Sunday, April 18, 2010

Leona Divide 50 mile (8:55) 30th place

Sorry for the taking so long to post a race results/recap of the LD50. I have talked with a few of my readers already, but I think some of them were a little worried about me when they didn't get an immediate blog post. Not to worry, I finished and I am ok.

It was an incredible experience and one that I will never forget.

Here is the story. I woke up around 4:15am with all my gear ready the night before, had a little breakfast, and carpooled with Clay over to the starting area at the Lake Hughes Community Center. It was sure nice to sleep in my own bed and have the race so close to home. We got there about 45 minutes before race time and the atmosphere was social and exciting. I hung out inside and sipped on a coffee. The temperature was in the mid to low 40s and slightly breezy.

They started the race right on time. Everyone was pumped up and ready for a great run. I started right up on the starting line as I was worried about getting bunched up on the road. I was running right behind the leaders for about a half mile, then I turned a corner and they were gone! I looked behind me and the field was fairly spread out already. I don't think having enough space between runners was ever an issue. I was feeling really good going up hill for the first 3 miles and had to consiously slow down and remember how far I was going. We turned down Burns Canyon and I was getting passed by 4 or 5 runners. My left achilles started bothering me about mile 5 and I started to get worried. I ran through the first aid station without stopping in just under 1:03! We then turned to go up Grass Mtn and I was catching all the people that passed me on the downhill. I was excited to get onto the Pacific Crest Trail. At about mile 14 I got a real sharp pain in my left achilles and then it went away! I could still push off my toes so I figured I hadn't torn my achilles and continued on pain free! I knew I had to hold back on the next 5 miles of descent and I ran through aid station 2 without stopping. I was carrying accelerade and accel gels. I hit aid station 3 in 2:15, about 10 minutes faster than planned!

I refilled my bottle with just water at that point, but realized that it was starting to get a little warm so I decided to take a salt tablet that they had available. The next 4 miles are very steep and I have run them before but never after a 16 mile warm up! They were much more difficult and I had to hike a little more than I usually do. I think it only took about 5 minutes longer than it would have on a training run. I actually ran out of water right before aid station 4 and started to ask for the available sports drink which was called Carb Pro. Between aid station 4 and 5 one runner was coming back towards me. I asked him if he was ok, and he said, "No I'm sick." The next few miles were more difficult than I wanted them to be but I was able to continue running.

Aid station 5 was crazy! I found out later that it was a trail running club called the Coyotes out of San Diego that volunteered to help. You could hear them from a quater mile away. They were dressed up in 60's hippy costumes and were very spirited. Someone met me before I got in and took my bottle for me and asked me what I wanted, then ran ahead to fill it up. I took another salt tab, a few starburst and headed out toward the turn around. I checked my watch around this time and I hit 25 miles in just under 4 hours. I started to wonder when the leaders would start to catch me coming back down the mountain. They did just before we turned down 7N23! There were 3 of them really rolling along close to each other which put them already about 5 miles ahead of me. I started to wonder if I might beat my "crew" who was meeting me at the 29.5 mile mark at the turn around. As I ran down the road I couldn't believe that I would have to turn around and run all the way back. I was counting runners ahead of me and soon realized that I was in 11th place!

I arrived at the turn around to cheers from my family and friend. They were AWESOME! The kids had made signs last week and ran to aid station 6 with me. At this point it was really geting warm and I stopped under the easy-up tent to have lunch with my "crew." Thanks to Andi, Matt, Micah, Don, Louise, Luke, Bill, Dawn, Max, Myra, and Vivian (see group picture) for making the hike up to see me. It sure gave me some motivation to make it back to the finish line was soon as I could. I had an extended stop there, visited for a while, had some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, topped off my water bottle and said my good-byes and high fives. It was sure hard to leave knowing the climb that I had ahead of me. It was hard for the boys too to see me for 4-5 minutes and then have me leave again.

I tried to find any shade I could on the way back up to the trail but there was little available. The road gets steeper and steeper and I hiked most of the way. It was just before that top that I met up with Clay. We greeted each other and took pictures of each other (he carried a camera with him), and continued on. Once I got back on the trail I started running again with a guy named Keith. He ran behind me and pushed me to keep running. We made it to aid station 7 together and I started to take my time these aid stations, spending a few minutes at each. Once my water bottle was filled a volunteer handed it to me and said, "Now get out of here and go finish this race!" I took off again with Keith and we continued down the trail. By now I had run farther and longer than I had ever run before.

It seemed to take forever to get to aid station 8 and I was a little nervous about the next 4 miles of steep descent. My legs were really tired and it turned into a controlled fall most of the way. Luckily I was able to control the descent and take it easy on the turns, but I had to hike any positive grade. This was really making me nervouse about the finish, which is a 4 mile climb followed by a 3 mile descent. We had drop bags at aid station 9 where I had left an energy bar and accelerade powder for myself. A volunteer helped me mix the drink with water and ice. I refueled and regrouped and started RUNNING up the hill! I was amazed at how good I felt running uphill after 42 miles! It was like I got a 7th wind! I couldn't run for too long but I was able to run! I switched to a run as long as I could, then hike until I could run again format up the switchbacks to aid station 10. I was passing people up the hill! It just makes me believe even more that if you have the will to push you can run even when you think you can't.

As I approached aid station 10 there were pieces of a popcicle box along the trail. They stuck out because all the runners are great about carrying their own trash and not leaving a mess. When I got there a young girl asked me if I wanted a popcicle. I accepted her offer and she went on to ask me what flavor I wanted. It was the best popcicle I have ever tasted. Then I looked at the buffet of goodies as I stood under the tent in the shade. What sounds good after 46 miles, and what will help me finish this race? How about ice cold Coca-cola. I had two cups, then mixed the last of my accelerade and left for the finish line. I was getting passed by a few runners at each station at this point, and was amazed at how quickly some people were getting through the station and back on the trail.

I continued with my run/hike format until the 3 mile decent to the finish line and was then able to run the rest of the way. Once I could see the parking lot I started to pick up the pace as my quads continued to support me on my way downhill. I turned the corner to the community center and saw Andi, Matt, and Micah waiting for me! I crossed the finish line in 8 hours 55 minutes and 34 seconds. See the official results here. I was 30th overall and 10th in my age group. My second half was an hour slower than my first half. I started my ipod shuffle at the first aid station and didn't repeat a song for the next 8 hours! I figured on a perfect day I would be close to 8:30 but thought 9 hours was more reasonable. My fastest mile was 7:27 and my slowest was 18:44 (the hike back up to the PCT from the turn around). I was happy to be under 9 hours, but even more excited to finish healthy.

The ultra running community is so laid back and supportive. Everyone hung out and cheered on the other finishers who were coming in sometimes 5 minutes apart or more. They had rice, beans, and fajitas for the runners after the race but nothing sounded very good at that point. I had a few scoops of rice and beans and water, but that was about all I could handle.

Clay came in at 10 hours 37 minutes and 53 seconds (see his blog for more pictures) with a smile on his face and looking strong. We took some pictures together and then headed home. It was an experience I won't soon forget.

I got home and after showering and sitting down to wach Jungle Book with the boys realized that I was running a fever and had the chills. At 7:30pm I took two Advil and went to bed. I woke up this morning stiff, but feeling much better. I didn't feel any worse than after a hard marathon like CIM last December. Actually, I think I feel better than I did after that race. I actually think I could have jogged a little today! The recovery must be easier because of the softer surfaces, changes in grade and pace, with intermittent hiking, and stops at aid stations.

My left achilles is a little sore but not any worse than after the Charlottesville 10 miler, I have some right lateral knee pain that has continued to improve all day, bilateral quad soreness, two small blisters, and three black toenails on my right foot, otherwise I am doing great! I weighed in this morning about 6 pounds underweight still. I will have to continue rehydrating for the next few days.

Thanks to Andi for supporting me on this adventure, organizing my "crew" to meet me on the course, and watching the boys while I was gone running around the mountains all day! I love you.

The first thing people ask me when I see them is, "Will you do it again?" I don't like bucket lists and the idea of doing something just to say you have don't it once, whether it be running a marathon or visiting another country. Why limit yourself to one time and be done. What if you really liked it in Europe and wanted to go visit again, or what if you struggled through a marathon but wondered if you could do better? I don't know when my next ultra will be, but it may be a while. I will certainly do another one some day.

Congrats to Sergio Reyes on this 6 second PR in the 5k at Mt SAC Relays on Friday night with a time of 13:52! I saw it live on Flotrack and it was quite an interesting race.

Good luck to Dale, Dave, and Justin at the Boston Marathon tomorrow. As I write this you should all be sleeping. It will be fun to follow you online tomorrow.


Ron said...

Nice work dude. You are a machine.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Karl. You looked strong for the three seconds I saw your speedy self.

Charlie Nickell

Chuck said...

You are awesome! I really enjoyed reading all about your day. You did an excellent job putting it in words. That sharp pain in your achilles with 36 miles to go must have been very scary! Ultra runners and the volunteers really sound like great people. That was really nice of Andi to bring the boys out to see you at the turn around. I'm sure that was a big pick-me-up!

Thank you for the heads up on the Mt. Sac Relays on Flotrack. I watched all of the steeplechase and 10K's on Thursday night. On Friday night I watched all of the 1500's and 5K's. That was a couple on great evenings for a distance running nut! Without your post I would have missed them.

This morning I paid $4.99 to watch the Boston Marathon on Universal Sports. I saw Justin on the start line with the other elite runners. The last few miles of the woman's race was very interesting. The young Kenyan guy ran an amazing race. 2:05:52 in Boston....Wow!!!

Lindsay said...

What an awesome adventure! I can't believe you did an ultra and placed like you did! I'm so glad it went well!

Dale Lister said...

Congratulations! 50 miles up and down hills..... hard to imagine....

Anonymous said...

Knew you could do it, but never thought you would feel so good only a few days later! You're the man! XOX Mom

Okuda Family said...

That sounds like it was fun. Nice blog in general.