The San Juan Solstice 50 mile run was last weekend. It’s always been a favorite race of ours, and this year was made even better when both Christy and I managed to finish in our best times to date.
The course itself was in great shape. The streamflow in Alpine Gulch was low so we were able to keep our feet dry, which was ideal since I had my ankle taped. And the nearby wild fires that are tearing through the forests to the south and east were driven by west winds, so we didn’t get any smoke. There was talk by the race organizers of potentially re-routing the course (with a whisper of outright cancellation) were the winds and fire to change direction. We were all selfishly happy the race went on as planned, but it was a pretty frightening sight and is a real serious concern for the people and the towns in the area.
As for our race, I took about 13 minutes off last year’s PR which was great, because I showed up with about half of the training miles under my belt. That was due in part to a recent twisted ankle, so I started the race figuring that a fast time wasn’t likely.
On that note, I have to thank Tim Reed for helping me get back on my feet, going so far as to see me every morning after the injury for ultrasound. From the look of my ankle three weeks ago I thought I was going to be sidelined for the first half of summer. Based on what I felt on Saturday, it feels as though it’s completely healed up.
Christy made the biggest improvement though, shaving 1:20 off her previous best time here, for a 12:15 finish. She insists that it’s not a big deal, that she’s never had a good finish here so it was therefore an easy time to improve. But 80 minutes (1:36 per mile faster for 50 miles) is a lot, and she should be happy.
She’s right though. In the five or six years we’ve run here, we’ve always been challenged to get good results. Some years we were feeling good, but the course was snowy and wet, and therefore slow, if not re-routed. Other years (most of them, actually) we had a long spring ski season, which usually left us with only a few dedicated weeks to get ready. And sometimes we have to deal with the 1-2 punch of both of those hurdles.
Yet this year, even though we were skiing peaks into June, things still went well for us, a fact that I’ll credit to experience. We’ve seen the course a lot now, so not only do we know what to expect, but we’ve also given ourselves ample time (in the form of multiple attempts) to tweak and refine, to get things just right. And even though we seem be on a rushed schedule, experience has also taught us how to make more efficient use of the abbreviated training window we have.
Christy was pretty quick to point out afterwards that rarely can she show up to something new and ace it on the first try. She sometimes needs a couple of attempts at something before learning how to do it right. I’m kind of the same way I guess.
Hopefully experience will count for something in two weeks when I give the Hardrock100 my 6th go.