I’m still dreaming of that In n Out Burger we passed on the way to the SLC airport this morning. For those of you In n Out fans you’ll get the “double” entendre of the title. Anyway, onto more pressing topics. What is going on, I feel like I’m on a roll. I don’t mean that to sound cocky or brash by any means although some of you may still take it that way. I just mean I’m thankful I’m having a good month. I’m psyched.
I had a great two days of racing this weekend in two different (but fairly close) states.
It started off with the Friday Night Flagline Art Festival to kick off the Flagline Trail Fest in Bend, OR. Yes, I’m putting in a shameless plug for SuperDave (RD of Flagline). I loved that this year it was bigger than last and we’re trying to make it a fun weekend of events with a trail running centric art show and get together on Friday night with four races (three new) on Saturday. Stay tuned next year for possible new events. Anyway, I had my artistic debut by putting together a disk of my homemade movies and my modern art piece that I call “Max’s Wall O’ Shoes”. [caption id="attachment_3254" align="alignleft" width="224" caption="The Wall O' Shoes"][/caption] My wife called it “out of place”, I called it “art”. No appreciation, she was just happy to get it out of the house for a couple days I think.
Anyway, Flagline went phenomenally better than last year. That’s what happens when you’re not running a fever and Erik Skaggs doesn’t decide to kick you while you’re down. Speaking of Erik, I’m calling you out boy, a wedding, pshaw, you weren’t at no wedding, you’re just scared. (Note to everyone else: I love Erik, I’m just messing with him) This year started out at a good clip but feeling great it was much easier to maintain the pace. Jacob Puzey was out to the early lead but unfortunately took a wrong turn before mile 8. Leaving me and Ryan Bak, my partner in crime for the day, wondering “where is Jake”. That confused the crap out of us until it was finally cleared up at the aid station at mile 24.5. Yes, we were chasing a ghost for about 20 miles. We would ask at aid stations and since there were early starters we would always get some answer that didn’t quite make sense but wasn’t clear whether Jake was up there or not. So we just kept on running. [caption id="attachment_3255" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Flagline 50k, Jake Puzey taking an early lead."][/caption]
So Bak and I ran together until the big climb at mile 21 where I started to open up a bit of a gap on him and continued that way to the finish. I was really impressed that he ran as well as he did in his first 50k. I can tell you that mine didn’t go that well.
Post race it was all about recovery for Xterra the next day. Mark DeJohn had just gotten in his Recovery Pump leg boots so I asked if I could have a trial of them after the race. They’re a new recovery tool that gives gradual peristaltic compression through pressurized air sleeves all the way up the legs. I have to say, slipping them on and sitting in them for 30min felt great and afterward my legs felt super. I know that helped. I made sure I got some Hammer Recoverite in right after the race along with some food and a huge burrito from Long Board Louie’s. I slipped into my Reco-Fit Leg Compressors for the drive to the airport, the flight to Utah, and that night. I don’t claim to be an expert on recovery but I’ll admit, I’m getting pretty darn good at it for my legs to feel that fresh going into the Xterra National Champs on Sunday in Ogden.
[caption id="attachment_3257" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Snowbasin Resort"][/caption]
Warming up I really didn’t feel any residual fatigue or soreness from the 50k. A feeling that I couldn’t even believe if I hadn’t felt it for myself.
Xterra started off with a bang, literally, a large canon always starts us off and we run through a huge plume of smoke that really makes for some amazing start pictures. Then there were the guys that sprint off the start and you always kind of wonder if they’re guys you should worry about but then you catch up to them 400m later and they’re already in oxygen debt. Up the first climb right out of the gate Mario and I had put a small gap on the field already but then here comes BJ Christenson, a 6-6 (at least) giant of a dude up on the back of us. He passes us going into a single track section and proceeds to run downhill through switchbacks like no one I had ever seen over 5’10”. I was in utter amazement and as I sat on Mario he continued to put more distance in to us. He was probably only 15-20sec in front but I eventually started to get a bit nervous cus this dude was for real. I asked nicely if I could get by Mario and I caught up with BJ a bit later. We started the most significant climb of the course at about 5miles and I was able to run away from BJ on the climb. Then I was just hoping Mario would be able to get him as well. The Xterra course in Ogden is BURLEY. That’s the only word for it. It’s tight, technical, rocky and rooty, and there is some serious elevation change. It’s a great course. As much as I love the fast, flat Xterra Bend course from years past, this is a true Xterra course and lives up to its off-road heritage namesake.
I pulled out another win and put a lot of time into both BJ and Mario on the long winding downhill back toward the finish. Just as a final kick in the balls that I didn’t expect the last mile of the course is all uphill too. I don’t know where that came from. The legs were glad to be done with a long weekend but I have to admit, they did feel good. Tired but good. Wait, did I say done, almost done. I had the privilege of leading the future Xterra runners through their ~800m course to the finish. Of course that was a 50m sprint as they took off the line and caught up to me as I’m supposed to be showing them the way down the course, then a jog to the finish.
[caption id="attachment_3256" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Podium"][/caption]
The after party on the patio of Snowbasin Resort surrounded in the bowl of the mountains all around was awesome and we just soaked up the sun of late September. I had the best tasting burger from the bbq that I’ve had in a long time. It was a rewarding weekend and one that gives me a good healthy sense of accomplishment. That feeling of accomplishment usually being a direct correlation to how fatigued and tired I am at the end of it. I love weekends like that.
P.S. You’re really going to hate me but the 2hr run up in the mountains on Monday morning was awesome and my legs felt like a million bucks. Not sure what’s in my water but I still felt great. It was awesome.
Xterra is even putting a hit out on me now. $1000 bucks to bring me down. Check this out. [caption id="attachment_3258" align="aligncenter" width="194" caption="My very own WANTED poster. Sweet."][/caption]