Saturday, May 17, 2008

Berryman Trail 50 miler

Here's my report. I may write more later and maybe not, but will add some pictures.

We left Columbia before 2 pm and picked Dan up in Ashland. We arrived Friday night at the Berryman camp about 5:30 pm after making a few wrong turns along the way. Picked up our packets, set up camp with the other Columbians and ate dinner. I was in bed by 9 pm and up at 2 am getting rid of some water. I had a hard time getting back to sleep but once I did I was dreaming about running a marathon. I hear Dan's alarm go off before mine so get up. I get dressed, have my shake with coffee, a banana, and yogurt, and then off to the bathroom. Go back and get everything ready to go and we head to the start line.

Hugh volunteered and was stationed at the second aid station. I handed my shirt off to him since I was getting hot. I didn't think my GPS was keeping accurate mileage and at the point it completely quit working it was bout 3 miles short. Dan ran the marathon and I got to see him several times on the course when he passed me and then I passed him later. I even ran with him and another guy for awhile. I finished the first half (25.2) in about 3:45, 8:56 pace. My goal overall was to finish in under 8 hrs and try running the first half at 8:50 pace. Trail conditions were much muddier this year and I really wasn't sure but I think this was an okay plan. Dan finished in 3:46 (6th overall - actually tied with 5th). I took 5 min to change my socks and shoes and was off for the second loop feeling decent.

Up to this point I had been in 5th place. I started the second loop with 2 other guys in the 50 that had come in while I was changing shoes and passed them before the first half mile. I was pretty excited to be in 3rd place and was feeling just a little pressure about it too. It was heating up and I was keeping a good pace and at least keeping one foot in front of the other running and very little walking. I expected it would take me about 4 hrs and I would finish in just under 8 hrs.

For a 50 mile, I expect to have periods where I feel bad, but I can't say I ever felt awful. I was running very well and am thinking this isn't that bad after I got the aid station at about 40 miles. The race started out at about 50 F and it heated up to about 80 while I was on the course. I hadn't seen or heard the guys behind me after I passed them but kept thinking they were going to come up behind me. It actually would have been nice to have someone to run with. The worst part of the course was where the horses had trampled through the mud and it was very difficult to run there. There were some creeks too where I couldn't avoid getting my shoes wet.

About a mile after the 44.3 mile aid station, I feel something in my calf going up a hill and think it is a spasm and thought I might have felt a pop. I massaged it and it didn't hurt hardly at all but I couldn't run and had a hard time walking. It was like my calf had given up. I wasn't ready to give up and wanted to run but couldn't. At this point I was 7 hr 15 min and had about 4.5 miles to go. I attempt to walk and kept thinking those guys behind me were going to catch up. After awhile I thought they must be having issues as well since a lot of time had passed. After 45 minutes one passes me walking. A couple minutes later I'm at the last aid station and they give me The Stick to try to massage out the calf tightness. They also gave me 2 Advil and I'm on my way now hoping I can walk and finish in under 9 hrs.

After I take off another guy passes me a few minutes later. I'm amazed how much of a lead I had gained on these guys but they were both having some problems too. Anything can happen in a 50 mile and it definitely happened and I just accepted it and dealt with it the best could. I walk for another mile and then try running. Yet another 50 miler passes me. I figure out how to run by tightening the calf, but it isn't pretty. I keep trying and get better at it and am able to alternate running and walking. I did pass a few marathoners that were walking.

Soon I am almost to the finish so I make sure I am running through the finish. I was so concentrating on being able to run that I forgot to stop my watch and was happy to see I was under 9 hrs at 8:53:59. I was thankful that I was able to at least walk when I couldn't run.

I used 10 Accel Gels and didn't eat anything else on the course. I drank water and sometimes Coke at the aid stations. I thought I was staying well hydrated but I think my calf issue may have been caused by low electrolytes. I was covered in salt when I finished. I probably should have carried water on the second loop since the aid stations weren't quite coming soon enough.

I'd say overall I am happy with this race even though the last 4.5 mi didn't go as planned. I placed decent at 6th place and came ever so close to 3rd. As I finished I didn't think I'd ever want to do one again, but about 10 min later I had changed my mind. If more of the race had gone badly I'd probably be serious about not doing one again but to be fair 90% of my run was close to excellent and I really had it together mentally. I made it through those last 4.5 miles with a good attitude. I had made it that far and I was determined to finish and get my Belt Buckle.

Hugh had been volunteering and was at the finish. The runners that passed me alerted Hugh and Dan to my calf problem so they weren't too worried. Since I finished an hour later we left a little later than planned and were really pressed to get back to Columbia by 7 pm to pick up the dogs at the kennel. I guess we would not have had this fun experience if I had finished earlier. We had to take Dan with us since didn't have time to drop him off in Ashland. Half the back seat was full so we had Rusty in the front with Dan and Hugh in the back with Bruno. Thankfully, Dan loves dogs. We dropped the dogs off at home and then went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner and took Dan home.

This was a fun trip and I hope to do this race again so I can actually run those last 4.5 miles. I don't think this calf issue is serious, but will see how it feels tomorrow.
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