Having read most of Geoff Roes's race reports I'd have to say we couldn't have two more polar opposite takes on ultra running.
Geoff's typical report: Ran 100miles in eleven hours, felt challenged for eight minutes, managed to pull through
My typical report: Ran 50miles in fourteen hours, felt good for 43.7seconds, why do I do this to myself
Geoff: I found the meaning of life and everything in between
Me: I forget how to spell my first name and am no longer sure of if I have a middle name
Geoff: I got paid another $3,000 for my win
Me: I owe $500 in two parking fines and a speeding ticket
Geoff: I think I'll run another 50miles in training tomorrow and race another 100miler in six days
Me: If I get through 10miles of total training this week I'll be amazed. Where are my crutches, I might need them again
I already forget where I was going with this, if I even had a point to begin with. If you want stories of winning races while running backwards it's probably best to migrate on over to Geoff's blog right away. If you want to read about someone who nearly dropped out of a 50 mile race no fewer than fifty times than feel free to continue. (for the record, not only is Geoff a great guy, his father Don is pretty damn nice guy too)
That was the last time I ran anything even remotely close to 50miles. My 215km East Coast Trail run near the end of August was the last time I ran any real distance. Shortly after that I was injured and couldn't run for more than twenty minutes. Then I took a five week work stint in Northern Quebec jumping out of helicopters, and I ran a total of 1hr in those forty days. Upon my return to BC in Mid Oct my body felt great. I had twelve solid days of running, capped off by one 15mile/25km-3hr mountain run up The Black Tusk near Whistler. Then I flew to Oregon, then I broke my foot, then I spent three and a half months on crutches, then it took six weeks longer before I could even come remotely close to running, then I ran a half marathon, then a twenty miler, then a 10k, then on the Wednesday before the race I ran 21miles and I put in a total of 48miles on my feet in the six days leading up to the start, in an attempt to get my first 100mile week of training since August. Obviously I thought this all through, followed the 10% rule, and did it all by the book...ahh yeah, here was my rationale:
Western States 100 is on June 25th. Capitol Peak 50miler was on April 30th. That's exactly eight weeks. If I couldn't get through a 50mile race that was basically in May, how in the hell did I intend to make it through WS in June!? It was time for a test, period.
Glenn Tachiyama) (This is ~1/3 of the way into the race and I was getting all the test I could handle and more)
My goal going in was a) just to finish and b) to attempt to finish top three. I like top three. I don't like fourth, fifth is better than fourth sometimes, but fourth is better than sixth, and sixth is better than seventh but nowhere near as nice as fifth. Second is up for debate. You win second great, you lose first not so great...where the hell was I?
I figured with Rod Bien and Adam Hewey both in race season shape that the top two placings were spoken for, but that didn't mean I couldn't play with the fast kids for at least a bit off the start...I started off too fast, and I knew it, but for the first time in a long time my mind and body were not in agreement on the speeds we should be running. Mind = Faster, Body = NO, Mind = Faster, Body = You Must Be Kidding Me, Mind = Faster, Body = I'll Puke, I'll Shit, Or I'll Cry, But One Way Or Another You Are Slowing The F Down!
My watch rolls kilometers. The race was in miles.
1k-2k-3k-4k, "We're rolling right along, still feeling strong"
5k-6k-7k-8k, "Good stuff, only 42...? Only, ahh, err, hang on a second here...hmmm"
I KNEW I had signed up for a 50miler, I just hadn't bothered to really think about what that meant in my terms.
"Uhhh, so, carry a one, multiple by twelve, subtract a seven, add three, divide by six, YOU'RE RUNNING 80KM TODAY! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME GARY! SERIOUSLY ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?"
"Calm down, calm down. You got this."
"72 KILOMETERS TO GO! SEVENTY TWO FUCKING KILOMETERS TO GO...GAWD I HATE YOU SOMETIMES!!"
Rod had decided he didn't want to share his gels with the rest of us and he went about playing in the mud solo off the start. Adam left me for dead 1/2 way through the first major climb. I don't know what I said wrong but he definitely kicked mud on me, intentionally, as he passed by and disappeared over the horizon. I was left with a group of three that slowly dwindled to one. Gennadii Tertychnyi is a Ukrainian born, Washington resident. He is a mountaineer and ran the race the year before. He said he forgot to eat, anything, and he couldn't understand why he slowed to the finish. He placed 7th last year. He has circumnavigated the entire 93mile Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier, self supported, in 28 hours. He thought it was slow. I did not. I was later told this is probably an unreported Fastest Known Time. He spoke with a thick accent and I struggled to understand much of what he was saying to me. He was a very nice guy, but I wanted him gone. I was third, he was fourth. I hated fourth which by default meant that I hated him being there. I knew I was pulling him along, and to make matters worse he was eating when I was eating. He was using me as his on the fly teacher.
"Hey Gennadi. This is the part of the race where I usually lay down and do ten minutes of power yoga. I have terrible form though and it's embarrassing so I'll just go on ahead a bit and do it solo. You hang out here and work on your downward cat or something. It'll help your finish time, I swear."
I appreciated being pushed. It kept me honest when all I really wanted to do was lay down and die. I seriously faced lows in this 50miler that rivaled some of the lows I've faced in 100milers. It was a torturous reintroduction to the ultra running world and my only saving grace was that I stayed on top of my nutrition for 90% of it.
Just over half way there is a turn around on an out and back. Rod already had 15minutes on us but Adam was less than two minutes ahead. I knew we weren't catching him. I felt like I'd been in survival mode for hours already, but that didn't mean I couldn't play with his mind a little...
"Hey Adam! Man you look SLOW today. You hurtin? You look like you're hurtin. I'm just sayin, you look really, REALLY rough right now. You know we're only half way through this thing right? I think you can still choose the 55km distance if you call it at the next aid station. Anyways, I'll see ya again in a few short minutes when I catch up to ya. Don't slow down and wait, I know I can close the gap, I mean, man, if you could only see yourself in a mirror right now. WOW, you must really be hurting! NICE DAY EH!"
Adam might claim we simply exchanged smiles and 'nice job' comments, but he's a liar.
I knew I would not see Mr. Hewey until the finish line.
My girlfriend was also running the 50miles. On the out and back I had finally managed to gain a gap on my Ukrainian shadow. Then I spotted my gf and stopped for a sob session,
"My EVERYTHING HURTS! Wha-wha-wha. I want my Mommy. Wha-wha-wha."
"Well think of Dolphins and Butterflies and you'll perk right up honey!"
"Dammit here comes Borat. I gotta go."
I thought I was gonna drop outta this thing no fewer than six distinct times. Then I had a flashback. Circa 2005. A younger, less lean, much slower version of myself, albeit with a full head of hair...hmm, which would I choose...was in conversation with a close friend.
"I've never made it through ANY race, of ANY distance, without wanting to drop out at least once, most often twice, and sometimes I just lose count altogether."
YES! I said this! I meant this! This is my truth that I had somehow forgotten. Racing sucks. I still have no idea why I subject myself to all the unnecessary pain but I do, and I'M GOOD AT IT! YEAH, I wanna drop out! I'm doing something right out here today!! Woo Hoo, I hate my life right now, do dah, do dah, I hate my life right now, do dah, do dah, day!
Aid Station 8 (Thanks Owen for your help)
Fifteen miles to go. Almost all downhill to the next and final aid station. Gennadi and I entered and exited together. I had long since lost the mental capacity to decipher what he was saying to me so I simply gave him a smile and threw my forearm into his shoulder. He smiled back like he thought I was being friendly but I was actually swinging a left hook with all the power I had remaining in my body at that moment and I came up short. He was taller and bigger than myself and I figured I had no choice left but to attempt to outrun him.
Half way down the thirty minute descent and he was still hanging tough.
"That's IT! Seriously, I'll break my foot again if I have to but this is ending NOW! I'm NOT going into the final eight miles in a head to head battle."
I opened it up and was thankful to gain a gap within a minute. I then capitalized on this and started re-routing as much flagging as I could while on the fly. Usually I carry a spare roll in my pocket for instances just like this but it must have fallen out somewhere over the first 42miles.
The final eight miles were a mix of pure physical fatigue with slight injections of adrenaline from the realization that I was actually going to make it through fifty miles of running. I was going to finish my first ultra distance in over eight full months. I was going to finish third. I was going to e-mail my foot Doctor and say "Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah" Since he had said I'd be lucky to get through 10km within eight weeks. I'd been off crutches for twelve weeks and back to running for six weeks. This race was more of a mind bender than a Rubik's Cube once you attempt to remove and replace all the stickers on it...yeah, don't act like you haven't done it too...but now I could spot the finish line. I'd made it...and my reward for doing so...I get to run 100 miles in eight more weeks...DOHHHHHH!
*This was only my second ever 50mile course, having run the Mountain Masochist 50m in 08 & 09, and I must admit, this distance entices me like never before. It's not 50k, it's not 100miles, it's somewhere in between and as such has its own set of rules. I'm looking forward to pursuing more of these in the future*
Thanks to the RD John Pearch for a great day out and an immaculately flagged course.