When a race becomes more than a race, it’s a special day. Most often it’s a breakthrough in your abilities, maybe a new personal best at a distance or just a simply well executed plan that got you your goal. The Buffalo Run 50 miler on Antelope Island was one of those days for me. But in a much more unique way than I’d ever thought would happen.
The race started off with one goal in mind; get that sub 7-hour time I’ve been eyeing for a couple years. To me, that time on the island is a marker of a strong run and fit body. After two separate attempts, however, I’ve fallen further and further behind my goal. Both times admittedly because I’ve neglected my body and ran for a time rather than anything else. The sub 7-hour race on the island had become the white whale that my pride hunted into its own self-destruction.
|I've always been self-conscious of how my calves are as wide as my quads|
That morning didn’t start off any different than previous years. The moment Jim Skaggs called us to the line, I went into instant race mode with my mind only set on one thing. I knew that tenacity, I’ve argued with it before. But she’s completely unreasonable. She is a respecter of none and destroys anything to get her way, even if it means sinking her own ship.
A countdown sent us off and she took hold. Running by moonlight, as I usually don’t carry a headlamp if I can avoid it, helped keep my pace honest for the first few miles of climbing. I did notice, however, that I had become consumed with my watch and pace. Constantly checking every minute where I was at. It was mile 2 and I was already distracted and consumed with the end result.
|Smooth running through the trails|
Knowing I haven't run more than 50 miles a week only a couple times this year, my fear of chasing an unrealistic goal made me concerned enough to allow reality to sink in. It was in this moment that I had my first clear thought during the frantic opening miles of any race… just shut it off!
That tenacity has a weakness, her heart. Take away the life-blood of timing and pace and there’s nothing she can do. Like a ship without compass, she’s dead in the water… only guessing at where to set course.
|"BODY GLIDE, next aid station!"|
I haven't let myself just RUN in a long time. I turned off my watch notifications to show just mileage. No pace, no time... just miles to keep track of aid stations. And then something magical happened. I started run with a smile. I wasn’t concerned anymore with anything more than just running comfortably hard for the day. I ran my race the whole day and never once hit the broken down lows of pushing to the max but also never felt like I was giving up effort or time taking it too easy.
It was fun again. There were a lot of friends on the out and back sections and I drew a lot of energy from their positivity and well wishes as we passed. I stepped out in the lead from the gun and maintained it all day. The smile off the start line had only disappeared a couple times. A wonderful crew of my father, Caitlin and Roo kept me moving quick all day with fast aid station turns.
|Into the Ranch (mile 33)|
The only downfall of the day was heading into Bridger Bay around mile 44. Having marked that particular section the day before, I’m embarrassed to say that I pulled my head off the terrain to instinctively find a course marker and I found a hole with my left ankle instead. It took about 10 minutes of limping around until it was finally numb and inflammation tightened things back up.
Knowing I had a sizeable lead, I didn’t let it affect me mentally. Just waited it out until I was able to move well again. My speed reappeared as I made my way around the last 4 (and the most fun) miles of the course. I hit the final mile stretch with the win in hand and kept moving forward until I landed the plane in finishing chute.
I was shocked to see the clock at 7:02 when I crossed the finish. It was confidence building to see that my running at a moderately concerted effort all day was enough fitness to reach within 2 minutes of my goal. I’ve gained a new respect for my current training structure and have been pleased with the results. More focus on a running a structured plan instead amassing large amounts of miles. Specificity in my workouts is paying dividends. And now, I know I just need to trust in the system I have and make sure I’m having fun
|Mile 42 and one of the few times I wasn't smiling all day... but no one smiles up the fence line|
I've talked a lot about my goal for a sub 7-hour finish there. And it's ultimately still a goal that I’ll accomplish. But I needed that feeling after the race more than the bragging rights of a sub 7 on the course. I’m happy to be in the W column again and excited where my fitness is this early in the season.
Today was about more than just the race. The race itself was a proving ground and an opportunity to surprise myself with a solid run. It instilled the confidence I need going into the next couple months of goals and races. It was a break-through back into a fitness that I’m blessed to have and mindset to make it a weapon. The season is starting to look a lot more exciting right now… adventures are waiting!
|Couldn't be happier coming into the finish!|
Threads: Gore Apparel Mythos splits and Magnitude tee
Kicks: Altra Footwear Torin 2.0
Socks: Injinji SoCal trail weight
Pack: Ultraspire Spry 2.0Nutrition: Trail Butter (Ozark’s Original) and Vfuel powders (Lemon Lime)