***Disclaimer*** If you are reading this, you probably know that I finished, but you do not know how bad it actually went. This is a quick recap of all the bad things that happened. The only good thing that happened was being able to stop when I reached the finish line.
“Even the downhill is up” "100 mile race experience packed into 50 miles" "It is one of the hardest 50 mile races in the Country" These were the type
of one-liners I came across when I first heard about OG50 (Old Goat 50.)
My friends, Mark, Jeremy and I were talked into signing up for this beast of a race by our ultrarunning friend, Carlos. Mark gave in first, then Jeremy,and I followed suit not wanting to be the odd man out. It was one of those moments where you click submit on that online form then think,"What have I done?!?!"
I immediately started to read the race reports about how hard the race was in previous years. With every personal recantation Jeremy and I read about the race, the more of a caricature like image of the race we painted in our heads. All of the possible doom and gloom scenarios of things that could happen during the race became the normal topic of conversation (although we were mostly joking about it.)
Training for the race was going amazing... I was on a 50+ day running streak and had run a few 100 mile weeks back to back, averaging over 10 miles a day in February for the Taji100 challenge. Then came the opportunity to run a 12 hour race the month before Og50.......I got talked into this one too. I rationalized the decision by telling myself that it would be a good training session for the Goat.
It turns out it was a bad decision to go into that race over-trained. I managed to go 50 miles in 9 1/2 hours, but in turn I badly injured my right heel. Out of fear of a stress fracture, I did not run a single step during the 20 days leading up to OG50.
March 23rd, race day was finally here. All 3 of us were injured in various ways, but we made the deal to at least start the first loop and then make a decision whether to continue on after 21 mile loop
We all headed out on the Candy Store loop at 6:30am as a group. The trail was very beautiful and similar to the Noble Canyon trail in San Diego.
The "fun" begins....
Mile 0: Gastrointestinal stress begins and I am unable to eat a proper meal for energy
Mile 1: I need to go to the bathroom from the distress, 20 miles to go until I am back at the restroom.... I wait
Mile 2-4: Rolled my ankles bad...twice
Miles 4-7: Bottle-necked on the single track by a few slow people. Finally broke free and began to run faster then I should have. Slammed my big toe into a rock....twice, and it felt like I broke it.
Mile 9: I was running up a slight uphill on technical, jagged rock trail behind 2 gals. Focusing on their footing and not mine...I tripped, flew through the air, landed palms first into some sharp rocks. Thank goodness I was still wearing gloves for the cold weather, which allowed me to press
on with minimal injuries.
Miles 10-13: I slip off the wet rocks while crossing a stream and dig my right foot into a mud pit, completely soaking my right shoe/foot in mud.
Miles 14-21: The intestinal distress got more and more intense. My hips and knees lock up, causing me to walk for 4 miles straight, back to the bluejay campground.
I was greeted with cheers from the onlookers and encouragement from Shawna (of the awesome Wentlandt family)When I got back to Bluejay campground well below the 6 hour cutoff in 4 1/2 hours. More importantly, I finally got some momentary relief in the bathroom after waiting for over 4 hours. After plopping myself down on the ground, I surveyed the damages from only 21 miles on the trail.
I then began the internal battle of whether I would press on for up to a total of 14 hours...... No, I decided it would be better if I quit now, since I then could relax the rest of the day.
Mentally I had given up, but for some reason I was in autopilot mode....I let Shawna fill my camelback, I took off my wet compression socks and put on just the dri-fit ones, and began having about 5 cheezits as my first calories in the race. Next thing you know she is telling me that I have to go on, and I am being kicked out of the Aid station by her.
No turning back....
Miles 21-23.6: Some of the real climbing begins, temperatures climbed on the exposed trail, and my intestinal distress came back with a vengeance. I felt very sick and disoriented at the Trabuco Aid Station. I stumbled through the aid station accidentally bumping into people. I thought my friend Jessica was taking my pic with a camcorder, but instead starts interviewing me about how I was feeling. I had to divert the question, as to not start spewing out obscenities on film. My break was short lived. The awesome photographer,
Lynne Cao, was yelling at me to continue on. Carlos begins spewing out all sorts of advice as how to break down the sections in my mind. I was not coherent and could not make sense of what he was telling me, let alone remember it.
Miles 23.6-28.8: The 5 miles straight of downhill over super rocky terrain was a short lived relief since it caused my quads and feet to be overworked. I was in post race shape at the halfway mark, every things hurt. This was not very comforting as the OG50 race really begins at mile 28.
Miles 28.8 - 34: Things went from bad to worse on the trail. I was still not eating enough calories after several hours of running, and I began to bonk hard. The temperature kept rising and I started to experience heat exhaustion. I was so hot and overheated, but I was unable to sweat. I took this as a bad sign and began to have a mild panic attack. I tried to calm myself by taking deep breaths,but was unable to since it caused a pain in my chest. A panic attack mixed with heat exhaustion, a hard bonk and hard breathing made for a slow and scary climb up to Bear Springs aid station.
Mile 34, Bear Springs: From a distance I spotted one of the volunteers open chair in the shade, and I planned to spend the rest of the race sitting there. I sat there in a state of bliss and so glad the pain was finally all over. Trying to cool off, I doused freezing cold water on top of my head. My break and DNF decision was short-lived once again as a racer plopped himself in the chair next to me. He was in much worse shape then I was, throwing up every time he ate something. I figured if I wasn't in as bad of shape as him that I should continue on.I also could not bear to watch someone throw up when I am not feeling too good myself. I could not stick around to watch the carnage, I pressed on to finish the never ending 8 mile straight up climb to Santiago peak.
Mile 34 - 36.8: 2.8 miles to the top of Santiago peak, with another aid station? When reading it on the paper it didn't sound so bad. Doing it was another story. I was slowly moving up what was the most ridiculously sustained fire road incline I had ever been on. Every ache in my body reached its maximum pain. Every injury from the past year seemed to surface all at once.. from my knee pains..... to shin splints......
to hip flexor pain..... to quadricep tendon pain.... to calf pain.... to back pain.... to shoulder pain.... to neck pain.... to ankle pain... to feet pain....
I felt like the mountain was trying to beat me down, not allowing me to reach the top. The physical beating brought about an emotional breakdown. This was not new to me, it had happened twice before; once as I neared the end of my first Ultra and again during ATY's 24 hour race.
It is hard to admit,, but I was in tears, with an enormous feeling on inadequacy. I got my phone out, turned it on, and hoped I could get some signal to talk to a friendly voice. Luckily I did eventually get that signal and phone call. She encouraged me to press on, and I was able to snap out of the bad frame of mind I was in. I pressed on, made it to the top of the peak, had a celebratory half of a very small quesadilla and headed down.
Miles 36.8 - 47: The large downhill sections were a nice break from the sustained climbs, but I was experiencing such an intense burning sensation on the bottoms of my feet that I was only able to run .2 miles at a time before needing to hike. I still to this day do not know why they were in such pain, as I did not get any blisters.
I would run until the pain was too severe to continue and go back to hiking. I repeated this over and over.
Breaking the 40 mile barrier provided a great mental boost that was much needed, especially with everyone that I led the entire race passing me on the downhill. I probably would not have made it through all of the
climbs on the main divide fire road without that boost. I was so mentally drained that I even
left my water, bottle full of ice water, on a table at an aid station and did not fill my hydration pack. I started to feel very dehydrated, although I'm sure it was mostly in my head. I was so over this race......mentally physically emotionally..... At least I was blessed with a nice sunset over the clouds.
Miles 47 - 50: I was greeted down the trail by my friend Jessica, who was working the Trabuco aid station. She jokingly offered to take over for me in the last few miles. I was definitely not in a joking mood at mile 47...I somehow flipped a switch in my head, blocking out all my pain receptors. I skipped getting aid,
and flew down the remaining 3 mile hill, passing 5 people in the process. A few of them asked me if I was feeling better now. I told them no.... "I just want to be done with this," as I ran by.
It was a great feeling to finish strong and an even better feeling of being able to stop. There was a big cheering crowd as I finished, and the RD shook my hand, placed a medal around my neck , and congratulated me on finishing..
I walked over to the chair that was kindly offered by my friend Trasie, I sat down, my body shut down, my joints locked up, and I got a bad chill.
I had no sense of accomplishment, just an overwhelming feeling of happiness to be done.
The finish line festivities were by far the best of any ultra I had been too. A home cooked meal was being prepared by the RD's daughter in both vegan and meat varieties I had a veggie burger and some soup before hobbling back to the car. Once the chills went away, we left the race.
12 hours 40 minutes 4 seconds
79th out of 117 finishers and almost 170 starters.
It is time for a temporary break from Ultras. I hope to come back stronger, injury free and mentally stronger when I do.