Two Words: Heat Management
The inaugural Silver Lake 50k/50 mile/Relay was held yesterday on Potowatami Trail in the Pickney Recreation Area and was comprised of 12.5 mile loops for the 50 mile participants and a shorter 6 mile out and back for the 50K participants in addition to that 12.5 mile loops. With temps predicted near 90 and humid, I told myself that I needed to stick to a hydration plan and go out slower than expected if I was going to finish and told Dirrty Girl to expect around a 10 hour finish.
I didn't sleep at all the night before and was up and ready to go by 5 am. I thought I had done a good job packing my gear and cooler since with the loop option i could easy access every few hours but on the way and with it pitch black out i thought I might need a light and of course had forgotten that. A quick stop @ a gas station and $8 later i had a flashlight, but in the end I didn't need it and will just keep it in the drop box from now on.
Arriving @ the course around 6:15 am for a 7 am start, i had to wait until approximately 6:45 am for the race management to show up with race # and with a quick pre race mtg indicating to follow the yellow markers and aid stations are @ 4 mile/9 mile and the start/finish we were off @ 7:05 am.
Lap 1 2:11:36 10:32/M 12.50 - My mind playing tricks on me...
With an air horn start, 20 individuals and 2 relay teams started, and immediately a group scampered on ahead. Within the first 2 miles my shirt was soaked from the heat and already my mind started the proverbial chatter with my body on maybe we should only do the 50k, why are we doing this and it is gonna suck out here today, lets just walk. I maintained my run 9 min/walk 1 min pace throughout the first loop and passing the aid stations (sparsely stocked, like only having jelly and forgetting PB?,) took in what I think turned out to be my lifesaver in Endurolytes every hour. I also faced the reality that with so few participants that I would end up running approximately 99.5% of the race by myself.
Lap 2 2:22:54 11:26/M 25.00 - Cruisin
Starting lap two, I promised myself that when I returned back to the start/finish that I would reward myself with some Advil and a Mountain Dew. It always takes me a few hours to get going and lock myself in and I settled into a fairly good rhythm. Somewhere around this loop i started running 8 min and walking 2, but the important thing I felt was to keep moving forward, keep hydrating and keep popping the endurolytes. Even if I left an aid station with my stomach sloshing a bit, I knew I just had to keep taking in the fluids. The trail provided shade, but did little to stymie the heat, and at times looked like you were running towards a haze.
Lap 3 2:42:09 12:58/M 37.50 - Dirt off your shoulder
As I reached the halfway point, it was damm hot. I reached into the cooler and used a bandanna soaked in ice to try and cool off. Popped a few Advil, grabbed a 20 oz Dew from the cooler and took off knowing that if I stayed too long, I might think about cashing it in. An infusion of caffeine helped perk my energy and somewhere between the start/finish and the first aid station i completed DDMC #8 along with my typical trip and fall. I don't know what it is but at every ultra, i have been running along fine and then BAM, I am on the side of the trail on the ground. I liken it to a wake up call, not one that I really care for and a reminder to keep your eyes on the trail.
My pace really slowed, and I alternated between running 5 min and walking 5 min and if I felt good to running 8 min and walking 2 min, but made sure that every 10 minutes the beeper was going off and I was sipping from my bottle. I was never so happy to see an aid station at the 9 mile mark of the loop as in the 5 mile stretch I had drained my bottle in like 45 minutes. This lap I saw several 50k participants who really looked like they were struggling and were holding their own inner dialogue as to why they were out there. They thought I was nuts and just told them to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving. I had to make it sound believable even if I was really having a go at keeping a good pace.
Lap 4 2:41:21 12:54/M 50.000 - Run it
I reached the 37.5 mile mark at like 7 hr and 13 min and still entertained thoughts of a sub 10 hour finish, although each lap had gotten progressively slower. Grabbed a coke, popped some more Advil and started walking with 50k finisher who was just heading up the trail a bit. Graciously, she took my empty can so that I didn't have to carry it for another 3 or so miles. Promised myself that when I got to the first aid station that I could listen to some music. I actually got to the first aid station a bit ahead of the last lap, donned the shuffle and started groovin. Had to stop and relieve myself a few times during the last couple of miles and even though it looked more like the Fat Tire Amber Ale I had the night before, I was certain this was a good sign that I had been taking in enough fluids throughout the race. It is a cool feeling to know that you are going to finish an ultra and if that had anything to do with me running a wee bit faster last lap than the third then it is what it is. Popped out of the trail with a few minutes to spare before 10 hrs and crossed in 9 hr 58 min/11:58 min average.
Crossing the line, I found out that I had finished 3rd overall and 1st in the mens 39 and under group. Woo Hoo! I actually won a free pair of shoes! Out of the 2o participants to start, 10 finished and talking with one guy who has done ultras all over the country it was hot and he wasn't going to risk it with a slew of fall races. If I didn't have another one scheduled for the year, I might have thought about cashing it in early, but there were some personal demons that during this race I felt I slayed. First, in prep for my first 50 miler last year, I had started a 30 mile training run in some heat only to hit the wall and cash it in. Yesterday, I stuck to my plan, started slow and kept hydrating and finished. Secondly, I DNF'ed my first 50 miler out on Potowatami during Dances With Dirt after getting so lost I was way behind on time and quit. There was no quit today.
A quick dip in the lake, and I drove home as Dirrty Feather awaited me to watch the Men's Olympic Marathon, as Dirrty Girl and Little Dirt Dawg were on their first "real" camp out @ a state park.