I’ve been organizing files (photos) on my computer this morning. In doing so, I came across my first ultra race report, the HUFF. I thought I would post this for your Sunday morning reading pleasure.
HUFF 50K December 2005
Pre-race histrionics: I start SUV to warm it at 0530. I lock doors with clicker. Clicker stops working at this critical minute. Panic and despair ensue. I finally call the Huntington Police, who say they will send someone out. There must not be much crime in Huntington at 610am Saturday morning, because the K-9 unit showed up, broke into my vehicle,and I was on my way again at 615am! (The police officer did say maybe this was a sign I shouldn’t run the race…)
I arrive way early at the campground, enough time to calm myself down, get all my food, clothes, etc ready for the loops. I am parked right by the trail so I can change or pick up food from my own vehicle.
This is a loop course, 10.8 mile loops around the Roush Lake Reservoir. Temps are a bit cool, in the teens (F) when we start. We’re all really really cold at the start.
The cannon does go BOOM!!! And we’re all off, the relay runners and 50K’ers. The one-loop fun runners will be started about ten minutes behind us.
This is a nice, scenic course, it was very pretty at daybreak, sun glinting off icles and the lake. It was hard to look up though, because the footing was very uneven and unstable this first loop. There was probaly 6-8 inches of snow, which, due to the cold, was not getting beat down at all, even with all the folks in front of me. The first loop was very crowded, too, it was pretty much going one by one up the trail. Passing someone ment going into the deep snow of about one foot on either side. The trail or the racers finally opened up for me about the second aid station, which was around mile 8 or so.
I had no real expectation of time goals, although I thought 6 hours seemed rather a reasonable number. I thought I could do each 10 mile split in about two hours (I was just ignoring the other 0.8 mile, not being a mathelete.) And my splits through the 10 miles were 2.01 hours, then around 2.15 for the second 10, and 2.30 for the third then (more or less).
On the second loop, there was no problem with running space! Everyone had spaced out, and I wasn’t running around alot of other folks. It was amazing what I remembered on the first loop to prepare for the second loop. The footing was improving too, the sun was heating some of the snow and it was getting trodden down, improving in many areas. I was getting tired already though, the first lap of tromping and teetering, trying to balance, had tired me. My upper body was stiff after constantly watching the trail. I was shuffling along on the second loop, on the road to the first aid station when I thought to myself “I am dog azzed tired” And I immediately felt worse. Then I banished that thought, thinking, no “I am strong but slow.” Then I thought it should be “strong AND slow” so I quibbled over that myself and managed to while away a good half mile before I decided on “slow AND strong”.
Loop 3 came about and I did not change my shoes and socks like I did after the first loop. Which I should have, because I had changed out of my trail shoes for running shoes, which got soaked rather quickly in the inches of snow. I just grabbed a fresh toboggan hat (I changed hats at each loop I sweat so much) and more food and shuffled on.
Loop 3 was good because it was the LAST loop!!! I was really out there by myself now. I picked up some of the remaining Coke at Aid Station 1, and that really perked me for a few miles. I then tried to keep eating as I went forward, because that seemed to help with energy levels.
I was of course power walking any slopes. There were only a few areas that I could call “hills” here it was a very mangeable course. I developed a non-specific leg pain in my right thigh (different that my normal hamstring pain) which actually hurt when I walked.
I glanced at my watch at one point and saw I was over the five hour mark…longer than any other run I had every done..then once I clicked over 26.6, longer in miles than any run I had ever done!
I just kept watching for the mile markers on the last lap, and the big landmarkers..airport, check..aid station 1, check. Awful road section by shooting range, check. 3 runners passed me here and asked if I was okay. I was walking the uphill and eating potato chips and told them I was fine. I caught them at the last aid station, grabbed some hot chocolate on the go and moved on. It was interesting trying to drink hot chocolate and shuffle at the same time. Next was the reservoir, then 3 foot bridges, then the restrooms at the campgrounds, then done.
Got to the reservoir, headed across it. There was a woman ahead of me, just moving ahead very steadily. I was surprised when I caught up to her right before mile 10, she had been doing great. I passed her and then finally saw the Magical Mile Ten Marker!! 0.8 miles to go!!! I was so excited, I was muttering “ten! ten! ten!” Then I knew all I had to do was pass over 3 footbridges, and then I was see the restrooms and be at the campground.
I pass over the first footbridge and heard an awful commotion behind me. First I thought it was dogs barking, then I thought it was the trio of runners being me, catching up to me and yelling! I must have really slowed down! No, it was the geese over on the reservoir I was hearing, I was finally getting close!!! Two more bridges….and then…yes it was, ohmygod, I’ve never been more happy to see a bathroom (well, actually I probaly have been, but this meant the end of the race) I trucked it through the campground, and turned the corner into the finishing shoot and completed the race!!!!
My chip and bib strip was taken, and then I passed the mental examination in the hot tent (I had to fill out a card with my name, sex, bib number and approximate finishing time…you do that after running 7 hours..) I must have passed because I got my finisher’s medal and was pointed to the soup tent!
I got some great chicken soup, slumped down over it in the corner and started to cry..I am not sure why..just so damn glad to be done running. Some nice man noticed me and came over and talked to me, congratulated me for the race and finding out it was my first ultra. That helped me recover a bit and he said he thought conditions were pretty tough out there on the first loop too.
I was really beat after this run. I was running two more hours longer than anything I had ever done. I am glad I had just run the marathon two weeks prior though, where I had good mileage in for this. If I had only run 20 milers or so for this I think I would have been cooked.
I’m going to buy some more wool-blend socks and some gaiters for winter running too.
I’m really really pleased with myself. At no point did I not think I could run these race…strong and slow, I knew I could do it. I really did not have too many bad hurts, just one toe which I knew was kind of turning into hamburger but there was nothing I could do about it, and leg pain, but nothing really too bad.