Sunday, March 7, 2010

Old Pueblo 50 Mile Endurance Run

I finished my first 50 mile race!!!! Woohoo!!!!! It was a 100% journey into self and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

Total time: 11:48:22.
I came in 64th place out of 122 finishers. There were also a number of people that dropped from this race without finishing as well.

Distance: 50 miles – well, the course is actually a little longer than 51 miles…I actually ran 54. More on that later. :)

Cumulative elevation gain/(loss): 7,000/(7,000) ft - that is what the race website reports. My Garmin read 9,115/(9,204) ft. There were some good climbs in that race.
Elevation at Kentucky Camp (Start/Finish): 5,142 ft
Kentucky Camp is an old mining camp.
Low point in course: 4,031 ft
High point in course: 5,847 ft
I saw a lot of my TTR friends at the start of the race. Me and stoic Gene:
The race countdown happened right at 6am and we were off down the dirt road in the dark!
We were greeted with a sunrise within half an hour.
I just really picked my feet up until then and tried to ‘borrow’ some light from others who were wearing head lamps. Mine was in my drop bag at the 40 mile aid station, in case I needed it for later on in the evening.
First aid station (AS) - #3. Eating a chocolate chip cookie already!!!
I ate a lot today - gels, boiled potatoes w/salt, Clif Rox, Gu Chomps, cookies, fig bars, Odwalla bars, m&m's, dark chocolate, you name it!
This is a beautiful course.
I lost my sunglasses around mile 7 at my first bathroom stop (the woods). They must have come off my visor when I pulled my pack off. I spent the rest of the day dealing with sun glare - oh, well.
Ross from TTR was snapping pictures of runners coming in. I was so happy to be out running and so happy to see Ross!
Coming into AS 19:
Before I left that AS, I went to get a picture of Ross, but he got a picture of me taking a picture of him! Dueling cameras!!! 
Chase and Trish from TTR were there, too, and I left that AS in a great mood.
I was chatting with a friend I met at Cave Creek, Jason (that's him in the pic above) and we missed the ‘hard left’ turnoff at mile 20. We kept going down the dirt road for 3 MILES. After we figured out our gaffe (we already had ultra brain?) we got a ride back from a mom and her son to the spot where our turnoff should have been. I figure that off-course part cost me and Jason about 40 minutes. Yes, Trish had mentioned something to me before I left AS19 about the turn (I recall it now). :) But, I was so high energy at the time, that I didn't even hear what she was saying to me. I'll pay attention next time!!

Psychologically, that was tough – coming to grips with the fact that I was not only doing my first 50 miler, but I would be doing 53 miles today! I very shortly passed a fellow runner and shared my mistake and he told me that I would actually be doing 54 miles, since the course was a little long. I decided to just go with it and have a great day! I was feeling pretty good at this part of the race; no problems so far. Onward! With a good attitude! Next goal - get to AS 25!!!

I finally arrived at AS 25 (28 miles for me!) much later than planned and got to see Dallas from TTR.

He greeted me with a smile and was a sight for sore eyes; it was so good to see a friend. I told him my ‘tale of woe’ about going off course and he just went to work helping me get ready for the second half of the race. He quickly filled up my hydration bladder with water/electrolytes and I resupplied my pack with gels/other stuff from my drop bag.

He then ran with me as I left the aid station for a quarter mile, giving me a pep talk that I really needed (you can do it!). Thank you Dallas! I really needed that emotional/mental uplift at that point in the race. I was ready to continue on.

The big uphill portion of the race started and I struggled a bit, doing a considerable amount of hiking, but was continuing to pass people, as I had since I got back on course at mile 20 (mile 23 for me). I was passed by a person here and there, but I would eventually pass them again for good. I was making up for lost time…
Saw a cowboy out there - that's Arizona for ya!

I zipped through AS 29 and 33, stopping briefly to grab a snack and gab a minute. The course was fairly rocky through here, but very pretty.
Just outside of AS 40, I could hear Bob from TTR, "Git’ 'er done! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!" What a comforting and hysterical welcome – I remember it from the Zane Grey race very well. He snapped a pic of me crossing the creek and gave me a hug and said, ‘I’ve been waiting for you!’

I snapped a crazy pic of me and him and then headed up to the aid station to resupply. What a hoot.
I also saw Rachel, Bruce and Bob’s wife MaryAlice. Lots of dogs at this AS!
I really had a tough time after leaving AS 40. I had been walking here and there during the race (walk the hills, run the flats and downhills, just like everyone told me!) but this time, every time I started to run, my legs just revolted. I became discouraged. At least the view was nice!
Suddenly, after a mile or so, I felt good again! When my watch beeped at 41 miles, I started crying with joy. I thought, I can do this!!! I pulled myself together and things turned around quickly. It 'never always gets worse'! They were right!
The last part of the race, the course crossed multiple creeks. Rather than tiptoeing around on rocks to avoid getting wet (like others were doing), I just plowed through all of those water crossings like a kid without a care in the world. It was a blast! Even with running with wet feet for the last 10 miles, I never had a blister or any foot problems. Toe socks rule!
Even with my 3 mile detour off the course, (whoops!) I finished under my 12 hour goal. I passed fellow TTR Gene before the end of the race. It was good to see him. I felt pretty good at the end, running pretty strong the last 5 miles.
The last 2-3 miles, it was just me and my shadow.
Finally, I rounded the last bend and Kentucky Camp came into view. 
I was about to complete my first 50 mile race! Unbelievable.
I received my first ever belt buckle after crossing the finish line from the RD, Lynda Hendricks (who is awesome, by the way).
It was silver and gold – beautiful! Belt buckles are standard finisher ‘medals’ for ‘real’ ultramarathons. Yes, I’ve done distances greater than marathon length (26.2), but I think finishing this race officially makes me an ‘ultramarathoner’.

My friends Steve and Boone came to watch me and another TTR, Joe, come in at the finish, which was a surprise.
I also saw Donna, Steve and Mary - all volunteering. You guys rock! I wolfed down one of Steve's yummy burgers shortly after getting some whey protein in me. I always crave a burger at the end of a big run.
I feel like I 'met myself' out there on the race trail. It was an experience I'll never forget - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I hung out quite a while after my finish, watching other weary trail runners come across the finish line in the dark.
I didn't leave until Jason, who I had gotten off-course with earlier in the race, came through at 13:34. He made it! Victory hug! His beautiful wife, Chris, took the picture of us.

As I was walking up that road to the parking lot after the race, I looked up and beheld the most magnificent amount of stars in the sky! Wow! What a fantastic way to end a perfect day.

A huge thank you to all of the volunteers and other trail runners who were loving and friendly and made this race very special to me. There is nothing better than being outdoors with close people. Okay, maybe a few things. ;)
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."
~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Sarah said...

Congrats! Way to stay positive despite the bonus miles. And great looks a truly fun time!

HappyTrails said...

Glad you had a great time running your first 50 miler - yahooooo! Congratulations! Also glad, too, to see you haven't completely forsaken your running skirts!!!! :-) Have a great week!

RunningTroysLife said...


Sunshine Girl said...

Nice work, Renee! That's a good trail running support group you got going on down there - hope you're enjoying the adventure.

Joyce said...

What a fantastic accomplishment - congrats!