Sunday, February 6, 2011

Orcas Island 50K Race Report 2011

30.7 miles with close to 7,000ft of elevation gain:

I was well rested for a change. I think I got almost 8 hrs of sleep THE NIGHT BEFORE the race!
Crazy huh? I had been anticipating this race for months and in my mind I thought for sure I'd get into the top 5. The weather was near perfect in my eyes. 40 and cloudy, but dry. I started off at a steady pace. Every time I felt I was breathing too heavy I held back to save my energy. I paced off of a few runners who looked like they were sweating too hard to sustain their pace for the whole race. Besides a naked tree hippie stepping out of his tarp house into his homemade hot tub, the first 9 miles of the race were pretty easy and uneventful. I caught up to a guy and a gal for a few miles and we almost took a wrong turn at a confusing intersection. I paced off of that lady for a while, I was impressed by her form and pace. She looked like she knew what she was doing, which makes sense now that I found out she was Krissy Mohel. (She eventually lost me, of course).
At the mile 9 aid station I decided to leave one of my water bottles.I stuffed the pockets of the other one as full as I could with GU. I figured I'd be fine with one bottle until the 18 mile water station. I kept  a steady pace through the winding trails.
There was a climb in this race that made "the grunt" at the MFA look like nothing. You could literally reach out and touch the trail in front of you, it was SO steep. Power polls with lines drooping only a few feet from my head lined the rugged singletrack. As soon as I came over what I thought to be the top of the climb, I'd see the beginning of the next section. It tricked me a good 3 times. It took me probably 35 minutes to get 2 miles.  I turned around to another runner and said "Do you see that S#*t?" pointing at the climb.
"Yup." He responded unenthusiastically.
I laughed and continued up.
At the top I turned back and looked down at the powerlines slinking down the mountain. I saw other runners scurrying along the trail below like little forest bugs. I could see the sound and the islands with clouds floating peacefully like a post card picture. I felt some butterflies in my stomach and couldn't help but smile.
"This is why you do this."
I continued on.
The forest on Orcas is amazing. There was a lake that was so still it looked like glass with a perfect reflection of the sky and the trees around it. I stopped. There was no one around. No noise. I could just hear my heart beat. It was very serene. I pushed on, but I started getting light headed and I was out of water.
"You're an idiot" I thought.
"Ok, well lets just get to mile 18 and then we'll get some water. Be excited about that. Then from there we can get excited about that redbull at mile 22, and from there we can get excited about the descent to the finish. But first lets just get to that water at mile 18. That's exciting"
I have some pretty lenghty conversations with myself out there.
I was having a rough spot. I got passed by someone on fairly flat trails. I was walking even the smallest hills. Feeling dizzy. Wishing I had my other water bottle. I arrived at the water aid station at mile 18 and re-filled my water bottle. Chugged it and filled it again. I had already completed two sizeable climbs, but continued up the last.
I got deep into the woods climbing deer trails. The tree cover was blocking some of the daylight. The forest floor was blanketed by green moss. I could hear a stream.
It was quiet.
I could see my breathe.
I could hear my quiet foots steps and my heavy breathing.
It felt like something straight of Lord of the Rings. The Orcs would attack any time now.
I know they're out here.
With their axes.
I got to the top of this climb and the trail flattened again. The trees thinned out and it looked eerie, but bright.
It was difficult to get my legs moving again. "I don't think I'll do this again. I think I should run less. You could stop. No one would care. You're not gonna make top 5 anyways. You could stop here. And what? What are you gonna do? Sit out here in the middle of the F%#*ing woods on the top of a mountain and wait for someone to drag you out? Man up."
When I run out of energy I feel like a diva, like that snickers commercial, except for instead of snickers I eat GU. So I ate a GU and started running.
I kept a good pace from here on out. I made it to the Mt. Constitution aid station and changed my shirt. I ate a potatoe, walked in circles for a minute chugging a red bull, and took off down the mountain. The descent was actually pretty rough on the knees, but I flew down nonetheless. It was nice to have that forward motion.
I passed quite a few people in the last 8 miles. I'm not sure if they were early starts or what, but besides my stomach I was feeling good.I stopped briefly two times thinking I might puke from all the stomach jumbling, but it didn't happen, so I kept running.
I've found the best way to ignore pain is to try and listen to the wind in my ears. It's not an easy thing to do.
Every time I'm at one with that wonderful sound wooshing through my ear canals I think about how good it feels to not feel how bad I'm feeling and then I remember I'm feeling bad again because I thought about it. It's a silly cycle. But it makes the miles fly by. And if you can manage to lose your mind and focus on that sound, it's amazing.
The last 2 miles felt the longest.
I kept thinking "What is this? a Joke? Who measured this damn thing."
It was probably shorter than 2 miles. I hit a paved road and knew I was almost there.
I came up the paved hill and down through the finish line in 05:29:50.
That put me in 10th place.
It felt great to finish.
I was satisfied with my performance considering this was my 2nd ultra and I was nursing an IT injury which had kept me from running more 37 miles in the 3 weeks leading up to the race. It was beautiful and challenging. Definitely the hardest race I've run so far.
I said to my girlfriend:
" Ouch! That was stupid! I'm never running that again!"
She said, "Yes you will..."
Looking at me the way she always does when she knows I'm talking out of my ass.
I sat there for a minute rubbing my hamstrings...

"Yea, I'll probably have to do that again next year."

Thank you James Varner of Rainshadow Running for an amazing race!

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