As I mentioned in my previous post, the week prior to this race was pretty crazy for me…I was very busy at work and I got very little sleep because I was still trying to squeeze a run in every day. With this race on Saturday, my total for the week would be over 83 miles.
Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting a great performance. Not only was it a tough week leading up to the race, but I didn’t think I was very well prepared physically, either. For the first 3 and a half months of the year I was concentrating on training for the Boston Marathon…this involved a lot more road running than trail running…I didn’t think I would be ready for all the ups and downs of McDonald Forest. And at one point during the race, I thought to myself, “You haven’t done any long runs of more than about 3 and a half hours in a couple months! And today you’ll be lucky to finish in about 5 hours.” Hills and endurance were definite question marks.
But what a great morning for a race it was…overcast, not too cold…and the course was dry. Last year was the first year I ran the 50K and I didn’t know quite what to expect…this year I was much better prepared in the sense that I knew every inch of the course. My plan for the race was to run the hills effortlessly early on…if I felt like I was pushing on the hills early, I figured I’d be really hurting later on. So from the start I ran comfortably…I just tried not to push it, and I felt good.
Heading up Powder House Trail, I was doing my best to not push too hard…so I was a little concerned when I caught up to Matt Nahorniak on this section. I asked him how he was doing…he said, in so many words, that he wasn’t feeling real good. Penny McDermott was also close behind, and she passed me on the last short section up to the top of Powder House Trail. She had just run the Womens Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston a few weeks ago in 2:49:32, so I figured trying to run her pace would be good for me. But Matt caught back up and passed us after we got to the end of Powder House Trail…I decided to try to keep him in sight since I knew he was shooting for a sub 5 hour finish. For a guy who wasn’t feeling real good, he was really hammering the downhills…even on a tough day, he still finished strong, several minutes under 5 hours.
After the first aid station, I ran with Sander Nelson for a while, trying to pick up some tips. In all his previous races here, he told me he felt like he hadn’t ever run a really great race…well, he can’t say that anymore…he ran a great race this year and ended up finishing fifth. We hit the first part of the maze together, but he dropped me pretty quickly going up that steep stuff…I really need to work on the hiking. I tried to take it easy in the maze, but of course, coming out of it, I still felt spent. From last year’s race, I remembered several places where I had trouble, and I was determined to do better on those sections this year. One of those sections is the seemingly never-ending climb up the road to Dimple Hill Aid Station. I was happy that I was able to run this entire section this year.
I was feeling really good when I got to the top of Dimple Hill. But interestingly, when I started down Dan’s Trail, my stomach started to bother me. I definitely didn’t run Dan’s Trail like I hoped to, but once I got to the bottom of it, the uphills actually made me feel better…and then Scott Jurek passed me going the other direction and said, “Good job!” That made me feel better too. I had been taking a gel at every aid station, but decided to stop doing this…thankfully my stomach started to feel better. I seem to have some sort of a fueling issue.
After Chip Ross Aid Station, I knew I only had two tough climbs to go…the Horse Trails and the road section after the last aid station. I walked a lot of the Horse Trails last year and was determined to run as much of them as I could this year…I ended up running, very slowly of course, almost the entire way. And once I got to the saddle, I knew it was only about 1.5 miles to the top of that last tough climb…this one definitely was tough…my legs were screaming at me to stop and walk…I gave in and did for a brief bit. Once I hit the downhill I just let gravity do the work…I pushed as best I could and was able to run somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30 a mile for this stretch. When I got to Powder House Trail I felt completely exhausted and ended up walking up the hill…I thought about 4:45, but it was just a thought…not worth hurting myself before the Newport Marathon. I ran the last downhill stretch as best I could and finished in 4:46:37.
From the time I got to Dimple Hill Aid Station, all the way until about 1 mile to go, I was thinking, when will he catch me? He may not know it, but William the Pain Train Swint really pushed me in this race. The usual scenario for ultras we run is me starting off fast, probably too fast sometimes, and him catching me at some point in the second half of the race. So when I made it to Dimple Hill Aid Station I thought, I’ll try and make it to Chip Ross Aid Station before he catches me…then when I made it to Chip Ross Aid Station I thought, I’ll try and make to the top of the Horse Trails before he catches me, and so on…it really helped push me. Unfortunately, the Pain Train lived up to his name and had another painful race…for the second race in a row his stomach was bothering him…it’s tough to run that way. He still ran a great time, 4:53:49, but I know how it feels to run a race and afterwards feel like you could have done better…I think we’re both suffering from the same affliction to some degree…let’s get this figured out.
I was surprised at how well the race went for me…I had such a tough week and still had a good race…maybe I have gotten a little tougher over the past year. I may have also been fueled by revenge since I didn’t have a great race at Boston. Well, now I start my taper for the Newport Marathon. Actually, maybe I shouldn’t taper at all.
2 years ago