Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chippewa 50K

So since the next adventure begins tomorrow as we depart for AZ and the Grand Canyon, I guess I should finally get around to some thoughts on the last one - Chippewa 50k.  

This race represents sort of the “beginning of running as I know it” for me.  Two years ago, I ran Chippewa as my first 50K and second trail race. At the time I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing, didn’t know anyone, had never heard of an S Cap, didn’t have one of these fancy handheld water bottles, and didn’t have one of these high-tech watches that would tell me how fast and far I was going…or any watch at all for that matter. Although I met a couple guys there at that race in 2009 who seemed pretty cool and were way better runners than me. They must’ve felt sorry for me or something, because they invited me to come and run with them once in a while. Since most good things in life start with just showing up, I took them up on it!

Fast forward a couple years to now, I guess I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but I run a lot more now, get to train, travel, and race with a great group, and have a whole lot more fun. So, I couldn’t think of a better way to start the trail season than a trip back to Chippewa!

Race In a Nutshell
Hard to believe, but this was my first trail race in over 7 months! The game plan for this one was to be real steady, start off feeling comfortable, and then try to finish strong and negative split it by a few minutes. As it turned out, I succeeded in running pretty steady, but felt a little too sluggish on the last half to pick it up at all. That course doesn’t seem like it should be that hard, but it just chews you up with all the constant rolling hills and is just technical enough that it’s hard to put it on cruise control and settle in. I was real happy with how it shook out though in the end, and ended up holding on for first place with a time of 3:59:39.

Here’s the Garmin Data of how it all went down mile-by-mile.
Getting ready at the start.
Picture is from the Chippewa Facebook Album.
After valiantly overcoming multiple sabotage attempts by Joe Z in the first 30 seconds or so, I settled in for the first mile with a good group of six or so runners – Joe, Storkamp, and a couple other guys I just met right then. Once we hit some single track, I pulled out in front a bit and settled in to run the first half almost all on my own pretty consistently in 7:30s or so. I was expecting the course to be super muddy since it rained all day/night before the race, but it was surprisingly in pretty good shape! 

I must’ve got a bit lazy near the halfway point or they got faster, because Craig H, John S, and one other caught up right before the turnaround. I did take a wrong turn around there, but only lost less than a minute I’m guessing (good news is that I’m getting much better at admitting it when I’m lost!). In hindsight, I wish I would have just run with those guys the whole first half so I would’ve had people to talk to.

And Back
The four of us hit the turn-around aid station together, and Craig and I left together. We ran together or real close for the first five or so miles of the second half and it was good to get to know him. He is going to be hard to beat by the end of the summer (or end of spring for that matter).

The way back on an out-and-back is always fun to see all the familiar faces on the trail. After that though, I guess the last 10 or so miles were pretty uneventful. I was cruising along pretty steady, trying to get used to eating a lot, and just loving the beautiful course. There must be a dozen lakes that the course goes along and the weather was perfect for running. When I got to the mile 5 sign, I had about 40 minutes left to sneak in under 4 hours. This was easier said than done with some tough climbs and the killer hill at the very end, but ended up coming in with a whopping 21 seconds to spare!

Jeff Allen and Randy Fulton with FrontRunner put on a great event. This race was almost cancelled last year, and then revived by Jeff and company. There were over 200 runners that were pretty thankful they did it on Saturday. It’s a great addition to the local trail race scene, awesome course, fun atmosphere, and they even had soup, sandwiches, cookies and plenty of cold Lienie’s to enjoy as friends came into the finish! I’m definitely hoping I can make it back next year.  All in all a great way to start the trail season.  
Joe, John and I at the finish.  I think Jeff Allen took this picture...thanks Jeff!
Next up is the double-crossing of the Grand Canyon on Friday!  This one's going to be tough, which hopefully means there will be some good stories to tell.

1 comment:

  1. Nice job out there on the course. I captured a nice photo of the one of the delaying tactics at the start of the race.