Monday, September 23, 2019

Sangre De Cristo 1

Sangre De Cristo 50K Westcliffe, CO September 2019

This weekend concluded with me driving to work on Monday morning feeling like I had the time of my life. Yes you read that right, the time of my life. I wouldn’t call it a renewed sense of love for this sport, because I didn’t loose a love for it. Maybe a reminder of how powerful one weekend of running in the mountains, spending time with the people who matter most to you and meeting new amazing friends can be. So let’s start at the beginning. Kiera, my mom (Crew Chief) and I headed out of Nebraska early Friday morning. I caught a quick 7 mile run that morning and Kiera got in a few miles before we headed out of town. We had lunch in Rexford, KS at a sweet little cafe.
Main Street somewhere in Kansas.
We had rented a camper that was nestled on a tree farm just outside Westcliffe, CO. We had to run into town quick and get our packets and pre-race dinner before returning back to our camper to sit in the hot tub and gaze out at the night sky. The night sky in rural Custer County CO is unlike anywhere else in the world, literally. It is the registered darkest place in the lower 48 and in the top 5 darkest in the world. So hopefully you can imagine the feeling of sitting in a hot tub at night, deep in the forest staring up at the sky. it was moments of my life that I will never forget. 

Race morning in the camper
Ok to race morning, we woke early, like real early. maybe 330/4ish. got moving and got to the start. I was pretty dang cold with my initial plan and went to the back of the Jeep to grab a jacket out of my bag. I had brought (like I always do) a bag with all my extra running clothes and a post-race change of clothes. Also a tote with all my running "gear." gels, packs, etc. As I get to the back of the Jeep I realize both the bag and the tote are not in there. There isn’t time to go get them at the camper, its over 30 minutes away, so the rest of the day I beat myself up about forgetting them. I wish I could of just shook it off but I'm not like that. Anyways I borrowed my mom's Broncos jacket and headed to the start line. Matt and I started the race together and the big climb up Music Pass. This climb did not feel too bad and we made the top in 1:10. It was on the climb up we met a guy from Boulder named Clay that we would see and get to run with on and off all day. A real solid dude and runner! At the top of music pass we met another new friend, Tracy. We all started chatting and laughing about various topics for the next few hours and had such a great day together! It was meeting and chatting with people out here that made this day so special.

Top of Music Pass the 1st time

We made it back to start/finish aid station at mile 9 in around 1:50. We saw my Mom and Kiera here and we were all in great spirits heading back out. The next part of the course was an out and back on the Rainbow Trail. This trail is awesome! This is the stuff trail runners dream of. It was rolling and a little rocky but not too technical. You'd get time to recover from ups and crush downs. We had so many good chats here. I did completely eat dirt at one spot though and Tracy, Clay  and Matt all stopped and helped me back up. Tracy even climbed down the mountain to get my bottle that went flying, (so nice!) it was trail running at its finest. I was fine with just scratches and such, nothing serious. At around mile 18 Matt and Tracy had to keep going (50 milers) and I turned around and headed back to (50K). I had a great section here of just solo running with some music playing out of my pack and crushing miles. I'd catch myself signing, probably a little too loud here and there. It was fun!

Matt on Rainbow Trail

me trying to run and take a selfie
pretty rainbow trail

I came back to the Start/Finish A.S feeling great. I was at about mile 23 with just one last climb and decent left. It was the same climb Matt and I did to start the race. I started out feeling like yes let’s get this and immediately was like OMG why is this climb so much harder this time! It is a 2,000 foot climb that goes over 4.4 miles, so not too terrible but the 2nd time I had absolutley no power to get up it. It wasn’t that my heart rate was getting high, it stayed under 100 on most of this climb, it was that I could not find any power legs. I did my best to just climb and climb to get to the top telling myself to just grind it out. I got to the top in 1:30 this time and was so relieved. I took a bit of time to taketake it all in; thanking God for this day.

The top of Music Pass the 2nd time
Grateful as can be.
the view i took time to take in.
on the way back down

After that it was a 4.4-mile descent back to the finish line. This part was fun!! I let myself stride out whenever I felt confident with my footing and really enjoyed the run back down. I was having a great time flying down the road into the Start/Finish when I saw my Mom and Kiera cheering, this reminded me of what a fun day it was for everyone and why 50K is such a great distance to pick. They weren't fatigued from all day and night crewing and waiting. Also, I'm back by around noonish and we get to have the rest of the day together.

We spent hours after that cheering runners in, crewing Matt and Tracy, chatting with others at the Start/Finish area. This race is about community and you feel it here. What John has put together connects people, both on the trails and when they get done. It is trail and ultra-running as a community and I hope to never have to miss this race in the future. It was the type of trail running weekend you day dream about on your runs.

Matt and Tracy came in in 1 minutes under 12 hours to finish the 50!! We were so excited to see them, the 50 miler is a serious beast out here and they both fricken crushed it! We all sat around chatting and freezing after the race until finally deciding to go get pizza and continue the chats. We all met up in Westcliff at the neatest pizza place (Tony's) and had a few more hours of laughs, trail chat, and recapping our days. Seeing Kiera be a part of this, joining right on in, cracking jokes and having fun made my night. More moments that I hope never fade from my mind. The best way to try and describe this day was that it was not a day where I had to remind myself to be present in any way. Sitting in that pizza shop, with these people after the day we had, laughing and sharing, I was 100% there, both on the trails and the rest of that day. 

We concluded the race day with a soak in the hot tub under the stars. We woke and headed to Pueblo for the 25th annual Pueblo Chili Festival and ate all the food and stocked up on a years’ worth of freshly roasted Pueblo Chilies!

 A Colorado, southwestern vibing, green chili eating, friend making, ultra-trail-running weekend shared with my daughter and mother is every bit living the days we daydream about.

I hope whoever is reading this, that you can make the days you've been day dreaming about happen, because that is what it's all about.

happy trails! -jeff
The finish of my 20th ultra finish.

Kiera in Pueblothe day after.
this sandwich is called the Fogeddaboutit because once you have it you will never forget about it. (true)