Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Labor of Love 50K Race Report

In preparation for the RimtoRimtoRim adventure I'm doing with my new-found ultra-running friends in San Diego, and since I needed an April race, I signed up for a desert 50K April 22nd, Earth Day.  In the Lovell Canyon, just outside of Las Vegas, with starting elevation at 4600 ft and going up.  

I stayed with couchsurfer, (www.couchsurfing.com), who has recently gotten into races and is doing the Tough Mudder in October.  After checking out a buffet at the Cosmopolitan, and some of the other sights I hadn't seen before, we decided to go check out the course and make sure I knew where I was going for the following day at 5am.  The course was just on the other side of the Red Rock Canyon.  We talked to a guy that had just finished the 50mile race in 11hr, 6 mins. He said what saved him was putting ice in his pack at the aid stations and his white hat with the cape to cover the back of his neck. 

The only other time I had seen people running with these was on the Badwater website (www.badwater.com) or at the Marathon Des Sables (http://www.darbaroud.com/).  Naturally, I had to get one!!  So, we made a stop at REI before heading home, me too sleep, Del to met up with some friends.

In the morning, there was some relay happening, still not sure what it was but it was fully supported, each runner had the same blinking vests on and a car following right behind them....  I arrived around 5:15, got my bib and started preparing, sunscreen, body glide, shoes, etc.  I left a bag in the pile of bags with some things I thought I might need.  I ended up grabbing my camera from the bag at mile 11.

Starting out, I felt TERRIBLE!!!  Somehow I started talking to a fellow runner named Melissa and she had ran the half marathon the day before, since she's training for Comrades:   
http://www.comrades.com/  She said the same thing, the elevation gets you in the beginning.  I said I felt like I hadn't trained at all and she said she felt like she hadn't ran in a month!  And she had ran 11 marathons since February!!!  And, she's a maniac.  A Marathon Maniac, part of an exclusive club that I don't qualify for yet!

We got to the first aid station  after around 5 miles or so, running on a slow smooth incline, passing a few 100milers that were still finishing from 7am the day before!!  Most of them were able to smile at us or thank us when we congratulated them or cheered them on.  One of them just looked at us.  We both know he wanted to smile and thank us but in the condition he was in, he could only lift his head.  Melissa and I, arriving at the aid station, yapped to the volunteers about him and then realized they had become zombies overnight too since they just looked at us.

The next aid station was at mile 11, just before the road changed to trail.  I still had my Vibram Five Fingers on and asked how rocky the terrain was and they said it wasn't too bad.  It was kinda rocky and I probably should have changed my shoes into my trail shoes but I didn't and I was fine anyway...

This is where the incline really started, see the map:  http://www.calicoracing.com/  So we slowly but surely started heading up the climb.  It's great to meet someone in a race with your heart pumping and endorphins going.  You end up talking to complete strangers about your entire life, without thinking twice about it.  Personal details come out when you're in the heat of the moment...  the view at the top was AMAZING!

At the turnaround point, mile 15.5, the aid station was fully stocked.  I had a little more of my PB & J, some heed, and decided to try a cup of de-carbonated warm pepsi, another delicacy these ultrarunners drink.  For someone who rarely drinks any kind of pop/soda, I felt like a million bucks!  LITERALLY

Melissa and I headed back up the mountain behind another runner we had met, Steve.  Steve had ran the marathon the day before and did the early start for the 50K.  He is also a maniac, distinguishing his 'single' weekends from his 'double' weekends.  This weekend was a double.  We climbed back up to the top with him, got some pictures and jammed all the way down.  He was an older guy and loved that he was running with some 'hot' girls.  Everytime he said it we responded that we were indeed hot, revealing our sweat.  

At the next aid station, I was pleased that I had to use the bathroom, since this is the best way to judge your hydration levels.  I had been sipping from my Nathan waterpack, given to me by my good friend Trasie, every 15 mins and eating something every half hour, as she recommended.  I also recalled that in my last 50K in Rockford, IL, in September 2009, with minimal heat, I hit the wall around mile 27 because I hadn't started consuming calories until at least 10 miles in, which was way too late.  I read somewhere, "Eat early and often".  I also had a cup of Mountain Dew (dangerous) at this aid station and put some ice in my water pack.  

After that aid station, the 3 of us separated, Melissa took off, finishing a half hour b4 me!!!  Steve finished around another half hour after me.  The next aid station, around mile 25 or so, my back was still cool from the ice and I was still feeling great.  So, I did a handstand for the cameraman!!!  He had just arrived on the scene, after taking some shots of the 10k'ers.  He said he had never seen that before.  As I took off, the volunteer told me sarcastically to be sure to have fun.  She knew I was lovin' life to the extreme.

A bit down the road, I ran into Mike.  Unfortunately, I didn't grab a picture but I can explain what I saw.  He was leaning over to his right side, nearly about to topple over, walking with a drunk swagger.  It was exactly what I had hoped to see in a desert ultramarathon.  An older guy that was determined to keep going no matter what it took.  He looked like he was doing Badwater, still had his headlamp on, in black tights and long white sleeves and he had a waterpack too.  I could have sworn he was going to be delirious and tell me he there were little elephants on the side of the road.  He wasn't!!  He did say, however, that it was the worst thing he had ever done.  He had done the race last year too and apparently it was about 40 degrees cooler!!  I bid him farewell and ran off.

Then I ran into another aid station that was just setting up, all they had to offer me was water.  Good thing I had grabbed some gummy bears from the last aid station and I still had some GU.  I then ran into two guys from Atlanta that commented on my Five Fingers and the weather.  I gave the one guy some H2O from my pack since he had been out for the past 5 miles and we still had two to go.  I ran on, still feeling great!  Even better since I had just passed two tough-looking guys from Atlanta!!  

Coming up to the finish, I tightened my pack, hoping to bust out a cartwheel and then forgot to when I crossed the line.  But, I did put my arms up and smile quite a bit!  thWhen the race director handed me my award for being 1st in my age division, a potted cactus that matched my skirt, I was thrilled!  I ate a bit, drank some, gave my email address to Melissa and there comes Mike...  this time, he DID topple over!!!!!!!  Right into the dried up bushes!  The race director just laughed and said, "He does this EVERY time". Melissa and I ran to go get him and help him to the finish.  Steve was there too with us and they carried each other to the finish.  

I came in at 6:58, 16th out of 30, the 6th woman.  I met a lot of great people, runners and volunteers alike, pushed my limits and feel more prepared than ever for my next event:  Rim to Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon, a 44 mile run, May 5th.  

The drive home was WONDERFUL, even though there was traffic, I was still feeling the Pepsi and Mountain Dew.