Thursday, September 23, 2010

Steamboat 50 (Part 3 - Return)

What's gone before and before before...

I messed around up top of Rabbit Ears probably for 5-10 minutes.  It was cool, but at some point I had to head back down that grunt of a hill I had just climbed up.  A volunteer kindly took my picture and I was gone.  Back toward where I had come from.  I typically go downhill pretty fast and I passed a few folks on my way back down.  I also slipped on some steep loose gravel, but just like Imogene somehow managed to avoid any serious consequences.

Somewhere in the 2 and a half mile stretch from the turn around back to the Dumont aid station I went through my longest run ever.  It was remarkable, I even commented to my little video camera about it.  I was feeling pretty good, but my stomach was starting to grumble at me.  Nothing serious, but it felt full and didn't care to stop feeling full.

Back at Dumont, I thought some carbonated beverage might help and I drank some coke and ginger ale to see if that might help.  I hit my drop bag for a couple more gels and Clif Bloks, turned down a beer offer and headed back onto the trail.

Charles Danforth and I had been pretty close entering this aid station, but I lost him somewhere just before it and I wouldn't see him again for quite a while.   I figured he was visiting with his family and that's when it really hit me that my wife and son weren't going to see me finish.  I got really pretty choked up, but the moment passed.

I ran alone for a bit.  I leapfrogged with a couple of very nice women for a while.  Then, as I'm negotiating a downed tree while simultaneously passing someone, my other nemesis of the day appears.  Chris, a guy I had met on a "Church of the Holy Trail" run several weeks back, was letting me pass.

Initially it didn't register, but then I was like:  Hey aren't you Chris?  While he was simultaneously re-introducing himself and saying that he thought he had recognized me eariler.  We would run together for pretty much the rest of the race.

The stomach issue was becoming a real problem, and I was starting to suffer from micro-cramps in my legs.  I had no desire to drink and eating was out of the question.  I got to aid station number 6 and declared myself perplexed and an aid volunteer commented on the salt crusting my cheeks, suggested SCaps, some melon and a turkey wrap.  Initially, I thought the turkey wrap was the all time worst idea ever presented to me, but right then Charles shows back up and said that I should really give it a try.  I was sure he was ahead of me, but it turned out the other way around.  I accepted the roll and headed back out onto the trail.

I would take a bite of the wrap and a mouthful of water to soften it up.  Eventually I got almost the entire thing down.  I was starting to feel better too, but was still worried about the cramping.  I had a vial of Advil and Endurolytes.  Probably a half hour after the SCaps, I took 4 Endurolyte capsules.  This worked.  By the time I got to the Long Lake aid station, I was feeling good again.  My rough patch officially over.

Chris, Charles and I ran in a fairly loose line until we got to the Long Lake Aid station, where I stopped to fill my water bottles and eat a pretzel.  I headed out, and very quickly realized I was forgetting something.  Keys and phone were in my drop bag.  I turned around retraced 100 meters and found my bag sitting in the sun.  I opened it up and upon grabbing my keys and phone, I literally scalded my hand and they ended up on the ground.  I was more than a little surprised, but upon reflection quickly realized that what I had done was effectively leave them on the dashboard of a car in the hot sun.  I picked up the phone and tried to open it, but it was stuck.  I was fairly certain that the thing was dead.  I hoped that the same wouldn't be the case for the keys.  Oh well, they got stuffed into my fanny pack and I headed back out onto the trail with my fingers crossed.

This section from aid station #7 until the Mount Werner station is remote and the race director made it clear that rescue would be difficult if one found oneself in serious difficulty.  I was not having problems, but as I traversed this section I came across 2 people who were.

One gentleman had been unable to keep anything down since the Dumont Aid station -15 miles back, and another person who had been in difficulty since just after the turn.  I offered them both water, gels or Bloks, but they both declined.  I don't know if they finished, but I was really struck with the stubbornness of people who undertake this kind of thing.  I don't think that kind of stubbornness is in me, but I don't really think this race really tested me either.

I caught back up to Chris somewhere on this second to last section, and I think he was experiencing a bit of a rough patch.  We motored along together for a mile or two until he declared that he was holding me back and pulled off.  I wasn't really troubled by our pace, but thought perhaps a fairly cheerful guy could be pretty annoying if you're suffering so I went on alone.

Upon reaching Mt. Werner, there was Charles again.  Dude was truly my nemesis on this day.  At this point I was feeling tremendous.  I didn't really take much time at the aid station, I simply topped up on Succeed and got motoring on the descent.

I started flying.  I pushed the pace into the mid 7's and passed a whole bunch of people.  I was feeling good.  Suddenly, my blisters from Imogene let go.  The one on my left heel splattered seemingly all over and the one on my right heel was torturing me.  I started questioning my own sanity and slowed down a bit.  It was rapidly getting warmer as I descended the mountain and I walked a bit in the shade and had a drink.  I got passed back by one of the people I had passed higher up on the climb.  Then the wheels came off.  I remembered I wanted to finish with a smile.  So the 7's turned into 12s and 13s.  No worries.

Charles came by along with several other people.  I wanted to finish alone so I waited until there was a good gap and jogged it out.  My Mom and her dog were at the finish as was Fred Abramowitz with a pint glass and a hand shake.  Charles quickly greeted me at the finish and said that he couldn't get beat by a rookie.  Chris came in just a couple of minutes after I did and I went over and thanked him for the time we spent on course.

Anyway, this was really remarkable.  Somehow I had finished.  My official finish time was 11 hours 27 minutes and change.  I negatively split the course and I met all of my race goals:  Finish, Smile, go under 12 hours.  Had I not gotten behind on electrolytes and water, I might have been close to 11 hours, but that goal will have to wait for another year.

I believe the ultrabug has bitten and I've been infected.
Thanks for reading.


  1. Nothing better than meeting all one's race goals. Feels good, don't it!? Congrats, Jay. Well done.

  2. Jim,
    You ain't kiddin'.
    That was a good time for sure...

  3. I didn't realize I was your nemesis. Had I know, I would have tried to act more appropriately. Perhaps by staying consistently 100 yards ahead of you or something ;-)

    Nice report and great job on the run. You played it really smart and it sounds like you learned a lot as well.

    Yeah, it was extra-nice having family there to support and cheer. Perhaps that made up for the four hours of sleep I got due to toddler-related fussing and such.

    I'll have my report up in a few days and let you know.


  4. That would be a better way to tell the story I think. Perhaps when I'm 80 and telling the tale of my first ultra...


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