Monday, June 9, 2014

Scout Mountain and Squaw

This past weekend Bethany and I raced the Squaw Peak 50mile and the Scout Mountain 100k (formerly Pocatello 50), respectively. While this combination involved impracticality, higher financial burden, and larger CO2 emissions, it did presumably reduce the possibility on my end of getting (unfortunately resorting here to that chauvinistic and distasteful term) 'chicked'.  So, probably worth it on the whole.

As I've pointed out elsewhere, there are limited occasions when it is acceptable on one's own personal running/adventure blog to mention the accomplishments of others, even if those accomplishments far outshine your own: namely when you can bask in the reflected glory and thereby gain status, meaning, and existential authenticity by affiliation.  

As such, Bethany ran through bronchitis to a solid win in the Squaw Peak 50mile in about 9:20.  She didn't have too much to say about it other than it was hot and that she coughed a lot.  Amazingly, she did not even consume any CPT during this effort.

It should also be mentioned in this section that Brent Kious notched a solid run in Pocatello in the 60k despite the rigors and limitations imposed by a medical residency.  He also refused to eat any CPT which in and of itself is mindblowing.

Getting back to myself, I returned to Pocatello this year for another stellar event put on by Luke Nelson and his group of diligent, savvy, and friendly volunteers.  I've now been at this run at least in some capacity- running, volunteering, or supporting- each year since its inception now.  The event now offers 3 different distances: 100k, 60k, and 35k, all on the same terrain through the beautiful Bannock and Pocatello mountain ranges and overlapping in time.  As a result runners from all distances are crossing paths out on the course which lends a nice comraderie to the run.  This fortunately resulted in some running in the latter half with the gracious and talented Emily Sullivan who was crushing the 60k course.

I managed to run 10:28 in the 62.7 mile distance for 2nd overall, in the process getting handily beaten by an 18 year old.   Happily, getting beaten by someone half your age is increasingly acceptable for me with each passing year now. Recent sickness and only a couple of efforts longer than 2 hours had me a bit nervous for this one but I managed to stay fairly consistent and move up in the field through the race.  In my mind, the absence of longstanding achilles pain is more than enough to make up for a lack of fitness and training (knock on wood). Nonetheless, my current state of decrepitude has me wondering why, exactly, this race (in its various forms) is so difficult.  I believe there are (at least) two primary factors at play here:

(1) Despite the relatively forbidding elevation change numbers, the Scout Mountain 100k / former Pocatello 50 is eminently run-able.   There are a couple stretches where you are power hiking some steep ups but otherwise the ascents are perhaps best characterized by the (similarly unfortunate) descriptor 'douche-grade'.  It's hard to use that term without the derogatory connotations and, to be clear, the course itself is beautiful and decidedly non-douchy.  You are just quite often on long graded uphills that continually nag at you to trot rather than hike which has biomechanical, metabolic, and psychological implications for a race of this length- particularly if you spend a majority of your training time hunched hands-on-knees grunting up steep stuff.

(2) It can be hot and at this point in the season the majority of folks are not heat acclimated.  Having had legitimate heat stroke twice in my life this is a tough one for me, and a factor I took seriously this year in my strategies to thermoregulate.    

The increased motor recruitment and aerobic cost of (1)  both necessitates a certain level of metabolic expenditure as well as facilitates escalation of that expenditure while (2) ensures a milieu where that escalation has increasingly significant ramifications in terms of performance.

It's a fine line.  And I'm happy this year to have avoided skewing off of it too significantly.  Thanks to Luke and his merry band of helpers for another great weekend in Pocatello.

Dr. Kious and myself, pre race.  Brent ran the 60k.

Ada, gamely camping with aunt Zoe and uncle Billy while her crazy parents destroyed themselves.

Cool hats this year.

Bike riding day after the race.