Well this is my Captn Karls Pedernales 60km Trail Race Review by Rob Goyen.
First and foremost I want to thank my wife for the patience, my HATR family for the running and all of my sponsors/supporters. There alot of people who have invested time into me and I am very grateful for all of you who help to support my dreams.
Jeremy, Jose and I had sleepover and cut out about 7am. Jeremy is convinced we should try this breakfast spot in Columbus. He is a smart man. I wont say all that I ate but lets just say I won a pancake eating contest and left with a 6 months pregnant carb belly. We headed towards Pedernales state park soon after. Once after arriving into town we decided to go to the race site to talk to Joe P. (race director of Tejas Trails) and to set up the tent early. As we got there Joe and us spoke about the club, his unwillingness to settle on crappy metals and normally banter around race time. Joe let us use some his metal stakes so that our tent didnt fly away to the air and we made sure that the tent was secure and in place. Once we made sure the tent was up and good we headed back into town to buy some chairs, double check supplies and check into our room. I had anticipated sitting in the room and keeping my feet up maybe catching some zssss. Night time races throw you off since you are up all day, then you race all night which is the not the normal starting routine. As we mulled around the room Jose decided to grab his laptop and play the movie Unbreakable. The movie is about the 2010 Western states race that highlights Hal Koerner, Anton Krupitchkam Kilian Jornet and Geoff Roes. I have seen pieces of the movie but have never really watch alot of the movie in one piece. As we watched the movie I was feeling very emotional about the race coming up. The movie made me think about my desires in my race, the overwhelming sense of wanting to do well at all costs. As the movie ended we started to all want to leave the room early at this point I was ready to be near the race no matter if it was a few hours away.
Once we got to the race there was a lot to be done and alot of people to talk to. We quickly got all the new shirts out to give to the members that had bought one recently and also I started the process of saying hi to the friends I knew and just getting the overall race feel. We were able to all get a great picture as well before we got to busy. Once we had the trail meeting around 6pm then it was time to get ready and make sure everything was in place. We did the normal which is just make sure we have food, water, salt etc. As the time got closer Jeremy and Jose and I always make a point to just be encouraging before we all go into the race that we are about to be in. All of us have been successful at these events and distances but you never know what the day will bring to you. I got a chance to also wish all of the members good luck as it is a very big source of pride to have our group out there representing us and the Houston Area Trail Runners. As the few minutes lead up to the race I am normally anxious as I wait in the cattle call of people I say my prayers to loved ones lost and pray for those who are running along side me and when I am running. I like to feel like the people who I have lost run with me and I often thank them as I am running as I know they are riding along with me.
The plan was to use V Fuels every 30 min, 40-60 oz water an hour, salt as needed and run the first loop around 160-165 on the HR monitor. Speed isnt important to me in this race as I am trying to tactically run a race.
As the clock goes off I feel good and ready. I know the first aid station is 5miles away so I know I need to knock back both 22oz of water and all I need to do is focus on my heart rate. The first 5 miles were more about maintaining my heart rate and keeping it slowed down. I could feel myself wanting to push harder, pass more people etc but I knew I had to be patient. As I ran I felt like I was right were I need to be as I didnt have any knee pain, my legs felt powerful and my heart rate was under control. As we hit the first aid stating which was right near 5 miles I saw Olga there which she just finished an epic 100 miler so I said hi grabbed water and busted out. I was a little concerned though watching so many people in front of me that I would have normally tried to chase down early in a race.
Once we made the turn at 5 I was feeling alot of bloating from the gels and I didnt really feel all too well in the stomach. But my legs felt good so It was easy for me just to ignore the bloating and just keep moving. As we hit a great downhill I felt all of my strength training in my feet really show up as I was able to run a downhill without holding back. I immediately though of Kilian Jornet in the Unbreakable video as he rifles downhills all the time. We reached the 2nd Aid station at 8.52 and again i felt good they had ICE WATER which was amazing to feel and drink. Right after I shoved out of the 8.52 I felt like my plan was finally starting to work how I had planned. I started to see people drop back towards me as I remained consistent with my HR and strategy. Over the next 4.20 miles there were alot of places that had graded inclines and I was able to use my training in vertical miles to keep my HR even and run the hills. As I started to pass people slowly but surely I knew that what I was doing was perfect for me and my strategy. This was also the first time that I looked at my time etc. I hadnt really thought of where I cared to finish the 1st loop but I laughed with Jose of a 3:15 would be nice.
Over the next few miles till the loop I stayed consistent with food, water and salt. I was able to chat with some people new and old as we moved along the course but really my HR stayed right around 160ish which was perfect for me. As I hit the last aid station with 2.4 to go I just focused on getting in. I was already aware that I was going to meet my goals for this race so all I need to do was keep it together the 2nd half. I move quickly the final 2.4 and came in at 3:20 on the nose. Once Jose family helped me get water and ice and I also refuel gels. I told Jose’s mom that I was scared that I felt this good half way through. I havent run without knee pain for over a year, so for me not to have pain scared me more than encourage me.
As the 2nd half started I felt good. I knew I would focus on keeping the heartrate around 150-160 through the rest of the race and just to keep moving and stay out of trouble. At time time the beautiful super moon was out and made everything look great. As I also left the aid station my goal was to not let anyone pass me unless they were going to cut a negative split on me because I was going to push it the whole time. As we moved into the 1-2 over the riverbed I was able to pass a guy but in passing him I ended up stepping into a slick part of the bedrock and falling really hard on my side. I picked myself up made sure that I felt okay and continued. But just to pick myself up took something out of me that I didnt like. As the next few miles came along I felt my first mental funk come on. Instead of enjoying the race there was no one I could see near me and I started into a lull that would provide me with 2 very important lessons. As I got to mile 3 I knew that I was only a few miles away from the aid station but I was unfocused on just running and just began almost begging for the aid station. I then tripped again but this time it was different. I knocked my ear phones out, water bottles off my hands. As I picked myself I began to wonder what was happening to me. My legs felt great, my stomach was crappy but okay so what the HELL was happening here. The problem was that I wasnt focusing on having fun, running my race and the task at hand. I was focused on the next aid station. Once I got to the next aid station I was kinda of hoping there would be people etc to talk to. NO ONE. I grabbed some salt, water etc and bounced out. I took note that I hadnt peed in a while and knocked back some salt hoping that I need some.
As I left the aid I remembered that I had seen 2 people on the out in back at the aid station so I was encouraged that I might be able to pass them soon. As I got back onto the fence line trail I still couldnt shake the cobwebs. My mind was wondering off to everything but running my race. I was becoming overwhelmed with the next aid station already and what was wrong with me. And then BAM… I fell again. This time harder than all 3 of the others in the race. I fell on a rock with my right knee and It looked like a garage sale with me picking up my crap. But I was grateful for the fall in hindsight because I got mad at my self. I remember telling myself out loud that this wasnt going to happen and I was going to pick my sorry ass up and get to running. Because the faster we run the faster we get this over with.
Miles 22-27 were great for me and my mood. My energy level was up and I was focused on my heart rate and keeping my legs moving at all costs. As I went to the aid stations I knew that no one would be there and this would be a lonely last lap around the park. As I moved along the course the emotions of the race caught up with me at mile 27. Just like most of my races as I begin the final miles I take time to thank those past and present for what they mean to me. This race was very special to me as I had chosen to honor our best friends son who had recently passed on cancer at only 14 months. I kissed his initials on my bottles as I had done all race to let him know I appreciated him coming on the ride with me and I was hoping he enjoyed the run.
As soon as I had turned the corner of the last 10 miles I started to feel myself fade. I think it was a combination of being a little tired, stomach was still upset and being lonely really. My mind was playing a game of when is the next aid station (LIKE IT WAS A LIFESAVER) and just keep running and shut up. This is a game that I have played already tonight and had to fall 2x to fix it. But this round would be a struggle all the way till the end of the race. At this time period all I could do was just keep telling myself out loud to do things. Hearing myself motivates me and also I think makes sense to my brain. I was also thinking maybe I went out a little too hard and thats why my legs where giving in a little. But then again this is the fastest and best I have every felt so I guess i was just tired.
But as I was willing myself to just keep going I hit the last aid station. It felt like it took 10 hours to get here and again no people. As I lief i had 2.4 miles to go. I started to catch a good little pace for the first .5 mile and then walked some up hills. Once I got back to running I saw a girl walking on the trail and was stoked to see someone else and said hi and kept moving. I am also a competitor by nature so I was like hell yeah Rob keep going, your doing something right. As I walked hills and kept moving I finally looked down to see I had one more mile. I traditionally run the last mile NO MATTER WHAT. Its always been my time to dry heave, get it all out and make sure I dont get passed. Well just after I start running I see the guy who was ahead of me at mile 22. He was walking and my energy level was through the roof. As I passed him I put into high gear and I heard him start to run just after about 10 seconds. I was now in all out mode. I felt like a deer that was being chased by a lion in a way. I started to think about unbreakable about how Geoff caught Tony late and won the whole things. Well I was Geoff Roes in my mind for that one mile. As I ran with all I had I felt all the emotions start to come over me. Everything was silent just my breath, the light and I could see the lights of the camp. As I made the last turn I knew I had done it. I finished in 7:22 min for the 37.2 mile race. 17th place out of 106
My goals were to have fun, try and run a sub 7 or sub 8… I accomplished all my personal goals and felt like I was happy with my performance. Of course no race is perfect and I look at ways to do better but I was happy with running pain free, under control and executing my game plan.
I was also able to hear the stories of all the members who ran and we waited all night to see Jose come in late that night. He got injured at mile 21 of 37 but got from aid station to aid station to finish like the BAD ASS that he is.
Pedernales was the greatest racing day of my life. I enjoyed feeling the ability to be competitive in this races and look forward to helping our members seek their own personal goals in the future. I will treasure it as a day that I turned another corner as a runner and we turned the corner as the Houston Area Trail Runners.