Tuesday, January 5, 2016

oak & ice (2015 Woodside 50k)

Here it is: my last race report from 2015, my last race report from my 3rd decade, and likely my last 50k report for approximately 1 year, if all goes according to plan.  The Woodside 50k, in Woodside CA took place on December 27, 2015.  The temperatures rarely rose above 34 degrees F, but I imagine that they remained at or below freezing in the deepest redwood basins where ice remained on the ground and hoar frost was the texture of the upheaved earth for many miles.

I did not train for this race, and therefore got exactly what I deserved:  I ran for ~ 7.5 hours, was on the very real verge of hypothermia for the last 3 hours, and proceeded to come down with a horrible respiratory infection about 3 days after the race.  No wonder!  Take an untrained body, ask it to do a horribly stressful thing all day in the very coldest part of winter without the proper clothing, and then feed it billions of viruses and germs via the biological cesspools that are aid stations... (no offense to aid stations, but hundreds of snotty runners' hands dipping into little paper bowls of Clif Shot Bloks and boiled potatoes... )

Yup.  Day 3 post race and I'm relaxing in the Van in Jalama with Faron on our running/surfing/camping adventure in sunny California, and I get whopped with a holy mother of a cold.  It turns into bronchitis in a few days, then, what I think may be a viral pneumonia or possibly atypical pneumonia.  I am shaky, cold, sweating, out of breath, and my body aches.  These are not running aches, but rather the horrible myalgias that come with a full blown anti-viral response from a struggling immune system.  Yay!

But I digress.  The race report.  There isn't really much to say.  I didn't train.  Not one lick.  I ran a 30k in October, and basically didn't run more than 6 miles at any one time, or more than 15 miles in any given week since that race.  The last 3 weeks before the race I ran twice.  Three miles each time, and slowly.

I knew it was going to be a challenge, and before the race I told Faron that I really do these things for the suffering.  He said, "well, you're perfectly trained then!" Apparently, someone else thought I was "perfectly trained" too... 

A guy named Peter found me at mile 7, just past the first aid station, and decided to use me as his guru/pacer person.  I kept telling him that mine would be a slow painful way to do this run, but he was convinced that I was "old and experienced enough to finish." Old, yes.  I probably looked to be about 80 years old judging by my decrepitude and sloth-like pace.  How he got "experienced" from me, I will never know.  Was it my AK ultra vest filled to the brim with Snickers bars?  Was it the way I religiously consumed water and Gu Brew despite the 24 degree air temperature?  Was it my 1980's aquamarine gloves covered in snot and phlegm?  Hard to say, really. But he decided that I would pace him on this, his very first 50k effort.  I wasn't sure if I should pity him, thank him for his optimism, or fake an injury so he wouldn't be stuck with such a loser...  Ahhh.  Blessed are the slow...

Anyway, I won't bore you.  I was racing the aid station cut-offs so I wouldn't get pulled from the course.  I was keeping a steady 14:00-ish minute mile average, shivering, nauseous, no way to get warm, and staying just ahead of the cut offs.  The first cut off, at mile 12, saw me (and Peter!) through at just 9 minutes before the cut off.  Then we had a 9 mile loop that included 2000 feet down, and then a lollipop loop right back up the same grade.  Back at that same AS at 20.8 miles, and I (we) were 15 minutes before the cut-off.  From there, it was about 11 miles back to the finish, and I had ~ 3 hours to make it.  Sounds easy, right?  It was mostly downhill, but my freezing cold legs decided to cramp up all crazy...  so I began speed walking.  I channeled my inner pedestrian.  Or, ultra-pedestrian, as it turned out.  I walked the entire remainder of the course, even passing 2 people, to finish in 7:35:03.  Nothing to be proud of, but still 30 minutes under the final cut off, and considering I didn't train, it wasn't a terribly shameful way to round out my last effort of 2015.

In a few month I will be 40 years old.  I am super stoked that I got to break the 50k barrier before turning 40.

Next up, I am training for a whole new adventure!  Faron will be tackling his first 100-miler, The Bear 100, in Utah & Idaho.  I will (hopefully) have my shit together enough to pace him through the night/ his last 30 miles or so.  So, I will take a few months off (just swimming, yoga and easy runs) and then hit the trails with a whole new goal in mind:  help my favorite person in the whole world complete a super-human feat of endurance!