Saturday, February 26, 2011

Holiday Lake 50k– 2/12/11

Holiday Lake 50 k– 2/12/11
Robin Ramm
After a hour and a half -ish drive to the 4-H camp, we settled into our cabins and had the Horton Dinner which consisted of salad,  sketty and meatballs and some delicious cheesy bread. There were a ton of desserts and lasagna too that I didn’t eat. Horton gave his speech which was a hoot, and then threw free gifts at the crowd. We heard this was going to be a record crowd of nearly 315 runners. Many doing their first 50K. I got a T-shirt for Montrail, but it’s too small for me.
Rebecca, who drove me, gave me many pointers for the day as this was her first 50k last year but has since accomplished so many races – including JFK 50 miler. We thought we had it made in our cabin, 4 of us with top bunks to lay out our goodies for the morning. Got my #167 pinned to my pants – who knew that ultra runners do this. Crystal, the sleeping back you gave me was very comfy and super warm! Loved it!!
We were all up at 4:45 am dressing and went over to the cabin to get hot water for my oatmeal and a bagel. Excitement was in the air.  TMI alert, but runners understand…3 attempts and a no go – I was worried.  Perhaps I’ll become an ultra runner and have to do it in the woods! LOL, luckily I was told to bring wipes and tp for that special occasion. Amazingly, it never happened…anywho….
 6:30 sharp we were off. There’s a long .6 mile uphill on a road leading to the trail turn off. I walked it since I heard that even if you rush up there – you need to wait for everyone to funnel on to the course. Why bother. My goal was to be in the back anywho.  Once on the course, I was glad to have my headlamp be so bright and illuminate the roots and rocks.  We were pretty close for the first mile or two but then soon the group spread out. At the first aid station, mile 4, we were able to drop off our headlamps into a box in hopes of seeing it at the end. There were so many goodies on the table from chips, M & M’s, pretzels, bananas and the usual drinks. I grabbed water and a piece of nanner and was off.
Things are fuzzy from 4-8 miles but I think the stream crossing was in this part. It was icy cold and ankle deep, but I decided to not try and walk the rocks since it was so icy and others were saying very slippery. After all, part of being an Ultra runner means running thru streams right? It was like icy daggers stabbing my feet after going thru but only lasted about 10 minutes and I moved on to the next hurdle. Grabbed more banana and a few chips at 8 miles and kept up with my regimen of Salt tablets, Perpetum blocks by Hammer and a few peanut butter pretzels. Boy they tasted good. 
By the time I got to 12 miles, runners were already coming the other way! Seriously I was thinking? They went to 16 and were back at my mile 12…calculated quickly - they were 8 miles ahead of me! Unreal. Everyone was so supportive and saying “great job” or “looking good” as they passed our pitifulness.  Ha ha.
My favorite part of the course is around the lake and within a few miles of the turnaround you go down a series of steps and then over a bridge that is very thin but beautiful overlook of the lake. I loved it even with my fear of heights. Soon after, I was at the turn around and the clock said 3:18. Great, I made the cut off point …I can move on. I quickly went to my cabin undressing along the way and took off some layers and did a pit stop and grabbed more fuel. I was feeling like I could still take on the world and eager to go on.
Miles 16…Loop 2 we go backwards so soon I was up on the bridge again and wishing I had a camera – so pretty.  I was passing a few people on the way back, so I knew I wasn’t dead last – comforting. I knew they needed to be at the turnaround by 3:45 ish so it was sad to think they didn’t make it to do the 2nd loop.
Aid station #5 at 20 miles they asked what I wanted, so I asked for a scotch. Apparently…they didn’t find that very humorous…so I asked for a “new body”? Ha ha. Nothing. Okay, give me a banana and I grabbed a ¼ of a pbj. YUMMY. That hit the spot. 
Soon after this I felt twinges of the darn IT band kicking it. I stopped to do some stretching and rub the leg…but by mile 22 it was locking down and my knee kept feeling as if it would buckle. Frustrated – 11 miles to go, I tried doing the gallop dragging my left leg along, going down hills sideways to prevent the pain and of course walking fast. This kept on to the finish. Every down hill made me cringe and I looked forward to power walking in between. The stream, while it was a bit warmer outside – still felt like icy daggers to my feet but I decided it was good for healing them! Ha ha. 
I was happy to see the next aid station and filled up with a few more pieces of PBJ and grabbed another slice of nanner.  Bruuuuuuuce came on my iPod at mile 26.2 (at 5:30 hours) which inspired me to move a little faster and put a smile on my face – Born to run. It makes me think of Mark when I hear any Bruce song and I got excited thinking he was probably waiting at the finish for me now.
Last aid station, mile 29 - 4 more miles to go – I was mentally doing great even with the bum leg. I had no doubts I could finish and I calculated it would be 7 hours and 10 minutes now. I had hoped for a sub 7 hour, but hey – it is what it is.
Some beautiful horses were next to me for part of the last few miles and were just gorgeous, gotta love a horse smell! I told the one lady I was tempted to jump on and she said she would if it wasn’t against the rules. Bummer man. I guess I’ll just pet them and move on.
Finally off the trail and the last .6 down to the finish on the road, I was all alone…I hobbled and galloped with my bum leg, walking fast. One lady was getting in her car and said “great job” and I asked if I was last?  She said “no way, and you look great – I didn’t even make it to the 2nd loop and I’m exhausted!”
 I finally spotted Mark waiting and we waived at each other from a distance. I’m so thrilled to be done! Horton shouted my name and grabbed me at the finish saying how proud he was of me finishing! That was cool!!  Gave Mark a huge stinky hug and kiss as he told me how proud he was of me! My finishing time was 7 hours 11 minutes. I made my goal of finishing standing up and NOT last!! Many runners came in even past the 8 hour cut off. I ran a total of 33.26 miles. Incredible.
“Walked” back to cabin to towel off my smelliness and pack up. I didn’t even eat the lunch I paid for or get my finishers Tshirt (didn’t see them) I just wanted to leave at that point! I did however get my headlamp back! Yes!
I’ve learned that I love trail running more than road running because of the beauty and less people, but that I’m much slower on the trail than on the road. It’s odd to be at the end instead of the middle of the pack…but I’ve made peace with it as it’s just beautiful. I also like running by myself which I within the last year found out works for me. Who knew?  Don’t get me wrong BJ, our runs are great – but give me an open trail and 8 hours and I love to stretch out and enjoy it.
Would I do another 50K? Probably, but I’m not sure I’d want a real technical trail. This one was perfect for a “beginner” and I enjoyed it so much.  I won’t say never, because I will likely be signing up for another within a few weeks, right – ha ha.  Thanks to all my friends  and family for the support and advice J

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Black Warrior 50k in Moulton, Alabama

Fortunately and Unfortunately this will not be my usual PowerPoint presentation since I don't have that many photos so my words alone with have to suffice.
As you all know (or maybe you don't) I have been injured since GEER and not really running except in the pool (which doesn't count) since late September.  As I always do I still decided to sign up for another race just in case I had a miraculous recovery.  Well I did not...and I have been in physical therapy for the past 3 weeks.
I signed up for the Black Warrior 50k in Moulton, Alabama.  Since there was not the recovery I had hoped for I dropped down to the 25k race.
I arrived on Saturday morning about an hour early.  This gave me plenty of time to stretch and get my hip loosened up.  The weather was about 55 degrees and partly sunny but very humid (not a disappoinment since I was in Alabama). 
The race bried consisted of a conversation about the start of the race which "is a big hill".  They assured us that this was the biggest hill in the race and just to stick it out to the top!!??!?!  The 25k course started out on a packed dirt road for about 2 1/2 miles and then single track trail (which by the way is also used for horses) then ending on the same dirt road for about 3 1/2 miles.  "The single track is kind of tricky and technical" - "There are some stream crossings, muddy spots and a few rocks".
So the gun sounds and we start running - get to the top of the climb (which is about 3/4 of a mile at best) then hit flat road to the trail head.  The trail was very interesting - the stream crossings were like 2" deep.  The muddy areas were challenging but and sometimes a good 50 feet in length - but I had to show some of my fellow runners that you would not die or sink into the mud if you ran straight through it - a concept that some had not discovered yet in Alabama.  That approach does lend itself to dirtying up your brand new white nike's though.  Then all of a sudden there would be a section of trail that was about a 100 feet of just sand (yup just like running on a beach).
There were only two aid stations for the 25k race first one at about mile 6 and the other just over mile 12.
I made the first aid station just over 1 hour and felt great - hardly any pain.  Grabbed some water, banana and pb&j and kept running.  Just after mile 8 after a nice long stretch of sand trail - I started feeling the pain.  The pain steadily increased and by the time I hit the last aid station I was really in pain.  Mile 12 - Julia was there and going to run with me to the finish.  I filled up with water (it was about 70 degrees by that point) and we headed out - all packed dirt road straight to the finish - only 3 miles to go...  And that is when it happened - both legs stopped working.  Pain shooting all the way down the outside of both legs.  It was awesome !!!  I kept attempting to run - I am so close and I AM GOING TO FINISH!!
So the last 3 miles were brutal - I ran backwards as much as I could and walked and jogged BUT... I FINISHED!!!  3:07:52  which happens to beat my first 25k by about 33 minutes.
It was a completely different course that what we are all used to and I would love to run that again uninjured.  Even with the horse manure it was a really fun fast course.
I am back at PT and hope to be back with you guys soon.  No races planned to all this is fixed so I won't be pushing it. 
Glad to see the new google group!
Take Care,