Arriving to the race felt like I was back at camp once again. The race itself is much like a mini running camp for adults. If you chose to stay on the property you will be sleeping in either bunkhouses or camping in a tent. I signed in, picked my room, threw my stuff on the lower bunk and went for a pre-race jog. I prefer to stay at the 4H camp as you can simply walk out of your room and onto the start line. As the weather can be quite chilly at the start (35 or so when the gun went off), it's nice having your room as the holding area. The rooms are small with several bunk beds. It's the camp-style beds/mattresses that crinkle when people roll over, so if you are a light sleeper it might be best to bring ear plugs. My room did not have a bathroom next to it, so I had to put on shoes and go outside to use the restroom. Thus it pays to get there early to get a room with an accompanying bathroom.
The course is a great course and excellent for beginners that are looking for their first Ultra. The race is labeled as a 50K++ as it is 33.5 or so miles long. There are aid stations every 4-5 miles so you never have to really carry too much fuel at any given point. The course if pretty flat as it traverses around the lake clockwise, only to return to the start (where you can drop a bag) and conclude by reversing the loop and running counterclockwise for the second half.
Once again there was a group dinner followed by Dr. Horton going over race logistics and tips for running ultras. After a decent night's sleep there are drinks, bagels and other breakfast snacks for runners before the race start. After a quick fueling we're on the line and about ready to run.
The race start at 6:30 SHARP. It's usually a bit dark and best if someone has a light. This year the lead group only had one person with a flashlight, so everyone was dependent on Kalib, the eventual winner.
My race had potential but was not as great as I had hoped. My ankle and plantar had been bothering me the week before the race, so I was taking Advil to hopes to reduce the swelling. I was well under the reco'd dosage, but apparently it was still enough to give me issues. My stomach hurt from mile 1 until about the halfway point. About 1.5 miles in as well ran down one of the few technical hills I fell and rolled a bit. My ankle then proceeded to hurt the entire length of the race. Despite the early issues I found myself running with in a pack of 3 in the front. At the first aid station I lost caleb as he had a water bottle and I needed to slow down to drink a few cups of water. I kept him in sight for the next 4 miles or so but eventually let him go and ran my own race.
I felt strong through the first half and hit the turn-around at 1:40-high something. As the first 6 miles were quite fast I knew I would positive split. I had been running 6:40's or so for the second half my goal was to keep the second half of the race between 6:40 and 7:00 pace. The nice thing about the race double-ing back on itself is that you can see the competition on the way back. Matt Woods and another guy were about 3-4 minutes behind me and Caleb had about 90 seconds to 2 minutes on me. I was starting to tire a touch but felt I needed to run strong and keep the gap between Matt and I decent. Matt is a strong runner and I was afraid if he smelled blod he'd over come me. Around 22 miles I really started to tire but was convinced I could hold on. I felt if I could make it to 2 miles to go I'd pull off a nice 2nd place finish. Kalib was pulling away and I didn't have the fitness to make a charge. He'd have to fail for me to win.
I continued to run ok through the marathon, but things went downhill fast at that point. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom but was unable to do so. I kept running but did so VERY slow into the last aid station. The crew at that aid station was very excited to see the 2nd place guy come in, but I was struggling. Had I not been in 2nd I would probably have dropped out as I was really hurting. I drank a soda, some electrolyte drink and was off, hoping to hold off the charge. At 3 miles to go I had to walk for a second. Matt saw me shortly after that and lead a strong charge. At 2 miles to go he caught me.
I had made it to 2 to go but was done! There was no holding off for a 2nd place finish. I was soon passed again and in 4th and about to run up the last hill. So I thought. I slowed to a walk. A walk soon led to sitting down for 5 minutes. I was uncertain if I'd be able to finish! I finally got up and tried to jog/walk. As I ran the last trail section I was tripping over roots and doing everything I could to stay upright. I was so tired I deemed it dangerous to run in the woods, so I walked. And was passed by 3 more runners. Coming out of the woods I had 100 meters to go. I couldn't drop out now, I had to run it in. I ran with numb legs and tunnel vision to the finish for a 7th place finish in 4:01. Dr. Horton knew I was hurting and directed me to food and drink.
5 minutes later my blood sugar was back to normal and I was alive, but not happy with the way I melted at the end of the race. I had possibly gone out too fast but I think my real issue was fueling. I drank only 50oz or so of liquids. As a guy whose sweat rate is 2-3lbs/hour, 50oz is not enough for a long race. Yes, I need more conditioning and longer runs, but I need to learn my rate of food and liquid intake necessary to carry me for hours on end without a drastic light-headed feeling. After a few emails with Dr. Horton I was convinced I have some homework to do. And 52 more weeks of training to improve on my time from a year ago.