My race at this year's Speedgoat requires a little back story so there is a little better understanding of why the race unfolded the way it did. I had been in Seattle for the 5 weeks prior to the race and the last 2 1/2 weeks I was working night shifts. Thursday morning before the race I got off work at 8:00 am, promptly went to my apartment and slept as long as my body would let me- about 3 hours. I then loaded the car, ran a couple of last minute errands, and pulled out of Seattle a little after 1:00 pm headed for home. I did the drive in pretty much a single push other than stops for gas and one brief nap (30 minutes) in Eastern Oregon. I pulled into my driveway just after 2:00 am. I was kind of wound up from the drive and it took me a while to fall asleep. I got a couple of hours of sleep and then had a meeting for Idaho Condor, I got home from the meeting, packed, and hopped in the car to drive to SLC for the race the next day. We stayed with our good friends the Mcdermott's, again I found it kind of hard to fall and stay asleep, but that made it easier to get up early to get to the race start on time. I was sleepy but didn't feel tired and figured although I hadn't slept much that my body was ready to race.
Start of the Speedgoat -photo Tanae Nelson
When the race started maybe it was adrenaline only but I felt great, I quickly went to the front of the pack and fell into a good rhythm pushing up the initial climb. A small lead pack consisting of myself, Nick Clark, Kevin Shilling, and Nicolas Mermoud pulled a little ahead and traded positions several times on the way up to Hidden Peak.
As we worked our way to the top I started to fall apart. I knew it was way to early in the race for something like this to happen, but I wasn't feeling a bonk, it was different. I couldn't find my race gear, just a steady consistent pace, too slow for racing hard. I had come into the race fully intent on winning, I quickly came to the realization that it wasn't going to be my day.
At some point I had heard that Karl was going to give $100 to the first person to the top of Hidden Peak that then went on to finish the race, as we neared the final mile or so before the top I saw Nick Clark who had pulled ahead and figured that if I hammered I could beat him to the top, get $100, and then just limp it in for the next 25 miles or so. I put the hammer down and passed Nick just 100 feet below the summit, I hit the aid station completely toast and then headed out to climb Baldy. Nick caught me fairly quickly, and not long after Kevin Shilling passed. There was a significant gap between us and the rest of the field at this point, with no one hot on my heals I was left alone to deal with my tired body and to work through some serious mental issues. It was the first time that I could not find race pace in an ultra. I generally have prepared/rested well before and it was a tough pill to swallow. I finally made the decision to just relax, run the pace I could, and enjoy my day in the mountains. When I finally decided this it was like a huge burden was lifted off of me. "No pressure to race, just run- after all you love to run!" I thought to myself.
Turns out that while I was dealing with my mental issues I had taken a wrong turn at the top of Sinners Pass (that several other runners had taken including Nick and Kevin) and ran the wrong direction into the aid station captained by Roch. I filled the bottles not yet having realized my mistake and headed out, on the short out and back I had seen Nick and Kevin running together on my way in, and saw at least 15 runners on their way to the aid station on my way out. When I reached the point where the trail splits I went to head up the way I hadn't come and there was a volunteer stationed at that point mentioning to go the way that I had come from, I then realized my error. She said I would owe a penalty lap, and to tell the folks at the next aid station. I then headed up the sam climb I had descended. In my newly found headspace I was comfortable with stopping to fill my bottle from a spring and occasionally looking around to really enjoy the beauty of the Wasatch. I got to Larry's Hole aid station still alone and mentioned the penalty lap, they said they would figure it out later and to head out.
I started to fell pretty good on the climb to the tunnel and was happy to be moving along easy and relaxed at a pretty good pace. Encouraged by how I felt I tried to pick up the pace, but still near race gear. "Oh, well enjoy what you have," I told myself. The rest of the race went somewhat uneventfully with some highs and lows, but overall I felt good. After topping out on Hidden Peak the second time I tried to push the final descent, I hadn't been caught yet and had no intention of getting caught in the last couple of miles. I dug in pretty hard and leaned downhill all the way to the finish.
I finished in 6:18:10, in third place. Kevin had won breaking the CR in 5:43 and Nick was close behind at 5:46. It turned out that everyone behind me had been given penalty laps and so they ran extra mileage, after some deliberation on Karl's part times of those who had done the penalty laps were reduced putting Nick Pedatella finishing just a few seconds behind me. I guess it was a much closer race than I had thought!
Although it wasn't the race I had hoped to have I think I learned more from it than I would have if things had gone to plan. Funny how that works. I had a wonderful day in the mountains, a good run, and was very excited to spend time with my family after having been away in Seattle for so long.