Wednesday, November 7, 2007
50 do I hear 50? 52.7? 52.7? Sold! For 52.7 miles!
Well on Saturday I ran the Autumn Leaves 50/50. Gail, Rick and I had decided months ago that this would be our first 50 mile race, but Rick and I couldn't wait and did the PCT 50 in July. So this was to be our second 50 miler and Gail's first. The course was at Champoeg Park south of Portland, on a flat 5 mile loop course. 80% on pavement and 20% on trail.
The 3 of us Slugs took the 0600 start in the dark. It was our first race outside of daylight and all three of us enjoyed it. We did a little 1.2 mile loop to get started. On the way back we heard Olga in her car yelling "You crazy runners, get out of my way!" Nah, not really but she was trying to make her way on the foggy road to the start to be the Head Lap Counter. Once we got out on the main trail it was very surreal. Foggy, frosted leaves on the trail and 1/2 a moon overhead. About 6 of us ended up together and all had a nice chat. Sarah and I alternated leading the group and I tried to get us lost as a trail was incorrectly marked. We added probably 1/4 mile to our distance until the RD got the signs fixed. Once we hit the dirt it was hard to see the trail with just headlamps. The leaves covered much of the trail and it caused us to hesitate quite a few times. At one point it I took a tree root on my bad toe and nearly did a face plant. Sarah was ahead of me and if she was two feet closer I would have taken her down with me! We made the turn at the start / finish line and headed out for the second lap. We all started to run our own pace and our group slowly dissolved.
It was just a gorgeous morning as the sun rose up and tried to burn off the fog. By the middle of lap 2 I turned off my headlamp. My nutrition goal was to drink two gulps of water every 10 minutes, take a gel every 45 to 60 minutes and take 3 ecaps every hour. When I started to get hungry I would eat boiled potatoes with salt at the aid stations. Thats all I consumed the entire race and it seem to work. 10 gels, 27 ecaps and about 180 oz of water.
Around mile 15 my arch started to feel like it was getting a blister. I had decided to run in my old Nike Pre's which had about 350 miles on them as I was worried my Nike Structure Triax shoes were too stiff for me. I was also worried that the Pre's might be a tad short as my feet swell and that did turn out to be true. I ended up with a nasty Silver Dollar sized blister on my right arch, a fifty cent piece size one on my right little toe, and numerous other little ones and the worst, my mostly dead big toenail on my left foot got decimated. I had stubbed it bad a couple of times during the race and have pretty much ripped the live portion off the nail bed. I am actually going to a Podiatrist today to have it looked at as half my large toe is a multi color of red, purple and white!
The good news was that due to the nice slow pace and 8 days rest my hip, glut and hammie didn't bother me all day. I think they just don't like to train and so thats why they are always acting up until race day. It may have helped that I took two Advil prior to the start and then 2 more at about mile 30. I know thats a bit much to take but I didn't want these injuries to get fired up.
The loop course was fun at first as I would see Gail twice a loop and usual Rick once or twice. Saying hi to other Maniacs like Karen, Eric, Steve, Sarah, Fenny and Jim made it more interesting. Coming to the finish every time I would hear Olga screaming at me. It was great to hear a familiar voice at the completion of every lap. She is the ultimate Ultra Cheerleader. In fact maybe we should all pitch in and buy her one of those High School Cheerleader outfits to wear? I wonder if she would like that????
I didn't really start to get tired till around the 30 mile mark when my pace slowed to about a 11 minute per mile. You have to remember that I watered the trees NINE times on this race, almost every lap. I guess that is a good thing but it sure hurts the time. I really tried not to doddle in aid stations and only stopped about half the time. I didn't wear a water belt and just hand carried one bottle. I hate drinking out of cups and when I am thirsty I want a drink now.
The 10k's rolled out and I saw my dad on the course. It is so cool to see your 73 year old father out there power walking along. He has really been an inspiration to me. Too bad he is computer illiterate and can not enjoy me boasting about him. Watching those fast 10 k folks really made me understand why I don't like running short races anymore. It looks like it hurts too damn much! All that heavy breathing and such.
After about 6 laps I was having a tough time. The usual Ultra lows had hit. I wasn't having any more fun, I was tired of doing loops, my feet hurt, I hated the pavement, the park was stupid, it was too sunny, there were too many leaves on the trail, etc. I just wasn't happy guy. I new this would pass but it always seems to take too long.
My worst laps were 8 and 9 (miles 40 to 47). Lap nine I really walked allot. My pace dropped to over 14 minutes per mile and was the slowest of the race. I didn't really hurt to run but I just didn't want too. I think this is when having a running buddy or pacer would really help you keep trotting. Each time I saw Gail she was getting closer. I figured at the current pace she would pass me sometime in the last lap. It did give me a bit of a push to run more after seeing that. It wasn't and ego or race thing it was just a little mental push that she was giving me. Rick had decided to just do the 50k as he was at a pretty low energy state. Saw him a few times at the finish line before he headed home for a cold one. We all have those days for sure.
At the last turn 3 of us stopped at the aid station at about the same time. I grabbed some taters and salt and Olga made a great comment. "Buddy up and get out there you guys". That really seemed to be a good idea and a couple of runners did just that. It is great how she shares her vast experience with the rest of us "wanna-be's". I headed out for the last lap knowing I was going to get this one done. I tried to run as much as I could. I only walked about 1/4 mile twice and that was much better than I had done over the last 4 laps. With 2.5 miles left to go Gail and I crossed paths, she was only a couple hundred yards behind me and looked great! I figured she would catch me and we could finish together. I walked a bit but ran the last 1.5 miles to the finish running my fastest lap since mile 1 to 26. Coming up to the finish there wasn't many folks left, just a handful waiting on us slow pokes. But that great Ultra community let out a big cheer. I tell ya, it feels as good as finishing a huge marathon with thousands of people at the finish line. Olga gave me a medal and a the required hug, others said congrats. It was a great feeling to be done. I wasn't totally wasted either. I said "Gail should be along shortly" just as Olga screamed "There she is!" It was fun to cheer for her as she finished only about a minute after me. It was her first 50 miler! 19 miles farther than she had every run. She got her medal and I got a kiss. It was a great finish for both of us.
My watch says I finished in 10:45:46 for 52.7 miles. The first draft from the RD shows 10:48.37 and 50.2 miles. He asked for changes and comments. Strange to be off that much in time for a small race.
We then grazed the food, drank a pepsi and chatted for about 30 minutes and cheered other finishers behind us. It was a fun group as usual to hang around with. We walked back to the car and changed shoes, this is when I saw the devastation on my big toe. I mean I have lost tons of nails before but this one is a mess. We drove home talking about the usual. How hard the race was and what massive amounts of food we are going to eat when we get home!
The next day I was as sore as I have every been. My quads were even a bit sore and that hasn't happened since early summer. I think my lack of training the last 3 weeks really took a toll on my strength. It still is amazing how you can not train that much and still go do a 50. I really think allot of it is mental and dealing with the pain rather than your physical conditioning. Now if I was a fast runner that would probably be a different story. But I had a good base, running around 15 ultras/marathons this year.
Now what is next? Over the last year or so I have always dreamed of running Western States 100. Now I have a qualifier. What do I do? I know I will enter the lottery today. Gail and I still haven't decided if we will buddy up or try our chances alone. Even if she got in and I didn't, I would be just as happy. I actually would love to pace her the last 30 miles or so. I truly think she probably has a better chance of finishing than I do. Today is our day to decide...what shall we do? I just want to get on that trail with everyone else. To be a part of something great. If I don't finish? That is ok with me. But trust me when I say if I got in I would do everything to try and finish under 3o hours. I need to do this race.
My next race? Not really sure. We are thinking about Tucson on December 2nd and maybe the Christmas Marathon or Pigtails Flat Ass around the same time. Strange not having a race planned. I bet that doesn't last for long!