Failure. Perhaps what drives me more than anything is not achieving a goal. I didn’t have high expectations for TVU. Heck I was just glad I made the correct island the day before the race 🙂 Las Palmas is a city on the isle of Gran Canaria, La Palma is the beautiful island paradise where the first race of the 2013 Sky Running Ultra World Series took place.
Two Spanish studs went sub 7! Luis Alberto Hernando and Killian, who set a new course record. I believed the pre race hype and figured I could go sub 8 even with all the travel I had been doing, the recovery from the pneumonia, and the last two weekend’s hard long training runs in Ireland & Tuscany. Boy was I wrong 😦
A few hundred yards in rounding the lighthouse in the dark my back seized up. I decided to ease into my run and I backed off the early fast pace Killian, Sage, Adam, Timmy, Cameron, & the other Europeans I had yet to meet were setting. Joe and Luke passed me and we exchanged greetings of “Buena Suerte.” Half our American contingent would have a strong day as Timmy surged back for forth, Sage podiumed, and Cameron had a strong run that came down to a sprint. Tony pulled out with the flu. Joe was sick too but ran well. Luke finished right ahead of me citing “blown legs.” I would have been 4th of 5th female 🙂
The funny part is I am ok with my run and happy with the progress back to fitness I am making. I think I did well for doing almost zero specific hill training on trails. TVU kicked off my Sky Running Tour and my training for Ronda dels Cims, my goal race in June.
At the first aid station I was able to run a half short stride up the paved road and left my headlamp and buff with Ian Corless of Talk Ultra. The energy in town was contagious as people lined the streets in pajamas!
The start to my European tour was humbling me as I finally loosened up and passed the MDS Champion, Mohamad Ahansal. We chatted for a bit about the Mozart 100 in Salzburg which I won last year and he is committed to race in June this year, ironically the same day as Ronda del Cims.
I cruised into the checkpoint that was also serving as the finish for the shorter race overjoyed by the out pouring of emotional support from the fans. The place erupted like the extinct volcano that formed the archipelago!
I refilled my bottle with coke and blue poweraid and grinned ear to ear as I pulled out onto a flat dirt road section. Even with my bum wheel I still picked off a bunch of runners. I saw BP of irunfar.com at the next aid station and I left my sweaty GENr8 Vitargo singlet with him. Thanks BP!
The weather was warming which helped my sciatica and I continued to pick people off on the climbs. I wasn’t really pushing based on my breathing but my legs were tired from the climbing and lack of hill training. Early on I decided to enjoy the views and simulate my pace for Ronda del Cims. I figured that I could used the 4,000 plus meters of climb and 4,000 meters of descent as a kick start to my month long hill training for my tour of Andorra.
The actual “race” part of TVU for me was absent but I did serge up some steep mountains running near capacity when a photographer or fans were around yelling “Animal” and “Kruprtikia” at me.
I later found out Tony is somewhat of a legend in Europe and for a guy that is zero for two with making start lines on La Palma I kind of felt bad for him. I used to race like TK, all the mattered to me was going for the win, but now with the influx of young talent in the sport I am growing and maturing into a runner that will pick the days I want to battle and safe it for the courses I can excel on.
I ran a bit with some talented technical downhill guys who would piggy back with me. I would pass them on the ups and they would blow past me on the descents. I was climbing well and the altitude didn’t bother me near the top of the caldera. I struggled on the technical descents. It is much harder to run fast downhill when you don’t trust your stride.
As we descended lower the aid stations offered water to dump on us. I politely declined. I was comfortable and in no rush to finish. The last few kilometers from the beach to the finish were unnecessary in my opinion as I would have much preferred a dip in the ocean to running uphill on tarmac.
The end of the race brought tears to my eyes as the kids lined the streets looking for high fives. The support was amazing. I did stop for a Cerveza about a kilometer from the end but drank it fast. It was nice to see BP when I finished. He briefed me on Killian’s win and time and Sage’s podium. I jumped in the baby pool to ice my legs and lower back. It hurt so good!
The night before the race was short. BP and I went for a run at 8pm and when the 2am wake up call came I woke strangely refreshed off of just two hours of sleep. I had a big breakfast which sat well in my stomach on race day. I knew it would be good training to run TVU on limited sleep as Ronda starts on a Friday night.
In retrospect I probably could have run harder on more of the climbs had I taken in more calories but I wanted to feel like if I had to I could turn around and run back at the finish. Plus I know I will need to tone it down and power hike a bunch in Andorra.
I talked a little to Tony and Joe about Ronda del Cims after the race at the hotel. Both had the flu and I was tired from all the travel and wanted to run twice Sunday so we all skipped the awards and went to bed early. They laughed at me, a flat 100 mile guy taking on perhaps the toughest mountain hundred in the world 🙂
Sunday was a great day to lounge around the resort. I had breakfast with the female champion of the 25K, my former INOV8 teammate and manager, Gina. She ran a great race almost as fast as my 25K split. I took a nice nap, enjoy two easy runs and did an interview with Talkultra’s Ian Corless.
Ian invited me out to dinner. It was nice to get away from the resort and share a meal with Timmy, Cameron, Emily, Cameron’s folks, Ian and his partner, Killian, Anna, and Martin of Good People Run. After dinner I walked back to Anna’s flat to hang out a little
I ended up staying over Anna’s so I could help them with the open vino. The next morning I ran back to the resort in Cameron’s Salomon’s.
After breakfast instead of crawling into bed I joined Ian, Sage, and crew for a run up from El Pillar. It was incredible to experience the course void of racers and fans. Sans drama it was probably the most incredible views I have ever seen. We were above the clouds!
Sage and I had the last shuttle and flight off La Palma that night. Sage had the wrong itinerary with him which made for some nervous moments but we cleared security quick when I mentioned that he podiumed and I was a USA National Champion 😉
Sage had a 6am flight and we landed at 10pm. Instead of him sleeping at the airport I invited him back for a beer and a nap at my hotel. The shuttle on Gran Canaria never showed so we tried our luck on a local bus. We did quite well for two gringos. Sage is a great kid and an amazing runner. I am excited to follow his career as he evolves into one of the best runners of all time.
The Tuesday after TVU I took a much needed “personal day” at Hotel Vecindario Aeropuerto. I ran twice, did laundry, returned messages, wrote, swam, napped, sent out post cards, and had the most incredible breakfast and Pescado for dinner!
That Wednesday morning I woke early, ran twice before and after breakfast, packed up, and fully recharged my batteries for the next leg of my incredible European Running Adcenture!
Off to Run Barcelona!
Thank you to Ian Corless of Talk Ultra, Everyone on La Palma, and with TVU, Lauri van Houten of Sky Running, and….
…. mi amigo:
Ángel Sáenz Pinto
Responsable Departamento de Ferias y Eventos
Patronato de Turismo de La Palma