In 16 hours I’ll be one among 300+ other riders who anxiously await the scent of the ceremonial burning sage as the Warrior Society event organizers open the gate to Blackstar Canyon and the 2014 Vision Quest begins. Unlike last year’s post, I won’t go into the details of breaking down each section of the race to come up with a race goal. I’ll just use last year’s work and state that my two goals for this race are:
A sub 6 hour 15 minute time; and/or
A top 25 finish
I’m stronger and fitter than I was at this point last year. I’m healthier than I was last year – that is to say, I haven’t experienced back issues of late. And I have one years worth of experience of taking on the challenge that is Vision Quest. I expect the pain that’s coming – and I know how to deal with it.
The pain: ~56 miles, ~11,000 feet of climbing, 1+ mile of which is a steep, 20% grade, and loose hike-a-bike section (West Horse Thief trail) near the end of the race. I should also include the certain cramps and the possible poison oak.
But there’s joy too: challenging oneself, suffering with teammates and others, great trails and downhills, the views at dawn above the clouds and the dreamers below, having non-racing teammates, friends, and family support at the aid stations, and the knowledge that tasty, cold, muscle-numbing Lagunitas beer awaits at the finish!
Here’s one of the trickier downhill singletracks, Upper Holy Jim, which racers face just after summiting Santiago Peak and being in the saddle for 4-5 hours:
And a photo from last year during the race just as I began Upper Holy Jim:
For all those challenging themselves with this race (or the CC) good luck! For all the supporters – this means family, friends, and sponsors – thank you!
I’ll post next week – so check back to see if I made my goals!