I finally finished another UltraMarathon. Not that my "performance" was anything to brag about to someone who has struggled to finish a long race. This "race" was a struggle from the start. This is my first finish in an ultra since my PR at Comrades in 2002. I DNF'd at Comrades in 2003 and 2008, and didn't attempt ultras any in between. Earlier this year I registered but DNS Can Lakes 50.

I had no cramps during or after the race. I have been taking chelated potassium and I also took 1 salt stick salt capsule about every hour during the race. Who knows which measure, or the combination, is responsible for the absence of cramps, but it's a good thing!

I planned to consume 1 Clif bar, 1 Crank e-Gel, 5 lifesavers and 1 salt stick every hour, but the slow pace got me off this. I ended up only using 1.5 Clif bars, 2 e-Gels, and maybe 20 lifesavers. I think I took 5 salt tabs over 8 hours.

Five 10K laps and the electronic timing gave these results:

Lap 1 1:16:36

Lap 2 1:17:37

Lap 3 1:38:03

Lap 4 1:45:05

Lap 5 1:56:41

Total Time 7:54 :02 Average Pace 15:17

Of course, many side trips in the first half of the race had my watch recording this as 31.82 miles, with 8454 feet of climb. This was more climb than the advertised 5500'. Once I got halfway around the third lap, I pretty much had cleared out my digestive track and felt much better.

I did take one tumble, although I didn't turn an ankle the entire day. I was running down a hill and caught a toe, and landed on my left shoulder, rolled completely over and came to rest on my back. My shoulder hurt for a few minutes, as did my ribs, but nothing approaching an excuse to drop out. And believe me, I was searching for an excuse. I could not imagine enduring this kind of knee pain for the time it would take me to finish, once I had begun the third lap. Oddly, I felt terrific finishing the second lap, but as soon as I was out of the finish area, my spirits tanked. At the aid station, Shelley gave me encouragement. I kept going. I was walking up every steep hill. I tried walking down some steep hills, but my quads would not slow me down and I had to run (shuffle?) to keep from going over under the force of my own inertia.

I quickly got out of the finish area after finishing the third lap, and that's when I decided I was in it to finish it. Shelley gave more encouragement at the aid station and I was seriously elated finishing the 4th lap. I knew I would finish or go down trying. And even though I had lots of time, I didn't want to be last, so I ran as much as I could. I ran to keep my average mile pace under 20:00. Seriously slow. And absolutely all I could do.

Here is my race report sent out to the UltraRunning Matters group:

I thank the following:

1. The crossing guard, who was cheerful, there all day, and rang a cowbell for us each lap. She was there to point the way on the way out, and at every road crossing prior to the finish chute. Each lap I looked forward to exchanging a few words with her. My last time by, she rang her cowbell until I was out of earshot.

2. The anonymous good Samaritan motorist cum hiker who was kind enough to give a runner a ride back to the lodges. I came upon a young man who was lying down, delirious, and said his legs really hurt. I didn't think he was too coherent and he agreed to wait there (we were near a road about a mile or two from the finish) and I would send someone back to collect him. I think this was on my third lap, but hypoxia has taken certain knowledge of this from me. At that moment, a man was finishing a walk from the trail and walking to his parked car. I asked if he would take the lad back to the race start and he said he didn't even know there was a race today. I explained that it was near the east and west lodges, but I couldn't give him directions. He agreed and said he thought he knew where that was. Later I checked with officials, and the runner did make it safely back to the start.

3. Tom Perry, who was out there early taking photos and cheering us on. Later, he was helping in the rescue of another fallen runner who had become disoriented.

4. Bill McGovern, who cheered me on as he ran his final lap. It's really cool to have the top runners know who you are, speak to you, and urge you on.

5. Shelley Viggiano who was at the aid station all day. Without her urging me on, I'm certain I would have dropped. Each lap she told me something that made me feel like I was doing OK, even though I didn't want to feel like I was doing OK.

6. The race director and his team. This is a very well run event, low key, and has all the essentials. The course was well marked, electronic timing of each lap, sufficient aid and support, a finisher's medal, and a cold beer at the finish. Who could ask for anything more?

7. Moe Clayton, who got me interested in running this event when I figured my season was over. Also, for driving there and back, and waiting around several hours for me to finish 50K.

A couple things I learned:

    canal towpath training doesn't work for this event.

    if I can remember to keep going through the really bad place, I can get to a better place. Not necessarily good, but better.

UltraRunning folks are really great people. Everyone is friendly, courteous, and encouraging.

It was nice to see friends from the GLER at this event.  My watch took the following data: 7:53:58:57 to run 31.82 miles. 8454' ascent, 8469' descent. (I think the difference explains why I was shorter after the run than I was when I started it?).

2009 Mendon Ponds 50K