20 September 2014

Crystal Mountain Sky Marathon

Wow. The Crystal Mountain Sky Marathon is no joke. Here I am feigning a smile after finishing, walking off my cramps, drinking three bottles of water and letting a nurse tend to my various injuries for about 30 minutes. That stain on the right side of my shorts? It's blood.

In addition to being awesomely tough, it was also just plain awesome! Here are some highlights.
  • We went straight up to the top of the ski area. Twice. Once from aaaaaaaaall the way down by Hwy 410.
  • At the top of the first climb you run along a cattrack and then turn right. Straight down a (double black diamond) ski run. It was pure mountain running as we were bounding through meadows and scree fields. There was zero trail.
  • I was hiking about 300 m from the start. For real.
  • I fell twice. Once (at mile 11) was me being stupid and going too fast through a scree field where the trail had narrowed to the width of my shoe and once (at mile 23) was because I stubbed my toe and in my attempt to recover my legs cramped and I had no choice.
  • The weather was freaking perfect!
  • That Scott McCoubrey sure knows how to challenge you.
This was just my third race of the year after (mostly) recovering from some injuries so I was not sure about my fitness and I had no idea what to expect from the course. You hear things like so much elevation gain and 'running through meadows' and a friend tells you there is a 2.5 mile hike but you really don't have any idea until you go there.

We started on a dirt road that went straight up under the gondola. When we hit a bowl we veered off the road onto a trail and finally when the trail flattened out we veered off of it and went straight up through a meadow. We pretty much took the straightest, steepest line to the top. This is where the 1st aid station was.

After a crazy descent through said 'meadow' we ran an incredibly fun (soft, fast, berms) trail down to the 2nd aid station which was just below the ski area parking lot. From here we ran a bit of trail but mostly dirt road all the way down to Hwy 410 and the 3rd aid station.

And then we went up.

Holy cow.

This was like hiking the old Mailbox Peak trail, steep and relentless.

On the first climb out of the gate I had to take it easy, I had no choice! :) All the fast guys flew up the mountain and I could only watch as I settled into my pace. On the descent, in spite of holding back, I started to catch and pass some people and I passed a couple more with a very efficient stop at aid #2. On this climb I found my rhythm and passed about four more people. I was hiking well today.

After cresting the climb you run back up some of the awesome trail we descended. Going up was a tad less awesome than coming down and I was going slower than I wanted to already but in spite of walking some stretches of really shallow climbs I was able to keep the walking to a minimum and at least jog most of the way up.

Just when I felt like I had done okay I met Eric Sach who said something like, "Way to go! Now it's back up through the meadow!"


I had forgotten about the meadow climb.

This was hard. I was still hiking okay but it was definitely a kick in the crotch and by the time I got up to Glenn Tachiyama for yet another bedraggled photo or me I was feeling, well, pretty bedraggled.

At the top you jog across to the 4th aid station (same as #1) and then if you have any zip left you can haul ass down the mountain. Oh yeah, there is one more 800' climb in the 'descent' but otherwise it's wicked fast.

After that last 800' climb I was really feeling the effort and could sense some cramps coming on. Like an idiot I had only filled one bottle at the last aid station thinking, "It's just five miles, and mostly downhill!" Guess I was already a little behind on fluids and I could have easily drained two bottles in that last section.

About three miles from the finish I had just rounded a switchback and stubbed my toe on a root. During the attempt at a dynamic recovery my hamstrings (both of them!) cramped up and since I couldn't control my legs down I went. Again. Rats.

I had to sit in the trail with straight legs for a minute and slowly rub them until I could finally stand up. Then I had to hobble for a bit with stiff legs before I could jog and finally I got my run back on.
Thankfully I felt good enough to enjoy the last, exposed descent back to the lodge and thankfully there was no one breathing down my neck so I was able to cross the line with a smile.

It seems that word of my fall/injury had preceded me around the course because I was soon surrounded by folks offering to help and some who wanted to see the cut on my leg. I told this one guy he really didn't want to see it but he insisted so I showed him. He yelled, "FUCK!" and promptly averted his eyes. To tell you the truth, I was not enjoying looking at it either and now the reality of dealing with this cut was starting to sink in. :(

I connected with a nurse who had some numbing gel(!) so we packed it full of gel and then she irrigated the cut as best she could with about four or five water bottles. We sort of closed it up with Steri-Strips, covered it with gauze and I even managed to rinse my legs a bit and apply some bandages to all my other scrapes and cuts.

Then food.

All told, I was feeling okay! Did I mention the weather was fantastic? Well by the time I got home, re-scrubbed all my scrapes and cuts and the euphoria of the day wore off it was a different story.

Here are all the pictures and video.

Sleep 6
Waking HR
Body Weight
Body Fat
Workout Food 2 bottles each w/2 scoops Perpetuem, 2 bottles electrolyte drink from race, half a can of Coke, 5 gels, 3 quarters of a PB & J, 2 slices of watermelon
Injuries bruised right knee, charley horse on right thigh, cut on right thigh
Time of Day 8:00 AM
Workout Type race
Weather around 50 at start, low 70s at finish, calm, blue sky, dry
Results 1st - Men 50+
4th - Masters (40+)
12th - Overall
official results
Time 5:11:38
Distance 26.2 miles
Equipment Brooks PureGrit 3, Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0, Garmin Fenix 2
Clothing Injinji Run Original Weight Mini-Crew, Brooks Infinity 3" Split Short, Brooks short sleeve EZ T III, Headsweats Visor

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