Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wickham Park 50 Mile Fun Run

Well, my 2nd 50 mile race is in the books. 6 weeks after my first one up at Croom, I headed across the state to Wickham Park in Melbourne w/ Ultra Veteran Jim Rickards. Jim has 4 100's under his belt, including States and Leadville. We drove over Saturday and went to the park to check out the course. RD Matt Mahoney had chalked the course and put out used paper plates directing turns. We each filled a water bottle and just walked the course. To our dismay, most of the course looked runable. We were expecting a course that would demand walking for over a 1/3 of the time due to sugar sand. Of course, I had to hit my head on a tree branch, as I had done on the last training run at Croom. I was to pass this branch 28 times the next day so I made a note to pay attention. So we left Wickham and checked into our hotel just a few miles down the road. I think we were the only people staying at the hotel.
After relaxing a bit, we decided to head out for last minute supplies and some dinner. The awesome dude at Subway agreed to cut our turkey subs into quarters and wrap them in saran wrap to eat during the race. I grabbed a bottle of Mountain Dew, some Skittles and Gatorade. The chicken parm sub at Blizzaro's was amazing. And I even had half left over for after the race! Back to the hotel to relax and get some sleep.....which didn't really happen. I could not fall asleep. I was tired, and calm, I just couldn't seem to fall asleep. I think I finally got to sleep around 2am and was out cold until 6 or so. The park opened at 7 with a 7:30 start, so we grabbed bagels at Dunkin Donuts and headed over. The park was already packed at 6:50, which gave us plenty of time to get signed in, pick up our no t-shirt and get our Aid Station set up. This race is completely self supported. The race was chip timed, if you count the potato chips that I brought. The course was a 3.75 lollipop that would bring us back to the start/finish line 13 times to look at a watch on the hood of Matt's car where we would write our time and then head out a 14th time to do a 1.25 out and back to the Finish Line. We were gathered at the start line right at 7:30 when Matt came running out of nowhere w/ a bag of flour in his hand and announced "Ready, Set, Go"! I guess that means the race has started.
I started off at what I felt to be a very comfortable 9:15 pace w/ Krystle Martinez and Brad Lombardi. Krystle settled in with some woman for about half the race while I ran 4 laps with Brad. Then he pulled away before calling it a day after 50k with some pain in his foot that he didn't want to get worse-wise move. I felt very comfortable for about 5 or 6 laps. Oh, and the thing about the course being runable...yeah, not after 2 laps. There were 78 starters and we tore up the sugar stretches pretty quick. I walked the 1 decent hill, the 4 rolling hills and the 6 mogul stretch every time after the first lap. Beginning on lap 3, I walked the sugar sand stretches. I carried 1 bottle of water for each of the first 2 laps and on the 3rd, I picked up a bottle of gatorade and that was the pattern for the rest of the day. Toni Pyle was so helpful in topping my bottles off after each lap so they were ready when I needed them again. I was carrying 40 oz of water and was drinking about 30 each lap.
On lap 3, I wanted to start popping my endurolytes but when I went into my ziplock bag in my bottle pocket, they were soaked. I couldn't save any so I threw out the bag. Then at my cooler, I forgot to take some, but on lap 4 I remember I had a couple in the new bottle I had picked up a lap ago. There were 2 in there, so I figured I should drop the 1st one in the sand walking up a hill. So I am about 13 miles in and have only taken 1 endurolyte. I think I took 2 at a time at about 6 more times that day. I didn't remember after each lap, cause I had to go into the bottle in the car for them.
After lap 4, I began drinking Red Bull and Mountain Dew at the cooler and I took GU's after lap 4 and 6. Toni gave me a few potatoes and some watermelon but that was about all I could eat. I did eat some of two of the pieces of sub that I had but from Mile 10 to the finish I really thought I was gonna start throwing up after every burp. I was not a great feeling. As I was finishing lap 7, which I was debating calling it a day with the Marathon, I ran into Sissy, Keith, Cookie and Kyle, who came out to hang for a bit. They ran me in as I completed the marathon in 4:53. The fastest marathoner on the day was 4:10. They all ran lap 8 with me, which was awesome to have 4 pacers-well, I was leading the way cause I knew the course. Kyle was trying to be funny but I wasn't feeling too hot so his humor was not working (sorry Kyle, no offense). I do remember asking Sissy "who brought the ADD kid" after he pulled out and took off in a sprint. So 8 laps in, about 30miles or so, Sissy went on lap 9 with me. She helped me to the finish at Croom and is just the most amazing pacer. She knows exactly what to do and say and how to say it. I was in a really bad funk at this point and the heat was getting to me. I even did throw up a little, but not the all out hurling that I was expecting. She kept telling me that I was in Pittsburgh or Syracuse in the winter and that it was actually cold out-I wasn't buying her line of crap, but it was nice to hear her try! I explained some of the things that I was going through and she just listened and tried to help to keep going. I remember one particular scene in my favorite movie For Love of the Game when Gus says to Billy, "Oh Chappy, today just isn't your day." I really felt that way on lap 9 but having Sissy there really helped me a lot.
We finished up lap 9 and Cookie had the perfect gift for me as I sat at the cars. A bag of ice for my neck and back. So I have 4 laps to go and no energy, but all of a sudden, I jump up and grab my bottles. Brad asked if I got a new burst of energy and I just said "I gotta go." I don't think it was a burst of energy, but more of a panic that if I sit there any longer, I won't ever get up and finish. So I was off at a horribly slow jog. The gang had to take off but I was glad they were there when they were.
I don't remember lap 10, but I think I ran most of it, but then I walked every single step of lap 11 and 12. I remember panicking after lap 10, saying that I only had 4.5 hours so do 3 laps plus the out and back. I really felt that my laps were gonna slow to 90 minutes each and that I wouldn't finish. But that feeling went away when I did lap 11 in 70 and knew I could finish. I came up on Jim near the end of lap 12 and we walked and talked for a little while. Then Eric Friedman is coming towards us and suggests a basketball shoulder bump which I think is a great idea. Not true, as soon as I jump and hit him, a seizing cramp goes flying through my left hamstring. It's all good tho! It was quite funny, but the cramping laughs are only beginning. Lap 12 brought back a visit with that tree branch. I hit my head hard again. I kept checking for blood but I guess I didn't cut my head. So I finish up lap 12, which I walk in 61 minutes, 9 minutes faster than lap 11. I think I got the powerwalking thing down on that one. I only sit about 5 minutes and head out on my last full lap. I started out w/ a guy that I had spoken to earlier in the race and his wife was walking with him. He said he was gonna try to run the 1.25 out and back so with that in the back of my head, I tried jogging on a few the flat solid stretches. I turned in a 56 minute lap while running the last 1/2 mile and only had 1.25 to go after 11 hours of running. I was just into my out and back when I come across this guy finishing his 13th lap and he says he is gonna try and catch me. To think, a sprint finish after 49 miles. I ran as hard as my body could go, which was about 11:30 pace and my stomach was violent towards me. It was painful. My legs would go just fine by my stomach ached. So I step on the paper and head for home. When I passed the guy coming after me I told him I stepped on the paper so he knew I went all the way! I popped out of the woods and kept looking back, no sign, I held him off. 11:21:11 was my finish time, an hour and half slower than at Croom. I was not complaining, cause this course was not comparable to Croom. This course was so unforgiving and difficult that any finish was a real accomplishment. One pleasure in the last 3 laps is that I was going back and forth with ultra nice ultra awesome Cheryl Lager-an official FL Ultrarunner from Virginia. We didn't talk much cause we were both struggling through our own challenges but it was nice to feed off such an amazing person.
The other guy came in 2 minutes after me and I introduced myself. His name is Chris Reesh and he had finished his first 50! I told him I was running like I could hear banjo's, which got a laugh. I had nothing in me but just kept going. Then I go hang out w/ the crew of Toni, Krystle-who blew by me on lap 11 or so and lowered the women's CR to 10:17, and Brad. This is where the fun starts. Every move I made would start a cramp in some muscle, calf, hammy, thigh, back, toes even. I just wanted to get off my feet for a few minutes and when I sat down, cramps would seize thru my body, propelling me up, jumping around screaming in pain while also laughing at how funny I knew I looked. Brad was getting a real kick out of my pain because he has been there before. After a while I was able to settle down and relax. The awesome John Pyle came in shortly after me with a very solid paced run. Jim also came in right after me, having done 11 laps for 41 miles. A great day for him, good miles on a tough tough course.
Got back to the hotel around 8:30, showered, ate the other half of my sub and watched the newest Indiana Jones movie. I jumped out of bed in pain a few times from cramps in my calves and toes. I was able to get some sleep though. The only damage I took was to 3 of my toes. I was certain that I would lose all 3 nails, but maybe not. I drained them from under the nail and they seem to be ok. Time will tell.
Well, I think that's all I have to say about that. On to the next one, Ft. Clinch Endurance Run 100M on June 25th-26th on Amelia Island in Fernandina Beach. I will be ready to finish my first 100!!!
Oh, and results with splits can be found here: http://mattmahoney.net/wickham/11wpmar.txt Out of the 78 starters, 57 completed the Marathon with 13 finishing 50 miles. I ended up 5th, sandwiched right between some very respectable ultra runners!! Joe Ninke went on to finish 200 miles over 4 days for the 3rd year in a row-Amazing!