Saturday, July 12, 2008

an ultra's ultra late recap

On May 10th, somewhere along the famed Pacific Crest Trail, in the Cleveland National Forest, I took a step weakly, exhausted and swore that if I ever made it out of this trail alive, I would never run a 50-miler again.

No, let me correct myself–I swore never to run a single step again, ever!

I should've posted this recap several weeks ago, but I just did not want to have anything to do with running for awhile. After the PCT 50, I took my usual post-ultra one-week recovery where I did absolutely nothing related to running. Well, after that week was over, I sorta enjoyed the break and extended my "recovery" indefinitely. Hmm...was I really taking my race-fatigue-induced vow seriously? I knew I had the Tahoe Rim in about 2 months, but that just seemed ages away. And so the break extended to two weeks, then three, then four...

But I digress.

Here's the extremely abbreviated recap of my second 50-miler, the PCT 50 Mile Endurance Run. It was held about an hour east of San Diego along a 25-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail, 2650 miles of trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. I got up at 2am, rendezvoused with a few running pals somewhere down in So. OC and headed down to the starting line about 2 hours away.

From the start, I didn't feel good. My legs were burning on the uphill, I was heaving and panting, my water bottles felt heavy, and just about everyone was passing me by. I thought that after my body warmed up, I would start to feel better and get my rhythm. Ten miles later, things hadn't improved much. I never gained any momentum, and as the beautiful as the course is, I found it difficult to enjoy it like I have previous races.

I suppose I should've written this as it happened, but since some time has passed, I'll have to resort to bulleting some of what I remember about this race...
  • very chilly start, about 35deg F, and warming up to somewhere in the high 80s
  • SCTHz Greg and Pam at the first aid station. I had already fallen way back at this point but Greg was very encouraging
  • saw more SCTHz peeps on the trail including Kevin, Robo, Keira, iMichelle, Marisa, Dmitri, Kirk, LSD Chris, Kos, Chaz, Xy. Did I forget anyone?
  • another Trail Headz, Leon Gray manning the turnaround point
  • meeting and running with Jakob Hermann, a Swiss expat who casually decided at the end of the race that he'll run the SD100 in less than a month. He got a pic of me as I hobbled along the trail.
  • spectacular views of the Mojave Desert on one side, and the Laguna Mountains on the other
  • miles and miles and miles of technical trails
  • fellow Trail Headz and race volunteers Sue, Alexa, and Michelle making sure I was going to be ok the rest of the way at Mile 43.5 Aid Station
  • a volunteer at the last aid station who insisted I take salt pills and made sure I ate more salty stuff. I thought he was a bit pushy until I realized why when I saw my hat.
I posted a time of 10:46 at my previous 50-miler, and I was hoping to come somewhat close to it. I knew coming in that this was a tougher course, so I set my goal to about 11:30. As the race progressed and the time and my energy ticked away, it was becoming more evident that I probably won't be meeting this goal.

My eventual time was 12:47, 82nd place with 108 starters, definitely not the kind of finish I was hoping for.

Reading over what I'd just written, I realize that this post somehow captures my feeling of my race that day – labored without rhythm, uninspired, a tad bit too long, and just plain glad that it is now over.

But as much as I tried to stick to my vow, I did eventually start putting one foot forward again, and again, and again and am back to running once more.

My race pictures here.
Read PCT 50 recaps from Chaz and Greg.


Abbie said...

Congrats on the finish! I don't know if I'll ever (want to) make it to a 50 miler! I just started running again, starting to train for the marathon in Greece in November, we should get together for a short run sometime to catch up!

Pete Vara said...

Eric thank you for posting your recap. Any plans for future 50 milers?

e-rod said...

abbie...thanks! hey, greece is 4 months away. you and eric are gonna have a blast. when can you run?

pete...dunno yet. maybe helen klein in nov or the avalon 50 in catalina in jan.