Thursday, March 15, 2012

2012 Black Warrior 50K

Turned out to be a great day for a race. Rain held off and temperatures were in the 40s at race time with highs in the 50s.  I really do like this race and Keith Hallmark does a really good job putting this race on.

The day before races I usually do not drink any coffee and I drink plenty to hydrate. I believe coffee to be a diuretic and tends to dehydrates me. I had my usual large pizza the night before. It serves to load my reserves and it is salty and makes me drink. Early Saturday I went to the bathroom and showered. I knew my feet would get wet at the water crossings, so I applied Vaseline to protect them from blisters. It really seemed to work this time. I wore my Darn Tough wool socks with some thin liner socks. I ate about 10 Ritz crackers plus a couple with peanut butter on them. I am a big believer in breakfast, but when racing I have to be careful.

The temps at race time were good, so I could start in whatever clothes I would finish in. I usually try to avoid changing clothes during the race. The race starts out uphill with about 2.8 miles of road. After the gravel road the race heads into the woods and the real fun starts. My friends the Fagermans were at the turn off and again at the first aid station. I had passed my friend Stephen Brown on the road and he returned the favor several mile into the trail. Stephen runs in Five Fingers and is a true minimalist runner. I have seen him run in thong sandals. You can learn something from anybody. I may have a few years of running on Mr Brown, but he has taught me a few things.  The first thing happened this fall when he reminded me that I should alternate my intensity on long runs. He also taught me a lesson for this race. My longest runs were 20 milers on an easy trail, but Mr. Brown ran his 20 milers on the race course.  This was at least twice as hard as my runs. The rain held off and the course did not seem to muddy.

The Inov8s did great. No ankle turns or falls even though I tried to fall several times around mile 18 or 19.  After Mr. Brown passed me I ran by myself for most of the race. I made my personal cut-offs at the aid stations. I was especially keen on getting past the halfway point. Once I get past the first half it helps me get my head around the mileage of an ultra race. The middle miles were pretty tiring, but I did pass a few people. They were walking wounded with cramps and stuff. I did try to fall a couple of times but managed to stay upright. I ran into my old friend Jeff Fagerman and Wayne Heckler around mile 20 they were returning from  legs in the 50K relay. It is nice when friends are there to cheer you on. Wayne had passed me after the 1st aid station when he started his leg of the relay. I just kept looking for landmarks and plodding on. I was looking for the biggest stream crossing and then the next aid station.

Before I got to aid station 4  I did come up on a guy from Chattanooga. He appeared to be done and I was ready to pass him when a couple of women caught up to us. He picked up his pace and I dropped back. I saw him at the aid station and he was still close to them. I kept on running my pace and finally caught up with him several miles up the trail. He had not been able to keep up with them any longer.  He asked me about why I had not passed him 5 miles back and I commented that it seemed the women had motivated him to pick up his pace. We talked and he said it was his first 50K. He was pretty sore, but he was still moving forward. We exchanged the lead position several times before I finally got out in from for good. He did finish and did better than I did on my first Black Warrior 50K. He finished with a 5:44.

The last 6 miles are pretty tough on the mind.  After the 4th aid station around mile 25 a song came to mind. It was the gospel song "I wouldn't take nothing for my journey now". It seemed to fit my mood, I was tired and sore, but the bulk of the race was behind me. I finally made it to the last aid station and now just 2.8 miles of road were all I had left. I let the blade down on the gravel road and managed an 8:19 pace over the last 2.8 miles.  The odd thing is you do not remember this portion of the course has both uphill and downhill. All you remember is the steep grade at the beginning of the race. So when you return at the end of the race you start out wondering when you will get to the downhill.

The finish was extra special. As I came close to the finish line I was greeted by my family.  It made all the pain and soreness worth it. I was so happy to see my girls at the finish.

By the numbers:
22nd overall, 2nd in my age group and shaved an hour off my 2010 Black Warrior time.

Garmin under counted by .83 miles.

Mile 6 = 49.30, rest area time 1.43, 8:15 pace

Mile 12.52 (6.52) = 1:07, rest area time 1.45, 10:16 pace

Mile 17.18(4.66) = 48:59, rest area time 1.17, 10:30 pace

Mile 22.36(5.18 ) = 59:31, rest area time 1.37, 11:29 pace

Mile 28.54(6.18) = 1:19, :rest area time 36, 12:46 pace

Last (2.8)=23:18, 8:19 pace

31.34=5:35.24. overall 10:42 pace