Before every race I think most runners come up with some sort of plan. Usually by the starting gun you forget your plan and get sucked up in the flurry of the hot early pace. This year at Sonoma I nearly let myself get sucked out again. But miraculously by mile 5 I’d let most of the players get away. I just kept telling myself, “slow down”.
By the aid at mile 12 I was 3 min slower than last year and ever so pleased about it. Dan Kraft (nike teammate) and I were running together and keeping things pretty relaxed. By 15 we’d picked things up a bit and got back down to my pace of last year by mile 20. I had nearly the whole family out at the race this year, and it was super nice to have them at aid stations, plus I could get through those things way faster not having to think or do too much with the whole process. Salt, coke, and fresh bottle all somehow find there way into the appropriate place and I get back running real quick. Can’t say enough what a difference this made.
Dan and I took some swigs off the same coke bottle at the top of the hill at 20 and rolled on down towards the big climb of the day and the half way point. The easy early pace was certainly beginning to pay dividends, I was remembering the feeling last year that I had by the mid way turn, and I recall it being much more frantic, like I needed to gain ground right then. I don’t think I had the experience at Sonoma of 2013 to realize that it all happens in the last 15 anyways, and it’s really just about getting there and not being dead already.
Finally, I didn’t totally blow the plan I’d made and by mile 30 I still had a good amount of run left in me. It was like, “holy cow” I’m not blowing up, this is awesome. I put on some music for the first time in a race, and I felt like I could roll. I will admit the occasional Neil Young or Jim Croce song would come on the shuffle and I’d inevitably slow a bit, but this was probably for the best. I love dated music anyways so it was pretty good.
I had run ahead of Dan now and would be mostly alone for the remainder of the race. I had it in my head that 4th was still possible, that elusive WS spot was out there, but unlike some races all the dudes in front of me were damn good runners, and not super likely to die. I was in 7th coming into the last crewed aid at mile 38. The excitement of everyone there told me I was close to somone, and as it turned out a few miles later that someone was David. He was power hiking up a climb and I figured he was blown. We exchanged a few words and ran together for a bit. Then something strange happened. David, unaccustomed to the idea of me beating him in a race, had some more fight left. He dropped me like I was standing still. Never saw him again. I guess he wasn’t ready to get taken down by me yet, would have been too tough to stomach.
The only other point of any significance over the last 10 miles was catching Max King who was suffering a bit assumedly from all the fast early miles. We talked for a second and I motored on. I had entered the pain cave by this time. The last 5 miles became somewhat never ending, but I was in 6th and on my way to a good PR from last year, so I could gut it out.
6:35:30 I think was the time, 1 min behind David, 24 min behind winner and teammate Zach Miller, absolute stud, leading that thing wire to wire. I finished content and excited. Finally I was able to execute a decent plan and it worked.
More fun, and more exciting than my performance this race was the opportunity to race with 6 of my new Nike Teammates. We were all wearing the uniform, bright neon yellow top. Super visible. I think it was most fun because it brought me back to days of Cross. Country at Southern Oregon. When you run with a team you can get so much more out of yourself. It is not just me I am running for out there but every guy I toe the line with. What I do reflects on them, and visa versa. There is all this untapped energy to be gained when you have people counting on you to run well. And honestly that’s how it feels to me being on this team. Certainly there will be people in the trail world doing some Nike bashing. Let em I guess. I can say after this weekend that the guys on this Nike Trail Team are genuine bosses. Just a rag tag bunch of young dudes that dream big and caught a break. I am so excited about what this Team is going to do together. Running with a team again was the best part of this weekend at Sonoma.
Vargo. DNF (blown IT band)
Sally. 6th female
5 in the top 10 ain’t bad for a bunch of previously unsigned nobodies.
4 weeks until Transvulcania now. Lots of racing, but how can I not go race all the Euros on some real cool looking terrain? I guess I can’t. Time to do some steep stuff. Maybe some mountaining, we shall see.