Monday, May 14, 2007

Quicksilver 50 mile

Wow! That kicked my butt. I finished though (Thanks to some convincing at the mile 31 aid station!)
This is Mimi and me waiting for the restroom before the race. She had a great 50k race! While I was whining at the mile 31 aid station, she came in strong under 7 hours.

This second picture is when Mimi caught up to me at mile 23-ish at the Dam Overlook aid station.

This is quite a long report and (warning!) gets really whiny. I had a great time despite what it may sound like in the report. Lessons learned: take salt pills and ibuprofen, train more, feeling great at 20 miles and feeling like quitting at 30 miles doesn't mean a thing, and it's all a mind game.

The day started at 3am as my alarm went off. I knew I might have been in trouble that day when I swung my legs out of bed and stood up. Creak and snap when my ankles and knees. Great... I started on my energy drink and went out to the kitchen to get breakfast. Hopped in the shower, put on my clothes, printed out the directions and off I went...already 20 minutes late. Luckily at 4:30 on a Saturday morning, no one is one the freeways. I quickly got down to San Jose, got my racing bib and took my place waiting for the port-a-pottie. Waiting in line to go to the restroom before a race seems to be my time to meet people. I met Rajeev, Carol, and Mimi and few others. I see many familiar faces but not able to connect the names, and I hear a lot of familiar names but not able to connect the faces. One of these times. I was really happy to see Mimi out there. She quickly took our picture and she took off to keep warm in her car while I waiting for the restroom. I wouldn't see her again for another 5 hours.
I got up to the start line and made my way to the back. I again saw familiar faces. Amazing how nerves before a race can make me socially inept.
We were off before we knew it. Literally, everyone around me was like, oh...I guess we should get going, looks the race has started.
Right away, I started to think about what I would do to make the day successful. I would power up the hills, run the flats, and glide downhill, trying not to kill my quads or IT Band. I would move quickly through the aid stations. With 12 AS, it's easy to lose a lot of time. I was also going to take shot blocks, salt pills and ibuprofen.
For the first couple of miles, I ran (ok, was mostly hills) near Barbara Elia. She is an amazing ultra runner. I remember reading on someone's blog about advice she had given, use your arms to help pump your way uphill. And that's what I did. I pumped up those hills quickly.
I was having a lot of fun. I was last in a line of about 10 runners that were quickly running through the woods. I kept about 5 feet off the last runner, who I decided I was going to kept up with. I heard her talk earlier about running Western States and I felt comfortable with the pace. Hmmm...mistake in the works... I should have asked her if she was running the 50k or 50 mile, and what her planned time was. The last time I saw her was around mile 14, she leaving the aid station as I was coming in. At that point is when I first realized that I made another rookie mistake, going out to fast. (Will I ever learn?)
Walking uphill makes me wonder how I will ever finish before the cut-off times. I had looked down at my Garmin 201 and saw 7.99 miles. About 5 minutes had gone by and I looked down to look at my pace and the distance said 7.92. How's that for morale?? My watch said I was going so slow, I was going backwards!
Coming out of Capehorn AS, mile 14.5, was the last time I saw any runners until I reach the top of the hill (Mine hill?) and going down to the Dam Overlook AS. The people I saw were the people coming back! They were a good 9 miles ahead of me. One person I did recognize was Scott Dunlap. He was doing the 50k that day, so I reminded myself that I had to do an extra 19 miles that day...and he's pretty fast to begin with. Also at this point, I thought I just had to go down the hill and back up, and doing that math in my head put the frontrunners only 4 miles ahead of me. That really boosted my confidence. I got down to the Dam Overlook AS really fast (oops!) About 19 miles into this thing and I was feeling just fine. I heard one of the runners ask what sort of pace and finishing time we were currently doing. No one really answered him. They kind of shrug their shoulders and smiled. My answer to another 20 miles, let's talk and then we'll worry about pace.
The 5 mile loop back to Dam Overlook AS was fairly uneventful. I did get a little freaked out along the way. I could hear something above me in the grass. There are mountain lions in the hills and you just never know! I took a little time to settle my nerves a took a closer look, turned out to be a deer. I also found the one of two restrooms on the course. I only had to wait 5 minutes. While I was waiting, someone else showed up to wait in line. He asked me what I was doing today. I told him that I was doing a race today. He asked me how long. I told him 50 miles. He told me that 15 miles was a long ways to go. I corrected him and said no, 5, 0...50 miles. He just looked at me and I could read his face before he even said the word..."Why?!?" Just then the door open to the port-a-pottie. I smiled, quickly did what I needed to do and came back out. He told me he thought I was crazy, but to have a good time. I told him, I think I might be a little crazy too.
On the climb back up to the Dam Overlook AS, I caught up with Mimi! She must have passed me when I was in the port-a-pottie. Talked for a little while before I continued to power up the hill. Mimi got to the AS as I was trying to put the top back onto my water bottle. She snapped a quick picture and told me, "for your blog!" I told her it would be funny to see my expression of trying to do something simple after running 23 miles. I quickly stuffed food into my mouth and made my way back up that hill to the next AS. It was a long hill. I passed one person who looked like he was having a tough time. I remember seeing him running up the hills early in the race. He didn't have any water bottles and he looked pretty rough. I made sure he was ok before leaving. I have this fear that someday I might be in that state and hope that a passerby will take the time to check on me.
Got over to the Englishtown AS still feeling pretty strong. It was about 27 miles and my time was looking like I was going to finish under 11 hours. And then my world came crashing down. I was under the impression that this part of the run was an out-and-back of 4 miles. 2 miles to the start/finish line for the 50k'ers and 2 miles back for us 50 milers. Hmmm, 27+2 doesn't quite equal 31, but math skills seem to go quickly down the drain while running. I thought just go to the bottom of this hill and then it'll be a quick turnaround to go back. I saw runners coming back, that I recognized would probably finish around 8-9 hours and felt really good about my time. But as I kept going, I noticed that I was not getting closer to any turn-around. That's when I hit the rollercoaster hills. Holy crap! They are not kidding with these hills. I did not remember these hills from the start of the race. To give you an idea, in .1 mile there is 132 ft of climb and then right back down another 100 ft in .1 mile. And to top it off, it's at mile 30. I remember getting to the bottom of the hill and looking up, straight up, thinking, how the hell am I going to get up this damn thing! I wanted to cry. My legs were hurting, the clock was ticking away and each time I had to go down hill, it felt like someone was sticking a knife into my right leg. And then there's a 414 ft drop in .6 mile just to make sure your quads are finished. I was done. I was REALLY, REALLY done. On my way down this last big drop, a woman came flying by me saying, we're almost finished...keep going. I told her I still had 19 miles to go. Boy...I was getting really whiny at this point. I got to the start/finish and stood at the aid station looking at the finish line, seeing people sitting around eating, with their feet up. People relaxing, laughing, clapping as people were crossing the finish line.
I want to be done. I'm done. I did 50k, that's good enough. My legs are too tired, my IT Band is too tweaked. I can't do it, I can't do 19 more miles. It's impossible. I can't do those roller coaster hills again. I can't do that big drop out of the Englishtown AS. Then I saw the first 50 mile finisher. I looked at my watch and it said something around 6:50 or something. I told myself there was no way I could get in under 11 hours and I might not actually get through the cut-off times. I was in bad shape mentally. Thank God for the two aid station workers. You look fresh. You look like you just started this race. Have some soup, you look great. What's another 19 mile? You can do it. Then I saw Mimi running up to the finish line. Ok I told them. I'll stop whining and get out of here. At that point, I was 75 out of 119 runners. I had to asked because I really thought I was the last one.
The next 4 miles were the toughest 4 miles I've ever done. The hills were killing me both up and down. There were few flat sections and I didn't think I would be finishing that day. I was just about out of water and sports drink when I finally got to the Englishtown AS. These guys were great. I could hear them singing and really having a great time. I dragged my butt up the last climb to the AS. They filled my bottles and asked how I was doing. I told me that I felt in really bad shape and didn't know if I could do it. I was walking the uphills, walking the downhills and shuffling along the flats. One of the guys (who I've seen many times before) smiled and said that there wasn't much flat. He offered to pour some water over my head, which I gladly took the offer. I put my hat back on, smiled and said see you again if I make the cut-off.
It was 2 miles to the next AS and the first cut-off time. 3:20pm. I had plenty of time to get there, but I really didn't know what the trails had in store for me. It was the best 2 miles of the entire run. Nice little single track through some bushes that was fairly flat, and then some slight rolling hills through a little prairie. The breeze felt wonderful and I started to get some positive thoughts back into my head. And I saw a runner ahead of me. It had been a long time since I saw someone that wasn't going in the opposite direction! My new goal: keep up with the runner ahead of me. I finally caught her at the Hicks Rd. AS. Two really nice women took great care of both of us and for the first time I thought I was going to be able to finish. I was 1 hour ahead of the cut-off. I had an 8 mile out-and-back ahead of me, but I had plenty of time.
I pushed my sore leg to the next AS. I caught up to the runner I worked hard keeping up with, Mylinh (I think that was her name) at the turn-around. I thanked her for keeping me going. We briefly talked before turning around heading back to Hicks Rd AS.
As I was coming back to the Hicks Rd AS, I saw the last few runners. There were probably 7 or 8 runners left, including the guy that was asking about his pace at mile 20. I just smiled and laughed to myself. I still make that mistake and this was my 3rd 50-miler. I got to AS with plenty of time to spare...I think. My Garmin had died between the two aid stations. Those things need longer battery life (or maybe I need to run faster)! I had another AS to get to and then back to the finish line. I made it under the last cut-off time and could take as long as I need to get to the finish line from Hicks Rd.
I thought my IT band was starting to release it's hold over my right leg and I was able to shuffle down the hills a little bit faster. I was jogging the flats a little faster too. Then my right leg tweaked again and I told myself there was no need to push myself into a long-term injury and just take it easy.
I got to the Englishtown AS once again. They were all clapping for me as I jogged in. Amazing how little things like people smiling and clapping to lift my spirits and confidence. I was getting ready to hear the dreaded words, turn right and go down that hill that killed you at mile 27 to the finish. 4 more miles. Instead I was told to go forward and it was only 2 short miles to the finish. OH MY GOD! I thought I died and went to heaven. I was soooo excited not to have to go down that hill again and 4 miles! That was the best news all day!
I breezed right through the AS and shuffled my way down the road. I did start to realize though that I would probably have to do some more of those roller coaster hills though. And I was right. The course headed me back to those hills. This time I knew what I need to do. Inch my way up, inch my way down. Swing my arms and get through it.
What relief to finally make it down the last big drop and into the homestretch. I ran right to the finish line. 11:40:xx. I would take it. 40 minutes shy of my goal, but it was a finish. Today it would have to do. There's always another race to do another day.
What was frustrating is that my muscles didn't feel that fatigued, but my IT Band was very upset with me. Foam Roller, Foam Roller, Foam Roller.

Next up...300 miles across Iowa.


Blogger Mimi said...


Wow! You rock! Way impressive, on this tough 50 mile course. It was so fun seeing you do it. Maybe I'll join you at that distance next year (and maybe not)!


1:29 PM  
Blogger Brad said...

Thanks for the pictures! I think we were about 1 minute apart for most of the run!
I think you could do 50 miles this year if you wanted to.

2:13 PM  
Blogger MissAllycat said...

Wow - 50 miles. That's awesome. Congrats, Brad!


6:43 PM  

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