Thursday, April 9, 2009
Rockin K Race Report
Well Kids, after spending a whole week in taper mode just lounging around on the deck trying the best that I could to contain my pent up energy, with only a few digressions I might add. Notice how I "dog eared" the paw rest? It was finally time for "pacer" and I to get our race on at Rockin K.
We headed down to Kansas Friday afternoon and went to the packet pickup. "Pacer" and I picked up our race numbers and even stayed for the pasta dinner. It was getting kinda late so we bugged out of there right after eating. Which come to find out the next day, if we had stuck around, I woulda won a box of gels. Yep, my number got picked in the post dinner drawing, but since we had already left it got passed on to someone else, which is fine. I thought it was funny that three of the five dogs in the race had their numbers drawn. Why? Cause were awesome!
Saturday I was up early, even before "pacers" alarm went off I was muzzling him to try and get his butt out of bed.
Once I woke him up, we headed out to the race. It was almost a perfect day to run, low forties at the start but very windy. Because of the wind and it's chilling affects, "pacer" wasn't sure what to wear. He can be such a wuss sometimes. Ohhh.. "What should I wear?". Come on ya big baby, I always wear the same thing for every run so I never have this problem.
Once "pacer" got his pretty little outfit picked out we headed for the start line and the pre race briefing. I had a hard time listening to everything that Phil (one of the RD's) was saying. I was chomping at the bit and ready to... say it with me... GET IT ON!
"Pacers" plan at the start was for us to stay off to the side and towards the back of the pack, so that there would be less of a chance for us to get tangled up with any of the other runners. Then once the pack thinned out we could move up. He wanted to make sure "we" didn't cause any problems. As if I would cause any!!
Great idea "pacer"! Except, HELLO, last time I checked this was a race!
So, I said "to hell with it" and took off dragging "pacer" behind me. We stayed to the outside and quickly got up towards the front of the field. We managed to get up into the fourth position in the first quarter mile, which was a good thing cause we hadn't reached the single track yet, but all of a sudden- I had to go, had to lighten my load so to speak. So we pulled over to the side and I did my biz. I tried to make it quick, but while doing so we got passed back up by six or eight guys. No problem, back on the run we quickly dispatched four of those guys in the last stretch of open road. Hitting the single track we were in seventh position. Three guys were a ways out in front and three more right in front of us. We tried to be patient and wait for a spot to make a pass but that wasn't going to happen, so we just made our own trail and went around them, putting ourselves in fourth.
With open trail ahead of us we dropped the guys behind us and tried to bridge the gap to the first group of runners in hopes that we could feed off the "pack" environment and work as a group. We were making steady gains at this till "pacer" pulled back on the reigns a bit, saying something about being "too hot" and he was "over dressed and over heating". So we stopped for a moment so he could get his vest off at least and that seemed to help a little, the rest he would have to keep on till we got to the gate 6 aid station at the half way point.
While we didn't lose any positions with our short stop, it certainly didn't help us gain any ground on the guys up ahead either. So we settled into an even pace and enjoyed the scenery and the trail.
Since we didn't carry a camera I borrowed some pics from the Rockin K site from a previous race just to show you some of the terrain.
As the sun continued to rise, so did the level of heat stress "pacer" was dealing with and he was really wanting to get to the gate 6 aid station at mile 13 so he could shed some layers.
Cresting the hill into the gate 6 aid station we found "pacers pups" unknowingly "collecting" ticks and just having a good old time out in the middle of Kansas hill country in there pajamas. When they saw us coming, they (along with mama "pacer") sprang into action giving me water and snacks.
Don't they look cute. Thanks for the help "pups". :)
After shedding his cold weather gear for something more appropriate, "pacer" and I headed out onto the "Big Bluff Loop" section of the course feeling much better, much lighter, and much cooler.
That is until we went up the big bluff...
And then down the big bluff...
Once on the other side of this thing we had to jump across a crevasse and then up another steep grade. Half way up this climb "pacer" lost his balance and fell forward, right into some low tree branches catching the end of one of the branches in his mouth, and it lodged between his upper lip and his teeth. Dude went reeling backwards to dislodge it, but it was stuck under his lip.
Hahaha, it was hilarious!
He looked like a largemouth bass that had just been caught by a buzz bait. He was shaking his head all around.
Hahahaha! You shoulda seen it. What a dork!
This is "pacer" and I entering the gate 6 aid station (the only manned aid station on the entire marathon course, which you hit twice) for the second time at about 18.5 miles.
"Pups" again were a big help and both pacer and I had a sandwich before hitting the final leg of the race.
Exiting gate 6 "pacer" wasn't felling so spunky and we got passed right away. I think the quick pace at the start combined with the self imposed heat stress had finally come to bare. Yes, we kept on running but it was slower than before and by mile 20 or so pacer started walking. At first short stretches, mostly uphills, then our walking breaks got longer and longer. One such walk break was so long... a vulture started circling above as... just waiting for "pacer" to keel over. No lie. It was so bad I think I even heard "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica playing on "pacers" Ipod. It was grim for sure.
We were now on the south facing slopes going directly into at least a 30 mph wind, and I'm sure I saw "pacer" list to the side of the trail a couple of times. Somewhere in here we got passed up again, nice guy, he asked if we were ok and we said "yes". I was kind of surprised that with all the walking we were doing that we weren't getting passed more often, but we didn't, and never did again.
There are a ton of water crossings in this race, probably close to two dozen. Some are small, barely enough to get your feet wet, others you wade through. The last water crossing on the course (at about mile 24.5) is the longest and deepest. It's I'm guessing 60-70 feet long and is over "pacer's" waist deep. I had to swim the whole thing.
This last water crossing was the absolute BEST! The water was sooo cool and refreshing on our hot and tired muscles, "pacer" and I just wanted to stop right there and stay in the water. Course being that we were still in the race we kept on, but that water had rejuvenated "pacer" and I and when we hit the beach on the other side... It was ON bitches!
With no one in sight ahead or behind us we just kicked it into gear and got back to... Gasp... Running. This portion of the course was probably my favorite, we scrambled by all these large black/charcoal colored rocks while following a bright golden sand trail. The contrast in colors was very cool, and the sand was such a deep golden color it was almost bright. If I'd had sun glasses I would have put them on. Absolutely stunning!
Speaking of stunning, this whole course is COOL! It has such a variety of terrain. From the hill country prairie, to the canyons and the hard wood valleys. The creek crossings and the sand trails, the beaver dam that "pacer" had to run across and I swam around... Very cool.
When we got to the top of this hill and ran the ridge line to the drop off, we saw the guy who had passed us a while back. He was already down the hill and working up the next, but we saw him, and it was ON! As we scrambled down the hill after the guy, "pacer" caught a rock with his left foot and I swear- his foot folded over to like a 90 degree angle. His ankle practically touched the ground! I thought he was going down for sure, but somehow he was able to regain control (probably in part due to the fact that he felt fresh again) and down the hill we went. We caught the guy ahead of us at the top of the next hill and made the pass, and it stuck with a little over half a mile to go to the finish. I felt a little bad for the dude cause it looked like he was in the same state "pacer" had been in just before.
"Pacers" "pack" was at the finish line waiting for us, where they snapped this pic of us with about 30 yards to go.
Much to my chagrin, the race was over. I mean geez, I wasn't even tired. If this had been a 50k, being on the rebound like we were... we might have even moved up a slot or two.
But that's okay. We did it! We did it well! And we did it together!
Eleventh Annual Rockin K Trail Run
April 4, 2009 Kanopolis State Park, Kansas
Trail Marathon - 26.30 Miles
Place Number Name G Age City/St Finish
1 29 Jeremy Morris M 29 Kearney NE 3.47.56!
2 1 Tony Clark M 31 Wichita KS 3.54.45
3 119 Kyle Amos M 33 Olathe KS 3.54.45
4 3 Christopher Farney M 25 Kansas City MO 4.06.55
5 213 Rob Smith M 40 Omaha NE 4.15.05
6 3K9 Oly Smith M 2 Omaha NE 4.15.05
7 155 Jess McNeely M 39 Wichita KS 4.16.10
8 43 Zach Bailor M 20 Wichita KS 4.21.14
9 197 Elena Yates F 24 St Louis MO 4.27.17!
10 4K9 George Yates M 2 St Louis MO 4.27.17
***Top Ten only***
I'd like to give a BIG BARK out to both Phil and Stacy for putting on this awesome race. And for letting dogs run as well. We wish more races were as open to the better species.
We had a blast literally and figuratively at the Rockin K, and we will plan on being back again next year.
I just hope "pacer" doesn't make the same mistakes as this year, otherwise I may have to bite him on the butt.