Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Shoe 60K Trail Race

I got up on Saturday and drove 200+ miles to Marble Falls. I got there about 11:30 AM and checked into my room at the Quality inn. I was the only person at the motel so I wondered if the place was closed down. The room was clean so it would do. Edgar, Shaheen and Steve showed up over the next hour. We grabbed some lunch and went back to the room for a nap. Steve and I were sharing a room and we both feel asleep. Three alarms went off at 4:40 and we both just want to stay asleep. We loaded up the cars and drove to the race.

At 7 we were off. It was at least 100 degrees but I was glad to get started. I was hoping for a 4 degree drop in temperature per lap. All though it was light out I knew that we would not be back in time for sun down so we all wore our headlamps. First we ran a little .82 of a mile out and back to get the correct distance. After that we would run 4 x 9.09 mile loops.

Out and back took 7:20 and that would be most of the crowd support for the night.

1st loop – 1:35 it felt very relaxed and we got a feel for the course. I started with two hand held water bottles. One with Sustained and the other with Gatorade. That is almost 500 calories. I skipped both of the aid stations on the course. About midway we hit a ½ mile section that was all rock and I knew this was going to take its toll over 4 loops. Some sections of the course were very runnable but overall it was the rockiest course I had ever run. Minimus shoes had no place on this course. I took a gel at mile 4 and 7 right before the aid stations so I could throw away the nasty gel packet. Back in the main aid station I re-filled my two water bottles with Gatorade and ate a few of chips and I was back on the course in 2 ½ min.

2nd loop – 1:59 this loop started off pretty good. I figured I was in 15-20th place but I really didn’t know as so many people are faster thru the aid stations. I was also being passed by some of the 30K runners so it was hard to know what place I was in. I still have work to do on my aid-station stops. I spend too much time deciding what to eat and drinking from the little cups. It would be much better to drink on the run. I stopped at both aid-stations on this loop to top off my water bottle. I should have limited myself to just one of them. Once I hit the middle rock section things really started to fall apart. My hip started bothering me going over the rocks and I slowed down to a crawl. By the mile 16 aid-station I was sure I was going to DNF and sit back at the finish line enjoying a few beers. Only running 19 miles would allow me to recover faster for my next race. I took gels at mile 13 and 16. I spent the next 3 miles pushing the pace back up and looking forward to being done. I was trying to come to grips why I am a strong road racer but when I get on the trails I seem to be a mid-packer with no killer instinct. I was just going to have to face it that I am not fast on trails and I don’t run well at night with my old eyes. I started to question all of my training as I seem to be trying to balance between fast marathon training and Ultra Trail endurance training. Do I need to learn how to train for one and just enjoy the other one? Do I need to pick a sport? Man it sucks to be normal. I’m just not use to that. I have always lived by the motto. If you want to be better at something then work harder. If you aren’t willing to work hard then live with being average. I then noticed how so many of these Ultra runners were trying so hard to keep going even if they were sick or injured. My hip was no longer bothering me so I figured I would go out for another loop. That would just be 28 miles. That’s barely a marathon. I had run that far already 11 times this year. Why not make it an even 12. I took 4 ½ min in the main aid station.

3rd loop – 1:53 this loop was one of my best I felt good and I was just running and not over thinking every step. About half way around this loop the overall winner caught me. I pushed for a half mile to hold him off but decided I could not hold his 10 min pace the whole way so I let him go. The next thing on my mind was Edgar and Steve were right behind him and ready to lap me. How embarrassing it would be for them to lap me on a 9 mile loop. I pushed the pace the rest of the lap as the ghost of Edgar and Steve chased me. Man do I have one hell of an ego. How my wife and kids put up with me I will never know. Sunny must be super human. Anyway I made it back to the main aid-station and no one else caught me. It took me 3 ½ min at the last aid station. I had a little run in with Nikki D and Teddi F as came in. Teddi had fallen down and they didn’t know I was a friend and I was going to run them down.

4th loop – 2:03 Yeah, this was my slowest loop but I was a little tired. The next few miles I kept trying to keep the pace up but not worry about what the watch said. Just run off feel. Funny how my good effort at this point was a 12:xx pace. I had another 60K runner catch me early on but his pace was too strong. I kept hearing a women and man talking so that was like a ghost chasing me. The funny thing is on trails like this with switch backs it often sounds like someone is real close but they might be a mile behind or for all I know a 30K racer on their second loop. At the first aid station a group of 3 or 4 guys caught up to me and the first thing one of them said was “there he is”. Like I had done something wrong. I took off and figured I would do my usual dropping of the hammer and show them. But a mile later I could hear them talking behind me. I just didn’t have the ability to drop them. I kept making them work over the next mile but they eventually caught up to me. We hung together over the next mile but once we hit that nasty rock section again I decided to walk it. I just had a vision of me pushing thru the rocks and tripping and breaking open my head. After that I picked it back up and decided I would skip the last water stop and chase them back down. I was giving it all I had and it just felt like I was never going to finish. Just over a mile out I went down. I caught myself with my water bottles and my back bent up big time. I was just sure I had done it. The old Nick would have been locked up like a drum. I think all the yoga and weights really allowed my back to handle that kind of a shock. In usual trail fashion the women next to me that I was passing asked if I was OK. I said yes but I needed someone to put me out of my misery. She said I was doing great so I hopped right back on my feet and took off with all I had again. I passed a couple more guys and I could hear the guys ahead. I kept getting faster and faster as we hit the last ¼ mile. I couldn’t see a thing as my light had faded and I thought I was going to give it my all and if I went down I could live with that. I sprinted down the shoot and caught one guy 50 yards from the finish line. Turns out he still had another lap to go. The two guys in front of him finished 20 seconds ahead of me.
I sat down for a few min and then had a beer, hamburger and shot of tequila. Visited with friends over the next hour and was so happy I pressed thru and finished the whole race. I went thru so many emotions on the course and learned to run hard when I could and take it easy when I needed to. Yeah, I could trim a few minutes getting thru aid stations a little faster but I would rather learn to enjoy these races then race them with every second on my mind. My time was 7:49:55 and 17th overall.


  1. Man. Nick, you really are inspiring. You know you really do excel at both kinds of races. Could you excel a little more in either if you focused on just one? Absolutely, but your attitude is great and your love of running and your family shines through in your report.

    Sounds like you have running by the balls. No reason to only hold one ball.

    Congratulations on a great job in this race. I wish you nothing but continued success in both running and life.

  2. Fantastic read. As crazy as it sounds, these reports make me want to run ultras. I don't know if I have the kind of will you have but your determination in the face of adversity makes me want to find out. That's about as high of praise as I can offer. Great stuff Nick, congratulations.