Sunday, July 6, 2008
Psycho Psummer 50K Trail Run July 5
My first official ultra, and I woke up so, so nervous. I kept trying to tell myself it was just my usual weekend run in the woods with my friends, but my guts weren't believing me. I had a bunch of fruit for breakfast (the cherries are wonderful right now), and a couple of glasses of water and got all my stuff together. Husband and dog got up to come to the start and see me off, so husband got to witness my nervous pre-race dithering. Even when walking out the door, I still couldn't decide which shoes I was going to wear... Vasques or North Face? I haven't yet found the perfect shoe (will I ever?) so trying to decide which would be the best of the 2 was giving me fits. At the last minute I grabbed the North Face shoes, I had run over 30 miles in them before so at least I knew how my feet were going to feel afterwards (beat up).
Wyco park is only a 15 minute drive from the house, so I only had a short time to freak out, play loud music & drink more water. Got to the start, milled around a bit and chatted with some folks, and of course Otis the big dog got lots of attention. I met a stunning redhead who told me she read my blog but in my pre-race spaciness I didn't get her name... so... Hi gorgeous redhead, it was nice meeting you! There was a raffle and one of the prizes was a Garmin 405! (Those Garmin folks are so nice for donating one and letting the Nerds use some other items for the race). I got to totally drool over it at packet pickup on Friday and tried to talk Bad Ben into using it as prize for the women's race... but not first.. like 7th or 8th or 9th (or whatever place I would come in) but he was having none of it. So they raffled it, and I didn't win... boo hoo. Ben gave a few instructions but I totally missed them since I was too enthralled with the guy wearing a plaid running skirt.. I want a plaid running skirt!! (he even had on a matching hat!)
With a "go" we were off, we did a short little loopy on the grass to break us up a bit before hitting the single track, but there was still a big 'ol bottleneck so a good chunk of walking at first. It felt weird not to have my dad around yelling at me to go slower, but I think I held myself to a nice, slow pace anyway. Sophia was right with me as usual, our pace is pretty much the same (on the trails anyway, I'm sure on the roads she could whip my behind). The course was a 15 mile loop and it's run backwards from the Winter Psycho race and the way we normally run the park so it felt pretty odd, kinda like when you sleep on the other side of the bed. The first few miles were a blur of running and talking with everyone around us. Hedgehog Hill elicited quite a bit of grumbling, it's a steep slippery, steep (did I mention steep?) hill that can entail some pulling yourself up with your hands action. The first manned aid station came up quickly, Kyle & Stacy Amos rocked this station with good music and most importantly lots of watermelon! We were treated like royalty and sent on our way into the jungle. We hacked through the jungle for a bit, slid down some short steep drop offs (thank goodness for helpful trees to hang onto) and crossed the dam to the hill I called The Endless Hill of Doom... it wasn't super steep but it goes on forever and the worst part is there is no commensurate long downhill on the other side! After that there is a nice long runnable section and it felt good to stretch the legs and hit a nice rhythm. James and another very nice volunteer lady was waiting to direct us down the road a short bit to the next manned aid station.
Pat Perry was catering to everyone at this station and he too had plenty of watermelon, but he also had a cold water shower! SCORE! We would hit this aid station again after a quick few mile loop. This is probably my least favorite section of the course and I was dreading doing it a second time. There was a nice flat gravel trail section in the woods until you come out onto a short section of paved road and then a loop of gravel road out in the open...very flat and hot. You hop back onto the flat gravel trail and head back to the aid station. Since you do the same section coming and going it's a great chance to see everyone and exchange high fives and encouragement. During this section Sophia and I were running with Nick "Lady Killer" Lang who is a newish addition to the Trail Nerds and who chose to skip the whole marathon thing and dive right into ultras. He was having a great time and was a breath of fresh air to run with. He went on ahead after we hit the aid station again and I couldn't resist a quick stop for more watermelon. Back into the trees and we hit the triangle for some back and forth switchbacky "where the hell am I?" action. After the triangle comes 2 miles of muddy bridal trail. Fun Fun Fun! It's impossible to avoid so I just went slopping through it as fast as I could. I think it helps that I've been dealing with that damn mud about once a week so we've become "friends" .. kinda. Sophia and I gave each other mud heart tattoos.. yes, we were having entirely too much fun on the first lap. After the mud comes a bit of field action and back to the start finish for the second loop. Grabbed more watermelon and got an icy cold bandanna from Bad Ben, filled up with water and we were off again.
The second loop was quite a bit slower and Sophia was having some gastro-intestinal issues so we were having to make quite a few pit stops, but it was still fun. Hedgehog Hill looked and felt even steeper the second time but we decided doing hill repeats on it would make us tough, so sometime, someday we're going to do repeats on it.. honest we are.. someday... (maybe). Once again to the Amos' aid station for more watermelon (are you sensing a theme yet?) and ice water in the pack and time for more jungle running. We tried to go though Pat's aid station a bit quicker, but I was really dreading that road loop and this is where I hit my low spot. It was very encouraging to see how upbeat everyone still seemed to be, even after the run had turned more into a shuffle, there was still plenty of smiles. Passing Nick going the opposite direction gave us both the giggles, that guy still smelled great at mile 20 whatever. I swore he had to have a bottle of Axe body spray stashed in his pack! At one point on the road a guy in a pickup truck pulled up next to us and asked if there was some sort of race going on (duh! did the numbers pinned to everyone give it away?) and then asked us how far it was, when Sophia answered "31 miles" the guy mumbled what sounded like "fuck" and drove off. I did a lot of walking on this section, thankfully Sophia stuck with me and talked me through it, and once I had some more fruit and got my bandanna full of ice at our 2nd time through the aid station, I was good to go. We drenched poor James with big salty sweaty hugs on our second time by him... he was running away from us, but I don't think he was trying real hard. Once we hit the triangle I felt great.. I knew once we got out of the triangle it was only 2.48 miles to the finish. I was like a horse that can smell the barn after a long day. I just wanted to finish and have a beer. We fought our way through the mud again and Sophia convinced me that we didn't have any slow twitch muscles left but we still had fast twitch ones and that meant we had to finish fast. I figured she was full of shit.. but it turns out that running fast(er) didn't hurt much! So we picked up the pace for the last little field section bit and everyone cheered and hollered and we finished in 7:25:28. We got our medals from Ben, took some photos and Cheri was right there getting us food and water and generally treating us like we had won. It was such a great feeling to finish, and I even got a bit choked up and had to fight back some tears as were were closing in on the finish line. Afterwards it was great just hanging out, and cheering the other runners as they finished. Once I had a beer in hand and I was out of my muddy shoes and socks I could have hung out all day. In fact I did hang out until the last runner finished.
As always the volunteers made the race. I can't express my appreciation enough to everyone who helped out.. thanks so much for making the race so much fun and safe. Thanks Ben for putting on another stellar, fun race.
We had been hoping for a finish in under 7 hours but I'm willing to bet that we spent at least 25 minutes in aid stations. I will blame this on the fact that they make them so damn appealing. I must work on grabbing a handful and going.
Watermelon is the best thing ever in a race.. even better than dates. I survived on dates and watermelon, and water and s-caps, if it wasn't for the watermelon I just might have died.
It was great to go through some tired, low spots and come out of them and feel great, so now I know that if you just keep plugging along it does get better.
I can't wait for another race!
(photos are from Dick Ross and Gary Henry)