Monday, February 4, 2008

Bringing on the pain! - Lord Hill 50k race report

The short: 32 miles (got lost for 0.5 miles), 5550 total elevation gain, Finished @ 7:48:06. Longest Run ever next to my first 50 miler (50 miler was 10:37:43). Finished Dead Last!

The Long: Ok, so with my falling asleep episode at the Pigtails Run 50k last week, I was more determined to try and finish this 50k and be conscious.

I set out to Snohomish, WA for this event. The course is setup to where you do three sets of 10.5 mile "loops" (although when you look at it from a map, it's more designed like a series of lollypop loops tied together - a major way to get lost!). Elevation is about 1850 ft of gain. So at the end, you would have completed 31.5 miles and had done 5550 ft of climbing. Yeah, a real quad-buster for guys like me who need to spend more time hill training.

I was more ready for this race. I had gotten more sleep (6 hours compared to 3 hours from the previous race), had my supply of Espresso Love flavored GU with double the caffeine, and had a Starbucks DoubleShot Espresso in my dropbag.

Starting out with the first loop, I spent alot of time power-hiking the uphills and doing my best to run downhill and on the flats. It was this point I realized that my old trail shoes were in need of replacement. Half a size too small would be something that I would feel after the run was over.
Towards the halfway point, I was moving pretty well. There was a pretty good downhill that I was able to let gravity take over. Downhill running is the only thing going for me on trails, even if my shoes aren't up to snuff. But what goes down, will have to come up in this event. After slogging through many mud puddles, I saw the reason why they called the place "Lord Hill". A vertical ascent of nearly a mile makes you pray that God would strike you dead before you even go near it. The thing was so steep that no one could actually run it or even power-hike it unless they were super-elite runners. So I did my best to climb up this thing to reach the top and then get my butt back to the start to finish the loop out. First loop finished at 2:03:20.

I swapped Gatorade bottles and went out for loop two. Now my feet were getting a bit sore from the shoes feeling tighter (this I can assume my feet were swelling slightly from the pounding). I did my best to maintain my energy and pace, but that monster hill yet again sucked more life out of me. At this point, my brain and body were shifting to a primal state. It was like I escaped a group of hunters and was still moving after being wounded. My quads were feeling trashed and I knew I still had one loop left to go through this muddy-muddy place. I finished loop 2 in 2:33:26 and was seriously questioning on dropping for the fact that I would be well past the cutoff of the race. However, the RD knew of my previous 50k narcoleptic episode and told me to just go out there and finish it. He gave me enough of a kick in the butt that I needed.

However, this would prove to be the most challenging loop that would require a great deal more resources. I sucked down a GU and my Doubleshot, making me seriously caffeinated. I looked around for more Gatorade...uh oh. No Gatorade anywhere. I didn't bring a third bottle and the RD didn't have any (just water and other Ultra food). He offered to give me some food to take on the course and to just fill my bottle with water. I declined. I still had GU's, but I knew that I'd suck down water faster than I would a sports drink or something else filled with sugar...sugar...hmmm...

On the table, I saw a bottle of generic Cola. Bingo. I hadn't used Coke on the run for about 8 months, but this was an unusual situation. So I filled my empty bottle with the brown liquid and set off. My legs were really sore at this point and I did my best to run when I could. To keep my mind aware of what was around me, I ran the rest of the course in reverse. This proved to give me some mild complications. First was the elevation gain in spots that were not so good to feel after 20+ miles of running. Second was getting lost mildly due to misunderstanding the direction markers.

However, one thing I didn't do in reverse was the monster hill. I decided to go up that thing one last time. However, to help me along, I fashioned a set of walking sticks to use as treking poles to get my ass up that thing AND to help with the running on the flats and downhills like a pair of ski poles. So I let my weak upper-body do some of the work that my lower-body just couldn't do totally on its own.

One last hill climb and I was shocked to find myself 0.5 miles to the finish! I pushed hard (literally) and used my legs and poles to the finish, ending it with a scream of relief and ferocity to be done with it. Third loop finished in 3:11:19.

32 miles in 7:48:06. A Dead Last Finish. Blisters on the right foot from the shoe squeeze. Quads that are still screaming out as I move...and the respect from my fellow Maniac friends for crossing that finish line.

Best race ever. Looking forward to more and adding the miles.

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