Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pocatello 50 Mile Race Report (Christian)

There were many other titles I had in mind for this post such as "The good times are killing me" or "When you find yourself in hole - stop digging" and my favorite, "I can't fight this feeling anymore", but I decided to keep it simple for future reference and use these for the section titles instead.

Part I - The good times are killing me...

Arriving at the start I was really excited to start the race. My fitness level was higher than it had been the year before and I was confident I would have a good day. The added bonus was that it was the first time all five of MRC'rs would be in the same race together.
L-R, Jay, Christian, Peter, Greg (Erik was taking care of business) Photo: Darcie Gorman

Greg, Peter and Jay with the rainbow in the background.  Photo: Darcie Gorman 
As RD's Jared Campbell and Ryan McDermott sent us on our way there was a bit of thunder clap from a small storm passing by. I secretly wished for some rain to cool things down since it was already feeling quite warm. The mood felt quite serious up in the front group but no one was willing to really take charge and set the pace. Jay finally took the lead on to the singletrack and set a comfortable pace on first climb of the day. Within a couple miles the group was down to seven; Meltzer, Jay, Justin Yates, Matt Hart, Andy Dorais, myself and a guy from out of town named Craig.
The early miles felt very easy and struck up a conversation with Andy before we hit the first aid station. The group was still mostly together as we started the ridge climb with the exception of Justin who pulled out a slight lead. Once I hit the steep part of the climb I felt great and just tapped out a nice cadence that moved me up through the group. Near the top I felt an extremely sharp pain on my left foot and immediately thought I had been bit by snake. Turns out it was a cactus I had brushed by and the needles were sticking out of the shoe. I stopped to pull the needles out while cursing under my breath and then took off to catch back up to the group. The pain was still there and required a full stop with shoe and sock coming off. All I could think of was the time I was losing to everyone else, all 4 or 5 minutes, and how this stupid cactus was screwing up my perfect race. Well, in a sense it did because I started to push all the way from the ridge, through the City Creek aid station and up the next climb where I regained 4th place passing Andy and Craig at the top.

Part II - When you find yourself in a hole - stop digging. 

Next up was the cruiser descent to Midnight Creek at mile 25. I continued to reel in 50k runners and took note of how wet my arms looked from perspiration. The plan was to put down some solids at the aid station but I sort of forgot and had a cup of coke instead. The next climb didn't feel particularly hard but I certainly didn't have as much pep in my legs. I chalked it up to having already run 25+ miles. The section from the top of this little climb to the aid station is not very steep in sections so it requires a bit of effort to keep the pace up and that's exactly what I did. Somewhere through here I remember a small pain developing in abdomen area on the right side and being rather perplexed by it. I was about 2 miles out of the aid station when Joelle Vaught caught up to me followed by Erik. My thought at this point was to let them go and save something for the next big climb. We all entered the aid station within a minute of each other and Marge (Greg's wife) had me in and out in no time at all (Thanks Marge, you were awesome!). I took a red bull with me and drank most of it while Ben Lewis walked with me for a bit.
The beginning of this climb is very runnable and even though the pain was getting worse in my side I made myself a deal to run for 9 minutes and walk for 1. That worked for 3 intervals as I kept Erik in sight. The pain continued to get worse and became intolerable whenever I would try and run. Before long Greg passed me, who I was really stoked to see having such a great race, then Matt caught up to me as we came through the Scout aid station. I watched them both run away as I realized I was getting myself into trouble. I forced down some gel and continued to drink as I felt no nausea whatsoever. However, my energy was extremely low and every time I tried to jog the knife would jab me hard in the side.

Part III - I can't fight this feeling anymore.

Higher and higher we climbed Scout Mountain and even though I was moving slower than I wanted I continued to pass 50k and 20 mile runners. Then I tried to jog a flat section shortly before the summit and the side pain crippled me. Walking was the only option and with a long cruiser descent in front of me I was not very happy. I took 5 minutes at the top and sat down to at least enjoy the view, looking over the course from the high point. As I stumbled off the top I became light headed at which point I would have to stop or at least slow down so I wouldn't fall. Once I was down in the trees I mustered a jog for a few minutes before I suddenly became overwhelmed with nausea and dizziness. I desperately looked for a tree to lean on and then let everything out. Within a few minutes the scene was over and I sat down on the side of the trail to collect myself. For reasons I can't explain a song popped into my head at that moment. The really odd thing is I can't even remember the last time I heard the song, but the lyric kept repeating in my head.

How corny is that? I continued to stumble for what seemed line an eternity down to the last aid station, Big Fur, where I knew I was going to pull the plug. That was until I saw Roch Horton. He was putting me back together before I even sat down. But I was too far gone, puking again while I was in the aid station. Just after that Peter rolled in looking a little rough around the edges and took the seat next to me. Cheryl Meltzer showed up around the same time and the two of them coaxed me out of the chair for the final 5 miles, 4 up, 1 down.
The three of us set off down the road and within minutes it was pretty clear that I couldn't hold the pace. I had figured out that I hadn't processed any food or liquid for nearly 5 hours and while I wanted to finish, I just couldn't muster anything more than a stumble. Just then Peter slowed down and waited for me. I told him to just go on without me, but in reality I was hoping he would run it in with me. Peter refused to go on, telling me it would be "good time" to finish together. I was relieved and tried hard to keep moving forward but shortly before the top of the last climb I was dizzy again and had to sit in the shade for a few minutes. As terrible as I felt I shared the music lyric moment with Peter and we had a good laugh. Even though the bugs were swarming us and our legs were twitching from cramps I was happy right there in the shade with my friend.
We eventually stood up and stumbled the last 3 miles to the finish where everyone else jumped in to put us back together. I sat on the grass happy to be finished and grateful to have such great friends.

Thank you, you guys are the best.


Jay said...

Given how you bounded up Bowman fork on Saturday you clearly haven't "thrown away the oars forever." I often get the lyrics to the most random and absurd songs that I haven't heard for many years stuck in my head when I'm running. Weird. Congrats on "bringing the ship into the shore" and getting the job done! Onwards to Hardrock...

japhruns said...

nice job getting it done with some less than ideal moments experienced along the way . . .

Chris Cawley said...

Great post.