Thursday, September 1, 2011

Road Trip!

photo: Klaus Fengler/www.klausfengler.de

Where to begin...

Calgary, Salt Lake City, Park City, Moab, Leadville and finally Buena Vista to Beaver Creek...A monster of a road trip, yet a perfect lead-up to run across the Colorado Rockies...or at least that was the plan!

Speaking of which, I've never been big on planning things, so when the 'Goat' (Martin Gaffuri) and I left Canmore, I have to admit that there wasn't much of a travel 'plan' in place...we were headed to Salt Lake City, then Leadville to pace for Ryan Sandes...and finally TransRockies, but for the 2 weeks in between... who knew!

What we did know is that we wanted get in lots of running volume at high altitudes, and run in very hot temperatures...These key ingredients would help prepare us for the 2011 Gore-Tex TransRockies Run. 


I won't repeat myself too much here since I wrote about my running in the previous posts, but the combination of SLC/Park City for high altitude volume and Moab for heat was almost perfect.  Temperatures never dipped below 30C+, reaching highs of 38C!  And the running...well...two words: simply. fantastic.

Welcome to Leadville, CO - Home of the Leadville 100

Leadville 100 Recap:

What an experience!  After 2 weeks on the road, the final prep for TransRockies couldn't have been more perfect than to pace for Ryan.  I was so dialed up for this event that I actually put more focus on being 'fit' to pace Ryan than for TransRockies - funny.  Of course, by the time I picked up Ryan, he had about 100km more running in his legs than me...so needless to say that the pace would be manageable.


Heading out to the Fish Hatchery @ 7am to join Vanessa (Ryan's girlfriend aka crew chief)

Since most of us (Martin, Anna and I) were running in the TransRockies Run the following day, we slept in a bit, and skipped out on the 4am start, and joined the support crew at 7am as Ryan reached the Fish Hatchery...

It wasn't long before the front runners were rounding the corner, Ryan was sitting 5th, and in the mix!  In he came, out he went... We packed up and headed to Twin Lakes for the next CP... 

Coming down the trail into Twin Lakes CP... still sitting 5th overall
In he came... out he went... although he did mention something about his quads being a bit sore - no shit buddy - you've been running almost 65km! Hope Pass (take 1) was on tap...

In the ghost town of Winfield we waited...

"Runner!"

"Holy Shit!!"  A surge of adrenaline burst through my body as I spotted Ryan's white Exo kit bounding down the road..."Wow!"  At 80km, he was in the lead, had taken control of the race and was moving well...

Anna (Frost) was ready to go for her 'mule' duties.  At Leadville, pacers are allowed to carry "everything except the runner"... so all the water, food, gear would be handled by the pacers from now on...Being one of the best hill climbers in the business, Anna was eager to mentally 'drag' Ryan back up the 3,600m high Hope Pass for his second time that day.  And did she ever...

On the flip side I eagerly waited for my turn... I loaded up with gels, bars, random snacks, water (for him) and more water (for me!).  Off we went...

For much of the 25km, I did my best to keep Ryan as alert and focused as possible...He was tired and running all over the place, so my job was to maximize his efficiency on the trail.  Everything from breathing, keeping the chest up, relaxing the shoulders/arms, to eating/drinking regularly... cue words were thrown out every few minutes...if you had been standing on the sidelines, you would have said: "man, that guy is annoying... Shut the hell up already!".  I even asked him at one point what he was listening to music wise (he had his earphones on) "I'm listening to you...".  "Oh...OK...You can listen to music if I'm too annoying or talking too much you know".  "No, no... keep going...it's good".

So I kept talking.

My 25km section flew by... we covered it in 2h25min or so...give or take.  He was on pace for 16h...


The Salomon Rigs waiting for Ryan at the 150km mark...
I had done my job, now it was Adam and Josh's turn...

The waiting was painful...Standing at the finish line staring in the distance, waiting to spot Ryan and Josh's headlamps...yet nobody was coming.  "Where are they?" 

Time was ticking...

At the finish line...30min before Ryan arrived! 

And then 2 little flickers of light appeared in the distance...Next thing we knew, Ryan was bounding down the street, steps away from posting the 3rd fastest time in Leadville Trail 100 history: 16h47min... Wow.  What a day!  What an experience to be part of...It was truly an honour and privilege to have been part of such a special event, with a great crew of runners - thanks team! 

TransRockies Run

Well, after a long day and night of quiet celebration, it was back to business... this time for myself - gulp!  As much as I had told myself I was going to take it 'mellow' this year, my competitive drive was on overdrive after a great 2 weeks of running.  I was tired, yes. But the desire to do well is a tad hard to ignore...

Aside from a few post-beer-pizza-celebration-stomach-issue-pitstops along way, stage 1 ended up ok...All the heat training we had done came in handy as the 35km BV to Railroad Bridge leg is always a hot one!  But I should have practiced running with lots of beer and pizza in my belly - might have come in handy!

No, these aren't prison buses - Heading out to my favorite, stage 2 up Hope Pass!


Stage 2 has always been a favourite of mine, and so I was putting all the chips down on this one... The grind up to the top was as painful as ever, but a steady rhythm set with my poles had me top the summit with the lead solo runner (Justin Ricks) and after a fast run down the steep slopes, I bottomed out in first, with 5km of rolling singletrack flats to go...

But there was nothing to hold back a hard charging JR... with a 2:20 marathon under his name, even if I had gained another km on him at the bottom of the descent, I would have been hard pressed to keep the lead... so I (happily) settled for a 2nd place on the stage, a good 2min faster than my time last year, and moving up into 2nd overall in the solo standings by a very slim 10sec margin!
Despite 3 good days of running in my legs, I managed to extend the lead over the course of the 39km stage 3 by using Rickey/Anna (Open Mix Team) to pace me in the first half (and help ward off the previous night's excessive 'consumption' in my system!!) and then put it in overdrive in the second half to solidify my overall standing...

All in all... a fantastic week of running, shared with like minded friends... How can you not have fun at an 'all-inclusive trail running camp'? 

See you next year TransRockies!



Smokey the Bear... ripping it up in Red Cliff for stage 4!

No visit to Denver is complete without a stop at Outdoor World's weapon section!

"Your wife called... She said you can buy whichever gun you want!" 

The long drive home... Wind farm heading up to Judith's Gap, Montana.

3 comments:

Derrick said...

Pretty sweet couple of weeks Phil. Congrats again, was great seeing you.

Seems like your ability to indulge in 'excessive consumption' has become legendary at TRR. Keep up the good work!

Sara said...

Nice seeing you, Phil! Great job at TRR and Leadville pacing duties!!

Thanks for all the course info during the week, it was very helpful.

Phil said...

Derrick/Sarah: Hope the recovery is going well...I always had a hard time getting back into it - post TRR blues maybe?

Glad you enjoyed the event - Looking forward to crossing paths again soon!