Monday, July 16, 2012

Finger Lakes Fifties Race Report

 Sorry for the delay...we took off on vacation race night and went completely offline for a whole week...thoroughly needed & enjoyed!  And a warning...this is a long one!
Don't let the cows out!

Mr Bigglesworth & me chillin' on the front step at 0415 ;)
Race day started early with a 3:45AM alarm. I had everything laid out and ready to go, so it was get dressed, grab a coffee & bagel, load my hydration pack and head out the door. Trail buddy picked me up at 0430, we stopped at Dunkin Donuts in Watkins Glen along the way and arrived in Finger Lakes Forest around 0530. It took about a half hour to unload our stuff at the entrance, park the car, & then hoof it all the half mile or so into the starting area/half way loop point. This was a pain in the butt but there really is not another way to do IS a run in the forest! There was simply not enough room for 200+ cars to drive in there. C'est la is part of the whole trail running package. We set our blanket of 'stuff that we might need at the half way point & after the race' in the shade and hit the port o' potties just in time to get back to the road for the pre-race announcements (basically, shut the gates & don't let the cows out or we'll never be able to race here again)...not your usual pre-race instructions! The weather forecast was for +90 degrees, we were thrilled & relieved when we were told that ice would be available at aid stations starting around mid morning...phew!

We are off!
Through the first cow pasture
Couple of dorks on the trail blocking the path
The clock hit 0630 and we were off! A short run down the road & we soon hitting the trail. It was great! We even ran alongside a cow pasture & the cows ran along beside us! Very cool! About 3 miles or so into the race we hit a service road that went seriously downhill for most of a mile...I believe this was the beginning of my undoing. We started downhill not thinking that it was going to go on freakin' forever! We hit it too fast and I trashed my quads and think this is where I might have tweaked my knee. I KNEW it was too fast...I KNEW it...and I just kept going...sigh. At the end of this downhill was the first Aid Station...aptly named "The Morgue". The volunteers were awesome asking if we needed help refilling water bottles or hydration packs, offering food, water & Heed. Never used Heed before but it was good. We grabbed some M&M's, water etc and were back on the trail. The next part had some hilly sections, but they weren't too steep or long and we just walked when we needed to and plodded along, finally hitting the next aid station, which was named "South Beach".  We would do a loop and hit this aid station a second time.  It was indeed starting to feel like the beach out there and we were looking forward t the next aid station as we hoped the ice would be arriving soon!  BTW, whomever thought up the simple idea of the 'ice bandana' was a genius!  Works crazy well! I believe it was in this section that trail buddy took a header on the trail...a root just reached up and grabbed her out of nowhere and down she went, taking the brunt of the fall on her hip and shoulder.  No abrasions, but that hip started swelling right away and she was feeling it pretty quickly.  She shook it off and kept going though.  Thank goodness it wasn't too severe.  Another runner we know came across a woman lying facedown on the trail with a compound fracture of her wrist...yikes! When we arrived back at 'the beach' for the second time the volunteer told us it was about 3 miles to the next aid station.  It seemed a whole lot longer.  I think it might have been 3 miles to the next checkpoint where Search & Rescue volunteers checked you off their list in the continual effort to keep track of runners.  The organizers were very were required to make sure that your number was recorded at each aid station and S&R checkpoint.  It's good to know that they were going to make sure whomever went into the woods came back out too!

Thanks Steph, for taking our picture!
After the S&R checkpoint we headed out across an open field.  It was crazy hot & sunny.  The grass was about up to my chest but a path had been mowed and we were treated to a spectacular view overlooking the area surrounding Finger Lakes Forest.  We stopped and had a fellow runner take our picture...a very sweet girl who I realized after the fact was a blog reader of mine.  So, thanks Steph, for taking our picture and I'm sorry I didn't realize who you were...though we kind of met on the trail as we kept running into each other for quite a bit of the race!

We hoped they wold not have to be deployed for us!
We finally arrived at "The Library" to find ice & the best tasting Pringles ever!  And some pretty incredible volunteers who boosted our spirits and chatted with us while trail buddy checked out her hip and figured out what was going on in her shoe that was bugging her.  After about 5 minutes or so we were back on the trail.  This section started out single track, then we went by a horse camp and ran along a horse path dodging horse patties along the way...not super fun as it smelled a bit here.  After this it was a long, long gradual climb that was more out in the open in a grassy area.  A few trees but not much shade to be had.  It was along here that we were overtaken by the 25K racers who had started an hour after us.  We cheered the frontrunners on as they went by.  The next aid station was cleary the party station...we could hear the music blasting from it before we could see it!  Everyone there was screaming and cheering! So cool!  It was fabulous!  After a drink and some watermelon it was through the gate and through another cow pasture where the partyers final words to us were: Make sure you close the gate on the other side and don't let the cows out! I laugh just thinking about it!  No worries though, the cows must have been sleeping because they could not have cared less that we were running through their pasture.  We were 2.79 miles from completing our first loop! It seemed to take forever! Through some more single track, around I think 3 ponds and we finally started seeing the tents from the campground that marks homebase and the end if the first 16.5 mile loop!  What a feeling it was crossing that lap mat...knowing we were half way done and still feeling good! I immediately hit the portaloo and then grabbed some food.  We ended up stopped here for about 20-25 minutes....I'm not exactly sure how long it was.  But we finished the first loop right on track @ 4 hours 5 minutes.  I was absolutely thrilled with the time! It took a LOT longer to get going again than I anticipated.  Trail Buddy changed her socks, inspected her feet and a fabulous volunteer took my backpack, told me to grab something to eat while she refilled the hydration bladder.  I was SO glad to not have to fumble with it and just be handed back a pack all ready to go.  It was MUCH appreciated! As we were here the 50K winner came through. It was humbling as we were only half done.  Finally though, we set back out and were back on single track weaving through the forest.  Unfortunately, almost as soon as we hit that long downhill road section my legs started to feel like crap.  They were so tight and my left knee just started to ache like a you-know-what.  I actually had to ask trail buddy to stop and walk a bit down the road as i knew any more pounding was going to be the death of me.  I think during the stop at the half my legs might have thought the party was over and those muscles started tightening up big time....ugg!  20ish miles in and I'm starting to really feel it.  Once I stopped for a bit the ache went away but unfortunately it would return over and over again through the remaining miles.  I was going really slow and walking fore than I really wanted to. It was very discouraging as the rest of me was raring to keep running hard. 

At "The Morgue" ~ mile 20ish
At the bottom of the hill we arrived back at "The Morgue" and the wonderful volunteers who correctly interpreted the looks on our faces and quipped 'we ordered that downhill extra steep and long just for you'...LOL! They were great, volunteering to take our picture and just generally checking out our well-being to make sure we were OK to continue on.  Everyone was big on reminding us to take care of our electrolytes.  We had our own Hammer Endurolytes, but they had some available at the aid stations too.  I have never used them before, but I could tell the difference when we waited too long to take them.  We took them at every other aid station the first loop and every aid station the second loop.  We didn't experience any cramping and we stayed mentally clear.  Well, as mentally clear as anyone gets who thinks that running 33 miles in plus 90 degree heat through a forest is a fun way to spend a Saturday in June ;-D

Officially ultra @ 26.3 miles ;-D
We definitely were starting to wilt a bit in the heat, but the ice in the ice bandana and added to the hydration pack helped keep us cooler.  We were soon off into the forest again.  Things slowed down through here...though strangely hiking up the uphills was easier on my legs than the downhills.  It was hotter. Because of the aid station that you hit twice, we crossed paths with some runners that were ahead of us.  Some had bloody scraped knees & hands and others told us they were downsizing from their intended 50 miles to the 50km distance due to the heat.  The nice thing about this race is that if you register for either the 50 mile or the 50km, you are actually registered in both and depending how you feel race day, you can decide to stop after the 2nd loop or go on for a 3rd. The only stipulation is that you have to complete 50km before the 8 hour cutoff in order to qualify to run the last loop and complete the 50 mile option.

Me not letting cows out!
At around 8 1/2 hours my Garmin died.  It was 28.77 miles at that point.  I knew it was going to happen so had started my Nike+ app on my phone a few minutes prior to this but we no longer knew exactly what mile we were at and how much overall time had elapsed.  It was really, really weird for me and it affected me mentally.  I knew roughly where we were but I couldn't figure out how long it would be to the next aid stations.  I guess if I keep up this ultra thing I need a watch with a better battery life.  The worst section was the last.   From the last aid station it was 2.79 miles to the was the longest 2.79 miles ever.  I think it took over an hour. I got a text from my concerned husband asking me if I was done yet at around a mile to go.  I was getting a bit fuzzy through the last mile.  I was OK, but I really just wanted to be done.  My legs hurt and I was just plain tired by then.  I had been out for over 9 hours and just wanted to see that finish line pop up around every corner.  And seriously, every time we went around a pond I thought it was the last! I forgot there were 3 of them.  Anyway, finally we saw the campground, I waved trail buddy off and told her to go ahead and finish.  I was about 45 seconds behind her and when I saw the clock it said 9:59 and was creeping toward 10.  I gave it everything I had...which was not much...but managed to cross the line at 9:59:53.

I was done! I was happy, relieved and exhausted all at the same time! Trail Buddy and I managed to get over to our stuff and collapsed onto the ground.  We didn't even bother to get a picture standing...we asked the woman sitting beside us in a camp chair to take a picture of us.

We are Ultra Runners!!!!!!

I took my shoes and socks off. My favourite rainbow socks had holes and my feet were full of blisters.  I am glad they did not bother me while I was running, but I sure as heck felt them as soon as my feet were bare....holy moly, am I glad we had aquaphor to lather them in!  Trail Buddy had packed some sweat towels in ice water in our cooler and we laid back for a few minutes with our feet wrapped in the cold towels.  It felt like bliss.

I cannot wait to do this again!

33 miles, almost 10 hours, happy Ultra Chicks!


Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

33 miles! Insane! How was the vacation after all of that? Trail buddy's hip? How many toenails did y'all lose?

The Unexpected Runner said...

Vacation was divine! Trail buddy is feeling much better after a much needed trip to the Chiropractor...turns out her SI joint needed some adjusting after the fall. All toenails present and accounted for :) Looking forward to getting back on the trail again!

Kate Geisen said...

Wow! Awesome job!!

My Garmin died around 8 hours into my 160 mile bike odyssey, which like you I knew would happen. Unfortunately, my cheapie bike computer was calibrated wrong (total user error), and I had to spend the rest of the day guesstimating how many miles I had to the next checkpoint. Way too much mental effort that deep into a difficult day.

Rachelle Q said...

I'm impressed! Great job ultra runner:) Love the new header!!

Jamie said...

Congratulations again!! You did amazing!! I'm so sorry that not having your Garmin caused some mental issues, but you got through it.

I hope you had a wonderful vacation!

Ransick said...

Congrats! I've tried to comment on this post like 10 times and it freezes. You might consider changing your blogger settings to opening comments as a new window.

Nelly said...

Wow awesome job on the race! Sounded like a real tough one with the heat and your quads being shredded so early on. I guess that's why I love analyzing the elevation course profile for every race I do to ensure I have the right plan in mind. Great job!

Thanks for the heads up on the Triathlon at the Olympics, unfortunately I will be busy when that event is going on, but it sounds awesome. I've been to the serpentine lake where the swim is going on before.

And I will miss the women's marathon as well due to being busy with other events, which is a bummer too! My 2 busiest days are when the triathlon and marathon are going on, haha