When I showed up to work today (Monday after the race), I was approached by a coworker who inquired about my weekend adventure, spotting the tell tale signs of swollen feet in sandals and old man walking gate. I contemplated his curiosity for a while, trying to figure out what details this man might find interesting. I could just tell him that I ran an ultramarathon on some trails in NorCal. But that doesn't really paint a worthy picture for his imagination. So I thought I might try and relate my experience in terms that he was familiar with. Knowing that this person had been on a couple of four mile hikes at Rancho, he no doubt was familiar with the concept of a trail, but again, that just wouldn't do it right. So I thought of this story:
Imagine you just bought a bunch of groceries and loaded up your car and then got ready to drive home but then discovered you left your keys at home. You then decide to walk six miles back to home to get your keys. You step out of your car and immediately submerge your foot in a shin high puddle that extends 50 ft to the curb. Well, the feet are already wet, so you just hoof it over to the curb. You then continue to walk along the sidewalks with your squishy shoes and cold feet and periodically encounter another impassible puddle with varying depths of ankle to shin high cold, dirty water and you grudgingly trudge through. At some point you realize you are being followed. You look back and see a man with a black cloak and a scythe. You try and see his face but there is only darkness under the hood. This alarms you and you decide to pick up your pace to put some distance between you and the scary man. Strangely this man is moving at exactly 4 mph. So you decide you have to run. Now you reach some hills. You know, the sort of hills you see in San Francisco with the steps built into the sidewalks. Oh well, move fast! Uh oh, looks like someone was doing some construction up ahead and took a jack-hammer to the sidewalk. You stumble up and down the hills with the constant thought that the THING is after you. You are happy that there aren't as many giant puddles to wade through though and your feet and shoes are actually feeling a little normal again, but then you reach another strange obstacle. A fire hydrant has been barreled over and there is a stream of water to wade through. Insane. But then you encounter more of these, they seem almost constant. You crest the last hill and then instead of seeing your house, you see the grocery store with your car sitting in the middle of the puddle. Oh well, you are getting hungry so you might as well go sit down for a while and eat some of those groceries, and you know that you've put a good ten minutes on the DARKNESS, so you sit in the car and collect yourself. But then before you know it you spot the DANGER in the distance and jump out of the car, straight back into the puddle to try and reach your house and get away from the THING. You repeat this process for twelve hours, over and over gain, running from the SCARY man, trudging through the puddles, stumbling on the hills, receiving respite at the car. But then the sun is going down. So you reach into the glove compartment in your vehicle to retrieve the flashlight and continue on into the night. This is a even more frightening prospect, being chased through the darkness with the SCYTHE guy after you. You reach the car 19.5 hours and 78 miles into this shaking experience and discover your keys in the ignition. You thank god and then drive home.
I could have told my coworker this story. But instead I just said that I ran an ultra-marathon. It was fun. Probably the right call.
Anyways, here is how it went down:
I got off of work early on friday and drove north. I knew there was going to be some rain, but I didn't really see much on the way. When I got there I picked an idilic spot for my abode and was all setup in no time. Then I pulled up a chair to Matt's firepit (pic below) and hung with the guys until we all hit the sack for an early bedtime. It was raining a little off and on before I hit the sack.
|One of the first to set up their tent, pretty sweet spot, huh? I finally got to test whether this super light could do the job. Five inches of rain that night in a torrential NorCal downpour, totally dry, yeah baby!|
|Matt, race director Mark, and Cody. Matt showed me how to roll. He had a sweet full suspension mountain bike that he strapped to the top of his wrangler while pulling a trailer that contained his extensive camping equipment!|
|Race morning, getting ready to go.|
|The vegetation looks a lot different here. It is pretty.|
|Some of the trails and some of the views.|
|4 mph means you can enjoy this stuff a little more, instead of push, push, push.|
|Example of a stream, I mean trail, I mean stream, whatever. We ran through the middle of it. This was only an ankle deep affair. I don't even have pictures of the deep ones.|
|Some weather rollin in, not too bad...|
There was a downside to the downtime for me. I was eating way too much for what my body could actually process and it resulted in some pretty uncomfortable GI distress for several laps in the middle of the day. I was dealing with diarrhea at the end of every lap and figured out what I was doing wrong. I cut back on the food intake, kept emptying the system, and then just tried to even things out. Eventually the pain subsided, and a pretty constant thirst came on even though it was cool and overcast. I suppose that was my bodies way of saying it was dehydrated from all of the loose stools, so I just sipped water through the next laps and was finally feeling really good just as dinner was being served. As you get closer to sundown, Mark starts taking orders from the runner for what kind of warm thing they want cooked for when they roll in next lap: soup, grilled cheese, quesadilla, etc. It was great, and basically for the rest of the race I would eat whatever I ordered, drink some coconut water, and be good to go, that was the only calories I was getting in at that point.
|This is Tina Ure. She stands out in my mind because she took a header straight into one of the deep puddles, I can't believe she didn't drown!|
|My chair has the yellow jacket on it. That is Chuck and Steve in the corner.|
As the race went on, the numbers started to dwindle. The 18 milers were done a long time ago, the 36 milers (affectionately known as the "day campers") are finishing up. Some of the runners in the unlimited division are talking about how they need to save themselves for this or that race, how this is just a training run, how their feet hurt, etc. And you start to get a glimpse of really who is going for top dog. A lot of runners made it to the 12 hour mark, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. but then people had to get out their flashlights, and it seemed like a lot of people didn't really look forward to the thought of continuing into the night.
|Getting ready for another lap!|
I had an enjoyable experience and want to give kudos to Mark Swanson and the volunteers for putting on a really unique and fun experience for ultra-runners.
|People around the campfire when I rolled in from lap whatever. Now this is torture... when you know you could stop and join by the campfire, but noooo, you have to keep going out for another lap through the cold puddles!|
|My trophy collection...|