I SURVIVED MY FIRST 50 MILE RACE!!
Actually, the race turned out amazing, it was the 2 hours right after I finished that were a bit shaky...literally. I couldn't get my core temp down and was progressively getting more lightheaded and numb in the extremities. I was shaking like I was freezing, but was hot. I knelt over a fire-pit ready to lose my fluids when a guy came over and lost it 2 feet away. It was splashing up into my face. I had to leave the scene quickly. I went over to a hose and sprayed myself down, but apparently the shock of that cold water put me into a worse state. I told Joe to get Luke (Race Director who happens to be a Physican's Assistant) and he immediately took me to the med trailer for an IV and ice packs. Here I was over an hour after I had finished and I was panting like a dog and almost completely numb. Help! At least I was in good company as the guy sitting next to me was none other than Ty Draney winner of the 50K race. At least everyone was suffering together. What about Joe you ask? Didn't he run too, how is he doing? Well, he was doing great by that point as he already did his "recovery" on course. It took him 2 hours to cover the final 5 miles of the course. It sure takes a while to walk to the next tree, puke, walk to the next tree, etc. Yep, everyone suffered out there. Did I mention it was hot?
In-spite of all the suffering, I really can't complain a bit. I ran out of my head. I loved almost every minute of the 9.5 hours I was out there. Sure, it was hot. The mountains were steep etc. That is what a trail race is all about.
I started the race at the end of the Karl Meltzer train. I was quickly being sucked into a fast pace set by the big boys and I decided to back off and run my own pace. I was within a stones throw of Joelle Vaught (P50 course record holder and she just won the Lake Sanoma 50 in April). I noticed I was getting dropped by her on the uphills and I would easily close the gap on the downhills. I decided to chill and hang by her as I knew she would run a steady race. We chatted and passed the time until the big climb at mile 11. My 24 minute split while climbing 1200' was slow enough to get dropped by her and get passed by 2 others. Hmm, maybe I am not so good at climbing. Maybe I was merely conserving energy. After the big hill, I dropped Chris Cawley who had caught up to me as well (I was now in 11th) and cruised the downhill into City Creek Aid. I caught and re-passed all but 1 who passed me on the uphill. I hit city creek aid in 2:40. A whole 20 mins faster than the snow year in 2010 and about 15 mins ahead of my expected pace. Whoops. I felt great and pretty fresh so I didn't worry too much about it. Maybe a little.
The climb out of city creek was a brutal grunt of a climb. The trails gets steeper and steeper until you can barely hike up it. I had another 23 minute split climbing another 1000'. I still wasn't pushing too hard, though I don't think I could have gone much faster anyways. I got dropped again by the usual crowd. At the top, I got my legs back under me and slowly picked it up for the long descent into Mink creek. I had 2 from the lead pack come back to me plus I almost caught Joelle again (based on reports). I was about a mile from the Aid station when I even passed Matt Hart. What? I am cruising. I think I was even in 5th place at that point. Unreal! I hit the aid at mink creek at 5:27. I was still 20 mins ahead of schedule and was now looking at a realistic shot at breaking 10 hours. I didn't really think that was possible and was really shooting for a 10:30 as a realistic 'A' goal.
Now things were heating up. Literally. The nice cloud cover and breeze we had enjoyed was long gone. It was heating up into the mid 80's and no trees or clouds to give shade. No sweat (he he), 4.5 hours to cover 20 miles with only a 3200' climb in the way. It's in the bag. Up the mountain I went. I found myself walking more than usual. I was also wandering off trail to dunk my head in streams and horse troughs. The cool bliss only lasted a few mins as the water would evaporate all too quickly. I was caught and passed by 2 guys again (because it was uphill of course). Matt Hart even caught back up and he RAN every step of that climb (that I could see). Joelle had built her lead to over 10 mins again too. That is ok, because I was on a race with the clock and I was going to kill it!
The top of Scout Mountain (8600') had finally arrived and the views were amazing. Its too bad it was a race and I couldn't relax and enjoy it because we were soon falling off the cliff heading down. My feet were not happy with being bashed into the front of my shoes and they complained with every step (3 blisters and 2 bloody toenails). It finally leveled off that I could at least run normally so I took advantage. I blasted down the hill and was passing 50K and 20 mile runners left and right. I was having a blast. I caught and passed Joelle right before the final aid at mile 47.5. I looked at my watch and almost started jumping up and down. I had an hour to run 5.5 miles to break 9:30! There is only a couple hundred foot climb in the way, no big deal.
It was a big deal as the climb was actually 600'. Never believe aid station propaganda. They lie. First they make you run down an asphalt road that has been baking in the sun then they make you run up a ski run. Cruel. This is the stretch where Joe almost died. I can see why. I watched my Garmin tick over 50 miles and I was still 3 miles from the finish. I knew the race was 53 miles but that still is a punch to the gut. I was just over a mile to the finish and cruising the downhill when I saw a person lying in the shade under a tree. I looked closely at him and recognized the beard (who wears a beard in the summer?). It was joe! He was supposed to be done an hour ago. I yelled at him to get up and walk it in. He did just that, so I left him to the vultures and finished my race. I did feel bad about leaving him but a nice lady from the 20 mile race carried him to the finish (not literally). I was going to beat 9:30 AND Joelle. I was so stoked.
That brings me to the rest of the story with me almost dying and all that drama. Was it worth it? You bet! Would I have changed my race in any way? No. Well, I might have lain down in the creeks for a few more minutes, but that is it.
T- (garmin) - 9:22:40 (10:36) 11,200' vert (sport tracks) ~12,000' reported on website
Proof of the aftermath -
Splits (from watch):
Gibson Jack : Mile 8.3 - 1:11:02
City Creek : Mile 16.9 - 1:29:28 - 2:39:30
Midnight : Mile 26 - 1:45:45 - 4:25:15
Mink Creek : Mile 32.8 - 1:01:32 - 5:26:47
South Scout : Mile 38.2 - 1:10:35 - 6:37:22
Big Fur : Mile 47.7 - 1:51:21 - 8:28:43
Finish : Mile 53 - 53:54 - 9:22:38