step of this climb, but was conscientously being conservative at the same time, knowing that the 2nd climb is supposedly where the race is won or lost. Combined with some of my usual problems - a bowel movement and a pair of minor falls - I reached the mile 17 aid station close to my original goal time but considerably farther back in the field than I'd hoped to be (approximately 20th place).

At Corral Pass I had to take my longest break of the day to get composed, take rocks out of my shoes, fix a broken handheld water bottle, scarf some calories, and lose the last of my warm clothing (gloves). In all, I probably lost 6 minutes here. It was definitely a huge boost though seeing familiar faces, as always. At each aid station I had the pleasure and psychological boost of seeing Holly, Andy's parents (Cheryl and Todd), and his girlfriend Lizzie.

(In a funk trying to get my bearings at Corral Pass.)
After saying my goodbyes I took the first long descent relatively conservatively and arrived back at the Camp Creek aid station (mile 27) near the start/finish in 19th - partially due to another bowel movement during the descent. Here I just topped off the necessities, said hi to everyone, and mentally dug in for the beginning of the real race.

Over the next 10 miles of mostly climbing, it got incredibly hot and exposed BUT I was determined to push through the pain and discomfort no matter what. By the end of the climb, I had vomitted several times (around the mile 32 aid station), felt like crap the whole time, and somehow managed to improve my position by 10 places!

After taking a second to appreciate the incredible views of Mt. Ranier from the Suntop Lookout aid station, I decided to let gravity help for a while and let the quads have their turn suffering. The next 6.5 miles are all downhill on a hard, steep, and dusty gravel road and aren't as enjoyable as one would imagine - even after 2 hours of climbing. Despite the pain in my legs and more stomach problems, I was able to cover this section in just under 43 minutes, and in doing so, I was in 6th place at the last aid station (mile 44).

While refueling to prepare for the last 7 miles of rolling, rocky, rooty terrain under a gigantic tree canopy alongside the White River, I was passed by one of the runners who I had overtaken just a few minutes prior. I left the aid station just a few seconds behind him, but pursuit was all for naught after I performed my best superman impression about a mile from the aid station. Toes were stubbed and screaming with pain, and my thumb rammed into a rock and split open under the nail. This pain and frustration took the fight out of me and I went into suffer mode for the next 5-6 miles, wishing for nothing else but for the pain to be over.

Finally, I rounded the last bend out of the trees and back toward the air strip and crossed the finish in 7:49 - good for 7th overall.

(7th place. 7:49.49)
I bit the bullet and soaked in the river after the race and within 2 minutes my legs were numb and my lips were purple. Even though this frigid water was excruciating to sit in, I think it greatly helped in my recovery as I'm not nearly as sore as usual after a 50-miler. I'm mainly nursing a really sore hamstring on my left leg, but I have no doubt I can be 100% recovered by Leadville as long as I take it somewhat easy this week.

(Post race freeze-fest.)
The rest of our time in the Seattle area was very relaxing and full of good seafood. A few more pics:

(Getting our post-race grub on.)

(Hey Brooks, which way to the Olympic Mountains?)

(We even found time to bag Rainier before catching our flight!)
And now, it's Leadville or Bust!

After landing in Denver, we tried to catch these guys at the Larimer Lounge, but the show sold out:

1 comment:

BLOS said...

I'm just glad you wore the Obey hat!