YABRR: Running the Rose 2020 Edition
AKA: There is a monster living in the back of my pain cave, he is my friend.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! RtR is always a race that I forget who to thank, since there are so many people I know out there helping me run. The DDR traveling road show (IE: gang of idiots) are always out there in force, either running, volunteering or just being there. Robert Goyen and TROT put on a fantastic race, and they do it at one of my favorite places to run. I really want to thank Matt Zmolek for many quality (IE: Painful) miles during the race, as well as Chelsea, Lisa, Monté, Michelle, Ben and Christopher. Also, thanks to all who shouted encouragement to me who I haven't named. I can never thank Shellene enough, even if I tried to 24/7.
As always, what follows is fluff.
The day actually started out sadly for me. My "normal" start to Running the Rose the past two years has been getting a ride to the start/finish with Robin, and then our normal day at the office has the two of us winning Masters.
I knew going in that I was in pretty good shape, having managed multiple good races since mid-December, but a little concerned about only two weeks between Bandera and Running The Rose (normally it's three). When Rob said "go", I waited until everyone else started before I did (not being polite, just wanted to start last), which earned my a low-five from Rob to get me motorvated. Up the live toads, and the fun began. I started working my way through the pack, and found myself catching Matt, Michael Lee and John Gomez-Simmons (I'll admit that I'm looking names up here), and figured that this would be a good place to be. Last year I tried to run with Matt, but wasn't really up to it. Spent the rest of lap 1, and almost all of lap 2 with them (we'd move at different paces, but stayed close). During lap 1 I managed to hit the dirt on the EZ Loop (go figure), and then when chasing them I passed Chelsea and Lisa. I was so focused that I didn't even recognize who I was passing, and got called out for it. Had to go back for a few quick hugs, then start chasing again. Bombing the B loop behind Matt and Michael was a thrill ride, I thought I was good at dropping down that hill, but I had to work to keep up with those two. Their strategy was the simple, tried and true method of running the flats, bombing the descents and power hiking the climbs. Since I have been spending a lot of time working on climbing, I would actually drop them on the climbs, and then wait for them at the top - I didn't want to be in front of Matt on a downhill, something about being roadkill.
Shortly after I started my second loop, I got reminded of how much difference there is between a 50+ year old mid-packer, and a 31 year old pro racer. I started my second loop 6 minutes before the 22 miler started, and had probably covered 1 mile before Matt Daniels flew by. He had covered that distance in 7 minutes to my 13.
I finished my second lap with a total time of 3:51, faster than I had ever put two loops out there, and I was feeling strong. When I came in, I told Jessie/Rolando that Nahir was probably 20 minutes behind me, he was moving steady at that point. I left ahead of Matt and Michael (John had decided that it was better to back off earlier) and started a solo loop. I figured that they would catch me.
As I was heading around the final turn to the finish area on loop 3, I managed to find this wonderful rock. Unlike the EZ Loop fall, where I was able to tuck and roll, I went straight down - hard on my left knee. The impact was scary, and I just sat there taking stock of my body. Shellene watched me fall and ran out to walk me in. Spent a few minutes sitting on a rock before I could continue. The thought process was simple: "Give Up, Give In or Go On" (Quit, Walk or Run). Decided to go on, at least until I had no choice.
I reevaluated at every aid station, but always decide that "go on" was the right choice. When I hit the exit of the EZ Loop, I saw Matt (but no Michael) entering it. Somehow I was .75 miles ahead of him, but I knew that would not last.
Shortly after I started Loop 4 I spotted a purple HPRS buff, and called out "Jamie". I knew Jamie Reichler was going to be here, and had run with him at Rocky (to my regrets) as well as seen him at Sheep Mountain (no regrets there). We talked briefly, and I told him that I thought he was in 3rd overall (I was off by one, he was - at that time 4th overall, 3rd male). He commented that he was planning to push the pace hard on his last lap, and I told him that if he that the winner would probably already be done. That was all the impetus he needed to go, and he was gone. If I hadn't been tired from Bandera, and didn't have knee pain from the fall, I don't think I would have had an answer anyway. He was moving.
My fifth loop is normally the hardest for me, and this year was no different, but I had lots of support out there. I knew that Chelsea, Lisa, Monte, Michele, Ben and Christopher were all somewhere in front of me, and figured I could see if I could catch any of them (yup, competitive runner playing mind games with himself). On the B Loop road climb Trevor finally lapped me, to give you an idea how fast he was going, Kristi has spotted me climbing behind her, and then told me that I was doing great when I passed her. The problem was, between when she took my photo and then, Trevor showed up and passed me. I didn't catch Ben and Christopher on my fifth loop though, but I did see them when I finished it. Before I exited the EZ Loop I spotted Matt, he was now .5 miles behind me, and still moving strong.
I changed out some gear (thanks Shellene) before I started loop 6, and then the chase was on. I caught Ben and Christopher shortly before the climb to the switchbacks and spent a little time talking with them. Shortly after I left them I sprinted (as much as possible) that climb, and was halfway down the switchbacks when I saw Matt running up it. When he caught me he made the comment that he had spotted me, and once he saw me sprinting that climb he thought "Yup, that's Bryan". We ran together from there until about 1 mile from the start of EZ Loop. Pushing each other to keep the pace reasonable, but he told me to go on, so I told him I'd see him at the finish - if not before then.
I "borrowed" this from Richard (See Chad, I don't always remember things for my race reports, sometimes I steal things), but it was true of me at Blackjack my last time through as well: "I more than likely looked at you like I have never seen you before, I was drifting in and out of being coherent."
My main objective at that point was to not hit the deck again (I didn't), I crossed the line in 13:25:58. Fourth overall, first Master (due to the fact that the 50 year old in front of me was on the podium) and 33 minutes faster than my best for the course. I still missed Robin though.
Today my left knee is the size of a softball, but I've got plenty of time to let it recover.
BTW, the monster in my pain cave's name is Fifi, and Fifi will be my friend for life.