Tuesday, August 06, 2013

2013 Dahlgren Heritage Rail Trail 50k Race Report

Not my best performance but hey, I finished. How did I finish? Sheer will power, determination, and prior knowledge. I did not finish because of my training. How do I know? Because I didn't train. Go take a look at my training for the past few months. Go ahead. You do it, I'm too afraid to see how horrible it really is. I know I did a fat ass 50k in June, another attempt at one a week later, and then pretty much nothing. I think my longest run between this race and the last attempt was 8 miles. After that, it was 2 miles or so. Yeah, I may have been running, but it sure as hell wasn't training. And I got what I deserved. A last place finish. Am I happy about it? Hell no. I'm upset, maybe even a little pissed. But the only thing keeping me completely sane is that I finished.

So what went wrong? Well, how about we just skip that and move to the shorter list of what went right. First, the weather turned out to be damn near perfect for an early August race. For the first time in the five year history of the race, the temperature outside was actually tolerable. Yes, it was hot, humid, and stuffy, but not anywhere near where it was in years past, especially in the afternoon. In fact, I think it was around Mile 23 before I started dousing myself with cold water to stay cool. I think last year I was barely to the halfway point before doing that.

Another thing that went right was I somehow managed to run (with walking breaks of course) to the turn-around point before taking longer walking breaks. It may have been my training base that helped, I don't know, but after making it that far, I knew I'd have at least a chance at finishing.

Going into the race, I knew I was going to be chasing the cut-offs. And having told myself, and others, that, I began to believe it. Which means it became reality when I got out there on the course. After 13 miles, my wife and kids were cheering for me at after an aid station and I damn near lost it. I had a runner behind me, local ultra legend Joyce Ong, and she passed me. Which meant I was last. It crushed me. That, combined with my kids cheering for me, really sent me into a death spiral of self doubt and pity. Somehow I managed to slowly catch up to Joyce before the new bypass at Mile 14.5. I felt a little better. I saw two guys in front of me, both were walking, and I felt even better. By the time I reached the turn around at Mile 15.5, I had passed them, seen Ashland Dave, seen Kris D. , and knew I had a "people" cushion behind me for the cut offs. I made the turn around with half an hour to spare, and headed back. I ran/walked a few miles with Kris until she, Joyce, and the two walking guys eventually passed me for good. For better or worse, Joyce was slow enough to stay behind me until Mile 23 due to some leg cramps. But she still walked faster than me and easily put about 20 minutes on me by the time she finished.

As for me, well, I walked a lot on the way back to the finish. It was tough and I managed to find a few running spurts here and there but overall, I was walking about 18 minute miles. So damn precise in fact that I could easily calculate my pace and how much time I had to beat the next cut off. After many, many repeated calculations, I was able to determine that I'd make the last cut-off and I'd finish. After more math, I was able to figure out that I'd be able to finish pretty close to 8 hours. Turns out I was able to shave a few seconds off and beat my predicted time by a few minutes.

In happier news, I was able to see some fellow runners that I've met over the years. Besides seeing Joyce and Kris, I got to meet Ashland Dave in person. It's kind of funny how you know somebody is a great guy just by hearing them talk (he does a podcast) and meeting them in person only confirms your feeling. He was there with some friends and we chatted a bit about the trail, podcasts, and other stuff. I also saw Alice, a local runner who wasn't running the race, and her friend Donna, who ended up taking 3rd overall female. I also saw Snipes before the race and he managed to talk some trash while I was struggling around Mile 11. He gave me a dose of Biddz love by cracking the whip. I hated it at the time but I'm not sure I would have made it beyond the next aid station without him. Then there was Wayne, another local runner, that ran the race and looked strong doing it despite an injury. I'm sure there were more people that I met, but I can't remember them all.

The guy in the little Mule hounded me all day (you can see his headlights behind me, lurking like a damn mountain lion). While I appreciated him being out there, I didn't appreciate the feeling of being stalked.

Temps were about 70F at the start but warmed to maybe 80F or 85F. Like I said, much cooler than the 90s we've seen in years past. Humidity was high at the start but cooled later. There were a few sprinkles during the race but nothing too terrible. Sun was out for the start and finish but mostly cloudy during the race.

Fluids and Fuel:
No breakfast other than a little bit of coffee, which was a mistake. During the run I had some Hammer Fizz but not enough. Also had plain water, Coke, a few sips of Gatorade, and half a beer. Side note on the beer, I was asking for beer after a the first mile. Everyone laughed, like they usually do, but nobody seemed to take me seriously. One volunteer who works a lot on the trail, Warren, did take me seriously and had a beer waiting for me with a mile left before the finish. I took the beer and kept walking. It foamed, it was warm, it wasn't my type of beer (it was a Fat Tire), but I didn't give a shit. I drank that stuff like it was the elixir of life. Anyway, my wife said the radio guys were calling my location in and were worried that I wouldn't finish because I had a beer. Sheesh. Recovery was a hamburger, Twinkie, and Mountain Dew. Fuel during the run was some Hammer Gel which didn't sit well, some Hammer Perpeteum which sat great, and a banana at Mile 27. Bananas make me shit almost instantly but I was desperate enough for solid food that I are the whole thing. I didn't shit my pants so I guess my body needed fuel. I also only peed twice during the race. Once around Mile 2 and once around Mile 27. My second pit stop gave me some darker urine than I desired so I tried my best to drink more. It sort of helped. Clearly I was behind on fluids and fuel the entire day and it showed.

Aches and Pains:
Generally, I felt good physically during the race. Later on I started to feel some aches and pains but nothing too terrible. My hips started to hurt around Mile 20 and I started to feel what I thought was a blister around Mile 25. Turns out it wasn't a blister, just a sore foot. But I did score two blisters, one on my right heel and one on my left toe. The toe blister is the largest and had to be lanced twice already (both kids watched and were amazed - I was grossed out). I did some foam roller recovery and feel slightly better but I'm still stiff and sore.

No special gear but I did take my GoPro camera for the first 20 miles or so. I also wore my Nathan hydration pack for the first 20 miles or so to carry my phone, camera, etc. Used my voice recorder to record a podcast. The last 10 miles or so I ran with just two handheld bottles to keep the weight down as much as I could.


Mile 1 - 12:04
Mile 2 - 12:50 (includes pee break)
Mile 3 - 12:04
Mile 4 - 12:26
Mile 5 - 12:54 (includes aid station)
Mile 6 - 12:56
Mile 7 - 15:13 (includes Gun Range Bypass)
Mile 8 - 12:45
Mile 9 - 13:04 (includes aid station)
Mile 10 - 13:53
Mile 11 - 14:41
Mile 12 - 13:22 (running with Snipes)
Mile 13 - 17:24 (includes aid station)
Mile 14 - 15:14
Mile 15 - 24:23 (includes Little Ark Bypass and aid station)
Mile 16 - 23:11 (includes Little Ark Bypass)
Mile 17 - 16:50
Mile 18 - 18:38 (includes aid station)
Mile 19 - 15:40
Mile 20 - 14:48 (found a sudden burst of running gear)
Mile 21 - 16:15
Mile 22 - 17:01 (includes aid station)
Mile 23 - 17:19
Mile 24 - 20:32 (includes Gun Range Bypass)
Mile 25 - 16:58
Mile 26 - 20:12
Mile 27 - 18:19 (includes aid station and pee break)
Mile 28 - 17:44
Mile 29 - 17:51
Mile 30 - 17:35
Mile 31 - 17:35
Finish - 8:04:29

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