The short: 5 loops (26.88 miles) plus extra credit in 6:08. Temps got into the high 90's with humidity.
The long: I was ready. I was set. I felt alot better than I did going into the Mt Si Ultra. The temps in the morning were at a beautiful 70 degrees and the winds were relatively calm.
Here were my goals going into this:
A.) Be there from start to finish for the full 12 hours.
B.) Do your best to reach 100k.
C.) Do your best to reach 50 miles.
D.) Do your best.
The trail is beautiful. You wouldn't even know this forest was in an urban area. Nice rolling hills. Great to hike or for training runs for pretty much anything. The ground was dirt, but pretty decently packed. Gaiters would have been good here, but I sadly didn't get my order from Dirty Girl Gaiters in time and I didn't want to wear my bushwhacking Outdoor Research ones since they wouldn't work with my Asics Gel Kayano 14's. The course design was setup like this: A medium size loop of 4.655 miles and a smaller connecting loop of 0.72 miles, making the "BIG LOOP" at 5.375 mi. The rules basically are to do as many big loops as you can in 10 hours. After 10 hours, you can either continue to do big loops or do just the little 0.72 mile loop till time runs out. I sadly never got my chance.
So here's what happened loop by loop:
First loop: I took one bottle with me on the course and ran at a faster clip than I should have. I was trying to follow the crowd initially and learn my way around the place. Despite trail markings, I just don't have that good of a sense of direction until I've ran along something atleast 1-2 times minimum. So I was cruising along, walking the ups, running the downs and flats. Feeling awesome! First one done in 51:49. I had planned on 1 loop per hour, but that was fine too.
Second loop: After getting my bottle filled up with more Gatorade, I went out again. The heat was increasing, but not by much. Still felt like it was the mid-70's and the humidity wasn't messing with us...yet. Still crusing along. Still enjoying the trail and forest. Then I lost my brain. There is a point where you're supposed to take a left to get to the small loop and then to the start to be checked in again. I went RIGHT and ended up running about another mile for my trouble. I thought I was okay until I saw tc* and realized, "Hey, I know I'm not THIS fast! What's going on?!" I turned back around as the idiot that I was and headed to finish the little loop before checking in. Second one with extra credit in 1:10:44. Well, so much for "one loop an hour".
Third loop: Another bottle reload and I was off again. On this loop, a veteran ultrarunner who has done this for over 30 years advised that I learn to "pee on the run". I always had trepidations about it, but figured, "Oh, what the hell." and had more practice. I do admit, I'm getting better with shuffling my feet and learning to relieve myself. And best of all, I was still moving at a good clip. Third one done in 1:08:00. "Maybe I CAN do one loop an hour after all!" I thought.
Fourth loop: I got another reload, but I didn't get the same stuff as before. Seems we ran out of Gatorade on the course and they were using Heed. Never tried it and I never will again. Stuff tasted like sweet coconut and I hate coconut! But dehydrating runners can't be choosers. The temps were now much MUCH higher than I anticipated at this point. It wasn't even lunchtime and it was over 90 degrees! I sucked down more liquid on this loop than before and ran into trouble. Bottle was empty when I reached the little loop. Even though I could SEE the aid station, I didn't feel right about going over there. I took it mildly slower on the loop and begged for more drink when I crossed the checkpoint. Fourth loop in 1:13:29 and the heat was starting to drag me down.
Fifth loop: I decided that after the no-liquid screw-up, I went to my dropbag for my extra bottle. Crap!!! The dropbag contents were hot as hell! I immediately dumped my once cold Gatorade and had to settle for one bottle filled with Heed and one with water. Now during this whole race, I was popping S!Caps. First at every 45-60 minutes. Then as I was going through loop 3, it became every 30 minutes. On this loop, my stomach was just not feeling good at all. I wasn't dehydrated. My peeing proved that. I took S!Caps at the most appropriate times and based on my own sweat level. What was happening to me? I sat down on a bench in the forest and started to wait it out. While waiting, I shook out the debris out of my shoes and hand-popped a blister that was killing me to no end. 30 minutes ticked on by before I decided to walk and give it a go. It wasn't until 20 minutes in where my legs were feeling up to snuff. Shawn appeared soon after and we paced each other for the rest of this loop (she was on her 6th). I was so greatful for her stash of Tums. It was the only thing that calmed my stomach. I guess whatever was going on, my body's own acid production must have gone into overload. Usually, I have an iron stomach and I don't get GI issues like most folks. I can only attribute the feeling to the weather. Nothing else could have done it. After exiting the chute, I called it a day and the wife at home told me to not continue. Final loop for me was in 1:44:38
Total: 6:08:42. This was the slowest time I've ever had on a course that was near a marathon distance, even with trails and elevation. But on that hot and humid day, alot of people had difficulties and were slower than expected.
Things I did well:
- Downhill running! It's the only thing that I'm actually good at.
- Uphill strides. Getting better than before. Should do more hill training.
- Paying more attention to my body's well-being.
- Got better rest the day before the race.
Things I learned:
- Take Tums with me
- Pack Gatorade Powder to mix if Aid Station is out
- Although the heat was not expected, I should have had some kind of way to combat it properly (coolwrap on the neck, desert hat, etc).
- Wear gaiters on anything with the words "trail" on it or make makeshift ones if necessary
- Need to do MORE longer distance runs. These 10-12 mile runs on the weekend aren't enough to survive these things anymore.
I would say heat training, but this wasn't a predicted heat like you would expect at some races. Last year, the temps were perfect and stayed perfect from what I was told. The race mileage numbers certainly proved that.
I do want to do this race again, but I'm going to make sure I'm better prepared this time and hey - atleast I wasn't sick as a dog before hand!