Monday, September 28, 2015

Mogollon Monster

   Gosh I'm really not sure where to start or what to even write. I had talked about doing this race in 2014 but quickly backed out knowing I'd be in over my head. After getting hammered mentally at Cruel Jewel 100 back in May, I knew I wanted to do another mountain race irregardless of the outcome. 100 miles is hard no matter the terrain but the views are unbelievable the higher you go. I rolled my Leadville entry knowing that physically I was unable to complete that race this year and somewhat felt the same going into Mogollon.  I have more races this fall on more manageable courses for me at this stage of my running but decided to go ahead and run this race and worst case scenario, help some of my friends get a finish if I couldn't.  Our Texas group was myself, one of my best friends Steven, Pomillo,Ace,Nancy,Lonnie and Julie.  Everyone else was VERY accomplished runners and it was an honor to hang with these guys for 3 days.
   The race was set up at 106 miles with somewhat liberal cutoffs when we signed up.  A week or so before the race it was announced that it was 109. 106,109,whatever. It was still going to be dang tough. Race morning we all met at the start line. Jokingly a lady in our group asked the race director if the cut offs were extended because of the additional mileage. He joked back that they were unofficially loose times.  I'm not sure what that means but for alotta rear pack runners in Ultra's, cut offs are one of the most important aspects of a race in order to get a finish. We all can't be elites. Anyhow the race starts at 6am with a 8.6/10 mile section.  I don't think anyone really knew how far the sections are. We asked about it and was told that they weren't big on exact miles...... Ok- that's kinda important to a rear pack person that's going to be chasing the clock.  My stategy was to run the downhills, hike the ups and run/walk the few flats that there was going to be. This race is up and down the Mogollon Rim in Pine,Az and the 1st section took us up over the rim. The climb in that 1st section was brutal but short. Maybe 2 miles?  I played leapfrog with a guy from Cali. He was fast on downhills and I'd pass him every up. We did that for the entire section but the company was great.  Once I crested the top and looked across the rim it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.  I try not to push my faith off on others but I commented to the guy I was with that if anyone didn't believe in God, seeing that rim would probably make them change their mind. You can believe in whatever you choose but that kind of beauty has been unmatched in what I've ever experienced in life.  After cresting, we hit a aid station at what I had was 10 miles. I was spot on with my time and felt great! After refilling my water and eating I headed back out for 5 miles to the next aid. These 5 took me along a fence before crossing it and through some open woods and then down a gravel road for almost 4 miles.  Just a mindless section but easy on the legs.  Looking back, I could have ran that part hard and still been ok physically but I stuck to my planned pace. 2nd aid, I rushed through it and on to section 3 which was about 5 miles but with a descent down the rim. I was excited to hit those 2 miles of descent and roll into the next aid.  It was all great until I hit the downhill. I've ran Cactus and Bandera both and they are pretty dang tame. It's almost like a truck dumped loose rocks for 2 miles down a trail.  I couldn't run that section at all.  I'm a great hiker and can hold a pace for hours on end around 15 to 17:30 minute miles but my Garmin kept coming up with like 23 minute miles. Just a soul sucking descent.  After that it was just short up and downs into Aid 3 named Geronimo. The volunteers were great and they got me out of there fairly quickly and away I went on to the next section.
Section 4- 10.2 miles. I asked countless locals how far this was and they all said 8.6 but every runner with a Garmin had 10 to 10.2 that I asked...... Who knows how far it is? I know this was a rough but doable section.  It's very exposed to the sun and the temps were bumping 90.  About 7 miles in the sweeper caught me by suprise. I've never ran a race and seen one. He crawled right up on my butt and wouldn't back off. I'd go faster and him n his partner would speed up. He said they left 15 minutes after the start.... Anyway it was frustrating having a chatterbox in my back pocket that last bit. I'm usually alone and trying to figure out what I need to do in order to save time. At 10.2 miles I rolled into Washington Park at 4:08 on my watch with a 4pm cutoff. The Hamm radio operator said I was out. I asked him the time and he had 4:04 but said I had to ask the RD to continue. I of course got really upset and took off my gear and sat down to pout. About a 1/2 hour later the RD asks me why I'm still there n not running???? I was polite....... At that point I knew that even if I got to the next aid station I was probably going to fight cutoffs and with a more manageable 100 in 3 weeks there was zero point in trashing my legs so I turned my focus onto the other runners that I came here with.
  Takeaways- 30 miles on that course was fun. I'm not ready for mountain racing.  I'm running Leadville in July 2016 but until then I will run races that I'm more than fairly confident on completing. I went into Cruel Jewel super fit and left there a mess physically.  This race, I went into it as a stronger runner but less fit in my upper body and came home ready to run again in the morning.  There are easier big named mountain races that look tough on paper but aren't a Mogollon or Cruel. Maybe one day I'll do one of those. In the meantime my schedule is full through 2015.  Pumpkin Hollar is 19 days away and I have 2 really great friends to pace me and hopefully another to crew me n kick me in the butt when I get pouty.
 I'm really proud to know Steven Monte,Pomillo Romero and Lonnie Coone. Crewing Steven n Pompi from 52 to 109 and Lonnie from 86 to 109 was pretty cool and I'm thankful for the front row seat as they finished a hard race with so much stacked against them. Nice run guys!
I have griped about certain aspects of this race but at the end of the day, I was in way over my head. If you wanna get stronger, you just have to work harder and run more. It's pretty simple. Til next time #RunStrong

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