Saturday's race started at 6 am. We got up at 4 am so it was going to be a long day. plus we would be losing an hour due to DST. Temperature was a bit cooler at 6 am and was down to 32F at the start. Even though I don't normally drink coffee each day I had coffee before the race since it seems to help get me going. I kept breakfast pretty much the same each day with a Lean Body protein shake, a banana, and some grapes. Once were were up and moving around my legs felt pretty good and energy level felt normal.
My body was ready to race and I could have easily convinced myself that I had not run a 50K the day before. The 50 miler worried me a bit since I lost over 160 miles of training in January and February due to a stress reaction in my foot so I was forced to cut my mileage way back. The Post Oak Double 2 weeks ago was a confidence booster since I made it through that race strong and foot did not hurt at all so I just had to believe that everything had healed quickly and I was going to be fine. I went to see Dr. Curt on Wednesday and he worked on me so I felt as ready as I could be.
The 50 mile goes up for the first mile so once we start and get to the hill I walked most of the up and ran where I could. We were told to bring our lights for the first few miles but I didn't need it. If you were going to be running past 6:30 pm you would definitely need one later. This race claims over 25,000 feet of elevation gain and loss over the 3 days, but my GPS had about 35,000. The 50 mile course is a very tough course. There are some flat sections, but there is everything from sand, rocks, running along the edge of rocky cliffs, and rock over your head as your are trying to run. There are also some stair step rocky places and one part that you have to squeeze your way through.
The course is marked by the forest service so we follow the markers each day plus each race had it's own color of ribbon that was placed at intersections where there was more than 1 way to go. It is not a well-marked course so you really have to pay attention which adds to the challenge. There were several runners each day that made wrong turns and I think a lot of them were the faster runners. They got back on track and were still ahead of me. In one portion I was told they laid some logs across a road so others would not make the same mistake. It is great the faster runners were looking out for the other runners.
On the way out I ran behind some runners for a few miles but passed them since I wanted to go a little faster. I could often see a runner or 2 behind me but ran alone for most of the day. I stuck to the same nutrition plan of gels and Succeed as the day before plus a little food at the aid stations since I was getting hungry. I had chip and peanut butter crackers. Once I ate some chocolate toffee stuff and felt a brief sugar crash but recovered from it. I didn't realize what it was when I ate it but it was quite yummy.
The 50 mile was out and back and we could have drop bags at 9.5/40.5 and 18.4/31.6. I opted only for the 18.4/31.6. Since it was cooler at the start I wore a long sleeve shirt and left it and my light in my drop bag at 18.4 miles. The next aid station was at 22.6 miles and then we had to run out to the turn around at 25 miles, read a sign, and back to the aid station to let them know the code words. Just after the 22.6 mile aid station I started seeing the first runners coming back. The leading guys were less than a half mile apart. I saw Ashley that I ran the 50K and part of the 50 miler in 2008 running with a group. They had made a wrong turn or would have been further ahead but she was still the leading female.
There was a girl running not far behind me since before the last aid station. After the turn around she was about 0.2 miles behind me. My GPS had the turnaround at 24.8 miles so pretty darn close to 25 and my overall time was 5:15 so seemed pretty reasonable to me. On the way back I started seeing quite a few runners. I saw Jeff when he was about 2 miles from the turnaround and he seemed to be doing well. Eventually the girl (Mindy) caught me after the turnaround and we ran to the next 2 aid stations together. She had run the Heart of America Marathon in Columbia in 2004 and 2011. We had a good time chatting together and the 31.6 mile aid/drop bag station came quickly. She didn't spend much time and took off and I told her I would try to catch her. I restocked my gels and Succeed and went to refill my bottle and realized I had barely drank anything for the past 4 miles.
I did not see Mindy again during the 50. I started to feel crappy and figured it was dehydration. I consumed my entire bottle. The next aid station would only be 4 miles at 35 miles and the unmanned one at the creek crossing. I made to the water and filled my 20 ounce bottle drank it and filled it half full and drank more. Then filled it all the way up and continued across the creek. This was the only deep water we had to cross during the 50 miler where we had a couple deep ones during the 50K the day before. I wasn't sure I was going to recover from my dehydration. My heart rate felt elevated so I kept the pace really slow.
I was starting to recover a little and heard a couple runners behind me talking. Eventually they caught up and it was James that was staying in the cabin next to us and Teddy, a runner from Louisiana that we realized we had run the same 50K in 2009 when I ran the Q50 there. They passed me and I stayed with them for a bit before they went ahead. Before I got to the 40 mile aid station I started to feel good again and James and Teddy were there. I drank some ginger ale, refilled my bottle and continued on. After awhile, I could hear them behind me but they didn't ever catch me.
At the last aid station I refilled with plain water and headed to the finish. I could still kind of hear James and Teddy behind me but I think they were further behind than I thought. Thinking they were close kind of gave me the push I needed to keep going. I was really looking forward to getting to the last 1.3 miles since I knew I could fly down that hill we walked up in the beginning.
I finished in 10:45:26 with 49.4 miles on the GPS. I went to soak my legs in the creek again but this time I kept my shoes on. Then I ate a small bowl of the food they were serving to sustain me until Jeff finished and we went back to the cabin to cook our steaks.
For the 50 miler I wore my newest pair of Mizuno Ascend and they rubbed the outside of my little toe on each foot. The one on the left was a blister. The fact the trail was so slanted in places and these shoes tend to rub the outside of my little toes was a bad combination. I decided I would put a Band Aid and on it for the next day. We didn't get to bed until 10:30 and then set the clock ahead so actually 11:30. The next day's race started at 9:00 am, but we planned to get up at 6 am to pack our stuff and check out.