Saturday, April 19, 2008

Still Not There

The morning was crisp with a full moon slowly descending in the horizon. At 6am, we were all lined up at the pavilion gate. Without much fanfare, we started the race. I wanted to be as conservative as possible...without killing my time. The first three miles were on blacktop and then we hit the Ouachita trail.

The ascent up Pinnacle Mountain was a mother fucker. The descent was not much better. On the way up, we had to scale small boulders...climbing around like goats. On the way down, the trail consisted of large rocks that you had to carefully set on or you could tumble down and break your damn neck. Once on the other side of the mountain, we circled back around to the first aid station and then headed west.

We popped out of the woods, crossed our first of many highways and ran down past the "iron bridge" to the spillway. This area was very muddy and slow going. The remaining trail up to the first cut-off at the Northshore aid station was littered with rocks and small creek crossings. If you did not remain hyper-vigilant, you would end up on your face. I tripped quite a few times, but was always able to catch myself before eating dirt.

Once past the Northshore, we crossed yet another highway and continued to skirt Lake Maumelle. The mudpuddles continued to get bigger and I gave up trying to keep my feet dry. My North Face Arnuva Boas were falling apart. I could see my toes on my right foot through a tear caused by rocks & sticks. The other shoe was not much better. Oh well...I knew that I had a dry pair of Nike Free's in my drop bag at the turn-around.

I had a little more than two hours to make it 10 miles to the next cut-off. Doing some quick math in my head, I figured I could make it without any problems even if I only power-walked. Fuck...was I wrong! I made the next aid station with less than 30 minutes to the cut-off...and more than two long miles to go before getting there! There were three of us...and we all high-tailed it through the woods. It seemed that the entire distance was up-fucking-hill! Fuck a duck! I ran as hard as I could and when I couldn't push anymore, I power-hiked my ass down the trail until I could run again. With a mere 30 seconds left, I made the cut-off (26.6 miles in 7 hours). All three of us made it. We were spent. Dead. After fueling up, it was time to run again to make the next cut-off (10 miles in 2.5 hours). I decided against changing shoes or socks, since it would take up too much time.

More quick math in my pee-brain, I figured I would power hike to the next aid station and then run/hike the remaining distance. At the aid station, I ate a delicious turkey sandwich and some chocolate and thought all was right with the world. After running about 1/10 of a mile, both calfs decided to seize up. Fuck another damn duck. I had been taking an S!Cap every hour or so and decided to pop two to help loosen up my legs. I walked a few miles until I was able to run again. My energy level was low, but my spirits remained high. My quick math had once again let me down. At the unmanned water station, I caught up with a older gent. We discussed our time/mileage situation and decided that we had to run a 5k in less than 30 minutes to make the final cut-off. He decided that this was impossible for him, so I left him to his own fate. Of course, this was impossible for me also, but I have been labeled a retard for a reason.

I missed the cut-off by 15 minutes. My day was over. I had covered a little over 36 miles in 9:45:40. I felt that I could have made the whole 50 miles in the remaining 3 hours, but the volunteers said otherwise.

All in all, I had a great time! Climbing Pinnacle Mnt was outstanding! The views from the top are well worth the pain that would surely come the rest of the day.

Mistakes made...

- I spent too much time worrying about keeping my feet dry (which they didn't). I need to just plow through the damn water and mud and quit wasting precious time.
- I did not ingest sufficient calories. I was worried about repeating my gastric issues from the MS50 last month, so I didn't drink enough water (it was 80 degrees) or enough liquid cals (Perpetuem) and did not eat enough. This was not evident until after the halfway point and probably too late by then. I did not have any gastric distress though!
- My Camelbak burned the shit out of my back. I had too much unneeded crap in it, making it very heavy. Even now, my back hurts more than anything else.
- I ran a 6 hour race five days prior. My body did not have sufficient time to prep for this race.

Lessons learned...
- Eat more, drink more...but within reason.
- Carry less shit. I carried everything and had even more in my drop bag. How much of it did I use? Not much! My Camelbak probably weighed a good 10 pounds.
- Keep an even and steady pace. Don't start too fast and don't walk so much. Once again, my energy level could have been much higher.
- Don't run a 6 hour race five days before your 50 miler! I should have skipped the Memphis Ultra 6 Hour, but I still enjoyed running both!
- North Face Arnuva's suck.

After all is said and done, I believe that I have improved since the MS50 in March. Ouachita was 10 times harder in my opinion, even if you took Pinnacle Mnt out of the picture! Of course, if I took Pinnacle out, then I would have made the cut-offs easily! I will continue to train and improve and will be at this race next year...and finish all 50 damn rocky miles!

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