Tuesday, July 8, 2014

High Ball Stepper

Well holy hell and goodness gracious! 
The marathon didn't leave me sore, just very tired. The culmination of 2000+ meters, 11+ hour car ride and a long weekend overall left me ready to rest and relax. 
I took Monday off to just lay around outside. I hit the river and swam a bit and was feeling guilty about not running as my mind really really wanted too. But the body just needed a rest. I had debated racing Loon at the end of the week (when I first signed up for the Sky series I miscalculated and thought I had two weeks before Loon) but over the next few days of running asked myself this simple question: why, what's the point?
I understand the point, but as I slowly adjust to longer races and the recovery that comes with them, what would be the point to go up to a highly stacked field and be sharp and possibly risk injury or even more fatigue? 
I talked with Greg while Voltroning a few runs and he pointed out that I sounded like I had talked myself out of racing and was feeling tired. Instead I would run a local 10k on Saturday, just go for a run, win a decent prize of dinners at the local inn and relax the weekend to its fullest. This could sound soft, but my body is tired and I don't have the gears I'd want to mix it up at a race with talent like Loon will have. 
Saturday came and went and I ran 36:30something for the local 10k, won by 6-8 minutes and relaxed the rest of the day. My brother came out later to help me fix a few things in my truck, eat some pizza and hot wings. It wasn't until my brother, Marcus, got here that the weeks worth of relaxation about NOT racing Loon was thrown away. 
It was all very simple: he wanted to see me race and said that he wanted to see what I could do KNOWING if just run a mtn marathon. He explained (hook, line and sinker) of how bad ass it would be to go out there and beat a bunch of people, compete and fight for a USA Mtn Team spot. He told me to not be a cussy and get out there and race. Little did he know, he had me at the first part of just wanting to see me race. Ha. All the other stuff did sound like fun and bad ass. 
So, Sunday, Marcus and I headed to Loon for me to put whatever I have left in the tank (heart) and get out there and mix it up. I knew it could be ugly, tough and very challenging based on the fatigue my legs have in them. 
The race was a 7 mile mtn race with a solid chunk of trail racing mixed in the first half before it climbs two very tough climbs. On an ideal day, when I'm fully prep'd (i.e. Sleepy Hollow) I truly feel I could fight for a top 6 spot and qualify for TeamUSA. With my present fitness and feeling I knew it was going to be very very hard and hurt like a cuss.
It is great to see friends you only see at these races and chat it up a bit. Marcus got a kick out if DoubleJ and Jim P's quote to me when asked how I felt. Jim said this, "big stage dude, Ferenc always steps up!" I super appreciated this vote of confidence, and believed him. The stage was going to be big, time to back it all up. 
The warm up for the race went, cussing awful! I felt like absolute dog cuss!!! Had to cut the warm up short to save the fumes. Five minutes from the start I did a few strides trying to wake my money makers up. 
The race started how I felt it would on flat and gradual uphills: blistering, or so it felt. However, I did charge out to the front to get in the mix of the top 20, but was very soon spit out to the top 35 in the first half mile. The first guys were rocking. I have no doubt that they were well below 5 min pace. This is where I felt the worse, I wanted to change gears and go and get fast but was dull and flat. The early pace was too tough for some and I slowly coughs a few before the XC trails. 
Once again, this should have been a speed playground. I did catch back up to a solid group of runners and passed a few bit not with the conviction I wanted. After the XC trail the true mtn race started. Once we started climbing I found that I had a climbing gear that would be on the verge of red-lining and I shifted in here. I was able to continue catching dudes and on the runnable sections hold them off behind me. 
By the first real climb I seemed to have moved up a lot as I worked my way past people. I must have been farther back than I'd know bc I picked off 6-8 guys on the first substantial climb. There then came a runnable section and I sprinted with all I had knowing any separation from the passed people and any catching of people will be valuable. I could see some fellows I knew and I used them as targets. I slowly would catch one then focus on the next guy. 
By the gondola and 6 miles into the race I moved into 20th place. I didn't know this at the time only after did Marcus tell me. I then gingerly flailed/plodded down the last decent before the Upper Walking Boss. I am very confident in my power hiking abilities, maybe it's my heart cares too much, maybe I'm too competitive but I knew it was time to drain the last ounces of all I had. I also knew that running wasn't going to be the best option for me up the last climb. So I started churning the power hiking with everything I had. I had a decent amount of people ahead of me as motivation and targets. I was locked in and grinding, caught one, then another. I looked back and could see that my hike style was outdistancing them and kept at it. When I tried to run I had a 6 inch stride, but when I powered up the hill with hands on the knees I was eating ground with a cadence faster then those running around me and twice as fast. By half way, I caught the group and out myself into 15th place. The next group was just far enough away to fuel me with motivation and hunger to catch but also too far away. I needed more race... 
I feel content with me race. I have everything I had and believe it was my best race on that day. 
15th place, 56+min. Tough day, but happy with the end result. It was tough and I'm very happy that my brother came with me and encouraged me to not be a cussy and get out there and mix it up! 
I did get some nice props from a runner that made TeamUSA on his blog writeup. Very flattering: ha. Top International Runner, I can dig it! 

Yes, I ran a Vertical K (and had to run back down) and a Mtn Marathon a week earlier BUT, so did Kasie Enman! Kasie hammered a top finish at Mont Blanc and then raced to a top finish at Loon. I truly believe that I was forged and cut from the Quarry of the Gods, but I'm convinced that Kasie is the one wielding the hammer, lightning and chisel!!! She is out of this world amazing!!! 

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