I started the race with Yoshimi. Those running with their canine companions have to start five minutes after the rest.... This allows the runners to flesh out prior to introducing hounds in the mix [You are given back the five minutes at the end...it's NOT a penalty]. It's weird starting a race without the normal adrenalin that comes along with having other runners....There's only two of us running with our dogs... It's not like I'm attempting to hold the pace of anyone. Of course, Yoshi drops logs in the first quarter mile....This sets me even further back from the herd.
The beginning is a few gradual, runnable climbs leading up to LORD HILL. Last year, I REALLY struggled with this beast. This year, I didn't understand why it's considered so difficult.... It's steep but not particularly long. Sure, the calves will complain but you can power up within a couple minutes if you remain focused. Granted, it was a wall of slippery mud this year with a stream running down the middle. But hey.....it's a glimpse of what's to come....
Per usual, it takes about four miles to start falling into a groove. Finally, I'm starting to pass the back-of-the-packers and Yoshimi is surprisingly not stopping to sniff [and mark] every bush along the trail. We're flying through the gorgeous, green singletrack and I'm having a blast.
The whole course is MUDDY but I'd say that the second half of the loop is "worse". We're talking about ankle-deep, shoe-eating mud....Sections of the course are basically running streams with slick rock underneath.
I notice that Yoshi is starting to get tired around mile 7....He's starting to fall behind me rather than lead. Our place slows quite a bit. He's bumping into the back of my legs on the narrow trail, which is causing me to trip. I quickly realize that he's not going to make it through another loop...At least not at a speed conducive for making the final loop cut-off. One thing that I know about my dog is that when he's done, he's done.... He will literally stop and lay down, refusing to move.... I cannot risk that happening in the middle of a race. At the end of the first loop, I get him situated in the car - food, water, bone and bedding.... We're about 2 hrs 42 min in.....
I'm eager to make up for lost time.....I just focus on moving as quick as I can through the climbs and mud. I bumped into Jeff (and Taco) around mile 14.
|My Taco loves his Mama|
I walk with them for a minute or two before charging forward. A couple miles later, I make the realization (thanks to some major cramping) that I have not been diligent enough about drinking my Tailwind mixture. I was so fixated upon Yoshi during the first loop, I barely drank anything. I want to catch up but I cannot overload my stomach with calories....what a predicament! I start taking long sips every 1/2 mile...I'm hitting a mental and physical low.... I'm having some ankle pain when trespassing over the rockier sections.... Many runners are struggling around me, talking about dropping.... It's hard not to feed off that negative energy. And then the weather makes good on its promise of rain..... Thankfully, I love the rain but I'm covered in sweat.... I know I'll need to throw on another layer which means stopping by the car AGAIN....I'm feeling much better by the time that I hit the sweet road descent into the start / finish area where laps begin / end. I detour by the van, spending more time than I should comforting my dog. After I put on my sweater, I rush to the aid station... I'm burdened with the news that they have ran out of Coke. Oh well. I grab a brownie from my drop bag then continue onto my final loop [this was the only FOOD that I consumed throughout the race].
A time comes in every ultra where mental faculties are diminished and you're running on auto-pilot.... You're placing one foot in front of another, struggling to stream together coherent thoughts beyond, "MUST GET DONE" "BEER" "FOOD".... One step. Another step. Repeat. With each climb or difficult section completed, I feel a little more relief.... That's the last time that I'll have to do that! The freaking hardest part about the final loop is that you're not FINISHED upon completion...You still have another short one mile loop....This will be the longest mile of your life....
I was ecstatic to be done. I was even more stoked at the idea of eating a feast of deep fried Chinese food. This race was a toughie.... it wasn't that I found the race particularly challenging.... I just couldn't seem to move forward with the speed that I know that I'm capable of. Nutritionally, I FAILED.....Altogether, I MAYBE consumed 500 calories.... For seven hours of running, that is absolutely ridiculous. Only 26 people finished the 50k....Even though I had an ugly day, I accomplished what I came to do.
I want to note that I wore my Nike Terra Kigers..... I cannot tell you how many times that my feet were completely submerged in mud and/or water..... Not a single freaking blister. I wore the same pair for Orcas....only ONE small blister. A freaking miracle!