YABRR: Tinajas 50k 2018 Edition
Updated: Dec 14, 2018
After DNFing Rocky Raccoon I didn't "have" to go back to Tinajas this year and run the 100k (I would have, to get another chunk of granite though), but since I loved the course so much I had to go back again this year, with my camera. This is not my normal camera, but a shockproof/waterproof point and shoot. While it works good if I am stationary, and the subject is running, it didn't do well at all when we both were running.
Again, with Mowdy/A-OK weekend, I knew there wasn't going to be a major DDR presence, and with Shellene having to work, I was completely without adult supervision. I ended up hanging out Friday night with Blaine Adams of the Rockhoppers (he was streaming live Dead shows, couldn't ask for better than that while sitting and watching the river flow by).
Here is the link to my photo album, and as usual, all the important stuff is above the line.
Saturday morning met up with Ben, Christopher, Lee Ann and the rest of the DARC crew, so I was the dork with darc in the prerace photo and then off we went. This year the course was modified to remove a section (more on that later) so we ran out 1/4 mile, then returned to the start before heading out to the creek. This let everyone see all the other racers, which was nice. We hit the stream and I got to put my plan into play. Instead of slowing down and trying to find "good" footing I just plowed through the water at full speed. This let me get ahead of some folks, where I pulled off for photos. I spend a little time here talking with Ben, but sped up to get to the first aid station. I had fresh shoes there (one of a few), but it took me longer to change than I hoped, so I got to watch a whole bunch of runners go by. Once I got the shoes on, grabbed some food and started a chase. After a while I caught Ben again, and ran with him for a bit, as well as a few others to the second aid station. Once again, I lost time here, as I walked out eating heavy food (again, expected time loss). Since I knew the next section was one of the most runable, I wasn't worried. After getting the food in me, I started to put some effort into actually running, and passed a few folks. Of course, I knew what was going to happen once I got close to the river: Photo-Ops!
While at Gorman Falls, the ranger there told me that it had been dry two weeks earlier, so all the recent rain was much needed. I took a few good shots (and a few bad shots) both of the falls, and of runners dealing with that section of trail, before heading on to the Tinaja aid station.
Last year, the Tinaja aid station was down at the Conference Center (the two aid stations were separated by a bridge, with drop bags in one location. This year, they moved it up the road so you didn't go to the Conference Center building at that point. This removed a little bit of climbing. I hope that change wasn't made due to issues with other events recently. When I got to the actual tinajas this year, it had less water than last year (as did the entire trail, thankfully). Even though the trail was dry, I did manage to find one rock to slip off of, but was able to recover without issue.
Heading down to the Conference Center aid station, I found myself chasing a group of runners who I hadn't seen before (and I had a good idea of who was in front of me, due to the 1/2 mile section at the start). These folks looked fresh and happy, I had found some of the 1/2 marathon runners. They looked even happier when they didn't have to head up Cedar Chopper.
At Cedar Chopper I ran into both Blaine and Michael (he was after the Tejas 300 at Tinajas), which was shocking, both had been running well. Michael was fighting an IT band issue, and Blaine had an ankle problem. After a short stop, I was on my merry way again. Heading towards the final climb, I spotted a runner slightly ahead of me, and decided to see if I could catch him. He had spotted me closing, and decided he didn't want to be caught. His desire to not be caught was stronger than my legs. During the final section, Blaine flew by me. He decided that he wasn't going to damage his ankle by running on it, so he figured he'd run hard before the pain got to be too much. He was the only runner to pass me since the second aid station.
As I made the turn towards the finish line, I spotted a runner gaining on me, and decided that I didn't want to get caught, but it was close.
Once I finished I hung around until Ben finished, then headed home. The one sad thing about this years race, since the 100k racers had to do a longer section at the start, they started later than the 50k racers to avoid confusion. This meant that I never saw Michelle. I did get to see Fiona though, so I knew Michelle was running according to plan.
Finished in 6:21:39, good enough for 10th place. Considering that I just came off of a 3 week layoff, and spent time taking photos, I am very happy with that result. More importantly, I finished a Tejas Trails race without being injured (it's been a while since I've done that), which helps both physically and mentally for Zion.