Yes, it’s been a while, and for that I apologize. I’ve been recovering and trying to figure out what to do next. Thanks to all of you, we’re now only $420,000 from realizing our goal of raising $3.5 million! Stay Inspired!
Anyway, ran my first race since Badwater, and it woke me up. In the future, I expect to continue to find inspiring stories, but will also give my reviews of gear I’m using. Enjoy!
The day started off well, and then went downhill from there. Actually, it went uphill, then downhill, then uphill about 16 times.With 5400 feet of elevation gain in a 50k, this wasn’t a walk in the park, and definitely not one that you should try to run without first doing a lot of hill training (he says with perfect clarity of hindsight).
Having run it last year (and DNFing on a lame excuse of being “tight” after 19 miles), you’d think I’d be better prepared, but either because I’d already come through “harder” ultras during the year, or because I was lazy, I wasn’t. The first climb happens at about mile 1.5 and you hit a 20% incline that goes for the next 2/10 of a mile (put that on your treadmill). A bit of rest at the top, then back down to the riverbed (which you’ve already waded through two or three times and will be given the opportunity to wash your shoes and socks in a further 10 times before the day is over.
Next comes the “relatively” flat bit, which meanders along the riverbed, and through the river a few more times until you hit the second “fun” climb at about 3 ½ miles. This one is only a 12-15% climb for the next ½ a mile or so. This continues on for a bit, up and down, until you’ve climbed about 16 hills (I think I mentioned that already) and you are (or at least I was) making it a few steps, resting, going a few more and resting like an old wind-up toy with a broken spring. I think the biggest difference between these hills and others I’ve run is that they were jeep tracks, so straight up and down as opposed to the switchbacks I’ve run on before. Not really runnable (the down hills were definitely “fallable”, a technique I tried by bombing down a few early on) and they really took their toll.
So, to the enjoyable parts: Volunteers and fellow racers were great! Every aid station (about 4-6 miles apart) was fully stocked and staffed by helpful, friendly people. The weather turned warmer as the day went on (I was out there a long time), and I was even able to get a nice cold water down the back treatment that kept me going! I was near the end of the group of 55 that finished the race (I don’t like peer pressure) but was still greeted by a great cheer that went up from the volunteers that were roused out of their slumber to cheer me on (OK it wasn’t that long, but I can’t imagine the stamina required to sit there and wait as long as they did). Weather and scenery were also high points. You can see some of the natural beauty from the pictures, and while it did get into the high 70′s, running in shade most of the time and a breeze part of the time really made it comfortable. Oh, and about mile 16, I had to wander through some horses (I’m pretty sure they were there).
We drove back to St. Louis straight away (my wife shaming me by crushing the 25k and then having enough time to read 3 books, catch up on 3 years worth of neglected letter writing and compose a sonnet), and my quads are still singing. If you want a challenge, this one will test you.
I ran in Hoka Mafate 2′s (review coming) and had ZERO issues (no blisters even though my feet were wet about 75% of the time). Slight rubbing on the heel, but that was it.