Monday, April 14, 2008

Mt Si Ultra Race Report (aka Sucking Wind)

I'm not kicking myself nearly as much as I did yesterday, but it still is a letdown.

So what the hell happened?

The short story: I DNF'ed at mile 30 after having 27 miles of great running.

The long story: After weeks of bad mileage (0 miles to 25 miles per week) and trying to recover from a very stubborn chest cold, I still had a small bit of hope that I would be able to finish the Mt Si 50 Mile Ultra. I had a sound strategy for the event itself, from what would be in my drop bags, to the pace I was going to run & run/walk at. I even setup an icebath tub in my car for afterwards to help me recover.

This was the second time I did this 50 mile run. The first time was a year ago and I finished in 10:37. I wasn't planning on beating my PR, but just to finish.

We started out at 5am and due to my familiarity with the course, I helped a few early start newbies to where we needed to turn off at in the darkness. As the sun rose, the glory of nature really showed itself. It was a great day for a run of any kind. It was a great day to be outdoors.

I hit the first aid station/dropbag #1 point @ mile 5.7 and drank up some Pepsi and GU2O. I also slammed an Espresso Love GU and then headed to the next point about 4 miles away. Time - 1:04:51

As I kept going, I conversed with a few of the early starters to let them know when to expect the next aid station (which was the turnaround point). However, the race turned me into a liar. The spot where the aid station was supposed to be wasn't there! I look into the distance and see a runner coming towards me. I run towards him and he said that they were late and they were over a quarter mile from where they should be. Figures I would be getting some kind of extra credit miles. I got some water from the guys and walked them to the spot they should have been. So what should have been 9.9 miles into the run became 10.5 before I turned around. Time - 52:24/1:57:16

Since the course is designed as an out-n-back, I was able to return to my dropbag and get my bottles to continue on the course. The weather was nicely warming up as the morning progressed, so off went the gloves and long-sleeve. Slammed another GU along with some potatoes and thanked the volunteers. 14 miles and so far, so good. Time - 41:26/2:38:42

As I left the aid station, Eric Sachs showed up soon after and decided to push me for about 0.5 miles...literally. We all had a good laugh. Once back on the road for that brief mile, I stopped along the side to shake out the gravel that ended up in my shoes. I didn't wear gaiters this time, but I was thrilled to see that I didn't get any blisters in the places I did last year. I waived at all the relay runners and non-early starters as they came in the other direction. I soon headed back up the stairs to get back on the trail and to get to the next aid station. 20 miles into it, still feeling good and not feeling any signs of the chest cold, I was in good spirits. I loaded up at the aid station since it was going to be 9 miles to the next full station and about 5 miles to the unmanned aid station of just water and bananas. Time - 1:13:49/3:52:31

As the sun continued to shine down, I drank a bit more than usual, but I was still feeling well. After an botched hi-five to the Deputy who was controlling traffic, I got to the unmanned aid station at mile 25 and drank some more before heading up the 4 miles to my second drop bag. Time - 49:38/4:42:09

I checked my watch and realized that I was actually doing BETTER than last year so far. Not having soles covered in large blisters does make for speedier times on the course. As I ascended the mild 2% incline that lead up to the next aid station, I started to slow down WAY TOO MUCH about mile 27. It was like someone let the air out of the tires. I trudged my way up to the aid station and sat down. It was the longest 4 miles I ever had to do (or it felt like it anyway). Time - 1:01:41/5:43:51

I got some serious help from Jim Kirby (9 time winner of the race) who was volunteering this year due to injuries and I drank up some chicken soup from my dropbag along with a Starbucks DoubleShot and some water and Gatorade. After a 10+ minute sit, I got up and slowly shuffled my feet in a lame walk to get things moving again. I moved along for at best a quarter mile and then collapsed to the ground on my hands and knees. I just didn't have the endurance to keep going. I sat there on the ground for awhile, hoping that my composure would come back and I could continue. But after awhile, I realized that there was no way that I could push on for 20 more miles, even if the last 15 would be downhill. I just wasn't in enough shape to do it. So, eating some serious humble pie, I waived the white flag as I returned to the previous aid station to indicate my drop and begged for a ride back to the start where my icebath would be.

Due to the time I arrived, I had the chance to see the front of the pack finishers. They were all sympathetic and encouraging. Sometimes, it's just not your day in a race is what they pretty much said. But they did also say that having bad training weeks doesn't help either. Eric said that it was better to drop than to be in an ambulance. A VERY GOOD POINT. I had alot of time to soak in the icebath and think of everything. Although I lost out in getting a 50 mile finish this time, for the time I was out there - it was a good run and a gorgeous day to do it. Plus, the people there also made me understand why I do what I do. As I always say, ultrarunners are indeed salt of the earth people. Another thing learned, NEVER HALF-ASS YOUR TRAINING. I made a vow now never to do what I did and take better care of myself.

I have the Redmond Watershed Preserve 12-hr run in 5 weeks and I'm going to make sure I'm definately ready to stick that one out as long as possible and redeem myself.


Nic said...

Go kick the Redmond Watershed Preserve's ass! (and then tell us about it once you have)

shawn said...

I don't know what words you want to hear, but here goes...running a ~50k after a major cold is STILL TOUGH.

So congrats on getting in a good training run. I really liked reading your report. I can picture you on the ground and I totally know what you mean about losing your composure. You lose the ability to breathe properly for god's sake!

It's easy to look on at a DNF and say "what if?" but you've been running long enough now to know when to say when. You'll get 'em next time.

King Arthur said...

You had an Ice bath in your car! Dude that's some smart thinking. I've thought about that before but haven't come up with a good way to do it.