Monday, October 21, 2013

WC-50 – Where did I go wrong?

This was the first year for the event held at the US White Water Center. The event was a 50k held on 2 loops and a 50 miler held on 4 loops. The Packet pick up and panel featuring Karl Meltzer was held at the WWC that Friday. I got there early to hear the panel. It was a treat to hear from such a big time runner the Ultra world but I have to say I’m still sticking with the runners I look up to now and hearing him speak just confirmed that I look up to the right runners. The things he said really stuck with me all night and into my run the next day. I look up to runners like….. time to name drop…. Ray Krolewicz, Richard Schick and Lester Farmer much more than any hot shot out there right now. These guys have been kicking ass and taking names running Ultras for a long time and when they show up to an event young guys still have to watch their back because these runners will come around the corner and pass you before you know it. (their like 50 years old if you have never heard of them… Google that crap).

     A small group got together for dinner and Phil “Ransom” Sustar a friend of Jason’s that I met at the Jewel said something that stuck with me even more. “why worry about it if it does not change your race?” even more stuff that just stuck in the back of my head.

     When I got to my hotel I almost could not sleep not because I was concerned about the race but because off all that I heard that night and everything I was reflecting on. I knew it was going to be a long run. I was still feeling weak after running FATS and thought hell I’ll cross the finish when I cross the finish.

     The morning of the run we all got out to the start and I spent some time talking with everyone and just getting my mind ready for the race. When people would ask what time I was planning on finishing I was quick to say 8 hours and 20 min. knowing good and well it was going to be a 10 hour day. (people just like to hear that crap) truth be told I did not expect anyone but Karl Meltzer to finish in that time. FYI no one finished it that time.

     As the run started the front pack took off while Doug and I settled into our pace for the day. It was not long before Doug decided that pace was to slow for him and he was gone. I was running about an 11:30 pace and my legs were still having trouble but I knew I would be able to stay in this ato-run for the whole day and that it would give me a 10 hour finish and I was more than happy with that.

     The loop was very windy and came next or over itself many times so when I came to the end of the loop 12.5 mile loop and my Garmin read 13.67 miles I was a little upset. Garmins always run short on trails that have lots of bends and come over on themselves like that so I knew that this was more than a 50 miler close to 55 miles and as big of a production as this event was and with all the trail sections to chose from there was no excuse for this. It would not have taken any time to lay out the course with a bike to get the true distance. I asked other runners and their Garmins read anything from 13.2 to 13.8. One local runner that was running with me for a bit said that the loop we were running was not the loop that was mapped out and he had been training on. Another local runner said the same thing to Doug. That could have been the problem but who knows. I started my 2nd loop thinking well fuck it; it will just be an 11 hour day I guess. Not long after I started my 2nd loop I came up on Doug and he was over it. He had been having problems and was calling it a day when we hit the next Aid Station. As we came close I said I would see him in a bit and he called it a day. I just kept shuffling along down the trail thinking about all the stuff I had heard the night before thinking why am I running a 50 miler two weeks after running a 50k? Why am I running another freaking loop course? I am so over loops it’s not even funny after Epic latter this year I may never run another loop course for the rest of my life. I don’t even remember the next 7 miles but I did notice my Garmin read that loop a little shorter than the 1st one. As I’m sitting down changing my vest out for handhelds and talking with Doug;
  Anji comes running up. I just sat there with my jaw on the ground. When did I pass her?!?!?! I asked her and she said I started in front of her. Bull shit. I know I started behind her and I know I never passed her. Doug made a joke and said not to worry about it and down the trail I went. The next 3 miles went about the same as the rest of them but then I started thinking I cut the course somehow. The trails were marked really well and I made it in the dark how could I jack something up in the daylight? Was she taking a bathroom break and I passed her? No way she was running to strong and I was just on autopilot. I cheated the course somehow.  I walked the next 2 miles or so just down on myself trying to think back on what I could have done. I thought well Ill just finish but just stand at the finish for about 15 min before I cross the finish line. I know I was 15 min give or take behind the pack of runners she was with around mile 18 so if I do that I’m good right? I knew I would not feel right about finishing so I dropped half way through my 3rd loop. Jessica Willey was working the AS so it was good to see a face I knew. She asked me if I was sure I wanted to drop and why. I just said yes and that today was just not my day. She gave me the look that she understood and offered me a seat. We talked for a bit and I said something along the lines of just wanting to go home and rub some Vaseline on my balls. The fact she knew me it came of no shock to her that that came out of my mouth but boy the looks I got from the other people around. The other woman working the AS well I thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head and one of the runners eating a sandwich about spit it out. That made my day right there. One of the WW staff came and picked me up and took me to the finish. I got a shower and stuck around to see some friends finish their 50k and headed home.

     This was a very well put together event with a lot of hi-end aspects. Big name sponsors, big name runners and great trails. Great volunteers and staff. I do think a little more could have been put into getting an accurate distance because I don’t believe that a Garmin is ever a good way to get the distance of trails like that. From my experience running at croft which is a lot like the trails there a Garmin just does not work. 12 miles at croft can really be 14 depending on the day.

     Looking at my Garmin data for the 1st and 2nd loop I did some back and forth ziz-zag deal the last 4 miles of the loop so I did jack the course up in some way and it was only right for me to drop. I have heard that people think other runners cut the course in some way but still finished. With a loop course and the way the trails stack on top of each other there is really no way to prevent that from happing out there unless you have people standing at every turn.

With all that I am looking to sell my entry into Mad Marsh Saturday November 22, 2013 presented by Lowcounry Ultras. It is a $50  entry fee but I need time off to let my legs rest and I am already pacing at Pinhoti so I’m looking to part ways with it for $25. If you would like it just post why you should get it and I’ll let my coworkers vote on it. If no one reads this blog then I’ll just keep the race swag for myself. Pretty sweet hats.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

FATS 50K – Not So FATS Course

Note from the RD
“My first ultra as a Race Director is under my belt. Overall, I'm very happy with the turn out, the relocated course and the runner comments. I couldn't ask for a better set of runners, friends and volunteers! From what I've heard; everyone had a blast and liked the temporary course. I could not have gotten the race off without the awesome support of Tommy and Margie for allowing us to use their land and an amazing group of volunteers headed up by Mellisa Davis Warden who I owe the world to for coming through on finding the course location in a hurry! I saw so many first time ultra finishers and couldn't help but to think back to October 2010 when I finished my first ultra at the 2010 FATS 50K. I was honored to be able to watch race director emeritus finish her first FATS without the stress of being the RD. I love my ultra running community.”
As many of you know, the government is currently going through a shutdown process. Due to these circumstances which are beyond my control, the Forks Trails that the FATS 50K is normally held on are officially closed and I cannot hold the race out there. Because of the shutdown, I have had to consider options that I normally would not consider this close to race day. One of those options was to relocate the race for this year only.”

     When this hit it was hard for me to go to the race. I was using this as a last long training run to get ready for WC 50. Much of the trails are alike in many ways and would help me see where I was at in my training. I still went down with that mind set and with the idea in my head that I was going to support David the RD. It takes a lot of work to put on an event and now he had to deal with the government shutdown.
Loved the fog

     I was planning on running about a 10 min pace and just staying smooth the whole race but thanks to a dead Garmin that could not happen. Luckily Doug was there and I could just go off his pace (after all I am using his training plan for WC) well Doug gets it in him to kick everyone’s ass so I just tried to keep him in sight the whole race and that plan was working out just great until the fog lifted and the sun started beating down on us. The course was half wooded trail and half open field (4 mile loop). I have been staying out of the sun as much as I could since the last 50 and was not ready for that to hit but I still pushed on. As the laps piled on the heat started beating me down. As one runner I passed said “the mind will go long before the body” boy was he right. Loop 6 I was so confused I did not know what lap I was on and really started to wonder and lost sight of Doug. I started getting a little down on myself but still able to push hard. I knew Andy was not far behind me and knew it would not be long before he passed me. During the 7th loop I decided to just try and stay in front of him as long as I could and that when I Started my last loop to drop my pack and just take my bottle/IPod. I had not had it the whole race and was hoping it would drown out some negativity that was building up. About half way through the 7th loop Andy was right behind me. Ok I told myself just keep one turn ahead of him. I did not care about beating him and did not think I would I was using him as a bench mark so to speak. I knew he would finish under 5 hours and that would help push me to the finish. As we came to the end of the 7th loop and hit the open section I knew then that on the last lap I would crumble right there. I knew when I hit that sun again that I was going to have a hard time.
Can you see the pain in them eyes?

Lap 8 then end of me. I had the Jack Johnson song Breakdown stuck in my head.
“I need this
Old train to breakdown
Oh please just
Let me please breakdown
I need this
Old train to breakdown
Oh please just
Let me please breakdown
I wanna break on down
But I cant stop now”

     I love the song but this was not the time to have that going through my head so I put on some of the most hardcore metal I had on my IPod and just pushed. My brain felt like it was on fire. At the half way aid drop I just took a knee and put water over me and sat there for what felt like 10 minutes. I finally started moving again and just wanted to heat to go away. Thinking where the hell did that amazing fog go that we had that morning? Not long after that Andy was behind me again and I was doing that whole run when someone comes close to you deal and started running again but not before Andy dumped same water on my head. I think he knew the heat was knocking me down a few pegs. As we hit that last open section again I just started running hard down that hill knowing I was not going to last much longer. I was right; as we started the last 100 yards up to the finish I went down. My brain had all the heat it could take. Andy stopped and picked me up and told me that I was not going to stop. I asked him to just keep running that way I could chase him to the finish. I felt like it was taking longer to run the last 100 yards then the whole freaking race took. I was done. Andy came back down the hill from the finish and said that if I just ran I could make it in under 5 hours. I gave it everything my head had and sprinted…. Well what felt like a sprint… across the finish. It took about an hour for me to get my head right and cooled off but once I did I felt fine.

Brain melting
     I very happy with my run and so thankful for everyone that helped bring this together. It was a great event and a special thanks to the home owners that let this happen. I am excited to see what happens at WC in a few weeks.
Beer makes everything better