The theme for this race over the years is “4th place” apparently. I ran El Vaquero Loco for the 3rd year in a row, and I think this year I enjoyed it the most. My first year I was scared to death that I wasn’t going to finish, but instead ran it the fastest yet. The second year, I was 3 months pregnant. This year, I felt great the whole time and even managed to take a few pictures along the way.
Lets start with the race stats:
Distance: 25K (about 15.5 miles) on mostly single track Time: 3:31:29 Place: 4th female (out of 46), 12th overall (out of 86) Start time – 8:30 am Conditions – trails, long uphill climbs to elevations of nearly 10,000 ft and very steep downhill parts, lots of single track. Point-to-point race. The weather wasn’t ideal this year – rain, thunderstorms, and MUD. Timing – Chip timing Race Swag – hoodie (rather than a tshirt), and I won a prize this year (a black diamond backpack)!!
My husband was a lifesaver from the get go, as he was the one to get up with our 5 month old baby girl all through the night. She was sick this weekend and definitely wasn’t sleeping good. I woke up quite a bit because of her, but he was the trooper to deal with her the whole night.
So, after getting a fairly good nights rest, I was up and going at 6:00. I had to feed the baby, then got dressed and ate. Pre-race meal was a banana and a piece of toast with peanut butter, and a little bit of water.
I caught the bus at 7:30 to the start. I actually thought the race started at 8, instead of 8:30, so I was ready to get going. But, instead I was able to chat it up with a few of my friends, other runners, and the race director (my brother-in-law!).
Finally the gun went off and we started the long and exhausting trek across the mountains. The whole time I was trying to figure out what place I was in for the females, and had decided I was sitting comfortably in 3rd. Turns out, I was in 2nd for the first half of the race, then was passed by one girl (never to be seen again!), and I had to let another pass me on the first major down hill.
This race rocks! This time was my favorite (despite the weather and the mud) because I finally looked up while I was running. I don’t know why I didn’t in the other races, but I looked up a lot more and enjoyed how beautiful it is out there. After the first climb to 10,000 ft, it basically goes straight down to the lake (imagine running down a slide at the park, with LOTS of rocks). I didn’t run this part. I’m a PANSY, plus I was still favoring my recently sprained ankle, so it was more of a hike down, trying not to fall. Needless to say, I was passed by quite a few at this point. The second down hill was just as bad, and just as many passed me :(
Along the way I ate about 3.5 Clif Shot Bloks and drank 24+ oz of Nuun. I also had a new strategy this year. The hardest part is of course the last 3rd of the race. There is a major climb of switch backs to 10,000 ft again, then 3 miles of down hill (not nearly as steep as the other down hill sections). I saved my music until I got to the switchbacks and blasted it the rest of the way to the finish. I counted out 10 songs and told myself I had to keep running hard until those 10 were up (I only ended up needing 9!). The other two years I was so wasted by the time I was 1 mile into that down hill section that I’ve had to walk…DOWN HILL! Ridiculous. But this year I was able to stay strong and crush that down hill!!
My last song, that I had BLARING, was “Bleed it out” by Linkin Park. Couldn’t hear a soul while I was “sprinting” to the finish line (I was probably just shuffling along, but it sure as heck felt like I was sprinting!)
And that was that. My recovery was a 15 minute ice bath in the lake at the finish, while drinking Ultragen (from First Endurance). My one PR this time was my overall placement – 12th (first year was 17th, second year was 23rd). I will definitely take it!
Next year I’m hoping for no sprained ankles in training, better weather on race day, and to push myself even harder!!