Soon after the start. Joe in yellow. All Photos (unless otherwise credited): Woody Anderson. More here.
Joe Grant (in English mode) and me setting the early pace. Through the first set of switchbacks, it was pretty apparent that it would likely be the two of us off the front for this one. After running the first mile or two quite sociably, it seemed a bit weird that we'd be 'racing' for the $100 prime at the first aid station (6 miles), so I suggested that we just run it in together and split the cash. Joe was on board. And so we jigged up the creek, crossing back and forth innumerable times, before bopping up and out of the short but steep valley side and down the other side into the first aid.
Pulling up the forest-road climb from the aid, mine and Joe's paces separated a bit and I began to pull away slowly. This was essentially how the race would play out until about mile 24 or so. I would catch brief glimpses of Joe on some of the heavily switchbacked climbs, or hear him coming into aid stations after me for the next couple of segments, but it generally seemed like I was building a lead. My effort was generally hard, but my motivation waxed and waned, so I was in and out of paces and efforts. I was feeling strong enough that I was easily able to push hard when the mood came, and it did frequently enough.
The miles were clicking off quickly, much helped by the varied terrain and views. We had a great morning for running with still conditions and no significant heat until the race was essentially over. I remember a beautiful meadow that offered up some fast turns; sandy sections; rocky, technical mountain climbs and descents; a little ridge top action; bomber forest road descents, and not so bomber forest road climbs. A little bit of everything for everyone.
I was through mile 20 in exactly three hours, with just the pull up Windy Peak left in terms of big climbs. I felt like things were enough under control that I would probably stay on pace through the last third for a run in the 4:30-4:40 range. Unfortunately, I 'pulled a Nick' and made a wrong turn just before the mile 25 aid station, hanging a left and getting back on the trail markers from an earlier part of the course. Ho hum.
"Am I on course or off course? Pretty sure I'm off, but there were definitely markers indicating a left. Still feels wrong."
Judging by my paces on the segments before and after the wrong turn, I figure I was off course for 16-20 minutes, but it felt longer. It wasn't until I hooked up with Jason Koop, also off course, that I finally got back on track, now sitting in sixth or seventh. By the mile 25 aid, just before the climb up Windy Peak, I was in fourth or fifth and an estimated seven minutes behind Joe in first.
I was kind of annoyed but glad to be back on course. The off-course adrenaline rush had me pushing at my hardest effort all day. Half way up the climb I passed Nick P to pull into second. He told me there was an out back from the peak where I should get a read on the gap to Joe: Five minutes with four or five miles to go. I ran hard, but didn't kill myself on the descent. I got a couple of time checks along the way and it didn't seem like I was gaining nearly enough, so I cruised the last couple of miles to save the effort for another day. Three weeks from now.
Joe ended up winning and setting a new course record, with a strong 4:49. Darcy continues to show good form, winning and also setting a new course record on the women's side of things.
Darcy getting it done.
Ali Gali and his mom getting down to some marimba. TKWith a $100 up for the prime and $100 for the win, Joe - being the British gent that he is - split it down the middle, letting me have the $100 prime. Dana and I probably spent about $100 the rest of the weekend camping in Minturn with the kids and hanging out in Vail at the Winter Mountain Games with friends, so thanks Joe. Much fun.
It's always tough to mark courses on tight acreage, and aside from my blunder I thought Megan and her crew did a great job with the flagging and marshaling. My left was unfortunate, picking up flags from an earlier part of the run the way I did, but I probably also should have figured something was up after I realized that I was back running that section. But again, you never know on tight courses like the Dirty Thirty as sections are often repeated. I would definitely suggest for next year that there is a race marshal there at that turn or that the flagging from earlier in the race has been taken down after the last runners are through.
No biggie though. I got what I wanted, which was a solid training race where I felt in control and ready for plenty more at the end. A nice last little confidence boost as I start to taper down the mileage. This old man needs a little longer than most to feel fully refreshed and primed for an 'A' effort.
Aid 1 (5.2): 43:16 (8:30 segment pace)
Aid 2 (11.8): 57:51 (8:45 pace)
Aid 3 (16.8): 49:13 (9:50 pace)
Aid 4 (23.5): 80:21 (12:00 pace)
Finish: (31): 63:18 (8:26 pace)