A Barnburner on La Palma: Transvulcania 2014

The last few days have been a blur.  After the race Saturday, which I’ll get to in a minute, everything has pretty much blurred together.   After I finished I hung around the finish area enjoying the deluxe treatment that Transvulcania dishes out and I waited for Ty and Krissy to finish their day.  After they got in we got some food, checked out Los Llanos, and waited for the awards.  The awards were quite a show!  It is super cool to see a place where trail running and trail runners are recognized for the work and athleticism that they deserve.

Awesome recovery location

Awesome recovery location

We got back to the hotel very late, so we slept in late.  After getting booted out of our rooms mid-day we spent the rest of the day by the pool waiting for our travel ultra to start.  Sunday night we had our first flight from La Palma to Tenerife, we slept a few hours, then flew to Madrid, then Dallas, and finally Salt Lake City.  There hasn’t been much sleep but already my body is starting to come around.

 

The masses gathering before the start

The masses gathering before the start

Going into this year’s race I had a few goals, the biggest of all was to improve over last year’s performance.  From the start I wanted to run a smart and controlled effort.  Starting with over 2000 runners makes it quite difficult to not get sucked up in the energy and run too hard for the first few miles.  I did run out ahead to avoid the bottleneck of single track that happens after about 500 meters and then I settled into a hard but comfortable pace.  For awhile I could still see the headlamps of the leaders, but they slowly pulled away.  As I worked my way through the crowds of people cheering in Los Canarios, I knew I was right where I wanted to be as I could hear the cheers for Anna Frost not far behind me.

 

Two years ago Anna won, and she did it in 8:13:00.  I was hoping to get under 8 hours, so I knew running near Anna would probably put me near that goal.  For the next several hours I would either be just ahead, with, or just behind Anna.  I had a little low patch where she pulled a few minutes ahead, but after it turned around I caught back up and pulled ahead.   Before the race I made the decision to go very light.  During the race I carried only 1 hand bottle and 2 gel flasks full of EFS LS.  I swapped one flask out at about 1/3 of the way through the race.  As the heat of the day came on I found that I was having just enough water to make it from aid station to aid station.  At each station later in the race I made sure to get fully soaked before leaving to try to keep my body temp down.

 

I felt very good with my position and time coming into Roque De Los Muchachos, which is the high point of the race, and the start of one of the hardest descents in ultrarunning.  Anna and I left pretty much at the same time and it helped to have her pushing me down to the beach.  A few k’s before dropping onto the beach I ran out of gel.  I got into the aid station okay, hit two glasses of Coke, and watched Anna run away from me.  The damage was done for me.  With about a half-an-hour of no food before the last aid and 5k to go to finish, I found it really hard to find a solid running gear.  Anna slipped away and I dug in to try to keep my time as close to 8 hours as possible.

 

A random runner coming into the finish

A random runner coming into the finish

I am not sure there is any other finish in the world that is as amazing as the finish of Transvulcania.  Thousands of people line the street cheering in each runner.  I crossed the line in 8:13:23.  Slightly slower than the goal time, but far better than last year.  It was good enough for 22 place in one of the deepest fields ever assembled in ultrarunning.   I am very happy with how my day went, how my fitness measured up, and where I finished.

Based on how I am feeling now, a couple of days after the race, I gave it my best.  My body is nicely trashed; quads are sore, calf muscles scream a little with movement, and the fatigue runs deep.  It sure is a good feeling knowing that I gave it my best and it turned out very well for me.

 

Image of my kit before I decided to go ultralight

Image of my kit before I decided to go ultralight

Gear Used:

Patagonia Air Flow Tank

Patagonia Strider Pro Short

Patagonia lightweight Merino anklet sock

Patagonia Duckbill Hat

Patagonia Prototype shoes

Ultraspire Isomeric Race Handheld

Smith Approach Max Sunglasses

First Endurance EFS, EFS LS, and Ultragen.

 

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