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Dick Collins Firetrails 50 - RunUltra Marathon

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Hayward, California
United States
70F / 21C
Total Time = 9h 46m
Overall Rank = 50/162
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

gobbled down a bagel at 4:30AM. Martina drove me to San Leandro and was going to pick me up again. i was a little leery of driving 45 min in Bay Area traffic after the race. turned out i was right about that...
Event warmup:

nobody warms up for ultras. it's a waste of energy.
  • 00m
  • 50 miles
  •  min/mile

even though there were only 162 runners, this is a fairly big event as Ultras go. most people knew each other. once again i felt like the new kid in class.

it was nice to see Wendell Doman there, the guy who runs Pacific Coast Trail Runs. he made me feel a bit less out of place.

there is absolutely no jockeying for position at the start of an Ultra. people chat and take it easy. the race is not against other people.

i got to chat with a woman named Julie Nye in the pre dawn. it turned out that she's the sister of Betsy Nye (who also ran), a bit of a legend in the Ultra community. She's won the Wasatch 100 and did several new course records for the Hardrock 100. Julie told me that there were a lot of very strong runners, especially women, in the race. it was a sort of a class reunion.

by watching the 'real' Ultra runners i learned several things:
- walk the hills. Julie told me that not even the top runners would run them. the speed is all in the downhill and flats.
- stay away from ibuprofen. it's not going to kill the pain and it'll put stress on the kidneys that they really don't need on top of it all.
- Ultra runners are really, really nice people!

the first half was eventless. i made it to the turnaround at mile 26 in 4:27. after the turnaround there was a long ascend back up a fireroad. i caught up with Betsy Nye then and let her pace me. she told me she'd been sick the last week and was a bit burned out from the 3 100 mile race she'd done that summer. i stuck with her for 10 or 12 miles, then she left me in the dust during a long downhill. i've really got to practice downhill running...

i started to feel exausted from about mile 36 on. that mile conincided with yet another very steep, exposed fireroad. i had to stop in the middle and knew then that i really had to watch myself. this was also when people started passing me. well, i'm a newbie...

i made it to the 38 mile aid station with a 5min run / 1 min walk cycle. and hit my critical point right there. all of a sudden i got tunnel vision and nearly fainted. at Ultras, there is an experienced runner at every aids station, just in case a rookie (like me) runs into troubles. Mr. Experienced Runner knew exactly how to get me going again. "queasy stomach? no? ok. time for the rocket fuel!" he made me drink 12 ounces of coke, pop an electrolye tablet and top it off with a GU. a minute later i felt like Popeye after a good dose of spinach! well, not exactly. but i knew i could run on. i was told to keep drinking coke - once you start on the caffeine it's better not to stop - and off i went again.

i kept running the downhills, although it took a great deal of concentration by now to not misstep and it hurt. a lot. it was still better than walking, though. walking downhill takes more energy than running.

right before the 40 mile station Wendell passed me again. much to his surprise i had overtaken him a few miles after the turnaround. he enthusiastically told me that i was doing great for a first timer - "there's no way you won't qualify for the WS100 now!"

that did me some good. i kept up my 5min run / 1min walk routine as best i could. passed some, got passed by more. luckily, the hills were nearly over by mile 43 and it was just a matter of staying upright. at mile 48 i started to get tunnel vision again, but by then i knew that i had made it. it's amazing what the horsie can put up with when it smells the barn! i did manage some semblance of a sprint through the finish.

being able to stop running was sweet, so very sweet!

in conclusion i have to say that this was by far the most physically demanding thing i've done so far in my life. harder than my Ironman races by a margin. i told Wendell afterwards that i just couldn't see how a human being could run for 100 miles. he just said "meh, you just run slower". as if it was a foregone conclusion that this was going to be the next step for me. can't help but like the guy!
What would you do differently?:

- go out slower
- drink more
- practice running downhill.
Post race
Warm down:

it was all i could do to keep myself from passing out after the race. i was hyperventilating badly and my legs wouldn't quit asking "WTF happened?".
apparently other people didn't think there was much wrong with me. Sarah and Wendell both said i was looking strong. heh.

i ate 2 cups of soup and a hamburger, some ice cream and drank 2 sodas. that was all my stomach could take at that time.

interestingly, my fingers turned white and numb for a while. probably because all the blood was required in my legs and around my intestinal tract. nothing to spare for the hands.

NO stretching. not a good idea after 50 miles. it's easy to tear something or cramp up.

Sunday i was a mess. i had maybe 3 hours of sleep during the night. my body just didn't feel it was safe to shut down. i walked around like a newborn horse. sometimes my legs just buckled under me. luckily there was always something or someone to hold onto.

on the bright side:
- only one minor blister that i only discovered long after the race was over.
- no cramps.
- no stomach issues.

today (Monday) i feel much better. i slept for 10h straight, a thing that i haven't done in years. my legs are ok again and i can get up from the toilet again without having to use my hands (heh!)

now i have to face the post race blues again...

What limited your ability to perform faster:

lack of experience and the Iroman 3 weeks ago. i wasn't trained right for either event because i tried to train for both.

such is life. i'd still do it again.

Last updated: 2006-07-24 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 50 miles |  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/162
Performance: Average
Course: a fairly hilly out and back through the East Bay parks. the course is beautiful. awesome views of the bay, running along creeks and through Redwood forest - i am truly blessed with the trail running opportunies around here! elevation gain: 7850'. conditions couldn't have been better. it had rained 2 days ago, so the fire roads were not dusty and the air was cool.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2006-10-09 12:17 PM

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SF Bay Area, Mountain View
Subject: Dick Collins Firetrails 50

2006-10-09 1:05 PM
in reply to: #564550

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Ann Arbor, MI
Subject: RE: Dick Collins Firetrails 50
WOW! You are a beast. Great RR! I'm glad you got to meet some incredible people out there and had a good time, despite the fact that you were running 50miles. Crazy!
2006-10-11 6:36 PM
in reply to: #564550

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Dick Collins Firetrails 50
Great Report.  You da man.    Very cool that the other runners see that you have a future in the ultra world.  Hope the post race blues don't hit too hard. 
2006-10-11 9:11 PM
in reply to: #564550

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Dick Collins Firetrails 50
" if it was a foregone conclusion that this was going to be the next step for me."

I guess that is what happens when you become a monster and do ultra races. I know that the long distance Ironman lifestyle is addictive, I can only imagine what the ultra life brings

congratulations on such an awesome accomplishment.
2006-10-13 12:02 AM
in reply to: #564550

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San Mateo, CA
Subject: RE: Dick Collins Firetrails 50
Quite an accomplishment!  Congratulations, Awol.
2006-10-13 12:56 PM
in reply to: #568192

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Cycling Guru
Fulton, MD
Subject: RE: Dick Collins Firetrails 50
Frickin' A!!!

That rocks! Congrats on the ultra, something I can never picture myself doing ........ (of course I said that about marathons and an iron distance race).

Rest and let your body heal itself ... you've had a strong year!

2006-10-14 6:48 PM
in reply to: #564550

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Kansas City, MO
Subject: RE: Dick Collins Firetrails 50
Great job Awol!   What do you mean that an Ironman 3 weeks ago might have affected your performance in this (?).  Sheeeeessshhh.  You da man! 
2006-10-14 9:59 PM
in reply to: #564550

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2006-10-15 12:28 AM
in reply to: #564550

Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Dick Collins Firetrails 50
Holy cow - that sounds so hardcore! Congrats on getting it done, and I'm glad you're feeling better Cheers,

2006-10-15 12:54 PM
in reply to: #564550

Chesapeake, VA
Subject: RE: Dick Collins Firetrails 50
Holy cow - you rock!  An IM and 50 miler within 3 weeks?????  You are an animal!  Congrats on a great race - now take care of those legs. 
2006-10-19 2:38 PM
in reply to: #564550

Atlanta, Ga
Subject: RE: Dick Collins Firetrails 50

Dude...I can't imagine why your body said, "WTF happened?!"

Great job.  Ultra runners are definetly a different breed of crazy.  Sorry I missed this race until now.  See you in a couple of weeks.

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