Was a bit nervous for this one as I had cut back on my running significantly in the previous 3 weeks for a combination of factors (a lot of traveling and a hurt L. metatarsal). The week prior I had tested out my foot with a 2 hour run with about 3000 vertical and decided to give the race a go with a modified insole with a hole cut out around my 2nd metatarsal head. My dad, my sister, Billy, and GG the dog accompanied us to Pocatello where we wussed out and got a hotel- mainly because we were worried that Ada would keep other campers up with her nightly squeals. After attending the prerace briefing I decided to go with tights for the race given uncertain weather conditions and traumatic memories of last year (severe windchill, white-out conditions, borderline hypothermia). Went to bed around 9:30 and set the alarm for 4:00. Got up, drank some coffee, ate a bagel and a Clif Bar, and headed out to the race start at 6am. Bethany was scheduled to start her race (50k) at 8:30.
1st leg: 17 miles. I believe I hit this in 2:50 but, having the direction sense of an 11 year old girl, I had gotten off course for somewhere in the vicinity of 5-10 minutes having gone straight instead of up the steep off-trail section (which was actually marked quite well.) Was running somewhere around 10th-12th place for most of this section, trading places with Ty Draney a bunch. After going off course I probably pushed too hard up the steep bushwacking section and by the end of that first leg my hamstrings were a bit tighter than I would have liked. Otherwise, energy and spirits were high as I headed out on the 2nd leg.
2nd leg: Felt good initially but started feeling like shit during the 'Barkley section' which involved a long hike up a creek with ample snow and mud. Poles would have been nice here. At the aid station just past the top of the climb I stopped only very briefly to fill up my 1 handheld bottle (prob. should have hydrated more here). Started feeling a bit better but still ran very conservatively back towards Mink Creek.
3rd leg: at the Aid station prior to starting the long climb up to Scout Camp I was cheered on by my dad, Zoe, Billy, and Ada. Switched shoes (into Hokas) which I thought would help my foot which was starting to hurt a bit more. Felt totally awesome after seeing them and took off considerably faster, climbing well all the way up to Scout Camp which involved a seemingly interminable out and back through loose snow and mud. Saw some of the folks in front of me here including Matt Hart, Joelle Vaught, Christian Johnson, Jeremy Humphrey. Just after I left the aid station Mindy Campbell came through running the 50k and we exchanged high-fives. On the way back I saw some of the folks not far behind me including Ty, Greg Norrander, and Bryon Powell. All of these guys looked really strong and seemed to be moving significantly faster than I felt I was going which inspired me to pick up my pace a bit. I tried to push the pace on the downs (energy felt good, aerobically felt good, but was pretty limited by hamstrings that would seize up on me if my stride lengthened out too much). Hit the aid again, said hi to Dad, and headed out for the final 7 miles.
4th leg: This last stretch was pretty rough. I think at this point my dehydration was really starting to catch up to me as it was getting almost impossible to take in any calories without retching. I continued to try to do 1 Gu every 20-30 minutes but over that last couple hours it wasn't happening. Just before the downhill I saw Jeremy 200 yards in front of me but he must have taken off after that as I never saw him again. Fell twice on the slippery, muddy downhill and then tried to push it out as best I could over the last 1.5 miles of road. Finished 11th overall, 10th male. Bethany had apparently finished the 50k as 1st woman, 4th overall, looking fresh as a daisy per my dad.
Immediately on finishing I knew something was up. I was psyched to hear that Bethany won the women's 50k but I couldn't take in any fluid or food and just felt all around awful. My sister drove me back to the hotel where all I could manage to do was lie in the fetal position wimpering, vomiting when I tried to drink water. This went on for another 4.5 hours until we collectively made the decision to head into the local ED for some IV fluids. By the time the first liter was done I felt 1000x better and after 3L I felt like a new man.
Overall I'm really pleased with my effort and performance. Felt like I ran as strong as I could all day and dealt with some significant adversity. Felt better running the downhills than I've ever felt and after the race while I definitely had some hamstring soreness my quads felt totally fine. I felt almost completely recovered 4-5 days after the race. This being said, I definitely have a lot to learn about running trail ultras and was super impressed by the performances of the top male and female finishers. I'm not sure how exactly one runs 8:17 on that course but it definitely involves something pretty special. Notable mistakes I made include carrying only 1 water bottle, not keeping up on salt, not recognizing my dehydration at an early enough stage where I could have done something about it, and probably being overly concerned with racing early in the race after getting off-course when I should have just focused on keeping my effort even and easy instead of pushing the pace to 'catch up.'
The mental aspect of these longer races is interesting. While I was never tempted to drop out, by the end of the race I was totally spent from worrying about whether my body and energy would hold up the whole time. That constant monitoring of my foot, the hamstring cramping, my caloric intake, etc... was pretty mentally draining and it was a relief to cross the finish line and just not have to think about all of it anymore.
I'll definitely be back to this race next year: fantastic course, excellent support, deep field, and a big sense of adventure. Thanks to Jared and Ryan for putting on a great event. Thanks to my dad who came all the way out from Maine (unable to run because of injury and illness) to support us, as well as Billy and Zoe. Without these guys it would have been tough to get myself to the ED when I needed it.
Unofficial Results (taken from iRunFar.com)
50 Mile – Men
- Dakota Jones – 8:17:00
- Zach Miller – 8:24:39
- Mike Foote – 8:40:30
- Ryan Burch – 9:01:32
- Evan Honeyfeild – 9:04:13
- Luke Nelson – 9:09:45
- Matt Hart – 9:17:04
- Christian Johnson – 9:45:30
- Jeremy Humphrey – 9:46:57
- Ben Lewis – 9:51:16
- Ty Draney – 9:57:48
50k – Women
- Bethany Lewis – 6:12:24
- Jamie Williams – 7:07:06
- Emily Judd – 7:15:02