Here is the quick version: I suppose with my overall slow average run/walk/hike pace I'll show these as easy miles but the last 20 were anything but! Felt pretty good until just before the Ranch around 33 miles then the dang nausea set in and I could never fully shake it. Felt very miserable most the of the rest of the way. Thankful Kim could pace me during these miles to help me keep moving and not quit.
Here is the long version:
A few years back I mentioned to Terry that we should think of doing a 50-miler when we reached the sort-of-ripe old age of 50 years. I wasn't sure he'd be interested but he was just as up for something different and a little crazy as I was. Then suddenly 2014...2015 arrives and it's time to make good on our geezer 50 plan. Since this race was the 50-miler closest to our birthdays and it seemed to be a good ultra beginner race we decided to give it a shot.
I was worried with this race being early in the year that the training would be miserable during winter and having to do 20-30 mile training runs in the snow. But Mother Nature decided to help us out by giving us only 1 week of winter over the holidays followed by an extended springtime. So luckily it made for near perfect conditions for training for a 50 mile race. An unexpected change of jobs shortly before the race added a bunch of stress and gave me thoughts of bowing out of the race, but then I noticed Terry had plenty of distractions/stress as well leading up to the race but was still going through with it so I figured I better buck up and follow his example.
My plan was simply to finish without dying, within the time cutoff of 12 1/2 hours. This allowed me to walk quite a bit and still finish, something I took full advantage of during this race especially the last 15-20 miles when my stomach was very unhappy and the nausea sometimes overwhelming.
Terry was kind enough to pick me up at the hotel in Layton on race morning and we headed off to the island to begin our adventure. Everyone was pretty laid back waiting for the start and this relaxed me quite a bit. It was already near 50 degrees so I knew it would get a bit warm later in the race and was glad I wasn't overdressed starting out.
We lined up at the start, somebody yelled something and then we were off. I purposely started out quite slowly to force myself into getting used to the relaxed pace and walk breaks that I knew would be required for me to have any chance of finishing without massive misery. Turns out I had massive misery anyway, but that was mostly due to a finnicky stomach and nausea, everything else felt pretty good the entire race.
Miles 1-5: Gradual uphill mostly in the dark to the base of Elephant Head and the Wranglers aid station. Very cool to see all the headlamps heading up the hill at the start line and first while before everyone got spread out. Feeling very good and quite enjoying the race so far. Had a chance to talk to a few other newbie ultra runners and also some experienced ultramarathoners. Somewhere before Elephant Head I got talking to Tara from Morgan who had done a few other 50K and 50 mile races and who seemed to be the most cheerful, perky person in the race. So I tagged along with her and a few others hoping to store up some good cheer for later in the race. The volunteers at the aid station were awesome, not just at Elephant Head but everywhere. Nice to see Kelli Stephensen among the crew at this aid station she was a great help to me and everyone. And quite the choice of food & drink, nothing like at a regular marathon. Some of the things I saw and tried included Sprite, Mtn Dew, jerky, potato chips, granola, quesadillas, PB&J sandwiches, M&M and who knows what else. Not sure which of these was most responsible for me getting sick later, could of also just been all the Cliff shots I took throughout the entire race until I just could not handle any more!
Miles 6-9: Out and back up Elephant Head and back down to the Wrangler aid station again. We were smart and walked much of the uphill while running on the flat and downhill. The view from the top of EH toward the south-west was breath-taking. We also met 3 runners on a team carrying an American Flag the entire 50 miles. Deseret News writer Amy Donaldson was one of the 3 on the team and I talked to her and the 2 other guys on the team for a bit before heading back down the hill. I quite enjoyed this entire stretch even with the hills.
Miles 10-15: Ran my fastest miles during this stretch coming down off the hill towards the lake before heading back up the hill to the uphill switch-back portion of the race. Walked quite up bit coming up the switchbacks and still felt very good. Somewhere along here we were treated to a beautiful sunrise. Still running with Tara and soon Bob from Vermont joined in. It turned out Tara had also met & run with Bob the year before. Bob was in his 60's but in very good shape and much better at this ultra stuff than I was. Great to hear his words of wisdom clear up until mile 33 when my stomach/nausea agony kicked in and I could no longer stay with him and Tara. We ended up back at the Wrangler aid station again for our 3rd and final visit.
Miles 16-20: The run back to the start/finish line area. Mostly downhill with some rollers. Still feeling good but having a hard time keeping up with the veteran ultra runners Tara and Bob. Got into the 19-20 mile aid stations just behind them and ended up getting back with them for the next 13 miles.
Miles 21-25: We're mostly done with the serious hills at this point as we run more along the edge of the islands with the rolling hills. Still feeling good, sticking with Bob and Tara and liking the run .70-.90 miles, walk .10-.30 miles strategy they were using for every mile during this stretch. Starting to get pretty warm and my stomach is starting to hint that it isn't as happy as before.
Miles 26-33: Running along the edge of the island down to the Ranch. Still able to stay with Bob and Tara but my stomach is starting to complain more loudly. I had hoped the salt pills I was talking would prevent this but they don't seem to be cutting it. Both Bob and Tara suggests eating a ginger snack and were kind enough to give me a few. They helped a little but in the end didn't do much to help my angry stomach. It was quite nice to cross paths withTerry around mile 31 or so (probably mile 35 for him) and stop for a pic. We both still look pretty happy and perky at this point but shortly after that things would change for me. I was also quite thrilled to see Kim and her parents just a little bit after seeing Terry and enjoyed stopping briefly and talking to them. They then headed down to the Ranch where Kim would have a new pair of socks/shoes for me and would be joining me as my pacer for the last 17 miles.
Miles 33-39: Stayed at the Ranch aid station for quite a while as I changed socks/shoes and tried to find something to eat that would calm my stomach. Tried PB&J and Doritos but it wasn't working at all. I think the Doritos made it worse. I was obviously well hydrated since I had major sausage fingers/toes during the race and probably went pee 4 or 5 times during and after the race in large quantities with my urine being clear every time. Perhaps I was over hydrated? At any rate Kim and I finally started back out after my long break at the Ranch. I warned Kim about my upset stomach and that we might be walking alot. It was so great to have her there to try and cheer me up as my mood starting going downhill fast during this stretch. I could no longer keep up with Bob and Tara and had no desire to try to. Along with the upset stomach I was finding that every time I ran I would getting that horrible feeling you get sometimes where you know you need to find a bathroom NOW and it's not going to be pretty!! Explosion imminent!!! I figured since I hadn't had good luck with going potty (#2) before the race that at some point during the race this would happen. Problem was this part of the race was in the wide open and the next POP wasn't until the aide station around mile 38-39. Yikes! What to do!! Lots of walking is what we did. I could see the orange of the POP for what seemed like forever and I wondered if we would every actually get there!!! But FINALLY we did get and I was very very very relieved to finally get rid of that major irritation! I had hoped that would also help the nausea and for a little bit it did but not for nearly long enough.
Miles 40-50: After we left the mile 39 aide station after my 'explosion' I was actually able to run for maybe 1/2 a mile before the nausea returned in full force and I resorted to more of a walk .7-.9 miles, run .1-.3 miles per mile for the rest of the race. This made for a very long last 10 miles. Also at this point runners are so spread out you hardly see anyone anymore. Somewhere around mile 41 or 42 we crossed path with a boy who was only 8 years old doing the 50! What the heck?!?! We were baffled why a boy so young would be doing that, but come to find out later this boy had cancer and that this type of distance running made him feel better. Also turns out he was going to be starting chemotherapy the following Monday. Wow! What an amazing kid I sure hope he can kick that cancer out the door!!!
I was so thankful to have Kim there to keep me from quitting at one of the 2 remaining aid stations. I was just feeling SO dang miserable the entire way. The nausea feeling was so horrible but I knew I needed to try and eat but I just couldn't get anything down me. The only thing that worked at all was Sprite so I tried to drink as much of that as I could. Miles 46-48 had some very rocky, hard to navigate sections that were quite tricky to walk, let alone run. I'm not sure how the 100 milers navigated that stretch during the night. Thankfully Kim kept me focused and even though we didn't run much we were able to keep up a brisk walking pace of around 15-16 min/mile. Every now and then I could even bring myself to run for a little while. But usually when Kim would encourage me to run I was just say NO!!. I don't think I've ever said NO to Kim that many times in all our years of marriage as I did over a 1 or 2 hour period to finish up this race!
Somewhere along here we ran into a snake. Kim was a bit startled at first but handled it pretty well. It helped that it was just a blow snake, not a rattler. I was so grumpy and partly out of it at this point I didn't really care about the snake. We had also seen Buffalo off & on over the course of the race but during the last couple miles we were able to get up close and personal. One huge bison was camped out right in the middle of the trail, luckily there was a lesser-used trail that went out around the big guy so we were happy to go that way and leave Mr Buffalo dude alone.
The last 1/2 mile Kim tried and tried to get me to run to the finish but I was so ornery and stubborn I would just simply say NO! and that was that. Finally when we got to the crest about .1 mile from the finish and it was slightly downhill I relented and ran my way to the finish line. FINALLY!! I was so happy to be done but also feeling so miserable I just wanted to go the car and go home. We did stop for a couple pics where I pretended to be happy and smiley but I mainly just remember feeling miserable at this point and wanting to go somewhere and lay down and die. I was however very thankful for Kim's parents and brother Shane and Luann & clan for hanging around to see my miserable self cross the finish line and also to give me a boost at the Ranch earlier and around mile 41 when the trail crosses the main road.
Kim and I finally hit the road (thanks for driving Kim!!!) and I was quite pleased to find that over the course of the 90 min drive back to Spanish Fork my nausea gradually went away and by the time we got home I was more than happy to stop at Cubby's to get a nice big Dragon-Slayer burger and fries!. It tasted so good! I was so happy to be hungry again and get rid of that stinking nausea!!!
Overall this was a good experience and I'm glad I did it. I had sworn during the race that I would never do it again but by the time I got home I was thinking that I could possibly do it again IF Kim decides to do it when she turns 50 in 2016 or the following spring in 2017. So who knows.............