Monday, June 24, 2013

Bad Marsh Night Ultra 50k Race Report

Race Report:
Yep, my second DNF of the year. Not that I'm proud of it but I'm happy that I made the decision to quit early. There were so many reasons and nearly all of them were mental. I just wasn't feeling it. I knew I had a lovely wife waiting for me at the hotel room. I knew I had a long drive ahead of me the next day. I wasn't really having fun anymore. I had no vested interest in finishing the race. I knew when I registered that my chances at finishing were low.

I also had quite a few physical maladies that played into my decision. Really, they just added more weight to the scales in favor of bailing out. First, I was still recovering from last weekend's Second Annual First Annual Father's Day Fat Ass 50k. My feet were sore. My hips hurt. My knees hurt. My back hurt. My stomach did not like Hammer Heed. I gradually built a deficit of electrolytes and fluids. I wasn't going to make the 8 hour cut-off. I was getting overheated.

The laundry list of complaints and excuses continues. But you get the idea. I just wasn't mentally or physically going to finish this race no matter what I threw at it. So I quit. I was tempted to go for another lap but I realized that would just be a waste of time. I didn't need to practice walking at night, I needed to practice running at night. And I wasn't running. So I just walked away while I was still ahead.

It was a tough decision but once I made it, I was easy. And once I was sure of it, I felt good about it.

As for the race itself, it was a pretty low-key affair. There were roughly 100 runners, more than double last year's amount, and everyone was happy and chatty at the start. A little too chatty but I dealt with it. The race director made sure everyone was in place on time and gave us our pre-race directions. There were no mentions of alligators or mosquitoes but plenty of talk about elevation.

Speaking of elevation, there was none. Compared to the DRHT 50k and the Seashore 50k, this course is even flatter. There were a few dips in the course but nothing more than what you'd find in your pancake. The one hill, yes, it was a hill, measured about 10 feet. And it was maybe 50 feet wide at the base. So a quick up and a quick down. That's it. Seriously. Crossing the road was about the next biggest hill. This is the Lowcountry of South Carolina and there's nothing there but sand dunes. In fact, I saw sand dunes with bigger hills than this course.

The terrain is nearly all dirt with some pine needles, some sand, and a few very short sections of broken pavement. Having been a golf course in the past life, the trail was the old golf cart path with the pavement removed. There were a few sections that were narrow single-track through mildly tall grass but most of it was double track and well maintained.

There were plenty of bugs out but that seemed to be the norm for the general area. The mosquitoes would suck you dry and carry you off if you didn't lather up in some sort of repellant. As a spectator you could have stood downwind of the runners and gotten a good coating just moving through the cloud of bug spray. The spiders were huge at night and their glowing eyes creeped me out as normal. So did the flying mosquitoes. Turns out their eyes reflect light too. The millipedes are huge too but I only saw one so felt pretty safe. The cockroaches are faster than you'd expect so run past them when you see them or they may pass you if you walk. Seriously.

I saw no snakes and no alligators and only one cat. The Super Moon was pretty cool and I was able to navigate to the finish without a light over the past quarter mile. I figured if I was dropping, I might as well enjoy myself and the view. The Spanish Moss was super cool to run under and looked just as pretty in the light of a headlamp. Caught myself looking up just as much as down. Thankfully I didn't trip.

The course is a 4.5 mile loop that you run seven times to get the full 50k. I made it four loops. There's one aid station at the Start/Finish area with the usual fair of drinks and snacks. Most runners set up their chairs and their own aid stations just past this so they could get their own stuff. The porta johns were a tenth of a mile or so past this and doubled as the large truck parking area. Turns out there's a seriously low branch that keeps the big cars out. Everyone else parked near the Start/Finish area. The course winds through many neighborhoods and you get to see the backyard of hundreds of homes. Other than one small group of annoying kids that decided to move the course marking, everyone seemed to be pretty nice as we ran past. The course marking was minimal but as long as you pay attention the first few loops you won't get lost. Although one lady clearly had trouble as she passed me and couldn't find the path. There are also a few road crossings that were not patrolled by a course official but worked as a great time-check for runners.

All in all, a nice race in a wonderful town. I'd love to go back and actually spend more time there so I can finish the race and still have fun on vacation.

Temps were about 85F to 90F. Humidity was high. The sun was out but there were a few clouds too. Hardly any wind. Full moon came out as the sun set.

Fluids and Fuel:
This pretty much broke the race for me. I've had Hammer Heed before but never this much. Turns out my body much prefers Hammer Fizz. I had some salted potatoes, Hammer Heed, plain water, flat soda, and that's about it. My final lap I had a Jersey Mike's sub since I knew I was going to DNF. Recovery was a hot shower and a beer.

Aches and Pains:
Still stiff and sore from the week before but most of the pain was in my hips, back, and bottoms of my feet.

Went very light for the race. Just my water bottle, a head lamp and flashlight when the sun went down, and that was it. Only wore my shirt on the last lap.


Lap 1 - 54:46
Lap 2 - 56:53
Lap 3 - 1:06:25
Lap 4 - 1:28:42
DNF - 4:26:47

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