I will leave most of the running/blogging on the elites to folks like Byron Powell:
Now to my run: This was going to be my first 50 miler and I knew I was undertrained (peak weak at 55 miles, longest run of 2013 at 21 miles). The plan was to have fun actually running until I inevitably crashed and burned and then just try to tough it out and limp in the last half. Especially given the climbing (10,500+) and the constant up and down nature of the course, I knew the course would take its toll on me.
The weather promised to be spectacular. Low rainfall meant the course would not be too muddy and all the river crossings would be runnable. This area can get seriously hot in the summer (I have cycled here when it was almost 120 degrees), so sunny, breezy and under 80 sounded great.
We lined up and would start running the first 2.5 miles or so on the road! This was to let the field spread out, which it did when the elites like Max King, Tim Olson, Meltzer, Jorge M., etc. just crushed it from the gun on Skaggs Springs Road. Side note: Skaggs is the road built by the Army Corps of Engineers to bypass Lake Sonoma and let all the power boat folks get to this wine country gem. They replaced a winding, shady road that you meet up about 15 miles in if you take it all the way to the coast with a wide asphalt carpet with no shade that goes up at 15-20% and then back down for the better part of 15 of the 30 miles to the coast at Stewart's point. This is what we would run for 2.5 miles to "warm up."
So, of course I ran too fast from the gun as well, running alongside eventual winner Cassie Scallon for the first few miles until we hit the single track and I knew she would be running past so I let her go and tried to slow down. At that point I saw North Face 50-miler winner Miguel Heras, who had pulled up injured and was done for the day. The next few miles were just bliss and I ran the constant up and downs of the trail, knowing it from running it once it March. I wanted to run the first half, and I was succeeding thus far. I was fueling with Enervit, and it was going down well.
I consciously slowed again after mile 11 and the first big creek crossing. Then all the smart runners started passing me from behind, and I tried to make as much room as I could on the single track. I knew the names of more of the elite women, so I can name them ... I remember Joelle Vaught coming by around mile 10-11, Rory Bosio around 13, Meghan Arbogast around 18, etc. I was feeling ok, heading out onto parts of the trail I did not know and was preparing for the kick a$$ double climb to the turn around checkpoint at mile 25.1.
As I hit the first section of that double climb, I saw the male leaders going the other way, and they were flying. Max King was out front, but I loved seeing Jorge Maravilla with his endless smile and enthusiasm. He looked very smooth and would move up to fourth overall by the finish, with Max fading to third. Here I should say every runner, from the elites to the last runner encouraged every single other runner as they passed on the out and back. This may be par for the course in ultrarunning, but what a great group of people!
Did I talk about fading? The last few climbs into the checkpoint were very tough, and I started trying to hike a bit of the uphills since folks around me were doing it ... here I should note I cannot hike. My heart rate seemed to go higher as I hiked slowly, so I run-shuffled most of the climbs from there on in, only walking to take a quick break or get in nutrition. I got into the halfway point at just under 4 hours, so I figured I would need 5 running plus breaks to get back.
1st problem: I had run out of Enervit by now, so I tried the stuff on offer a the halfway point (GU Brew?) and promptly puked for about 5 minutes ... so the last 25 miles would be done on next to nothing, which was increasingly tough.
Still, I just kept going over one more climb and technical downhill (not like Moab, though), watching my quads seize so again I was doing better on the uphills than the downhills. I think someone wanted to pull me at mile 38, telling me I had to get into the shade. Yes, it was getting warm, but it was the dehydration from puking that was getting me down. I headed out of the rest stop just to be able to puke again in private after the next river crossing.
I trudged along to mile 45, getting water from the streams at least twice and nursing a bit of coke. Everytime I pushed a bit my stomach rebelled, so I just settled in.
By mile 47.5 and the last checkpoint, where we had to run down another steep quarter mile and then go back up, I was seizing but quite happy ... I knew I could do this!! I tried to loosen my legs for the downhills as best I could and decided no more hiking, even if was over 15%(flats? what are those). It worked since I passed a few people and distanced the folks who had been closing in on me when I was trying to hike a bit again around mile 45. Now was not the time to change strategies! The last few miles seemed very long, but eventually I knew I was close, took a left and pulled into the finishing straight with an awesome view of Lake Sonoma ....
I hit the line in 9:21 total time, with 8:47 moving. Watch showed 50.1 miles and 10,800 feet of up and down. Yes, Kelly, I could have been more efficient with rest stops, but they were mostly puke stops. The time was good enough for 67th overall, not bad for my first 50-miler. For those who were racing, what a competitive race! New course records were set on the men's and women's sides (hard to believe Dakota Jones' record from last year fell). You know it is tough if Karl Meltzer and Tim Olson barely crack the top 15 ...
I will try to load a picture or two from the finish, but thanks again to all of you for the learning that helped make this possible.
For your first 50 miler, sounds like you did great, congrats!
Thread killer ..
Congratulations on your first 50 !
running under the BigSky
Wow- way to tough it out! sounds like a who's who of ultra racing there- very neat
I hope my first 50 I'm not puking- I hate to puke
Fantastic race! You should be very happy with your results because I certainly am.
Faster Than Your Couch!
Congratulations, way to tough it out and finish!
Run for fun.
Way to be tough. You should be proud. You finished is a dang good time. Way to head into it knowing the last half was going to be nasty and toughing your way through it.
Follower of Forrest
Wow 10,000+ elevation and only hiked once (and didn't like it)...wow. I'd love to see what you can do when you feel like you are adaquately trained. Nice job.
6/21 - Manitou's Revenge 54mi
A man may never run the same trail twice for it is not the same trail and he is not the same man
Well, sort of. I ran (or shuffled) uphill almost exclusively since walking was worse, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't practice hiking. I did it as a quick break to eat a few times, and just to use different muscles. Usually, though, it gave me a mental hit. I saw my HR not go down or even go up if it was on a hill!
I am going to experiment with some hiking in training going forward since I do not think I can run 100% of Leadville. If I can save some energy and therefore run stronger on the parts that are runnable, this seems like a better answer.
Thanks for the support ...
Awesome job on your first 50! I bet your cycling really helped with all that climbing.
Congrats on the run. Great that you hung in there.
See you in Leadville.
Arkansas Traveler - Oct 7
Connoisseur of Cookies
"C" is for cookie. That's good enough for me.
Nice job Watoni...it actually sounds like hell though.
08/05/17 Sierra Crest 50K
08/19/17 Marquette Trail 50K Miler