This past weekend was the Collegiate Peaks Trail Run in Buena Vista, Colorado. A bunch of folks from URT went down for the weekend, some for the 25 miler, and a few for the 50 miler. We all shared a house in a perfect location, right by the start/finish area. After the disaster trip to Moab, Josh and I had decided that it would be best if he came along to help me out, and I was grateful to have him there. Plus, I kind of like hanging out with him and he got in a fun ride during our race.
Before the race had even started I wasn’t feeling great, and it only took a few miles to realize it wasn’t going to be my best day. At first I thought it might be the higher elevation, even though I had done some higher training runs. I was breathing harder than I should have been for the effort, and my heart rate wouldn’t come down, even on the downhills. Then I started losing my voice, and by about mile 10 it was pretty much gone. Around mile 15, as I was still running with Coach Cindy and a couple teammates, my asthma kicked in full force. My lungs were getting tighter and tighter, and I started getting that panicked feeling of not being able to get air. I told Cindy “I’m having trouble”, only it came out mostly as a squeak as I had no voice and could hardly breathe. We both stopped and she grabbed her inhaler from her pack. Thankful for the relief that provided, I told her I would be fine, and she headed on to catch our group. From there I walked the next several miles. Once the course turned back downhill I was a little better and could run some, and then walk some of the flats. As I came to the final aid station, I was feeling pretty rough. Looking over the selections trying to find something that sounded remotely good, the volunteer asked me what I needed. I told her I didn’t know what I needed, and she said “Maybe a new hobby?” That got me laughing so hard I was almost in tears. Finally settling on a handful of potato chips, I thanked her for the boost and headed on my way. Although it was about 40 minutes slower than I had hoped, I finished the race in 5:24, which was still a decent time.
After walking to the house for a shower, food, and a nap, we headed back to the finish line. We cheered on the 50 mile finishers, and then we all headed to Eddyline Brewery for beer and dinner. The next morning I noticed I had red spots all over my upper and lower eyelids. It was a great look for me. So I don’t know if it was allergies or a viral thing, but clearly something triggered my asthma to flare up. Josh had gone to D.C. the week before and he didn’t feel good after he came back, so who knows, maybe he kindly shared some airplane funk.
Before the race I hadn’t spent much time looking at the course description, so I was pretty surprised by the amount of pavement at the beginning of the race. Granted, I am fairly pavement averse, so any amount seems like too much, but it was about 2-3 miles. The rest of the course remained very non-technical with a lot of jeep roads, and some buffed out single track. Other than a few short steep climbs, the uphills are gradual and runnable. Several sections were sandy and loose, but since my last two races were in Arizona and Moab, this wasn’t a big deal. This year the race had some pretty big issues with course marking vandalism. Why someone feels it necessary to try to sabotage a race I have no idea. The race director said vandalism has been an issue in the past, but never this bad. They had already remarked sections twice before the race even started. Early on, a big group of the leaders went several miles off course, and I know of several other folks that got lost – some of these from issues with course marking, some just not paying attention, and some from dirt bikers circling and kicking up dust in front of a critical turn. Issues aside, the views of the Collegiate Peaks were spectacular for almost the entire course, and just for the record, I didn’t get lost.
Even with my breathing issues, I’m not really disappointed about the race. Yes, I’ve been feeling great in my training and I’ve been getting a lot faster this year, but I wasn’t really focused on this race. It was a good weekend. I was much more cautious than I was for the Moab trip, and my brain did well. We only have control over so much, and when I consider my goals, I consider this weekend a success.
On the TBI front I have a pretty MAJOR announcement. After some lengthy discussions with Josh and the clinic, next Wednesday I will be going to work for the first time in 21 months. No, I am not suddenly and miraculously cured, but the veterinarian that was hired to fill my position is leaving. I was asked if I have interest in trying to come back. Starting back full time is inconceivable, but I have to start somewhere, and an opportunity for slow habituation is hard to pass up. They are setting up a 4 hour shift next Wednesday, and I will be scheduled with extended hour-long appointments, and hopefully nothing too complicated. This should give me plenty of time to see a patient and write-up a record without melting my brain. It will be a big test, and we aren’t scheduling any other shifts until we see how it goes. I’m incredibly thankful to the clinic for giving me a chance to slowly re-enter the world of veterinary medicine. Okay, to be honest, I am completely terrified at the prospect and trying not to panic. I guess there is only one way to find out if I can handle it.
Next up – North Fork 50K , June 3rd and Never Summer 100K, July 22nd.