Armadillo Running: Tell me about this race, I’d never heard of it and it’s big: ~450 people in the 5K and nearly 200 in the half.
Cate Barrett: I’d never heard of the race either, but I just started getting consistent training in this summer and I wanted to find out where I was at before planning fall races. After a quick online search, I found that this was less than an hour from Austin, and the results looked adequately fast especially for a summer event (some men had run under 1:20 the year before, women’s winning time was 1:30). I figured it wouldn’t be any hotter than a normal weekend long run.
AR: You finished the half in 1:25:18, a great time, but after looking at your Strava splits, I suspect you were aiming for a faster race. How did it play out?
Cate Barrett: I just wanted to push the gas and find out how my body would respond in this race, so I didn’t go into it with a time goal. I have been doing speed workouts with RAW but our workouts are pretty short, ranging from 300 meter hill repeats to 4 mile tempos, so I’m usually running 5k or 10k paces. I knew my pace would be somewhere between that (5:50-6:30) and my long run pace (8:00), but that’s a big range!
I didn’t plan on starting that fast, but when Kristine Burciaga came by me about half a mile in, I was glad to share the lead. Plus, that’s racing! I checked in repetitively in our first few miles, and while I was running faster than I would have gone solo, it didn’t feel out of control or unsustainable.
I held the same effort the whole race, and I only took splits at miles 4, 7, and 10 so I wasn’t checking my watch constantly. Of course, most of the time, only holding the same effort means you get slower. The race was a solid regression run, which is not ideal, but there was never a major drop off from mile to mile. I think if I would have gone out slower, I could have closed faster, but I don’t know if it would have made the final time any different. I’m glad I raced how I found out what I could do for a given effort.
AR: Kristine Burciaga was just 3 seconds back. Was the result in doubt at any point?
Cate Barrett: We were side by side the first four miles, but then she dropped back. I thought I had a good gap so I felt pretty confident the next 7 or 8 miles. During the last mile I could hear people cheering for her and I felt threatened for sure. I tried to kick into another gear but there wasn’t much left in the tank! I guess that’s how she closed so well. She probably ran a more evenly paced race than I did.
AR: You’ve been training with RAW. What is that group?
Cate Barrett: RAW stands for Runners Anonymous Workout. It’s a free, weekly group for people who just like to push themselves in “hard AF” workouts, and drink beer and eat P. Terry’s afterward. It’s less structured than some groups, without any long term race planning, but it’s perfect for me right now. I spent last year coming in and out of injuries, so I like how it’s low commitment, only once a week, and I don’t have to create my own workouts. It was also a fresh start for me – there’s no coach and no one I’ve run with before, so there was no pressure.
AR: The Austin Mile Challenge is coming up in a few weeks. Are you in?
Cate Barrett: I’m actually going out of town that day, so I can’t make it. I love how the event is gaining traction though! It’s awesome seeing people get excited about racing a new (to them) distance.
Armadillo Running: Congratulations on Hardrock! I talked to you on the day the entry lottery came through, we were both running in the Circus, you were really happy. What attracted you to that race? How long did it take to get in?
Steven Moore: THANKS! My family has had property outside of Telluride since the early ’80s and I remember reading about Hardrock in the Telluride Times paper in the mid 90s, well before I had ever even heard of ‘ultras’. The mystique of wild mountain trails and multiple high passes just sounded too crazy to miss out on. The entire area (San Juans) is so beautiful that I wanted to get in on an opportunity to have a supported run to check it out. It took 7 years of running qualifier runs and entering the lottery before I got picked.
AR: The course sounds impossible to me: 100 miles, 33,000 feet of climbing, average elevation of 11,000 feet, highest point at 14,048 feet. And yet you, a flatlander, showed up and placed 18th in the men’s race. What was your race plan and how did it change during the race?
Steven Moore: It does sound daunting doesn’t it?! “My race. My way. All day” was my mantra. I wanted at least 20 runners out in front of me to follow and/or chase down eventually as wayfinding was a major concern. Being able to see runners down valley or up on a far hillside gave me confidence in staying on course. I needed to start out cautious and make sure I had enough to get all the way around. Lots of fluids on the climbs and decent solid food at the aid stations where it was lower elevation. I never looked at my watch for time (only mileage) until it quit at 30hours and I realized I was inside of 2hrs to finish. My plan didn’t change at all; luckily nothing happened to force a change.
AR: Looking at your splits, you didn’t spend much time in the aid stations, maximum of about 20 minutes, but generally just 5-10 minutes. Just refuel and keep moving?
Steven Moore: I felt like I spent a bunch of time in aid but I guess it’s all relative. I wanted to lower my heart rate, drink plenty and eat some solid food at each aid station. My family was my crew and I wanted to sit and chat a little longer on a few occasions but they made me leave! Still had time for a Lonestar at Ouray and Telluride.
AR: From the photos the scenery and views are incredible. Were you able to enjoy it during the race?
Steven Moore: Absolutely. I made a decision before the race even started that I would have fun during. Turns out it wasn’t hard to keep that promise. I suppose if one is hurling on the side of a mountain from altitude sickness it might not be that fun but otherwise, the beauty is too much to ignore. It takes over and seems to push right through you. Seemed impossible to not enjoy myself.
AR: What are your best flatlander training practices to prep for mountain races?
Steven Moore: I was undertrained for Hardrock no doubt. Coming off a knee injury I didn’t do the things I normally might in preparation. Mostly I like racing and that includes out-of-state, more mountain racing. Prep doesn’t have to be in the 3-5 months just before a race, last year and the years before count too. The stair mill at the gym is super boring and mentally taxing but adding 30min of intense stairs to my weekly routine was helpful. Good old hill repeats on Ladera and HOL are valuable even if you walk half of the ups. Getting that range of motion in the hips is critical and if you want to have a good time at the race you have to get used to running some downhills too. I finished Hardrock pretty well, as in I was able to run all the downs, and that was a lot more fun than the ‘death march’ indicative of blown quads late in a race.
AR: I’ve known you only for a year or so and you’ve been doing only trail races. Have you done road races in the past? What’s next?
Steven Moore: I pace for several local road races and do enjoy road racing since the course is closed and I can run fast without tripping over rocks! Pacing got me into Boston and I trained pretty hard to have a good race at my first marathon, Boston 2013.
I might get sucked into a Zilker Relay team and I’m probably headed back to Sky Island 50K in September but I don’t really have anything else on the calendar. I’m going to be pretty careful with my recovery even though I’m feeling pretty good already.
It was fantastic to have so many Austin peeps in my corner at Hardrock; cheering/following from home or out on the course, it means a lot to me and I think about it while covering the miles.