First and foremost, you have just three days left to possibly win a free (for a donation of $5 or more) pair of Montrail Mountain Masochist trail shoes! All you have to do is help support the Conquer The Coasts goal of raising $5,000 for Right To Play. Currently you have about a 1 in 35 chance at claiming this $100 prize!
Diez Vista 50km
I've told this lead in before, but I love it cause it's still so vivid in my memory. In 2004 when I was first getting started I headed into a shoe store in downtown Vancouver. A brief conversation with the employee ensued in which I proclaimed that I was about to start trail running.
"Oh cool" he says, "What about Diez Vista? Will you sign up for that one?"
"Sure, I guess. What's the distance?"
He very nonchalantly responded with "50k"
"Did you say 15k?"
"Fif.." I literally stuttered "Fifty kilometers!? Umm, no, no I'm probably NOT going to run for fifty kilometers...do people actually run that far!?"
I eventually DID sign up for DV50 in 2006. I ran like an idiot, blew up like a puffer fish, and walked like a scarecrow to the finish line. My legs cramped so bad I couldn't actually flex them at all, but I finished, in 5h13m. That year they offered up $500 for new course records. This short little American guy with big curly hair ran an astounding 4h23m to smash the CR and grab the cash. He weighed 100lbs, he ran in bright red shoes, and his name was Phil Kochik. I thought out loud to a few friends,
"How the F#@K can ANYONE cover that course in 4h23m..."
It took me two years to return and in 2008 I managed to cover the course in 4h22m50s, unfortunately Aaron Heidt was a minute further up on me as he set the new CR.
I came back a third time last year, determined to try to finally win the damn thing and to stamp my own name on that course record book. I ended up having to push solo from the top of the first climb (45 minutes in) until the finish line. Aaron being a good friend I trash talked him prior to the race and then pretended he was chasing me all day long. I finally got my CR in a time of 4h15m21s. I was immensely proud of that one as it seemed things had finally come full circle for me.
Heading into this edition it looked to be a much more competitive year, which would be a very good thing. Almost immediately following DV09 I told Heidt I intended to take another five minutes off of my time by 2010. It was time to deliver...
A slight course change to accommodate some road construction was added to ensure accurate distance. After talking with new RD (he was actually the original who started it all) George Forshaw he said it would add a bit of time to the run as it took out some flat forest service road in favor or more technical stuff. Since I thrive on technical I wasn't complaining!
I was fully aware that Salomon runner Phil Villeneuve was going to be pushing the pace from the get go. We looped the parking lot, then the lake, and then started in on the first and biggest climb of the day.
Going into this race I intended to do a few things differently than in the past. Mainly I was going to RUN the entire course. No longer is it acceptable to hike climbs. That was some of the first advice I received a few years back from some of the top runners, "walk the climbs", so I did, and I learned to power hike better than anyone. No longer is this sufficient, the sport is too damn fast, guys are too damn talented. Learn to run the steep shit or be left behind. Even last year two guys lead out over the first climb and I didn't catch them until we started our first big descent.
Secondly, I was going to force myself to consume more calories. This is a whole other blog posting that I simply have to address.
I lead into the first climb, Phil was breathing down my neck, and I was about to see that this was how most of the day would go.
I pushed hard up over the climb and a few times gained a slight gap, but Phil kept jumping back on. I did walk a few steps near the top, but honestly it was so steep at that point that running was pretty much impossible. I had figured that once we crested the climb and I could initiate my descent upon the infamously technical terrain leading away from the Diez Vista ridgeline, that I'd drop Phil and be on my own for a bit. I could not have been more wrong!
Phil shocked me with his technical abilities. I've never had someone match me stride for stride over terrain like that and for a brief moment I felt like we were working together rather than against each other. We danced down the ridgeline exchanging the lead a few times, as the front guy would slightly overshoot a turn here or there. It felt like a breakdancing competition where one guy lead, stepped aside, and asked the other guy to challenge. We went back and forth throughout the entire descent and I loved every second of it!
Eventually we were spit out at the bottom and after a slight out and back on the newly altered section of the course it was apparent we were on our own at the front of the field.
We ran stride for stride.
We were separated by less than a few feet. We spoke little as we were both digging deep and pushing hard. We hit the mid way aid station, I stopped to grab my drop bottles and Phil took the lead. Phil stopped to pee and I took the lead back. We passed a volly at a junction and all she said was,
"Are you guys attached by a rope?"
I know Phil to be a great 25-30k runner. As we approached 30k I was honestly shocked that we were still together. I had put in numerous surges between 20-30k, many of which gained me a lead, all of which were quickly closed by Phil. We hit the switchback climb that leads to an out and back section. I consider this to be the crux of the course and where it can be won and lost. Last year I hiked most of the climb, this year I intended to run it.
It was like Phil and I were breathing as one cohesive unit, though I kept telling myself that I HAD to have more endurance than him. I've been logging bigger miles and it was Phil's first official ultra! I was digging deep and hoping I didn't crack first. We eclipsed the switchback climb and were approaching 35km when all of a sudden there was silence. I shoulder checked. Phil was walking! I wasn't sure if he was just stopping to pee or if he was actually done, so I surged right then and there and by the time I shoulder checked again I realized the race was mine. Phil was gone. I checked my watch. Two hours and fifty minutes. Five minutes up on CR pace.
I spoke to myself, "Just hold this till the line and you should crack 4.10! Just finish like you did last year!"
I hit the turn around knowing there was pretty much exactly 1h05m to go. Still unsure of how Phil was doing, or what was happening further back I made sure to run efficiently and look strong on the way back up. By the time I saw Phil I had five minutes on him. By the time I saw Downie I knew he'd catch Phil. I was surprised how much of a gap there was to fourth but Jacek was still running strong.
"Hi, hello, nice work. Hi, hello, nice work. Hi, hello, nice work."
Out and backs can suck
when your hurting and guys are catching you. They're just fun when you know you're having your day!
Back to the top of 'the crux', knowing there was exactly 45min to the line. Another time check to see that I was still exactly 5min up on last year. I unleashed into the descent and my legs didn't flinch. It felt amazing. Through the last aid station and into the final, lengthy climb. I had forgotten how steep it actually was and although I told myself pre-race that I'd run it or die, I choose to hike most of it as the previous promise to myself may have ended up a little too literal had I actually attempted to do so.
Harvey Nelson was smiling and directing traffic at the top. I knew there was only twenty minutes to go. Twenty very painful and destructive downhill minutes until the finish line.
To myself (internally) "Twenty minutes, sub 4h10, let's go, let's go, let's go you pansy!"
I literally grunted and groaned as the terrain grew steeper and more challenging. I felt like my quads were like the finely tuned strings of a fiddle. They were right on the edge of being over tightened and simply going TWANG, but I continued to push.
Sub 4.10, sub 4.10, sub 4.10
Across the road, onto the flats, around the lake. Checking my watch, pushing hard, checking my watch, yelling at listless packs of hikers blocking the trail PLEASE MOVE! Watch check, so close, stairs...about forty of them...as always...I tried to run, double steps, then single, then leg cramps, "F#@K YOU GEORGE!!" Cresting the stairs, seeing the clock, nearly getting tackled by Roxy, ohh so damn close!!!
4h10m38s NEW COURSE RECORD!
THANK YOU so much to George Forshaw for ensuring the Diez didn't disappear during a time of uncertainty last year. It's great to have you back at the helm!
The volunteers were amazing, as always, and it was great to see so many familiar faces out there!
I'm not about to promise another five minutes in 2011...but 39 seconds...well I'm sure I've got that in me somewhere!
Finally, congrats to my bud/training partner/Montrail teammate Ryne Melcher for also nailing his goal this weekend of lowering the Mt. Si 50 Mile course record. He ran an incredible 5h54m15s to take down a nine year old record from former Montrail stud James Kirby...maybe, just maybe, we'll go a little easier on each other come our Wednesday morning training/hammer-fest climb up mountain highway.