Road Trip plus Day 1 -
Once again this race turned out to be the most fun, and scenic race I have done. This is one that is just done for the pure joy of running regardless of pace. Jeff and I headed to Arkansas at 11 am Thursday. This year instead of camping I stayed in a small cabin with Jeff with a comfortable bed, kitchen, satellite TV, and more. We arrived late afternoon checked into the cabin, picked up race packets and headed to dinner for a buffet at the Pizza Inn in Mountain View. Then back to the cabin, prepared for Friday’s race, watched ER and then off to bed.
We got up at 6:30 am and arrived at race headquarters around 8 am. The race site was about 15 minutes from where we were staying. The area was hit hard by an ice storm in early February so we were limited on the trails that we could use this year. Volunteers had cleared some trails and the plan was to use trails and forest roads to make up the difference. We found Allan at his campsite and then visited with other runners before the race and I got to see Ashley, the female winner that I ran a lot of the miles with last year.
The first race was supposed to be a 50K but ended up being a marathon. We started out up a big climb which was the same as we took last year for the 50 mile. This time though it wasn’t quite as painful, but still not pleasant to start up this big climb. I never could seem to catch my breath. Maybe I should have run a warm up?
The first 10 miles were on trail and I ran with Ashley. There was an aid station about every 5 miles. At the 10 mile we ran on a forest road for an out and back. It was at this point we learned the course was not going to be a 50K. I don’t think anyone was too disappointed as it was still quite challenging. Once we got back to the trail I had Ashley run ahead of me. We ran a couple miles and then I told her I was going to stop to pee and to go ahead and I would try to catch up. I tried but wasn’t feeling a whole lot better so just kept moving.
I had been drinking Accelerade and taking an Accelerade gel every 5 miles. I used about 1 of my bottles each 10 miles. By then I felt naseous/queasy but didn’t eat any solid food which may have been my problem. Mentally, I felt good (but no speed) so I keep pushing on and about half mile before the end Po Dog catches up to me. Once he sees how close we are to the end we decide to finish together. Last year I had finished with someone each race and thought I was going to go in alone, but it was nice to finish with someone. I headed off to soak legs in creek with some other runners. Allan finished in 4:31 and Jeff in 5:15.
42K (26.2 mi) - 4:20:19
12 of 44 men
13 of 56 overall
Temp: 34 at beginning and 48 at end.
Day 2 - 50 mi
I felt pretty good waking up and didn’t need to take any Ibuprofen this year. I had no joint pain and no muscle soreness. We had to get up at 5 am since the 50 miler started at 7 am. Ate breakfast as the day before and then headed to race head quarters to check in. Today’s course was going to be 2 different out and backs. The first out and back about 10.5 miles total and then the second out and back same trail as marathon but different forest road.
Since my GPS is only good for 8 hours, I did not turn on until after the first 10.5 since there was no way I could run under 8 hours on this course. I decided to start out real easy and see how I felt. I ran the first half of the out and back with Allan and some others. We crossed a creek about chest deep and had to cross again on the way back. Once we crossed the creek, I picked up the pace. I finished this part of the course about the same time as another guy that I would end up passing back and forth for quite a bit of the 50 miles.
At the 20 mile aid station, which was the end of the trail portion, I decided to not change my shoes since my feet felt pretty good and they were mostly dry. I grabbed more gels from my drop bag, ate some peanut butter and crackers, and drank an Amp since I really needed some energy. I spent 6 – 7 minutes refueling and then headed out with one of the coed teams that had caught up. We headed up the forest road to run out 10 miles.
I didn’t stay long with this couple since I ran up the hill although slow I called it running and was faster than they were walking. It went up for about a mile until it went down and ended up being a rolling gravel road that was not necessarily easy, but easier to run faster than trail. I really had to concentrate to run faster than the trail since I was tired. Some miles were faster and some were not. I passed a guy that didn’t look like he was doing too well. I finally make it to the end and had almost caught the guy that passed me earlier until I stopped to refuel at the 30 mile aid station. I headed back out as the guy I had passed came in and asked for Ibuprofen.
I had already seen the faster runners heading back and got to see the rest on the way back. The guy that wasn’t feeling well earlier caught up to me and was feeling better. Another guy caught up too. We pass back and forth for awhile as I am not feeling well. Then I have a surge and leave them both in the dust although one of them will catch me later.
I stopped at the 40 mile aid station for more gels and peanut butter and crackers, peanut butter and jelly, and then head back out to the trail. Once I get on the trail my pace is noticeably slower. The guy that I passed earlier passes me and looks like he is running well. I have to walk up hills and have some really slow miles. I am thinking at best I will be done in 9 hrs 45 min at this slow pace. This is fine with me since I just want to finish feeling good. After about 3 miles, I manage to pick up pace a little and run more smoothly hanging on to the end. This was an okay (not great) run and I felt good at the end. I headed off to soak my legs in the creek with about 20 fish gathering around me. I had to kick them away as they got too close to my legs.
50 mi - 9:33:06
11 of 34 men
12 of 41 overall
Temp: Beginning was 43 end was 59F
Allan finished in 10 hr 25 min and Jeff finished in 10 hrs 50 min. We all took hours off our times from last year. Jeff and I headed back to our cabin and grilled steaks before heading off to bed at 10 pm.
Day 3 - 20K
I woke in the night with slightly achy knees and took an Ibuprofen. When I got up I felt pretty good and decided to take 2 more Ibuprofen just for good measure. I was feeling good and ready to run a race. I did not have that feeling the first 2 days. Last year I had felt completely beat up by the 3rd day so was happy to feel so good. I was actually looking forward to the 20K and not dreading it.
Originally, we were going to run back up the hill for the 20K, but since we had already done that twice the race director decided we would do the out and back that crossed the creek. After crossing the creek, we then had to run a short while on roads to a rickety bridge before turning around. I managed to stay right behind a group of faster runners until we crossed the creek on the way back. For some reason, the cold water must have been a shock and I had a hard time getting my pace back up to speed. At one point I did catch them later when I sped up.
As I was speeding along to catch them I fell on some rock and landed on my water bottle. The bottle sprung me right back up on my feet which was quite amazing and too bad no one could see this. I caught up to them as they had made a wrong turn. They were on fire and although I felt I was running fast I could not keep up so kept my own pace.
About 1 mile before the end a girl that had been running with us earlier caught up to me. I told her to go around and I would try to keep up. I ended up finishing with her and we were 2 minutes behind the group we ran with earlier. I was quite happy with this run and overall it went very well.
20K - 1:49:25
13 of 53 men
14 (tied with second woman) of 64 overall
Temp was 48.
Overall - 15:42:50
9th of 31 men
10th of 39 overall
Once again even with the lack of trails, this proved to be a fun and low-key event. There were great single-track trails with rock faces, ledges, and the not as fun forest roads. There were even a few trees to climb over but the trails we ran on were pretty clear so not as bad as last year. Also, this year we got 2 different shirts, a finisher’s glass, and coffee travel mug. I also won a pair of toe socks in the drawing. And as always there were other supportive runners that offered a lot of encouragement. I ended up feeling good and not like I had been through hell after the 3 days. My feet were in good shape as I had thoroughly coated them in Body Glide. Legs felt decent and joints felt good. Even though the course was less difficult than last year, it wasn’t easy. I am still new to this but it seems like it does get easier each year.
Adam and Dan