Sunday, November 27, 2016

November Race Report

Perhaps the title to this episode of blogging should be "Running Ultras Without Proper Training" or something to that effect. But I would hate to advocate for that sort of nonsense.
Back on Memorial Day, Scott and I were waiting for the start of the 10K that we were running that morning when an email came in from Mad Moose Events, promoting their Dead Horse Ultra event in November. There was a 30K, 50K, and 50 mile option. I told Scott I would like to do the 30K. He was feeling much more ambitious that day and talked me into running the 50K instead. His reasoning was that he will already have run a marathon by that point, so why not just run an ultra? I've created a monster.

So life happened, as you've all read about in the blogs since May, and to make a long story short, we weren't quite ready to tackle 30ish miles through the desert. A couple of weeks before the race, I had attempted to do a back to back long run weekend with 10 miles on Saturday and 20 on Sunday. The 10 went fine, the 20 imploded just before 11 miles and I made Scott come pick me up and take me home. Then we had a 15 miler the week before the race where my body betrayed me and I had to spend an embarrassingly long time in a gas station bathroom. I wasn't feeling terribly optimistic about the 50K after all that.

We made it down to Moab and arrived at packet pick up with 5 minutes to spare before it ended for the night. They did have packet pick up available race morning, but I always feel better if I have my stuff the night before. After we checked into the hotel, we met up with Jamie for dinner at Zax. We had talked Jamie and our other friend, Polli, into running the 50K as well.

We arrived to a chilly start line, but there was a variety of hot beverages to be had while we waited for the starting gun.
It's c-c-c-cold. But gorgeous. Photo courtesy of Jamie Eckles. 
The race starts right off sending the runners straight up the Gemini Bridges road, so there was very little running on my part early on. I don't run straight up anything very well.
Making my way up, slowly. Very slowly. Photo credit Scott M. Stringham.
It took a few miles of climbing before things leveled out and we were able to start making up some time. After about an hour, it was time to fuel, but I was having a really hard time getting the Lara Bar to go down. It's not that my stomach was upset, but I wanted to gag every time I took a bite. So I gave up trying to eat it and waited for the aid station. I knew we were close, so I wasn't too worried about getting caught in too much of a calorie deficit. I was able to drink Coke and eat potato chips at the aid station without feeling like gagging, so that was a good sign. I grabbed some candy to take with me as we continued on and that went down fine as well.
Feeling good now that the trail is flatter and the sun is warming us up. Photo credit Scott M. Stringham.
We started knocking out some decently paced miles after that. The sun was up and making things much more pleasant, temperature wise. And then we got lost. Both of us missed a big yellow sign with an arrow on it and we kept heading down the double track dirt road instead of veering off onto the slick rock trail like we were supposed to. I stopped for a moment and looked around "There aren't any blue trail markers here.". To which Scott replied "But there's footprints.". So we kept going, all the while I'm lamenting the lack of trail markers. We finally spotted a group of runners up ahead. The only problem was that they were running towards us, and not away from us. As they ran past, they told us to turn around, that they were lost. I knew it. We had been seeing markers about every 50 feet and then to not see any for that long meant we were off track. So we headed back the way we came, found the turn, and continued on the proper way. We added just over half a mile extra to our race. I was just glad it wasn't more.
Back on track, enjoying nature's wonders. Photo credit Scott M. Stringham.
As we approached the second aid station, there were quite a few people spectating and cheering. One guy sure looked a lot like Scott Jurek. I didn't think much of it, besides thinking that he looked a lot like Scott Jurek. Then the lady at the aid station, who was cooking up delicious quesadillas, casually mentioned that it WAS Scott Jurek.  So then we all freaked out and fan-girled for a moment. "Scott Jurek said we were looking good! Eeeeeee!".
There was a man taking pictures. Thank you, man taking pictures.

Scott (my Scott, not Jurek) running along like it's no big deal.

I wolfed down quesadillas and potato chips with wonton abandon. I was still having difficulty with eating the bars I had brought, but the real food at the aid stations was going down fine. We headed back up the trail, slowly winding our way gradually up to the middle aid station. It was over 7 miles from the last aid station and I was starting to curse the distance. Aid stations are wonderful little oases and I always find myself wishing there were more of them in ultras.

We finally reached the aid station that marked the halfway point. We refilled our packs, applied more sunscreen, drank copious amounts of Coke, munched down more potato chips, and headed back out. We knew that we'd be going mostly downhill until the end, with the exception of a little steep uphill around mile 28. So we tried to take advantage of gravity helping us out, and we did pretty well, for a while.
Trail running heaven. Photo credit Scott M. Stringham.
We made it to the only cutoff with an hour and a half to spare. It's not that we were moving at a terrific pace or anything, the race just had generous cutoff times. Once we made it through the check point at mile 21, we knew we were going to make it just fine. Which was good, because at this point, the slick rock was starting to take its toll.
After a while, the slick rock makes you want to die. Photo credit Scott M. Stringham.

Slick rock is fun to run on, for a bit. But after, say 20 or so miles, it starts to make your feet and knees wish that you weren't running on slick rock. We were starting to long for the double track dirt road again. When we finally made it back to the road, we let out actual cheers of joy. We hit the last aid station and knew there was only 4.5 miles to go. Unfortunately, more of it was uphill than we had realized it was going to be, so it was slow going those last miles. We were both pretty wiped out at that point (probably from that whole lack of training thing). But we slogged along and eventually made it to the finish line.
And we weren't even last. Photo courtesy of Jamie Eckles. 
So basically what we can all learn from this is that you can train sporadically and half-assedly and still finish a 50K, provided the time limits are generous and you have a high pain tolerance. That's not really a good take away... maybe use this as a cautionary tale to inspire more training if an event is on the horizon?
Cautionary swag, from my 5th 50K.

If that's not cautionary enough, you can now imagine running a half marathon 4 days after a 50K that you weren't ready for. I'll give you a little insight on how that goes.

I run the Thankful 13 every year on Thanksgiving. I find it's a nice way to start the holiday and give me an excuse to eat ALL the food at Thanksgiving dinner. Because I always think I am going to be ready for the things that I sign up for, I didn't think much of it being a mere 4 days after my 50K. I should have really put more thought into this whole thing...

Scott was signed up for the 5K, so he could run really fast and win awards and stuff, which he did, placing third in his age group. Meanwhile, I was out trudging through 13.1 miles of cold, sore miles. It was pretty, though.
It was worth taking my gloves off once, to get this shot.
I felt okay for maybe 2 miles total of this race. The rest of it felt like I had run a 50K in the desert the Saturday before. My hamstrings were throwing a royal fit, my knees were crying, and my lungs kept trying to leave my body. It was good times. But I'm too stubborn to quit, so I crept towards the finish line at a snail's pace. Scott was waiting to run with me to the finish. I crossed the line in 3:04:54, which I think is my slowest finish on that course. All that matters is that I made it though. Medals matter.
Half marathon #85, wrapped up.
I've got one last race lined up for the year. Thank goodness it's all about eating and having a good time. Y'all should check out the Baker's Dozen half and get signed up if you can. It's the perfect way to wrap up the season.

Until then, happy running!

1 comment:

  1. I don't tire of your race reports... Just about all other race reports are like this: "It was sooooo HARD! And it hurt soooo MUCH! POOOOOR ME! But I persevered! Look at ME!" (repeat indefinitely). Whereas I really appreciate your thoughtful insights, such as "it was good times". Priceless. Thanks.