Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Day 3- The Longest Run

Although today was the longest stage, at 38.4km, it was probably my favourite so far. We ran through beautiful natural forests and on part of the Continental Divide Trail – superb forested single track that is moist, rich and cushioning on the legs. Weeeeeeehhhheeee – better than a roller coaster on some of the slightly undulating sections. And, the scent of pine trees and fertile soils… yes, today was a good day.

Regressing slightly to last night… Arriving for dinner we were warmly welcomed – as usual – by Cynthia, from Gore-Tex. She wished us a “Happy Windstopper Day” by giving us all the most lovely Windstopper scarves. Yes, more swag! One side of the scarf is Windstopper and the other side is this slinky white ‘fur’ – softer than a lamb. And good timing too because it was quite chilly last night. This scarf makes three – we’ve got a delicious green Windstopper jacket, Windstopper mittens and now the scarf. We are spoilt rotten at this race!

To keep us entertained through dinner (veggies, pasta, chicken pieces, salad) there was a really amazing mandolin player. I didn’t catch his name but I think it was Bruce something – real good y’all. The awards were cool – those runners out front are unbelievably fast! Lisa and I are generally double the time of the overall winners… *sniff* - but I bet they don’t get any cool photos; we’ve got lots ;)

It rained a bit last night and was quite cold. We were awake again just before 06h00. Lisa hit the breakfast spot for coffee early; I migrated up the hill a little later. I did the oats and fruit thing again plus half of a syrup-covered waffle. I find the things like bagels, flapjacks and waffles to be a breakfast temptation, but they really don’t sit well. I think I’ll just stick to oats and fruit tomorrow morning.

Lisa has this really weird dietary thing where she has to eat carbs, like cereal, toast, bagels, waffles etc at least an hour before starting to exercise. And while she runs she can only eat things like Gu, hydration drinks, nuts and peanut butter (a treat we discovered at Aid Station 3 today) – no carbohydrate bars, sandwiches, pasta or crisps. She breaks out in hives from top to toe if she munches complex carbs while exercising. She knows someone else who has the same problem, which is reassuring to know you’re not the only one on the planet with this weird affliction.

As for the route today… Lisa and I were actually both feeling a little jumpy this morning, but the route turned out to be way more pleasant than expected. I wasn’t sure whether to wear tights of shorts, deciding shortly before the start to stick with shorts and a light longsleeved top. I made a good call.

We started out on tar and the gradient was pretty good so it made for a good warm-up. Lisa shot off into the bushes about 20-mins into the run – the start of a bit of an upset tummy (Andy, she gambled and won; I laughed hard when she told me about your dog walk). Seems there are a few upset tummies around.

Just off the tar we headed up and up and up, the big climb of the day. Lovely forests and a good view of surrounding mountains, which are still lightly tickled by patches of snow on their summits. Super scenic. Then down, down, down to the first Aid Station.

Lisa and I have settled into a nice rhythm. As mentioned before, she is great on the hills and very comfortable at running them. My strategy is more of the run-walk kind. So she trots ahead and I bring up the rear keeping her in sight. Your run becomes much harder when you try to run at someone else’s pace, so we’re working well to run at our own rhythm – and overall I don’t lose much ground to her, reaching the top with my heart and breathing rate relaxed, which it wouldn’t be if I tried to run. I’m quicker on the descents, but it is far easier to slow on the downs than to bugger up your pace on the ups.

After a mile or two of road we were back on to trails, winding through a beautiful valley. We were briefed about three creek crossings – I only noticed one. And for the rest of the day, bar the last 2-miles, we were on the most wonderful forested trails. A section of the route crossed on to part of the Continental Divide Trail, which – for the most part (some sections are not complete) – runs North-South from the Alaska border to the Mexican border. You’ll have to fact check this on Wiki (and let me know the answer). I recall David Horton, organiser of Mountain Masochist, which I ran a few years ago, attempted to run the entire CD from South to North – perhaps late last year? – but was tripped up on Day 1 by unexpectedly dense vegetation on a section where no trail exists. I can’t remember the details.

Anyway, the route today was awesome and I really got into it, trotting along the winding trails sniffing the pine scent. The weather was also perfect for running. A bit of a nip in the morning with perfect running temperatures (a bit cool) throughout the day. At some places we were also treated to a lovely breeze. We couldn’t have ordered better.

As were were passing through sheep country, where the sheep wander through the forests, we were warned last night at the briefing about the big sheep dogs. These dogs protect the sheep and at some of other mtb event last year a girl was attacked by two of them. We didn’t see any, but just for your reference – should you pass through this area – if you see a sheep dog you’re meant to say, “Back to the sheep” – and off they go. Just so you know…

We finished today’s 38km stage in 5h56.

The theme for the Salomon Photo Competition today is “Are we there yet?”. We grabbed a camera again because we’d like to win at least one day. And the theme is chosen because for the last two miles (3.6 odd kays) you can see the finish, but the road doesn’t go straight to it. Instead it makes a wide loop and so it really does feel like you’re not getting any closer. We took a couple of photos – I’ll let you know tomorrow whether we win anything.

Race apparel is something that I find quite interesting. Compression socks seem to be the current in thing. Lots of runners wear them – and they look pretty cute paired with short running shorts. There are lots of nice colours, lightweight shells and jackets and array of short styles and lengths on the trails. In SA we generally wear tops with sleeves as added protection against the sun’s claws. This time, as on other US runs, I’m amazed to see the number of girls wearing vest-type tops and crop tops leaving their shoulders (and bellies) exposed to the sun. Sunblock is applied generously but being a conservative type, I never feel that sunblock adequately replaces a fabric covering.

And gents, one thing that is very noticeable - in what I feel is a predominately female field – are the fabulous legs. I guess I’ve never really noticed before because one seldom sees as many women at races like this. Being out there – and running behind – so many women, I realised that there are lots of great legs running this race. Fabulous eye-candy for the male runners.

So, tonight again we’ve got awards and the slideshow and day’s video footage. And then it will be time for a good sleep as we prepare for Stage 4.

On the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run website they are posting video and photos. I think the video that we watch every night of the day’s stage is the same as the one of the site. It is really good and it shows the trails, terrain and scenery. Website is Click on the “TransRockies Run” link (right) and you should find the goods there.