Whatever power and speed that remained after the Black Hills 100 was probably used up a couple weeks later when I ran a hard pace at the Leadville Silver Rush 50 miler. And in between those races, I ran my fastest trail 10k ever and placed in that race.
I'll be the first to admit that I run too much. This is nothing new, but I've been pretty fortunate with my ability to recover quickly and perform well on back to back weekends. But eventually, it will always catch up to me.
Right After My DNF..."I Tried."
I could end my race report right there. There is no glorious story to share and I have no pride in what happened, but this is an amazing race and despite my poor performance, there's still a lot to share.
You may not know much about the SpeedGoat 50k, but everybody remembers the controversy surrounding Kilian Jornet cutting switchbacks to steal a win from Max King and set a new "Course Record" last year. Yes...this is THAT race.
SpeedGoat is probably one of the toughest mountain races in the United States and it draws a stacked field of high level mountain runners. It also boasts a $12,000 prize purse, which has a way of getting peoples attention.
SpeedGoat is a nasty race. It may be "only a 50K" but there's a reason it has an abundance of finishers well after the 10 hour mark.
We drove an hour to the start line, got my bib and mingled with friends and fellow runners. I felt tired and had given serious consideration to arriving as a spectator rather than a participant, but I was also eager to run in the high country.
At the Start!
I was also eager to share the trail with friends from our running group. The Happy Utah Mountain Runners have a lot of talented athletes in the group and it's always an inspiration to see them at work in the mountains.
HUMR Group Photo
Getting Ready to Start!
Like I said in the beginning of this report, I knew right away that things weren't right with my body. We start the race with a serious amount of climbing and my legs were mocking me as I tried to get them engaged in the program. I tried to force a decent turnover rate, but they were totally unresponsive.
I damn near turned around at mile 1, but decided to push on.
After some serious gain, we had a long sustained downhill run. My Garmin was showing a 9:40 pace! Downhill! More proof that things were awry! If it wasn't so annoying, it would almost be funny.
I chugged along, doing my best to run up the mountain, but I was getting passed more and more frequently. I finally found a stable position in the middle of the pack. I don't run in the middle of the pack.
Utah Ski Lifts = Steep Ass Slopes!
At mile 6, we were in the middle of a chin scraping climb and that's when I decided my day was over. It wasn't a rash decision, it was actually very well thought out, carefully weighing the pros and cons.
The Decision Tree looked like this:
- Am I going to place in the top 10? NO
- Can I use this as a slow training run? NO
- Is this a good thing for my tired body? NO
- Is my sponsor pushing me to do well here? NO
- Will I be happy fighting through a slow finish? NO
- Is there ICE COLD PBR in the truck? YES!
Decision made! You can clearly follow the logic and I'm sure anybody would have come to the same conclusion.
The first aid station sits at the top of Hidden Peak at 11,000' and 8.3 miles into the race. I had two miles of beastly uphill before I would get there. But my mind was at ease and my spirits were high, knowing that would mark the end of it for me today. So I pushed on. Slowly. Stopping to enjoy the scenery and take a few pictures.
The View Behind Me
Looking Back Toward the Start
The View Right Before the Top of Hidden Peak
While I was struggling up the mountain, the elite runners were cruising through the Hidden Peak aid station and already headed back down the mountain.
Sage Canaday, First to Reach Hidden Peak
Tony Climbs Like I Do
Max King, Pole Dancing Up
Timothy Olson Making it Up and Over
Further Back, Michael Wardian
Meanwhile, I was slogging my way up the mountain, half runner, half photo taking tourist by this point. I could occasionally hear the aid station taunting me in the distance, only to hear it fade as a gnarly switchback moved me in the wrong direction. Annoying.
Not long after the elite runners came through, our group began to file up the mountain.
Nick Francis Coming Into Hidden Peak
"Badass" Britta Trepp! Seriously...She's Smiling!
Ryan Lauck...Also Smiling. What am I Missing?
I eventually found the aid station. As I made the final ascent, I gave Jo the "I'm done" signal and she instantly looked shocked and concerned. I walked her though my "decision tree" and she instantly recognized that I had made an awesome decision.
My Last Few Steps as a Competitor. I'm NOT Smiling
I wasn't even slightly disappointed in pulling the plug. I felt relatively good, but I didn't feel strong. Continuing on for another 24 miles wasn't going to benefit me in any way. I had nothing at all to gain. Stopping was the only right decision to make.
The top of the mountain was windy and cold. It can get that way at 11,000' and I was ill prepared for it. I hadn't exactly planned to stop here. Jo dug out a blanket and I bundled up while we made plans for our descent.
Meanwhile, I got to greet my buddy Curtis when he came to the top of the mountain.
Curtis Puts the HAPPY in Happy Utah Mountain Runners!
After some discussion with Karl Meltzer, Jo & I decided to run back down the mountain on a service road that met up with the course. Off we went!
Picking My Way Back Down
As with most races, I managed to get lost on the way down. My day wouldn't be complete otherwise. When we finally got off the mountain, we were about a mile away from the start line. I should have assumed that would happen.
After getting back to the start line, I grabbed my much anticipated PBR, a couple of folding chairs and set up camp by the timing tent so we could watch the race unfold. I sat next to Bryon Powell from irunfar.com so I could get live updates from the course.
Bryon doing, what Bryon does!
Not long into my second PBR, the race winner came into the finish. Sage Canaday finished in 5:08, shaving 6 minutes off the phony course record set by Kilian Jornet and a full 10 minutes off the legitimate course record! A killer run by a great young mountain runner.
Sage Getting Greeted by Karl Meltzer
There are varying accounts along the course, but it was reported that Sage had a 20 minute lead on Tony Krupicka at one point in the race. Tony ran hard and closed the gap down to 88 seconds, finishing within sight of Sage.
Tony Crossing the Line
Me, Tony and Sage
Max King Comes in 4th and Was Disappointed
Timothy Olson Was a Bit Bummed in 6th but Ran a Great Race
Shortly after the elite runners finished, and before the finish line got busy, we were greeted by a moose that was intent on finding a safe way through the finish chute. She was a little put off my the noise and the crowd, but she eventually picked her way around us, to whatever destination was so important.
She Goes Where She Wants
I was well into my third PBR and enjoying my time chatting with the early finishers when our group began to trickle in.
Nick Francis With an Amazing Finish!
Ryan Killed it!
Well into my 5th PBR by Now.
Britta Finishes With a Smile!
I've had a lot of time to reflect on the events that unfolded for me at SpeedGoat. Here are a few things that I learned...
1. PBR is way underrated
2. Not every race is important, or even necessary
3. I always need to keep my eye on my priorities
4. I will run SpeedGoat next year as a well planned "A Race"
5. PBR actually stands for "Post Beatdown Recovery"
6. Tony paints his toenails pink
7. The Utah high country is beautiful and worth the pain to explore
8. I wouldn't change a thing about my day or the things that led up to it
In the end, I had an amazing day with a lot of very cool people. This was the first race I had ever DNF'd while I still felt good enough to actually finish it. It was an odd feeling to walk off when I could have gutted it out, but it was the right decision.
I hadn't posted a DNF in well over a year, and I had run 42 races since that time. It was bound to happen and I can't think of a better race for it to happen at.
I have a few little things on the calendar before Leadville, but I plan to tackle them in a very pedestrian manner with no plans for big finishes. Leadville is the goal and everything else is just fun on the trails with very good friends.
Thanks for reading and thanks again to all of those that support me!