Monday, November 2, 2009

Surf the Murph 2009

Here's my short report:

I finished my first 50, great course, great family support, great volunteer support, great aid stations, great job Les and Cindy and great runners to share it with.

Here's my long report (and it is long):

I got to the race a little after 5 which gave me plenty of time to get things organized. I had already dropped a bag at the horse trail station so that was a go. I picked up my number. Along the way I saw Wayne and Karen. I made a few last decisions as to what I wanted to carry versus throwing in my other bag. The weather was brisk with a bit of breeze but all things considered it was looking to be a good day. As we waited around, I even stepped out of my shell and introduced myself to Carl G. I have seen him at many races and figured I should say hello. Before I knew it, I was standing in line and we were off. We had four loops ahead for our day, the first loop was a short 3.2 mile loop followed by 3 longer 15.6 mile loops. Since I had run my training runs down in Murphy, I wasn't too worried as I knew the course well. We would be running 9 or so miles in the northern section which was hillier and more sheltered and the other 6+ in the southern section which was much more runnable. The time seemed to fly by and we had to be nearing the right turn that would start our return back to the start/finish and end the first short loop. Something didn't seem right as I thought it should have come up already. Did we miss the turn? No way, I knew the course we hadn't come to the 2nd gate. Granted it was in the dark and I was following a group but there is no way I could have missed it. We were trying to decide what to do as we were all getting nervous that we had missed it. The first loop was 3.2 miles and we were at 2 miles (I was thinking we missed it but how) then 2.5 miles (I knew we missed it) and then we came upon the first aid station (Yup, we missed it - this aid station was staffed by a friend from work, Paul and Steve G). Which caused another concern the aid station wasn't where we thought it should be. We had thought that we would be taking a spur back into a clearing, if so we missed it too. We figured we might as well continue to run the big loop and make up the short loop on the 2nd loop and we were hoping that since the aid station was moved maybe Les had changed the course, let's hope so.

We soon were looping our way to the horse trail aid station when another group of runners were coming back, they too had missed the turn and were trying to decide what to do. We told them we had too and that we were going to continue on and let Les know, figuring that as long as we ran the loop we would be ok and if not well, a DQ would be a first too. I felt pretty good as we ran along and then I looked at my watch 56 minutes into the race, I had not taken a drink. I had been so pre-occupied with where we were that I had forgotten to drink or take any S-caps. Great, my first 50 and I was well on my way to dehydration, I told myself to relax and start drinking. Onto the horse station where Londell greeted us warmly. We would be coming back to his aid station another 5 times since the southern loop basically starts and ends at the aid station. I was running with a small group that included Wayne, Karen, Rick and a few others and I was catching up on the fluids and S-caps so I was thinking it was going to go well. I should also mention that I did not have the gumption to come in a costume but Wayne (convict), Karen (SuperWomen) and Rick (an outhouse complete with toilet bowl) all did. I hope someone got a picture of Rick's a it was real creative.

Soon we were into the next aid station which was staffed by Helen (and I think Don), Helen is a great ultrarunner. Yet another fact that makes me love the trail and ultra scene, when was the last time you saw a marathon winner staffing an aid station? She had brought banana bread which I declined, I asked for a beer which she said she had, I then declined and said maybe on loop 2 or 3. It was neat leaving her station as we had a quick singletrack section that took us back to the trail, we continued on around and I was starting to pick up many other course changes from the loops I had run in training. It had me a bit lost but I loved the fact that it was different. We continued around the loop until we came back into Londell's station (there were some folks who helped at his station so my apologies for not knowing their names). I ended up running with Wayne for a lot of this loop, it sure made the time pass quickly. From there we had some more single track and then back into the northern section where Les gave us another course change from our training runs. We turned left and climbed a hill, it was the hill that would give us a view of Minneapolis. We continued up the hill and where I figured he would loop us back for the view of Minneapolis we continued on up the hill further and then went back down a steep hill when all of a sudden we turned right onto a singletrack trail that I didn't know existed and the truth be told this one was much more like a deer trail than anything else. We worked our way through it and then we climbed up a very steep hill where we popped out of the woods with the view of Minneapolis. It was a great change to the course. We worked our way through a bit more singletrack, over a few logs and on back to the start/finish. Loop 1 took about 3 hours and 45 minutes, right on my goal pace, my fast goal pace but it meant I was on track for my time goal of 13 hours. We talked to Les who said not to worry about missing the turn on the short loop he would have us finish it at the end.

As we started loop 2 I debated what to grab for fluids as I had it all planned it all out for the short loop and then a big loop. Now what to do. I again told myself to relax, grab what you think you need and get going. There were plenty of aid stations if I needed more. I had lost track of Wayne at this station but I knew he would be coming by me soon enough. Sure enough he did and we again ended up running much of the second loop near each other. I did enjoy a comment Paul made to me as I came into the first aid station, he said something like you look tired. I was as had been running with Karen. As I continued on, I was trying to slow my pace down in this loop and had encouraged Wayne, Karen and Rick to get ahead of me. I ended up staying fairly close to them which wasn't good as I was convinced I couldn't keep pace with them. My race plans were to allow 15 minutes more per loop that way I wouldn't freak out if I started to slowdown, my goal was just to keep moving. Now I did hope that each loop would be consistent but I had no idea what I would go through in loop 3 so I wanted to err on the conservative side. As we neared the end of loop 2, I had a nice surprise my whole family was there to great me (my wife and both of my daughters had come out, what a nice surprise). We finished loop 2 in about 4 hours, again right on my planned pace. I remember coming into loop 2 thinking how nice it would be to just be running the 50k.

Loop 3 was a bear, my feet were real sore, my legs were cramping up and it felt like I was consuming my body for fuel. I had not been able to eat much as I had been on the verge of nausea for part of the first loop and pretty much all of the second loop and of course it continued in loop 3. Every time the nausea got bad I would take an S-cap. I had a real difficult time keeping track of time as it related to my S-cap consumption was it 10 minutes ago or 30 or ?.

My wife and I had discussed that she would pace me in the southern loop which I had hope would give me a boost. Another thing that I had planned on doing was switching coats as I was getting a bit chilled at times. The day was interesting when you were in the trees or sheltered from the wind and the sun was out you would heat up, then the breeze would hit and I would get cold. I was running by myself along the northern section which was fine and I was thinking that I just might be able to do it as I climbed the second hill along a stretch that I call the section 6 hills. They have markings at Murphy that I have never quite figured out and the hills from section 6 are the hardest to work your way through.

I continued on to the horse aid station where my wife was waiting for me. I switched socks and shoes and grabbed my gore-tex jacket. I could not believe how nice the dry socks felt. I also cramped up as I changed into the socks, it was funny when I looked down and saw two toes at basically right angles from the cramping and I would have laughed except it hurt, I grabbed the foot and got the cramp to stop, finished putting on the socks, slapped on the shoes and we were off. Except, I was pretty much useless as my feet were pretty sore, basically it felt like I had plantar fascia in both feet. Every step hurt and it really hurt when I tried to run. We made it to the lake and I knew I needed to do something or I was in trouble. So I sat down and laced the shoes as tight as I could. When I got back up (which I was happy to see that I could do), I was able to bear the pain of shuffling along regardless of the style I was glad to get going again. We made it to the Helen aid station and as we pulled into it I had caught up to Wayne and Rick. That caught me by surprise as I figured they were way ahead of me. As we left the station we kept them in sight all the way to the Londell station. From there my wife was going to drive to the start/finish area and we had planned on running the final 3 miles together. Wayne and I took off and we worked our way through the singletrack and back into the northern section. We both were pretty well content with walking it in. I had hopes that I would recover some and be able to run but as we walked along talking I was real happy to be finishing with Wayne. We both kept telling each other to feel free to take off and neither of us did. As we took in the final view of Minneapolis from the hilltop, we both knew we had it. We made it to the start finish where we were loudly cheered on. They had told us they had placed cones 1.55 miles out and we could not miss them so we headed out. On the other loops I had figured out the turn (each time through I made a mental note, turn right at number 4, second gate) so I was thinking we would do the actual loop but as we thought about the course change they made for us, we figured they were right as we might have missed it again or taken another wrong turn. My wife was enjoying the night run, she had never run in the dark on trails before and I am sure she will doing the 25k or 50k next year. Wayne and I continued the walk to the cones and on the way we passed Karen and then Rick, it was nice to see that they were still going. We made the turn around and on the way back we passed Kel and a couple of other folks whose names I don't know. As we approached the finish, I had a great feeling of satisfaction come over me. I was an ultrarunner.

A couple of other things, my Garmin made it the entire race and it showed 13 hours and 40 minutes and 50.9 miles which when uploaded into SportTracks came in at 51.34 miles.

I have a lot of things still going through my mind concerning this race but I figured I should get this post out so don't be surprised to see a few more posts coming out fairly soon and some of them may have a picture or two. One thing that did go through my mind is 100 miles is still beyond my comprehension but another 50 mile race might be kind of fun.

My thanks to all of the volunteers, you were great, to Les and Cindy for putting this event on, your hard work is appreciated, to my wife and family for putting up with me during the fall training, for your race support and to my wife for pacing me and to Wayne, Karen and Rick and for the many other others who helped me get through this. It was a blast.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Congrats! Nice job and a great race report.

SteveQ said...

Congrats on the finish! It's good to hear that after 13+ hours, you're still thinking "another 50 mile might be fun."

When you get cramping in the toes, it's most often dehydration. If drinking a lot of water doesn't help, then it may be low sodium, so eat something salty. If thet doesn't do it, it's another mineral imbalance, so eat some real food - and think about how great it is to have real food during a race!

Kel said...

Nice job Mike! It was fun to share the trail with you for the little bit that we ran together early in the race :)

What an epic day!

CewTwo said...

Wow! Thank you! Great report! You did it, man!

I am so impressed with people like yourself. The hunger is assuaged but not satiated. Thinking of another 50 mile as you run in to finish? What a guy!

I am glad that I know you!

Charlie

Wayne said...

Way to go, Mike... Congratulations on the 50 mile finish, and on your first attempt too!! It was fun playing leap frog with you and then finally just sticking together at the end. Also kinda crazy how a bunch of us decided 50K is a great distance but now a few days later 50 miles is still on the table. :)

Karen G said...

Congratulations Mike, you looked good out there, never could tell this was your first. You were very steady paced- good job!!!
I never saw the Minnaepolis skyline, where was I?

Londell said...

YOU DID IT! Now ST 50... ready for that beast? I never would have guessed you had any struggles at all? You looked solid each time I saw you. So happy for you! And lucky it was cold or I bet the outcome would have changed drastically... And in closing, the 100 is closer than you think...

Miguel said...

Great job on the 50m Westy. Been following you for a while and very happy you were able to put all the pieces together for The Murph.

I read your blog every week and can't wait to see what you plan for next year. Maybe see you at Chippewa.

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