Sunday, January 18, 2009

DFL...but 27 Minutes Faster!

I was the dreaded Dead Fucking Last in today's Swamp Stomper 50k. I also finished 22 minutes faster than last year's time, so I am ok with the stigma DFL! My garmin time was 8 hours, 8 minutes, and 8 seconds.

The weather was perfect for running in the woods. At the start, the temps hovered around 37 and made it to 51 as a high mid-afternoon (most were already done, but...of course...I was still out in the woods). Supposedly, 150 runners started the race, but I think the number was much lower. Only about 25 finished the 50k (about half of those who registered for the 50) and around 80 finished the 25k. I'm not sure why so many dropped to 25k, which made for a lonely second loop for me.

The first loop was near perfect. I ran with Michael and Clint to the turn-around (9m) and then decided to push on a bit faster. Michael caught and passed me around mile 14 and started his second loop before I even made it out of the woodline for 25k. I still felt strong and had energy. I had Heed in my Camel Bak and a mix of Power Gel and Sustained Energy in multiple squeeze bottles for my nutrition plan. This seemed to be working ok, but I began to bloat around mile 20.

The second loop was about 20 minutes slower than the first. Except for runners passing by me on their way to the finish, I was alone. I had my ipod to keep me company, but that became more of a hindrance than a help. The red loop has always been a mother, but running it alone makes it even worse. There are so many climbs that makes it very depressing when you think you've reached the last climb only to descend and climb again.

When I started the red loop for the last time, I found out that I was the last runner and I was 20 minutes behind the person in front of me. I tried to push it slightly, hoping to catch sight of her. I didn't want to burn out with another 10 miles to go, but I didn't want to fall further behind. At the next aid station, the volunteer couldn't remember when the last runner came through. The next two miles were the worst of the entire race. Still no sight of any other runners.

At the next aid station, I was informed that the previous runner had left there about 10 minutes prior. I tried to push the pace to at least get sight of her and hopefully catch her at the turn-around (mile 25-ish). Michael passed me on his way to the finish in this section, looking as strong as he was from the beginning. A few others passed on their return trip. I finally caught sight of the next runner as she passed me headed the other way. I knew that she was now at least two miles ahead and I had zero chance of catching her. With another 7 miles until the finish, I decided to take it easy (or easier) and just try to finish within 8 hours.

My gut was bloated, making running very uncomfortable...not painful, just uncomfortable. I tried to maintain a good, steady power hike and keep my time per mile around 15 minutes. At times, my Garmin stated that I was hiking a decent 13 min pace. I really need to re-evaluate my race diet and get this bloating taken care of (Sherpa John is helping me).

The final ascent to the finish was the most difficult. Mid-way up, I just wanted to lay down and give up. I was at the 8 hour mark and still had about a quarter mile to the finish line. I kicked myself in the ass and got moving. I crossed the finish line in 8 hours and 8 minutes (official time), with about 10 people cheering me on. I was dead fucking last, but at least I finished with my head high...and 27 minutes faster than last year!

The entire picture set is posted on my picasa.

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