Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Wild Bunch 50K

The Wild Bunch 50K was to be my second adventure this Summer at trail running longer than a marathon. I had such a fun experience running the Corner Canyon 50K back in August that I decided I wanted to attempt another one.  Cory was so gracious to pace me through my first one and so I felt like I could now go out on a limb and do this without help.  I kind of felt like a baby bird leaving its mama's nest, so to speak.
After signing up and making some more running friends throughout the Summer, Angela saw that I was going to be running this and decided to give it a try too.  We met at the starting line about 8:15 am in the freezing cold temperatures of 25 degrees.  Although the sun was out it was bitter cold.  We quickly hopped in my car after getting our race bibs and learning that the starting time would be delayed a half an hour to 9:30 am.  Apparently, the race director had been out on the trails all night and had gotten his 4-wheeler stuck in the mud and couldn't get aid stations set up.  He told us he came close to cancelling the whole race but then the forest service stepped in and helped him deliver aid.  THE RACE WAS SAVED!!  Thank you forest service people!!
We gathered to the starting line about 9:20 am and had a final pit stop and bam!  All 14 of us were out of there.  The group of 50K runners was the smallest group with us starting first and then 10 minutes later the half marathon group and then 10 minutes later the 5K.  I started out feeling super great and had my water hydration vest stocked with everything I needed.  The race advertised an 8 hour cut off time and I told Angela that to make it back in time we would have to maintain a 15 minute mile.  It seemed very doable, yet when out on the trails experiencing highs and lows it's another story of maintaining a certain pace.  In the early miles I was maintaining around an 11-12 minute mile and I felt great.  I was so thankful for my jacket and gloves as it was still very chilly, even with the sun up.  Around mile 4 I started getting passed by the half marathon people.  Yeah, that a was a little disheartening, but I have already come to terms with my speed and abilities and just try to enjoy what I can do.   
When I saw this race advertised it showed single track trails in what looked like a luscious, wooded, forest area.  When I got to Jordanelle, it was quite the opposite looking.  I was so disappointed in the terrain I would be running on for 31 miles.  If I learned anything from running this race it's that I need to do a little more research ahead of time with what kind of trails I will be running on.  I had studied the elevation charts again and was a little relieved that I wouldn't be climbing big mountains, however the climbs just seemed to be never ending today as you can see below.
The trail followed the perimeter of the lake and it was a beautiful sight to be able to see the water all the time.  That little fact right there is what made the race more bearable.  The dirt and rocks below me however was a constant challenge to make sure I never twisted my ankle or stepped wrong.  I pretty much had to watch the ground the entire way.  At one point on the trail we came to a tiny wooded area called a Nature Center that actually had trees.  It was the only place on the entire journey that I got to enjoy shade for a brief few moments.  It maybe lasted about 15 minutes and then that little piece of running heaven was over with.
I knew my sweet hubby was coming to support me with hugs and a happy face and bring me additional items if I needed and I was looking so forward to seeing him.  A familiar face is always such a warm and happy feeling after being on a trail alone for a few hours.  I was happy to see my son Cooper with him as well.
They were able to cheer me on at about mile 12 1/2 and then I wouldn't be able to see them anymore unless they wanted to wait a long time at the finish line.  I saw no use in that and so I sent them on their way. I first ditched my jacket, gloves, and a couple other items I didn't feel like packing with me anymore.  The temperatures had reached the mild 60's and felt perfect through the day.  Towards the end of the day when the sun was lowering in the West sky a breeze had picked up and it was getting colder.  I was wishing for my jacket then but sadly didn't have it.  I was grateful I had worn a long sleeve shirt though.
Just one of the few signs along the trail that would bring a smile to my face.
Although the trail was brutal and rough, the aid stations were like an oasis in a desert.  By far, my most favorite thing to eat were peaches out here on the trail.  I was a little worried to be downing so many at each aid station, because I had never practiced fueling with peaches before.  Guess what?  I didn't care.  They were sweet, juicy, and DELICIOUS and I just couldn't pass them up.  And you know what?  I never had one single problem with eating them.  They may have even helped with hydration and energy.  The other thing I loved eating were the protein plus bars with peanut butter and chocolate.  I may have eaten a couple of those throughout the day.  I also had bought salt tabs the day before and remembered to take those through the day.  I tried to stay well hydrated and only wished for coke a few times.  I'm not a coke drinker but I remember how well it worked for me at Corner Canyon and how delicious it tasted in the heat of the Summer day at that trail run.
At this point in the race Angela and I were about 3 or so miles apart and she was a little concerned with making the cut-off time.  I myself was trying to maintain under a 15 minute mile and was struggling.  We were texting each other and she even called and shared her frustrations.  I tried to encourage her to just keep going and only stop if the race director pulled her from the trail.  She later told me she threw up the white flag around mile 20 because she already realized she was past the cut-off time.  I felt really sad for her and wanted to just say NOOOOO, keep going!!!  She's determined though to come back and conquer next year. 
So, now here I am feeling really all alone around mile 23.  I knew nobody was left behind me and I kept trudging along. 
This is what a water only, unmanned, aid station looks like when they know you are coming but don't want to wait for you, I guess.  I was very grateful though to be able to have more water and not use up all of mine, so I downed all I could.
I got to a certain point on the trail where the final section was to be a 10K out and back.  According to my watch though it ended up being more like 9 miles.  That's rough for the mental aspect when you're tired and ready to be done.  This part of the trail was the most challenging for me.  My mom had called me as I was doing this particular section and was checking up on me. It was just comforting to know she was thinking about me and making sure I was alright.
This was the final aid station at the turn around spot of the supposed last 10K.  The race directors wife was here taking photos of the 12 of us that had made it this far.  According to my Garmin I was now at mile 26.70 and had about 5 miles to go.  I grabbed a handful of pretzels and a half of a banana and carried on.  My stomach was feeling a bit queasy from gels and gu's and I just needed some good solid food.  The pretzels really seemed to help a lot.  My body was tired and I was feeling a little frustrated at this point in the race.  The cute lady at the last aid station was so excited to say "only a 5K left, and you're there".  I felt like slapping her because I knew how far I had come to get to this point and I knew what I had left to do.  I told her I had 5 more miles to go and she insisted it was only 5K left.  I wasn't going to argue with her because I had the proof right on my wrist.  A 5K and 5 miles are vast universes apart in the running world when you are tired and ready to be done.  I pretty much power-walked the rest of the way back but was in major need of a friendly voice to talk to.  I called my good friend Laurie and basically had a mini melt-down.  I told her I just needed some kind words of cheer and I knew she would deliver.  She asked lots of questions and helped me get my mind back to a happy place.  We talked for about 15 minutes and I felt a whole lot better afterwards.      
I stopped to take a few photos as the sun was starting to drop in the Western sky.  I had just come from around the West side of the lake after being on the East and South side all day and was nearing the finish line.  It's not too often where I start a race at sunrise and end with a sunset.
It was around this point where my son Porter was heavy on my mind.  I always think of Porter when I'm out running but it was at this particular time where I was missing him so much and my heart was just aching to see him and be with him.  There were a few times throughout the day where I literally had to look over my shoulder because it felt like someone was there with me, running right behind me.  But at this time I just knew he was aware of me and my thoughts and was helping his mom along to that finish line.  
That cute little guy there on the sidelines along with his family were waiting for me with less than a mile to go at the last turn.  They were huddled in their blankets and were riding an ATV.  The kid there walked and ran the last little section with me.  He chatted my ear off and I was wishing he would have been around a little earlier before my melt down.
I don't quite understand this medal except I think this organization does 4 races in a year maybe?  They did a fabulous job with the shirts, aid stations, and support.  I'm just still so new at finding trail races and I just assumed trail races mean single track dirt, but now I definitely know differently.  I think I was spoiled with running in Draper Canyon and will always call that the Celestial Kingdom of trail running.  I think it's going to be challenging to find anywhere else as beautiful as there.  I'll let you know if it happens though. 
After I crossed that finish line just slightly before 8 1/2 hours was up, (still waiting for official results-they have me as coming in at 7 hours 38 minutes but I KNOW that's wrong hum???) the race people handed me some neat things:  a metal water bottle, a running reflector belt, a finisher's sign, and my medal. Then that cute lady I didn't want to argue with tried to load me up with a bunch more food.  I was happy to just take some chips and a couple more peaches for the trip home.  I was feeling content and at peace to have finished my second 50K of the Summer and enjoyed a beautiful ride home down Provo Canyon while enjoying the mountains all around me.  I even had to turn on the heater in the car because the weather was so chilly at the end of the race and I was trying to warm up.
Now after having a weekend of rest and reflection of this race and noticing a huge difference in recovery from this 50K trail run versus a regular road marathon I am even more convinced that trail running is far superior for me.  At my age if I want to be able to enjoy this running for a long time then I feel like I need to find me more dirt races than road races.  We'll see how successful I can be with that in the future.

9 comments:

Gina said...

What another amazing accomplishment; a true test of self & what you've got! Congrats!!

lisapenn said...

Susette,
I am one of "those" bloggers. I really don't know where I came upon your blog, but it has been about 1 1/2 years ago. Sorry for never saying hi before! : ) I guess I feel a connection with you because we almost named our last son Porter. I have really enjoyed "getting to know you" thru your blog! I am a runner also, I think. You know how you always feel that everybody is better, badder, faster than you.
Anyhow, I am just amazed at your 50K. Way to go! That is such an awesome feat. I am running a half on Saturday and you have definately given me motivation!
Lisa @
penningtonfamilyfarm.blogspot.com

Dixie Mom said...

You are a rock star.

Jerilee E. said...

You are simply amazing! Congratulations on your 2nd 50k! That's so impressive!

Team Gardner said...

you are amazing! thanks for sharing your journey's

Murph said...

Wow! Great Job! If I ever did a 50K they'd have to call in the medics to pull me off the mountain.
Thanks for stopping by my Blog, I posted an explanation of the picture. ;)
-Murph

Yo Momma Runs said...

Wow! You are really inspiring me with your 50Ks. I just signed up to run one in February and am so nervous. I need to start running more trails, but I agree about trails doing less damage to your body. I can wear low profile shoes on a trail and don't notice a difference, but if I wear them in road running, my feet hurt!

Also, calling friends during the race for motivation is a great idea. I'll have to remember that in my 50K. I'm currently trying to talk my brother-in-law into doing it with me so that I'm not by myself. I'm very nervous about getting lost.

Kathee said...

That is spectacular! I am feeling the trail running bug lately and I might just have to give it a go. Congratulations on an amazing finish!

Renee said...

Awesome! Way to go on your second 50K! I ran a half marathon out there that was brutally hard! I can't imagine a 50K! You're one tough runner!