Sunday, February 13, 2011

Team Aravaipa at Pemberton 50k 2011

This weekend, three members of Team Aravaipa competed in the Pemberton 50k.  As the 10th anniversary of the run, race director Brian Wieck decided to switch things up a bit and start the run at 5 PM to make it a night run.  Also notable is James Bonnet who worked the Jackass Junction aid station all night, foregoing 36 hours of sleep and leaving for work directly after the race.

Nick Coury - 3:42:32 - 2nd Overall
Justin Lutick - 4:04:46 - 4th Overall, 1st Masters
Paulette Zillmer - 4:37:27 - 11th Overall - 3rd Woman

My only goal for this race was to negative split.  I was in the middle of my biggest week since North Coast, and was worried about being too fatigued.  My plan was to do the first loop in 2:00, and then try to push it once it got dark.  Josh Brimhall and Dave James took off from the start as I expected, along with another two runners that ducked in behind them.  I was with another runner I didn't know at the front of a second pack.  I decided to run the race without a watch so I could run by feel, but the pace I thought I should be running didn't feel fantastic.  Partway up the first climb I took a glance back on a curve to get a glimpse of Justin, only a few dozen yards back.  At the first aid station I stopped to fill my bottle and he zipped by me along with Andrew Heard and another runner.  I would leapfrog with all of these runners for the rest of the loop.  Coming through Jackass Junction at 10 miles with Justin, James seemed to look disappointed that I was so far back.  I already felt tired and didn't feel I should go any faster, so I resigned to keep the same pace.  About two miles from the trailhead, I had to pull out my flashlight as it was starting to get pretty dark.  I came through my first lap in 1:52, behind the second group of runners and probably in 7th or 8th place.  I grabbed some sleeves and gloves along with more gels, and an extra light for the dark loop.  I'd gotten chilled during the first loop in the cold dips of the course, and worried if I'd have enough clothing.  As it turns out, I wouldn't even need what I grabbed.

The mind is a curious and useful thing.  Because I had convinced myself I needed to run the first half slow, even a moderate pace felt tiring and imagining running any faster was nearly impossible.  When I left for my second loop, a mental switch flipped that said "give 'em hell!".  I took off into the darkness with renewed strength, working hard but with smooth determination.  I quickly passed Andrew and Justin, catching two other runners on the climb.  Coming into Coyote Camp howling, I was nearly tackled by Ian Torrence's dog Zoraster.  Assuming I was in 5th place, I asked Ian where the other runners were, and was told there were only two in front of me, and Dave James was only a couple minutes up.  I'm not quite sure what happened to the other runners, but I wasn't complaining.  "Keep pushing, you're looking strong", and I continued to push into the tranquil night.  I caught up to Dave about halfway through the loop, and stayed with him for a minute.  Seems that winning the Coastal Challenge down in Costa Rica the week before wasn't a good taper for this race.  I came into the final aid station several minutes ahead of him, and filled my bottle quickly.  "Nick?!"  It seems that James wasn't expecting to see me so soon.  I let out a hoot and took off.  I pushed hard the last 5 miles, and finished my second lap in 1:50 for a two minute negative split.  Not bad for the second half in darkness.  I stayed around till nearly midnight to cheer, eat and enjoy the campfire.  Overall a great race, and a good way to start out the year!