Friday, September 11, 2015

San Juan Solstice 50 miler 2.0

Race week; somewhere during this week they announced that the course would be the usual course and that we should prepare for lots of snow and high creek crossings.  The creeks are on the first climb, you climb 4500 feet and cross the creek 7 times.
6/23/15 - Ran the 6 mile loop and 2 mile cool down.
6/27/15 - San Juan Solstice 50m
We got out to Colorado on Thursday and drove to Lake City, where the race is headquartered.  Lake City sits at abut 8600ft elevation.  We hung out and tried to stay hydrated for the high elevation adventures that we had in store.
Coming out to do this race in 2013 gave me the impression that I should be able to run quite a bit better than the 12:37 I ran that year.  I felt good and my training was going great.
The race starts with a gradual climbs up a dirt road before heading off on the Alpine Gulch trail that climb climb climbs.
Due to the rapid snow melt the race had volunteers at each of the 7 creek crossings.  At the deepest ones they had rope assists.  I think it was the 3rd one where I went down waist deep and by the 4th my feet were frozen and numb.  Things came back to life as we climbed up to 13000 for the first time.  Once to the top the course rolls up and down before a huge 4000+ft drop into William's Creek Campground at mile 16.  I started to think something was off as I descended down to the campground and began getting passed by a number of people.  The legs didn't want to turn over like I thought they should.
At the campground they had the 2nd Water Stop set up.  I met Gina and refilled my water before heading out on a gravel road that would take us to the Wager Gulch Jeep Road and up to the Continental Divide.  Gina hung with me for about 3.5 miles before the course became too steep.  This is the second spot that I felt like something was off.  When things got to their steepest I didn't feel like I had the usual power I have for steep hiking.
At AS #3 you can use a drop bag.  This is where you decide to take your winter gear up to the divide.  From year's past you can experience any sort of weather to roll in, from heavy snow with zero visibility to hail and lightening.  This year looked to be a good one so I took a small packable jacket, a buff and gloves and headed up up up.  I really hit a wall on this 13 mile divide section.  Physically I felt good but just couldn't make my legs run for any length of time without taking a break and hiking.  I still don't know if it was the elevation or something else or a combination of the two.  Somewhere in there I decided the race was over and it was time to just enjoy the scenery and time on the trail.  From then on I didn't pay any attention to my watch and just made consistent forward progress.
The day ended with me running a little over 13 hours and enjoying a great day in the high Colorado Mtns.  Gina didn't get to run this one due to an injury, so we'll have to go back sometime.  That may be my opportunity to put it all together for a decent run and time.  You can't beat running in the San Juan Mtns.  I recommend it to anyone wanting a rocky mtn experience.

I took a bunch of pics and have them uploaded here - 

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