Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dick Collins Firetrails (My Husband's Race Report!)

This past weekend, my husband completed his first 50 mile race!!! I'm so proud of him for accomplishing this goal and doing such a great job. Happily, Ed offered to write up his own race report. So, here is the race from a new 50 mile runner's (and, fair warning, a weak stomached person's) perspective :). 

It was just over three years ago, when my (now) wife invited me to crew for her as she ran her first 50 mile race at Dick Collins Firetrails. We watched “A Race for the Soul” for motivation the night before; then I cheered as she ran off into the dark wilderness. I took a nice hour long nap in my car before spending the next 11 hours driving through the beautiful east bay mountains (which was my first time in this area), refilling her water bottles, and doing my best to lift her spirits. At then end, I yelled “go Addy!” as loud as I could, and she crossed the finish line with a smile on her beautiful face. I was so proud and had a crazy thought in my mind – “Could I ever do this?”

Three years and many races later (including four 50 km races, three marathons, five 30 km races, and three half marathons), I was back at Dick Collins Firetrails, only now I was entering into the dark wilderness (okay, a paved lake trail) as my wife cheered and headed back to the car for a quick nap.

I knew I was physically ready for 50 miles, but what I didn’t know was how everything else would hold up. It would be an emotional journey that is still churning in my mind.

The first few miles were filled with excitement. I started off in the middle of the pack, trying to slow myself down for the first half of the race, knowing I’d pay the price if I didn’t. I overhead a conversation right behind me – “Yeah, I reread Addy’s blog” as another remarked, “Her husband is running the race.” This definitely put a smile on my face.

I couldn’t believe it as I started going up the first hill, EVERYONE was walking - a marked difference from my shorter races where I tend to stay toward the front of the pack and push up hills most of the race. This really helped convince me that it’s okay to take it easy. I constantly looked behind to take in the gorgeous sunrise on this perfect day.

The next 12 miles were great – I settled into a good pace, although I was worried that I was going a bit too fast. I knew this part of the race the best and there were plenty of other people around to keep from getting bored.

Once I got up to Skyline Gate at mile 15, Adelyn was there waiting for me.

I promised to slow down the pace, she refilled my water and gatorade, and I was on my way. From Skyline Gate to Sibley Park, it was pretty much the same feeling. I started passing people, but tried to slow down and just enjoy the scenery. I entered the Sibley aid station and what a surprise! Adelyn was there to greet me once again. Just after me came a huge group of runners. I didn’t stay long and headed off. 

Eventually, the Golden Hills Marathoners started coming from the other direction (including Leor Pantilat on route to his course setting day) as well as the Firetrails frontrunners (including Dave Mackey on route to his own amazing race). The views going along the ridge were amazing!

Last year, when I ran the Golden Hills Marathon, it was completely foggy in this area. Finally, I arrived at the Lone Oak aid station, knowing that I was over half way done.

At this point, this first signs of fatigue started. I was around a 9 hour pace and Adelyn reminded me that this section going up hill is not as bad as it seemed, but to keep it slow. I was able to run a good portion of this climb, but it definitely started to take its toll on me. It seemed to take forever and my pace got slower and slower.

However, reentering the shade again revived me and I cruised into Skyline Gate (mile 37) feeling great. Yes, I can do it! 13 miles – and there’s only a couple more hills. However, this is when everything started falling apart.

I took it nice and easy through Redwood Regional Park, but my stomach kept getting queasier and queasier. By the time I reached Big Bear Staging Area, Adelyn was yet again waiting for me. I had to sit down for a few minutes. I hydrated myself well all day, took in plenty of salt, and never felt deficient on calories. But yet there I was, 8.5 miles from the end and the nausea was overwhelming. I walked up the last big hill, but it didn’t take too long before I had to go to the side of the trail and vomit. At least it’s out of my system, and now I can finish the race, right? Wrong! The nausea just got worse.

I ran a little and made it to Bort Meadows where I sat down again being helped by the amazing volunteers. I forced myself to get up, but as soon as I did, I felt like vomiting again. I started walking back to my chair, but knew that it wasn’t a smart idea. The volunteer asked if this was my first 50 miler (is it that apparent?), and he said this is just part of the territory. That actually helped. The fact that I went 40 miles + without any real problems is pretty darn good. I got up and walked. Even though I vomited a couple more times, the nausea never subsided. My 9:30 goal vanished and I thought maybe I could get 10 hours if I was able to run the last few miles. But that didn’t happen  - I tried jogging a bit with no avail.

Finally, I saw the finish and ran the last half mile, even doing a little sprint to the end.

I saw my time, 10 hours, 22 minutes, and laid down on the ground. Adelyn came over to congratulate me and brought the chair, but all I could think about was throwing up. I couldn’t reflect on my incredible journey, enjoy the amazing bbq, or converse with fellow runners. However, I did manage to make it to the restroom nearby and probably scare a few more people with my wretched sounds. Adelyn got the car and we drove home. I tried sleeping most of the ride home (what do you know – 50 miles actually makes you sleepy) and managed to eat some chicken broth at home.

The post race feeling the next day was very different from my other races. My legs actually weren’t sore at all – just a little pain in the bottom of the foot and my 2 big toe nails. I didn’t have a headache or feel dehydrated. On Monday is when I really started reflecting on the race. I felt sad the entire day. I was disappointed in my performance, but at the same time I really enjoyed the experience. Despite the not so successful finish, I was actually anticipating the chance to redeem my performance next year. If only I paced myself better, if only I had a better nutrition strategy… Adelyn really helped me appreciate what I had accomplished. I COMPLETED 50 miles, still qualified for Western States, did not injure myself, and still feel hungry for more.

There is something special about that course and I wish I could do it again in a week instead of next year. It’s been a long journey the last 3 years. I once pondered whether it was even conceivable that I run 50 miles and now it is a reality. 


Anonymous said...

Congrats to Ed! Walking it in takes a lot of guts (no pun intended) as I recently learned.

Finishing 50 miles is a HUGE accomplishment. Send him my best!

Glenn Jones said...

Wow. Pretty amazing story. Thanks for sharing it!

chris mcpeake said...

great race report. COngrats

Sarah said...

I enjoyed reading your report. I'm sure the next one will be better! Congrats on your finish!