Hey Everyone! Happy Christmas Week!
I hope everyone is all set for the holidays and I really hope everyone has a short week leading up to Christmas.
I have to be honest, I was all prepared to Vlog the recap from my 50k. I must have recorded the d@#$ thing about 100 times and even went through editing for hours. I finally gave up at the end of last week lol. So my first ever Vlog will come someday but I really wanted to get this recap done and up on the blog.
The night before the race, I told Mrs. Schlub that I wanted pizza for dinner. I don’t know about anyone else but pasta doesn’t sit all that well with me. I didn’t want to deal with that so I went with pizza and it was perfect and delicious. Our oldest had a basketball game that night so we spent most of the night at the game and got home about 830pm. I immediately got to work getting all my stuff together. I got to bed around 11 which was giving me about 6 hours of sleep.
I woke up around 5am and took my time getting ready. I grabbed a bagel with cream cheese, 2 bananas, an apple, some blueberry bread, and a bunch of waters, then headed off to the race. I got to the park at about 645am and was able to see the start of the 50 mile race. I was glad I got to see this, it allowed me to catch the Ultra Running Vibe and really got me excited for my race. There was about an hour gap between the start of the 50 mile race and the 50k race, so I stayed by the fire pits, chatted with other runners in my run group who were doing different distances, and took last bits of advice from my coach. About 745am I shed off my sweats, grabbed my pack, and it was Go Time!
The great thing about Aravaipa Running is they are extremely organized and very prompt. 750am they had us in the start chute giving us last minute instructions. Then at 8am, the horn sounded, and we were off and running. In the start chute and the first part of the race, I settled into the middle of the pack. Unfortunately, as we started to run I felt very uncomfortable. I felt bottled up and the pace seemed extremely slow. I quickly passed a couple packs of runners and found myself towards the front where things were more spaced out and I could get in a good flow. Looking back now this was probably a big mistake. I should of stayed with one of those packs and allowed myself to grind through the first few miles. This would of allowed my legs to warm up and really get my fueling started for the day.
First Section – Miles 0-7.5
This first section is extremely fast and runable. It has a lot of rolling switchbacks but is overall a net downhill. About mile 6 it starts to climb which leads into the next section creating one long gradual climb for a few miles. In this section my fuel and my salt intake was on point. On the other hand my water and my gels were not on track. Looking back I don’t think I drank enough water through this section. It was a bit cold out and I think I neglected to really load up on water knowing that I had a long day ahead of me. I also ran into a problem with my gels, for some reason I was only able to choke down about half the gel. Since it was cold out, it made the consistency of my gels a bit thicker, this just didn’t sit well with my pallet and I couldn’t get the gels down. I don’t think this led to the problems I had later in the race but when you have a race plan in place and things aren’t going exactly as you planned, it has an impact on you mentally.
I came into the first aid station at mile 7.5 in about 1 hour. This means that over the first 7 miles I was averaging about 8:45 min/mile. WTH!!! This was way too fast!!! I had originally planned to run this section pretty conservatively around 9 or 10 min/mile pace so I was bombing through this section way faster than I wanted.
Second Section – Miles 7.5-12.5
This second section is all climbing. Starting at mile 6 or 7 you have a long gradual climb into the second aid station. The entire climb has about 600 feet of elevation gain over the 6 miles or so. My fueling and my salt were still right on point. I still don’t think I was taking in enough water, I should have been taking in about double the amount of water that I was drinking. I was still having trouble with getting my gels down but I was choking down as much as I could here and there.
I came into the second aid station at mile 12.5 in about 2 hours 15 min. This means that in this section with all climbing I was averaging about 9:20 min/mile. What the h#$@ happened to the race plan?!?! I kept telling myself to slow down but every time I looked at my watch I saw mid 9 min/mile. I know I got caught up in the race in this section. There were other runners around and I got tucked in behind some of them. The pace felt smooth but I should of known I was working too hard. With all the climbing that was in this section, I think this is what really hurt me later in the race.
Section Three – Mile 12.5-18
I made sure to stop and take extra time at this aid station. One of my shoes had come untied so I sat down and took care of that. Took the time to refill my fueling and my water. I wanted to push the reset button and put myself in a better place mentally. This section has some climbing but then half way through has a pretty good amount of downhill. I started out much better running a lot more conservative and I was seeing miles in the 11 and 12 min/mile range which was much better. Unfortunately the damage had already been done. I came to mile 15 and this was the start of the downhill section. I’ve run this section before and you can really click off some fast miles through this part of the course. I started this section pretty conservatively and very quickly my left hamstring started to cramp up. D@#$%#!!!! I jumped off the trail and started stretching hoping that things would subside…they didn’t. For the next three miles I did the best I could to walk/hike/trot as much as I could.
I came to mile 18 in about 3 hours. My mindset had completely changed and I had a new mantra that I was telling myself. “This is no longer a race, this is survival!!”
Section Four – Mile 18-23.5
This section was the hardest on the day as it climbed to the highest point on the course. The trail climbs about 800 feet over roughly 4 miles on tough technical trail. In this section there was a ton of power hiking and slowly trotting the flat sections. I was taking salt a lot more frequently than I was earlier in hopes that it would help alleviate my cramping. This section was the toughest on me mentally. I had to really grind through all the climbing and when I got to the high point, I was hoping to make up some time on the downhill. Unfortunately, each time I moved faster than my body wanted me to, the cramping would flare back up in my hamstring. Then about a mile out from the aid station I ran out of water. I can’t tell you how much that sucked and how badly I was looking for the next aid station.
I came into the third aid station at mile 23.5 in about 4 hours 30 min. I knew this was going to be the hardest section on the course but this was flat out a sufferfest. My race was blown up and all I kept telling myself is that “This is all about survival now”.
Section Five – Mile 23.5-29
I took a ton of time at the third aid station. I was drinking cold water and Gatorade like crazy. I talked to my coach a few times about fruit on the course but man oh man the watermelon looked good. I grabbed a few slices and they really hit the spot in this moment. They didn’t give me any problems the rest of the day which was good.
I headed out from the aid station with the same plan in place, power hike the climbs, trot the flat and downhill sections, and take as much salt as I can. I was literally taking salt every other minute trying to get some type of running.
**Funny Side Story**
About mile 27 this older gentleman comes up from behind “Hey how are you doing? You don’t look to be doing so well today. Yeah I’m having a pretty rough day also.” It was a real nice break it a really tough day to have someone to chat with and just let some of the time pass by. It allowed me to get my mind off the aches in my knees and the cramping in my hamstrings. The funny part is that after a few minutes he tells me “Ok I’m going to head off” and away he goes completely blowing my doors off. I was laughing to myself because all I could think is “any other day and I would be blowing right past this old guy, but today here he is making me look like a fool” LOL. Honestly it was a complete benefit and really helped me through this section.
I came into the fourth aid station at mile 29 in just under 6 hours. I was just grinding through and at this point I knew I was almost done.
Section Six – Mile 29-32.42
I made a critical mistake at this aid station. Honestly I thought I was almost done. I thought I had 2 miles left so I only filled up my flask and didn’t put water into the bladder in my pack. Turns out I had three and a half miles to the finish line. Not disastrous but some cold water would have been nice in the climbs that were coming up.
I headed out of the last aid station with the same plan, power hike the climbs, and slowly trot the flats and downhill’s. I was drinking water as much as I could and at this point my tongue was RAW from all the salt I was taking. But this process was getting me through so I was keeping it up. Then comes mile 31 and the great people at Aravaipa running have one collective chuckle as they place a massive hill between the runners and the finish line. I captured this moment in my race footage video….d@#$ them lol!! In all honesty this thing only has 100 feet of elevation gain, but when your 31 miles into the race, your legs are trash, it’s hot out, and you’re ready to be done, this thing feels like Mount Everest out there lol. But I kept the plan, just power hiked all the way to the top. When I got to the top, I snapped a quick photo and sent it to the wife telling her I was almost done.
I hobbled my way down the hill, came in and out of some little washes, and soon enough the finish line was within throwing distance. I could hear everyone calling my name and as I came into eye sight I could see my family cheering as loud as could be egging me on to finish strong. I came into the finish line and I was done!!
The Finish Line…
I came into the finish in 6 hours 42 minutes. Didn’t matter how tough the day was or how horrible my legs felt, I was glad to be done and extremely happy that my family was there to see me finish.
Since this post was extremely long, I’ll write up my take aways and lessons learned for a post tomorrow. Thanks for reading!!