My performance at the Blue Sky Marathon last year was a bit of a disappointment. I was able to handle 1-1.5 good climbs, but after that my legs were toast. On the 3rd climb I slowed to a crawl.
This year I’m not quite as fit as I was last year, but I feel like maybe I’ve been doing better at climbing. I haven’t necessarily been climbing as fast, but I feel like I can at least get through 2-2.5 good climbs before I start to crumble.
So the first big climb in this year’s race went a lot like the first big climb in last year’s race. I held back a bit on the uphill, let loose a little on the downhill, and found myself in a pretty good position around mile 10 before heading out on the Blue Sky Trail proper. I passed the half marathon around 1h45m or so (only a few minutes slower than I ran at the Black Squirrel Half Marathon), right about where I wanted to be. I hoped to run between 3:30-3:45, preferably on the low end but I’d settle for the high end.
Photo by Terry Grenwelge
The second climb went okay. Not great, but okay. I definitely had more left in the tank as I rounded the loops at the south end of the course and headed back toward the finish line. I walked nearly the entire Indian Summer climb on the way back last year. This year I was determined to run, even if it was slow, I would still run. It was a struggle, but I did it.
Photo by Erin Bibeau Photography
The final 5 miles were a bit strange. I slowed down. I wasn’t exhausted. I hadn’t bonked. I simply couldn’t muster the courage to push myself any harder. Rather than run fast and hurt I simply chose to jog it in and stay as comfortable as possible. That’s not the choice I usually make, and I’m not super proud of it.
Photo by Melissa
I finished in 3h50m, which was 12 minutes faster than last year, so it wasn’t a complete shit show. But I was well off my desired time. Maybe one of these years I’ll get it right at this race.
This was the 4th and final race in the trail race series put on by the local Gnar Runners race management. As it happens, I was the only person to complete all four this year. Since the Never Summer 100K was new this year, I guess I’m the only person ever to complete the so-called Gnar Slam in a calendar year. And since I’m the only person to ever complete the Gnar Slam, I have the de facto record for cumulative time of the four races (until someone beats it next year). Here it is:
- Quad Rock 50 Mile – 11:39:26
- Never Summer 100K – 16:01:56
- Black Squirrel Half Marathon – 1:41:18
- Blue Sky Marathon – 3:50:15
For a grand total of 33:12:55.