Yesterday, PCTrail runs put on their annual Mt. Diablo 50k. With 8900ft of gain and equal loss, this course is a tough one. In years past, heat is usually a huge part of the game, but for either good or bad (bad for those doing Western States seeking heat training), the weather yesterday was quite cool and never got above 75.
I probably had the worse ultrarunning day yesterday than I can ever remember. Things were seemingly off for me right from the second JB and I got in the car to drive the 50 minutes to the start. We were running late, the car was signaling that our remaining tank of gas was about to run out, oh and we got lost. Now with only 3 minutes to the start of the race, we hurried to put our bibs on and get to the startline. With a tough week of miles already on my legs, I was feeling a little lackluster about the whole day. Scott told us to just run this as a training run and use the hills to do 2 x 60 uphill lactate threshold repeats and to run in 3a/3b the rest of the time, working the downhills and remembering our hydration, nutrition, ect. Ok, I thought, I can handle that. My week to that point had been good- a 10 mile strides workout, a couple of nice 6 mile recovery runs, and what felt like a super easy 9 mile M pace workout. Throw in some weights workouts and a yoga class and the week was really solid. This weekend of a 50k followed by a Sunday 4 hour run was definitely rounding out a Build 1 week of close to 85+ miles.
At the start line, Wendell gave us the nod and the 50K and 25K runners sped off. This also happened to be the La Sportiva Mountain Cup 25K championship race, so the amount of 25K runners was huge. We started climbing right away and I noticed my heart rate went through the roof- maybe from adrenaline or maybe too much pre-race coffee- I wasn’t sure, but I did feel winded for no particular reason. As we settled into a nice but aggresive climbing pace, I just focused on my breathing and getting my heart rate to calm down a bit. The first climb is about 5 miles climbing 3000ft. I was feeling a bit slow and tired, but okay at this point. I only had one water bottle and was sucking it down fast- I realized I was dehydrated right from the start- probably the reason my heart rate was not recovering. As we crested the ridge and came over, my nose started bleeding. Not just a little- gushing through the only tissue I had. As I was getting ready to shove my long sleeve top in my nose, a nice runner handed me a wet nap and I gladly took it. That damn nose bleed took another 3 miles to stop and I was pissed. Coming into the first aid station I again did not take the time I should have to rehydrate, take care of my nose and get myself together. I hurried through it, grabbing a 1/4 of banana and kept going towards the summit, another 1500ft of climbing. Reaching the summit, I felt a rush of renewed energy and I pushed hard to the top. I was sure glad to get there as I was out of water and looking to refill. Well, I am an idiot, I realized as there was no aid station at the top- I had to drop down the 3 miles back to the campground aid station. Okay, no problem, its downhill and its cool out. So I pushed a good pace down to the aid station and refilled and even drank some coke and tried to eat some fruit. Nothing else sounded good and I realized I wasn’t eating much at all to this point. I headed downhill back to the start feeling okay but kind of like I didn’t care anymore. I even thought I would just finish the 25k loop and stop. I got to the bottom with a first lap time of 2:56- not too bad so I decided against dropping and I quickly filled my bottle and started back up the second loop.
Major mistake # 134 for the day- not grabbing a second water bottle . Some days when I am tired and I drag my feet to do my workouts, JB tells me that I put on my “mental Uggs,”- the cozy but ugly little boots you put on after tough races or on cold days when you just want to chill. Apparently, my mental uggs were on bigtime at this point. Starting the next climb, I was just tired and mentally did not have the capacity to push. But onward and upward I went. Slurpees, Ice cold coke, popsicles and ice water all danced in my head as I slurped down the last of my one bottle only half way into the climb. Then the cramping started and didn’t stop. I asked a nice (and smart) runner who had two bottles for a sip of one so I could take a salt tab. He gladly obliged and I was so grateful. I also felt like I was a rookie running my first ultra- I sure must have looked it. Anyway, 20 minutes later, I was wretching on the side of the trail. Okay, enough already, I was done…. cooked, fried, tanked, just plain done. I got to the campground aid station and immediately told them. After seeing JB come into the aid station- he informed me he had been puking too- but he was on his way to the finish with only 4 miles to go. He finished strong in 5:49 for a 4th place finish!!
What did I learn? Well, after a brief pity party for myself, I am just chalking this up to a bad day and allowing myself to have one every now and again. It hurts to not have the finish, but I made the decision best at the time and now I am off to go run a 3 hour 3a/3b run with JB to redeem myself!