Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Flatrock 50K Sept 27 2008
At 3 AM when my alarm went off, I had more than a few seconds of reconsideration.. it would have been so easy to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep instead of getting up to drive 3 hours and then run for 9 hours and then turn around and drive for 3 hours again. Then I remembered all the hassle I went through with work to ensure I could do this race and the fact that Christy was counting on me to be a support for her.. and I got my butt out of bed. Due to the father in law surgery and work situation because of it (see previous post), I was not able to drive down to Independence, Kansas the night before as originally planed. I had gotten home from work and dropping the dog off at the babysitters about 10pm the night before and made sure my race bag was ready to go before falling into bed for about 4 1/2 hours of sleep. When I got up all I had to do was throw on my clothes and get some food down before heading out the door.
I was kinda shocked at how many people were on the road at 3:30 in the morning... at one point I was actually having to get cranky about left lane slow drivers and my inability to get around them. The drive went pretty quickly, I wound my way south on some smaller state highways through sleeping small towns. I encountered some patches of pretty thick fog which slowed me down a bit but luckily not enough to make me late. When I got to the Elk City Reservoir I got a bit confused since it was dark and there was no "Race Event" signs directing me where to go but luckily a quick phone call to Christy got me turned back around and to the correct spot. The sun was just coming up and the surroundings looked very pretty. Christy and Greg had very kindly picked up my packet the night before, so I got my number from them and got everything together. On my way to the bathroom I ran into Doug and Kim from KC, this was Kim's first 50K and Doug's first one in awhile. Beth Hilt, one of our Trail Nerds came down to do the 25K, and even though she didn't start for another hour she was there early to cheer us on.. what a peach!
The starting was on the main paved road which we would run on for a bit before darting off into the woods. At the start I saw Alison, another one of our Mud Babes, and Ken my favorite Trail Zombie. Ken was snapping pictures left and right and since this was his 6th Flat Rock, we followed him for a bit until he dropped us like a naughty habit. The course was amazingly gorgeous and difficult from the get go. My main goal for this race was to help Christy finish, the secondary goal was to take it easy, treat it as a training run and not destroy myself for the Heartland 50 miler in 2 weeks. Due to Christy's knee issues I knew that we were going to be moving slow and doing quite a bit of walking, which was exactly what I needed. We quickly found ourselves at the back of the pack but we were having a blast laughing our heads off at the some of the ridiculousness of the trail and taking bunches of pictures. The course is marked by blue blazes on trees, rocks, or anything that doesn't move. There was a few points where we got off course, because of the rockiness of the course you had to be so careful about looking down at your footing that a few times I simply missed seeing the markings.
The race has a 10 hour cutoff and Christy was worried that we were going to miss it, so we were very careful to spend as little time as possible at the aid stations. I lost a ton of time at the Psummer Psycho race messing around at the fabulous aid stations and was determined not to make the same mistake this time. As we were coming on the A.S we would have our packs off and our lids unscrewed, ready to fill up quickly and we'd grab handfuls of food and just keep going. The turnaround aid station we spent about 5 minutes at because Christy was getting blisters so she had to do some repair work but the rest of them we spent 2 minutes or less at. They were pretty standard aid stations, nothing special, except of course, for the volunteers, who were friendly, helpful and wonderful. They get 2 full thumbs up and a ticker tape parade. I can't rave about the food offerings since they didn't have watermelon. The turn around aid station was manned by Ken's wife Dana and she was so very fabulous, fussing around us like a mother hen making sure we had everything we could possibly need. She also had some way comfortable looking camp chairs and after eyeballing one I wisely chose not to plop my butt down.
For most of the 1st half of the race we had been playing leapfrog with a group of 3 girls and Christy kept having to rein in my competitive urge, whenever they were in front of us I would pick up the pace noticeably to reel them in, but running fast was NOT what I was supposed to be doing that day, so she kept making me back off. I had to keep my mantra of " it's just a training run" firmly in my head. We had been behind them before coming into the turnaround, but when we got there they were nowhere to be seen, and we were a bit concerned. We let Dana know to keep an eye out for them, but as we were getting ready to leave they showed up having gotten a bit lost. We passed Doug and Kim on their way to the turnaround and Kim was looking pretty tired. They are both uber experienced road marathoners but hadn't done much trail training and this wasn't the easiest of a course to attempt without much trail experience.
We leap frogged the girls again, and it was about this point that Christy's knee really started to give her grief, but she took some Advil and once that kicked in we picked up the pace quite a bit. We caught the girls , who were looking pretty rough, so we asked if they had been taking any salt. They indicated that they hadn't been nor did they have any, so since we were so close to the next aid station, we told them to be sure and get a whole bunch of S-caps from the a.s and start taking them regularly. We took off and when we hit the a.s we double checked if they had any S-caps there, but all they had was rock salt. So Christy and I determined that between us we could leave some s-caps and still have enough to finish the race ourselves. We left with strict instructions to make sure the girls got them and took them.
We were feeling great all through the middle section, we were hauling ass, eating and hydrating properly. When we walked we were speed walking, there was no pussy footing around for many miles. Around mile 22 we got the giddies and everything became hysterically funny. At one point Christy stopped running, looked around and went "What the fuck is this?" In our silly state that was the funniest thing ever and we wasted some time snorting, and laughing. I had to explain that this was called a trail race and we paid for this privilege. The giddies kept us going until the last 4 miles or so.
When we hit the last aid station, Greg, Christy's boyfriend was waiting for us, he had finished in 4th place in 6:11:53. We came through the trees and as he caught sight of us he yelled "holy crap" you guys aren't supposed to be here yet. Christy took some more Advil and we grabbed a handful of food and kept going.. we were both getting pretty tired and Christy's knee had about had it. The last 2 miles were just a slog fest, and when we finally popped out on the road, we still had a mile on pavement to run. The knee was toast, so we walked most of the paved section but as we got close the cheers and crazy noise that everyone was making made sure we ran in the last bit. Beth, who had finished her 25k hours earlier, had hung around and was cheering us on from the corner. We finished in 8:51:59. Afterwards we hung around for a bit and ate and relaxed, but I wanted to get home before dark so I asked the RD for my finishers award and took off. It was a fun race, rocky, rocky and rocky, but a lot of fun. Christy did so incredibly well and I'm so impressed with her, there's no way I would have been out there with the level of pain she's dealing with She ROCKS!
Before the race I had heard much hype about how this was supposed to be one of the hardest 50k's around so I was feeling pretty nervous, but it didn't turn out to be that bad... maybe it's just my Colorado upbringing, or maybe it was the fact that I was using this as a training run but I didn't think it lived up to it's difficulty hype, it is however a super fun run on a very pretty course.
Pictures thanks to Ken the Trail Zombie!