Each race is unique in its own way. This race was 3 weeks after my triple iron race and proved to be a much bigger challenge than expected. I knew I wasn’t fully recovered from the triple but my muscles weren’t too bad. I figured I could get to at least 30 miles before it got difficult – 20 miles of pain isn’t so bad. So Wednesday night I signed up for Saturday’s race. The night before the race I couldn’t sleep. My mind was mentally preparing for the race during my body’s rest time. I got up around 3:15 and met up with Steve to head down to the city. We got there and picked up our race packets, got prepared and waited for the start. Joy joined us in the car to wait with us and before we knew it, it was time.
I met Craig Redfearn finally (instead of Facebook) and we started the race off together at the front of the pack. One guy (Flaherty) shot off the front with another also pulling away from us. Within the first couple of miles Craig stayed at the front while I eased back into 8th. I would not see sub-8 minute miles for the rest of my race. I was feeling ok but knew this pace was too fast. At the New Leaf aid station, I was glad to see everyone and lost a place or two while jabbering with them. Brian Gaines told me to go. I quickly regained my position and got through the first loop (12.5 miles) in mostly 8 to 9 minute miles. I felt that this was a reasonable pace but I could feel the pain starting around mile 7. By the end of the first loop, I knew that the pain would only get worse and my pace would only slow. Kinda grim. So my plan was to slow down a little for the next two loops and try to push hard the last loop. Lap 1 – 1 hour 45 minutes Pace 8:24
I slowed to just over 9 minute miles and tried to settle into a comfortable (relative) rhythm. I needed to use the restroom but the start/finish aid station had huge lines for the porta-potties because the 50k runners were about to start. So I found one along the path and ended up spending a good 10 minutes in there. Yes, I went earlier in the morning. Not training for the last 3 weeks has affected certain “functions”. Anyhow, when I started up again, my legs weren’t working. I dropped into 11 minute miles and it was getting worse. I thought that a few miles would get everything back in working order but it didn’t. My legs felt like concrete and the pain was getting nearly unbearable. At our trusty New Leaf aid station on my way back (out and back course), I asked for Advil and got some from Royal. He asked how many do I need and I said 4. Luckily that was what he had. My race changed after that. My pace stayed in the 11’s but by the time I got back to the start/finish (mile 25), the legs loosened up and the pain had diminished enough to be able to continue. Without the Advil, I might have given up. Lap 2 – 2 hours 20 minutes Pace 11:10
Joy had caught up to me at the start/finish aid station after lap 2. I knew she could run solid through the entire race – I’ve seen her do it before. So when she asked if I wanted to run with her, I figured I would not be able to stay with her. I wasn’t convinced that the pain would be gone for very long so I said I would try to catch her on the last lap. I stayed within 100 feet of Joy for the first mile (we were doing sub 10 minute miles) and then started to feel good. I picked up the pace to sub 9’s and decided to go with it. Not long before that I was close to quitting, so deciding to pick up the pace right after I started to feel good did not seem like a wise decision. However, I remember Dave Scott telling me that if you feel good during a race just go with it. When I passed Joy I said, “My heart rate is 188 and I don’t care!” I would try to use the momentum from this surge to carry me through the last 2 laps. Even though the pain began to return from pushing harder, I was able to stay in the 9’s for the rest of the lap and even dipped into the 8’s a couple of times. Lap 3 – 2 hours 2 minutes Pace 9:44
I tried not to stay at the start/finish aid station very long. I wanted to keep riding the momentum as long as possible. When pushing hard, calories become very important. I didn’t eat enough at that aid station so by the time I got to the New Leaf aid station, I was bonking hard. I took the time to chew up a cup of peanuts for some protein and got back to it. Even though my momentum was there psychologically, my physical body was running out of energy. On the way back from the turn around, I got a knot in my right calf. It was a struggle to keep the pace and I was using other runners to keep motivated. By trying to keep position I stayed consistent with my effort. At the New Leaf aid station on the way back (last aid station – 3.6 miles from finish) my goal was to go hard and pass as many 50 mile runners as possible. I knew there were 3 or 4 within my reach. I ignored the pain in my calf and ended up passing 5 or 6. The last 2 miles I had my sights on this guy with a bright orange shirt. I was gaining ground on him but not sure if I could pass him by the finish line. With a mile to go I was probably a quarter mile behind and gaining. My 9:30 pace was everything I had for the last 3 miles. As I came up to the viaduct to cross Lake Shore Dr. to get to the finish, I knew I wasn’t going to catch him but finished within a minute. Racing helps me to push way beyond my comfort zone. I found out that the guy in the orange shirt was Scott Smoron, one of our crowd. Lap 4 – 2 hours 13 minutes Pace 10:38
This race was much harder than any of the other 50 milers I’ve done this year for the simple fact that I wasn’t physically 100% ready for it. But I was definitely mentally prepared to put myself through the pain in order to finish. Mental toughness can get you through a race. Without it, you won’t.
Time – 8:20 Pace 10:00 Calories 4600