from mile to marathon

The journey of a thousand leagues begins from beneath your feet.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

goblin valley state park 50k ultra

The weather forecast had predicted rain, and they were not wrong, just one day off - it rained the whole day the day prior. Race morning came sunny, cool, and crisp, a perfect combination. Fueling plans did not work out - I could not swallow anything beyond the halfway point. The run on the whole was much easier than I thought, only three to four miles were truly difficult.

There were no mile markers, and a road portion before and after the turnaround point had been washed out by the rain, so the course had to be changed at the last minute. I am only approximating where I was when, but the first 25 miles or so went by in a kind of a rush.

I lost my way once - running happily into the wilderness, feeling free and unecumbered, I realized at some point I was utterly alone and no orange ribbons flagged the trail. I remembered the sheriff's search and rescue truck parked at the start line and envisioned how it would look for me at dusk. With some trepidation I turned around until I was back on track. The little adventure must have cost me 15 minutes or so, but I still seemed to make progress much faster than I expected.

On the way out there was this hill that appeared unseasonably high, and it went up and down, and up and down, I walked the uphill slopes, ran downhill, and dreaded having to do it again on the way back. But then coming back, I was bracing myself for the crest when I realized I had just put it behind me, and had no idea how that happened.

Then came the three or four miles that brought me down, I could barely move, I walked a lot, I felt small and whiny. Somehow I snapped out of it. I was already back to the start line where a loop of about 2 km had been added to make up for the distance lost at the turnaround point. It was not a real path, but a curvy imaginary line marked by pumpkins, and you wouldn't always know which way you had to run until you reached a pumpkin and looked around for the next orange spot that would indicate your direction. I was tired of being tired. I was running, eyes darting around, a single thought on my mind: just give me the next fucking pumpkin.

6 hours 22 min 12 sec. Immediately afterward I felt I could have done it better. I do not mean I wanted to run another 50K. But given the same race again, I would have run it differently, without letting those three or four miles get to me.