Saturday, June 2, 2007

Rainier to Ruston Rail Trail Relay and Ultra 32.5 miles

Current Mile total: 704.25 miles

I'm Hooked!!
That was the best race I've ever been a part of. It was so unlike the races I've been a part of where the only focus was to get to the finish as fast as possible. At each aid station I would chat it up with the volunteers, eat food(grapes, oranges, bread). The volunteers would refill my water bottle and tend to me to be sure I was completely taken care of. The really made you feel like the star of the show. The race director was out there himself personally helping us at each of the earlier stages then driving by with his blow horn with words of encouragement. I probably ran 14 miles of this race completely alone but it never felt that way. Each aid station was an oasis of cheer that made this race spectacular. So let me give you a run down of my very long day.

My pups got me up at the ungodly hour of 4:30. This summer daylight is killing me. So I have them walked by 5 am thinking I now have 5 hours before I actually run. SO naturally I'm thinking "what do I do for nutrition?" I've always started races no later than 8 am so a bagel is usually good. I opted to do just that and then have a 3bar when I got close to the starting time. So I drive down to the South Prairie Fire Station where my start is and there's a briefing going on by the race director Markus. He's a really personable guy who was thoroughly involved with making sure the race went smoothly. He was briefing the relay teams who where about to head out to their starting points. I had shown up two hours early because I had nothing better to do. I spend my time chatting with the race crew who are waiting to head out after my start. And what a start it was. There were 3 of us! Our start was just for the 50k ultras. There was an 18 year old who was running his first ultra like me but he planned on running 6:30 miles. He shows up in a cotton shirt and Markus says"cotton is rotten!" and gives him a proper running shirt. The other runner was Kathleen, a stud of an athlete who set the new course record for the women. Now I suppose it wasn't that hard to do considering there was no prior record but she had an awesome race. So without too much pomp and circumstance we start to running. The kid is out of site in a matter of minutes and me and Kathleen end of running together. My legs felt really stiff and I decided best to let her go on ahead of me. I did this by pulling out the trusty camera and snap a shot of this guy on the side of the trail. I then decided that because it was going to be a lonely run, I'd turn on the Ipod. Turns out that when I decided to charge my ipod on my desktop the night before it wipped out all the songs. I won't go into detail because this blog is already too long but the result, NO IPOD. It was the running gods telling me that it is never acceptable in a race format to have music helping you along. I'd have to really earn this first ultra. So I ran on. A few minutes later a biker come up beside me on the trail and says, "did you lose your car key?", and he pulls out my key. Apparently I dropped it when getting my camera out. That could have been bad. My guardian angle was really looking out for me there. OK, so really exciting start. That was all in the first two miles, the next 30.5 were a little less eventful. It turned out Kathleen ended up slowing things down a bit once she settled down so I caught up to her and we ended up running half the race together. She was great company and made the first half fly by. But unfortunately the heat really affected me and I had to eventually let her go. Did I not mention the heat? with a average temperature of 83 the tarmac that we were running on read 91. 91 in WA where in the mornings its not usually over 55-60. It was a brutally hot day. Anyway, another 50k Ultra(late starter), Mike, ended up catching us by around 15 miles and they went on ahead. So there I was with half the race left and feeling a little tired but with a great view. So I snapped this one off and slowly went on. Running, walking, and so on. The heat was really tough on me, my legs always felt great but my stomach was in terrible condition. At around mile 18 I hit a stretch of course that was just not enjoyable. The course turned to a sandy road and because its been so dry lately it was like running on a beach. And to top it off, I didn't know if I was going the right way. Why would they choose this for the course? It was tough to run on and my sneakers filled with sand. Eventually I saw in the distance a bright yellow volunteer shirt sitting in a beach chair. It was laughable. Here's this volunteer all alone on this deserted sandy road with his cooler of water and snacks waiting for the runners. he really looked like he belonged on the beach. Fortunately this was the turn off point and that was it for the sand. Good Riddance! At about 27 miles a relay runner caught up to me. At this point all the relay runners should have passed me but apparently the heat was tough on everyone that day and she was the fourth and last person to pass me during this race. I had been walking about 50% of the time when she reached me but having someone to run with brought me back to life. It might have also been the fact that she was really pretty. But from there on out for the last 5 miles or so I did very little walking. I ran with her for about a mile until we reach the final aid station. And then it was alone again. I started to go the wrong way and another relay runner who was already done ran after me and pointed me in the right direction. So that's it. Another 4 and a half miles to the finish. I felt good. It was mostly shade by then and with the cooler temperatures(or was it the girl) I was able to run the rest of the race. I was of course tired but it I was slightly motivated knowing that I had never ran this far before. I reached the finish line with all the teams waiting for their last runner to come in. Everyone cheered for me and it was just so personal. I rang the bell signaling my finish and all was good(If you look in the picture of me ringing the bell you can see Mt. Rainier in the background. What a great view at the finish). By default I came in third of the men wining me my first ever award. It was a railroad spike from the actual trails converted from the old railroad lines. So there you have it.
The atmosphere at this race, and undoubtedly all Ultras, was one of family. Everyone was congratulating everyone else and Kathleen and I exchanged emails and plan on doing some training together. I stayed until 6:30 when I was finally given a ride back to my truck. But it was enjoyable to hang around and see everyone come in. Actually there were still quite a few 50 milers still out running when I left. SO all in all it was a great experience and yes I will be doing another one of these, just not in the summer! Oh, my time, it was 5:40 something, I forgot to stop my watch so I'll update it when the results come in. It was an embarrassing hour more than I thought it would be. I reached the marathon marker around 4:30 I think. It was definitely hot out there. And one last thing. I don't have an answer for but this was suppose to be a 50k(31 miles) but for whatever reason the course actually ended up being 32.5 so that's my new long distance.

1 comment:

Keith said...

congrats. sounds like it was a really fun day.