Sunday, June 06, 2010
Another Dam 50K Run
It's something like mile 6 of the first loop, and I'm dying. Ladd had set out at a very fast, it seemed to me, pace, and I simply couldn't keep up. I'd been soaked with sweat from the high humidity since mile two, and now we were running through another section of wall-to-wall, thick, deep mud. Between huffs and puffs, I try to tell Ladd to go ahead and leave me. He stubbornly eases up a bit so that I can (barely) continue to keep up, replying that he won't leave me.
Soon we finish the first of four 7.9 mile loops in 68 minutes, and have a breather at the start/finish aid station. Once again I implore Ladd: "Go on without me. I'm just having a bad day today, and simply can't keep this pace up. Don't know if I can finish at all." He continues to insist that we can run together, even if it's slow.
After hanging around a minute or two longer than we should have, we start the second loop. I start very slowly, but within a mile or so, I'm feeling and running much better. Maybe it had something to do with the energy gel, caffeine, electrolytes or gatorade. By the time we reach the middle part of the second loop, I'm running as fast as ever, and feeling just fine. Now Ladd is having to keep up. Even with the slow start, we finish the second loop in 69 minutes.
I'm feeling more and more confident and strong after another couple minutes at the aid station. I start loop three at a fast pace. My theory is that I should go as fast as possible on the parts of the course that are runnable. There are plenty that aren't. Although the mud doesn't seem to get any worse (I'd thought that it would), it certainly isn't getting any better either. The humidity is high, but since there is no sun, it never feels too very hot. Although there have been a couple raindrops, the rain seems to be holding off. The best part is that I'm feeling and running so well. I wish I could understand why and how I could feel so lousy one minute, and so together the next. It's fun to see the other runners, especially Marsha and Charles at a couple points. Ladd is still having a slight amount of difficulty keeping up, but he's still in there with me. It seems best if I stay in the lead however.
The time for loop three is 70 minutes. Once again we spend another couple minutes getting ourselves together before starting loop four. Now we're both starting to feel the accumulated miles in our legs. We slow it down just a bit. All we need to do is get through this one. We pass by the main aid station the first time and see Marsha! Ladd gives her a big smooch and we continue on our journey. Now the hills and mud are getting tougher for me. Ladd takes the lead for the first time in a while. I try mightily to keep up. With about three miles to go, Ladd begins to pull away. I reach the aid station again, and Ladd had already left. That's ok; there are only two miles to go now.
I run slower and slower. I'd come close to falling in the mud about three times, and I'm not going to let it happen now. A time of 4:50, my time at Green Jewel this year, and the time that I think is my best, has been out of the question for a while now. At this point I can beat 5 hours if I just continue running. I do. My finishing time is 4:56.
That last loop was by far the slowest: 1:19. Ladd had finished a minute ahead of me. We ask if I'm the first Grand Master and are told that I am. It turned out later that I wasn't. This isn't too big a deal; there are no prizes or anything. Marsha finishes in a very good time, and was smiling the whole way. Charles had a very rough patch on his third loop, but did well to finish.
Ultrarunners like to play a little joke on their uninitiated "normal" running friends. "Ultras are much easier than marathons," they say. "You run at a much slower pace, and the runs are usually on soft trails that are easy on your body." The they go off and laugh their heads off every time someone naively believes them.
The ride back from Dayton is an uncomfortable one. The four of us talk about the run the whole time. It had been Marsha and Charles' first ultra, and they are justifiably proud. Ladd had also run his best time. And I'm pretty happy myself. I'm mostly happy that it's over!
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