Well, I did it! I ran my first race of the year yesterday, and it was a great experience. Rob put together a great race and I’m sure that everybody that ran the race would agree 100%. The aid stations were well stocked and extremely friendly. The party crowd was definitely at the Covered Bridge. It was always fun crossing through there with the radio blasting and seeing everybody in their Hawaiian clothing. :) The course was very well marked, very technical and all of the volunteers were amazing; all in all this was simply a great experience! Rob, I look forward to next years’ event, assuming we don’t reschedule our trip to Disney World for that week. :)
For those that don’t know how much 50k is, let me spare you the effort: it’s about 31.1 miles. :) I went into the race with two simple goals: have fun & cross the finish line. It proved to be a great goal, and it’s exactly what I did. The total time on my Garmin was ~ 8 hours and 15 minutes, and I had a blast!
I realized I have a lot of training to do before my 50 miler in 2 months. This race was only 30 miles :), and I couldn’t have imagined having to run another 20 when I crossed the finish line of this race. Training for the Mohican 50 Miler officially begins next week! I have the same goals for that race (have fun & finish). However, I want to still feel very strong after 30 miles. The only way I know to do that is to train hard.
If you’re interested in my full race report, keep reading. If not, no hard feelings and c-ya! :) However, you may check back because I’ll post an overhead map of my run once I sync my Garmin (later tonight or tomorrow).
I showed up at Mohican around 7:15 am and got my goody bag. Wow, lots of cool stuff! This could very well classify as one of the best goody bags I’d ever gotten; lots of camping stuff, ultra running stuff, and a very “trail” oriented mix of shwag. I was able to talk to some of my friends by the check in booth and everybody was real excited to get moving.
Before we got started, Rob had a few things to say about the race and why he put it on. He explained how the flags worked and pretty much told everybody that there was ‘no stopping’! He said “If you feel like you need drop out of the race, go ahead and have a seat at the next aid station and I’ll have someone pick you up in about 3 hours.” He then follows it by, “Seriously, you might as well just keep walking”. Perfect!! He then let Regis Jr. say a few words about the park and how it meant so much to him and his dad (Regis Shivers Sr.). Regis Sr. was the first generation of Mo Trail runners and just recently passed away. He left a hell of a legacy though. I wish I had a chance to meet him. Anyway, Jr.’s message was well received and you could feel that vibe that Regis Sr. was in this race too. :)
Miles 1 – 5
The first 5 miles were very uneventful. I literally let all the fast runners fly through the starting line and I stayed at the back of the pack and slugged along from the very first few steps. This was a single trail course the whole way, so it made sense to stay out of everybody’s way now, rather than dealing with them in the forest in a few miles. It turned out to be awesome, because I just chugged along through the woods like I would on any training run. Nobody was around me really to keep conversation, so I just did what I like to best: think. I did a lot of thinking on this run due to my “slow paced isolation” plan. :)
Miles 6 – 10
I got to the first aid station a lot quicker than I had imagined. I had no problems whatsoever, and moved right on through. I picked up a few pretzels, chugged a nice cold cup of water, and laughed with some of the voluneers on my way through. The remaining 4 miles (after the aid station) were just nice and relaxing. The weather was turning out to be nice and crisp with a slight breeze on the face. I still felt very strong; I could have picked up the pace through here, but I played it smart and just kept a slow pace with the runners in front of me.
Miles 11 – 15
As I was coming down the hill from the Orange loop, I heard a block party being held at the Covered Bridge. It was awesome coming up to these guys. As soon as they saw me, they made me feel like I was winning the race. :) I thanked them big time and pounded a few PBJ sandwich blocks. They all sent me on my way up to the next aid station with a smile.
The run from Aid station 2 to Aid station 3 was beautiful! I kind of pal’d up with Cheryl (she frequents a lot of the Mo training runs) and her friend Lucy. We slowly climbed through the Little Lyon falls and did some “root climbing”. Once we got to the top of Lyon Falls, they moved ahead of me and I was back to myself again. The bugs were kind of bothering me through here, because there was a bit of road and the bugs were just dying to get into my ears and eyes. Gross!
Rob put in a nice little muddy trail for this race. When I say mud, I mean M.U.D. The course goes through a bridle trail and the mud was very thick and very deep. With every step, I either slid a bit or my shoe tried to stay in the mud. It was fun though, to me this is what “trail running” is all about. :)
Miles 16 – 20
Aid Station 3 was great! These guys were very friendly and encouraging. One of the fellows (Michael) met me about 100 yards from the table and stole my bottles so that he could fill them for me. I ate a few more PBJ sandwiches, pounded a warm cup of Coke, a cookie, and some pretzels, and thanked the guys. I was on my way again and still feeling great.
The second time through the mud, I gave up trying to avoid it. I just gave into the idea of being muddy and by the end of this section, I had mud further up my leg than I’d like to admit. :S
As I was coming up to Big Lyon Falls, I was starting to feel some soreness in my legs, but it was to be expected. My training before this race wasn’t “all that” and I knew I was going to be working my legs today. As I tried to scale down Big Lyon falls, I felt the quads pretty good. :) However, this was a beautiful section and it reminded me a lot of my vacation with the girls a few weeks ago. After my descent down Big Lyon falls, I made it back to the party zone and refueled a bit more. This time I had a watermelon slice and a Chocolate Chip cookie.
Miles 21 – 25
From the Covered Bridge, I trekked up the Green section of the course and this was really hard for me. I’ve only ran this section once, when I paced Kim last year at the 100 miler. However, at that time it was very dark and it was going the other way (ie. down hill). Rob turned it around on us and made us go “up” it for this race. The entire 2 mile section up to the Fire Tower was on a slight incline. It felt more than “slight” at times, and this was probably the longest 2 mile stretch of the entire race for me. I was pretty much spent by this point and walking is all I could think about. Even as I jogged, I had to keep fighting myself from walking.
When I got to the Fire Tower, Kim was there as the aid station captain. She talked me into some potato soup, that her mom made. And I took a minute to empty all the sticks and rocks out of my shoes. I’d been collecting sharp things in my shoes the entire race, and each step was becoming more and more uncomfortable. I figured it was best to take the time to get them out now, rather than waiting another 4+ miles.
The Red section was awesome! On my way out of the aid station, Kim yelled “4 more miles til the next Aid Station Luc. It’s all downhill!”. Mmm hmm… It was mostly downhill, but keep in mind that this means very little at Mohican. “Downhill” basically means that the next check point is lower in elevation than where I’m currently at. It does not mean that I will be doing all downhill running though. :) It’s taken me a while to understand this actually. Rob and Kim are always telling me that certain sections of Mohican are “mostly flat” or “downhill”. I now have a new under-standing what “flat” and “downhill” actually mean when talking about trail running.
I ran past 2 runners through this section. The one guy was in really bad shape. I asked him if there was anything I could do, but he just wanted to get to the finish. The longest run he’d ever done before this race was only 10 miles. Wow, that’s a hell of a big jump to 30+ miles! He had really nasty blisters on his ankles from his shoes and he said that his knee caps hurt really bad. I gave him some words of encouragement and wish him luck as I picked my pace back up. The other runner had a locked up ITB and it looked like every single step hurt. I talked with him for a while as well, and he assured me he was going to try and at least finish. I threw encouraging words at him and went on my way again.
Miles 26 – 30
I got back to the Covered Bridge for the final time and they were very encouraging yet again. The music had stopped, but the enthusiasm was all still there. :) I drank some heed (it’s a drink) and grabbed a few Salt ‘n’ Vinegar chips and on my way. By this time I was kind of starting to feel nauseous. I didn’t want to drink anymore fluid, I didn’t want to think about putting anything in my mouth and I just wanted to sit down and chill for a minute.
Instead, I focused on a walk / jog routine. I would jog until I felt like puking, then I would walk to let my stomach settle down. Then I would jog again, and repeat. This section of the course had some very technical areas in it, so I did more walking than jogging through most of it. There were some killer hills towards the 30 mile marker and I might as well have crawled up them, because I was moving at a snails-pace by this point.
There was one last killer hill before the finish line. By this time, I had been moving so slow for so long that a few runners that were far behind me at one point, were now passing me. We congratulated each other on our accomplishments and on they went. I let them get pretty far ahead of me as I slowly stomped down the North Rim trail hill. As I got back to Campground A, I heard the cheers for those runners and I knew that I had made it.
About this time, I heard a crazy guy honking his car like a mad man. I looked over and it was ma dude, NICK!! He had already finished and was pulling out of the parking lot as I was coming up to the finish line. My entire run had been so quiet and peaceful, then HOOOOONK HOOOOONK HOOOOOONK HONK HONK HONK HOOOOONK!! Thanks for the encouragement on my finish, Nick! I got a great laugh out of it! :D
As I came up to the finish line, Rob welcomed me with a high five and my first ultra belt buckle! :) He asked me what I thought of his course and I said that I really liked it, and that it definitely worked me. I stuck around for a few minutes and sat on a bench for a while. It’s always fun to stick around after these long distance races and watch other runners limping from place to place. :) Everybody’s legs are shot after these races, and it always makes me feel “normal-ish”. :) I spoke with Kim and Regis for a few minutes, then headed to my car for the long ride home.