If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Peek Inside the Ultra World

Breakfast is served

Kathleen was up early Saturday morning to get in a run before we headed out to Buffalo Creek for the North Fork 50.  She was able to get a nice 7 mile run in, while I took my time getting up and getting ready for the day.  She got chased by a doe on the trail, adding adventure to her run with graphic images of being trampled by her hooves!!  When she got back to the house, these guys were having a buffet in our Xeric garden.  We have been having more deer activity lately after several months of them not being around much.
Strawberry Jack Trail

After a nice drive up to the Pine Valley Ranch Open Space, it was time to get focused for pacing our friend Tim at the NF50.  He was able to pick up a pacer at mile 30.5 where the 50k runners split off for the finish and we would head out for a second loop of 19.5 miles.  Kathleen and I tried to stay in the shade at the trail junction as much as possible as it was already getting hot.
Preparing for the run
Game On!

Kathleen captured a great shot here!  Tim was just the second runner through the split - both 50 mile runners.  Uh-oh, the heat is on.  Literally.  It had already reached the low 80's by the time we headed out.  For some of you that is not much, but above 7000' with the overhead sun beating on you, it is a UV beat down.  The start of the second loop is also a repeat of the worst climb of the day where the race started.
Up, up, up they go...First set of switchbacks

In the photo above, Tim was giving me the run down:  "I have just spent 30 miles in a solid second place and I don't want to lose it."  As he was saying this, I was "force feeding" him the first round of mandatory food/salt intake.  He has some good stories about how I was nagging him and they are probably true - gotta keep him running, right?

At some point, about 4 miles into the second loop, I started to have some red flags.  Answers had changed to grunts and Tim was having some discomfort in his hips when we tried to start running after hiking the steeps.  Not good.  It is strange how your body can feel great one minute, and then things incrementally go haywire.  That is unfortunately what started to happen to Tim.  I felt bad because it was nothing I could help with. On top of physical issues, it was now in the low 90's.  By the time we hit mile 36 - 37, the goal changed to finishing the race.  The next 4 hours would be about making sure Tim stayed nourished (you can read all about that routine on his blog) and continued to move toward the finish.  As time ticked away, Kathleen was doing her own "pacing" - back and forth at the finish, worrying that one of us was on Flight for Life headed for Denver....

At the last aid stop, we ran into Ace, who had unfortunately missed the time cut.  I felt really bad for him as he headed down the trail back toward the finish.  At this point, I asked Tim if he could run the 2.8 mile descent to the finish and he was up for a try.  I let him run in front now so he could see what was left in the tank.   For everything that went wrong, for as bad as the conditions were, and for being in a really dark spot for quite a few miles, Tim really dug deep and drug himself to the finish.  He finished 6th and I was so proud when he ran through the chute to the applause of all the folks hanging out for post race festivities.  And it was a darn good thing we ran the descent - 7th place was 7 minutes behind us - whew!
I'll never run a 50 miler again!

That is a direct quote, repeated several times.  Two days removed, and some reflective time later, I had a nice chat with Tim.  "Maybe I'll look at Run Rabbit Run 50 mile in Steamboat in September - what do you think Steve?"  I don't know quite what the Ultra-bug is, but he has it.  I have not yet been infected, but I will say this:  there was a nice vibe hanging out with all the folks at the finish pavilion - lots of camaraderie and genuine good people enjoying their "scene".  It was great to be part of it for a day - Thanks Tim!

19.5 miles, 3500' climb, La Sportiva Wildcats and Drymax socks kept the feet happy.
Good Times!
Driving home through Woodland Park - Nice Pikes Peak view from the back side!

Sunday Recovery Run
More takers at the salad bar

After almost 5 hours in the baking sun on Saturday, we decided to get up early Sunday and run before the heat.  Not knowing what the legs would have after Saturday, we stayed close to home and ran at Ute Valley Park.  Mama and her playful little fawn were already making short work of our newest blooms....
Stopped by the arch
Group photo with that "Hill" in the background

It was a pretty non-spectacular run other than the fact that we both actually felt good, albeit a bit tired.  So we kept a little slower tempo and got a nice 10 miles in.  While we were out running UVP, there were a bunch of folks on "The Hill" - Pikes Peak that is, running the Barr Trail Mountain Race.  Lots of good stuff on their page and they have cool results with splits that show just how SLOW you are trudging up the mountain!  

Shoes - K Saucony Guide Trail
S - Asics Trabuco

Monday Ride
Ride day with HILLS for Kathleen on Monday

Happy Trails!


Jill said...

Wow, my heart goes out to Tim, what an amazing accomplishment in those harsh conditions! I have nothing but admiration and respect! I'm glad the ultra bug left my system some time ago...maybe one day but no time soon. I hear good things about Steamboat 50M, at least it should be cooler and Steamboat is such a gorgeous place for a little weekend visit, perhaps?? Huge pat on the back, Steve, for bringing him in and getting him to the finish safe and sound. And that little baby fawn is just TOO cute - I guess mama is teaching it where the tastiest morsals in town are!

Jennifer said...

Wow, what a great story about the ultra. Those conditions sound so harsh. Tim was blessed to have you guys with him. And great job on your runs, the pictures of the animals in your garden are funny, that would drive me crazy, but then again my blueberry bushes apparently keep all the all the neighborhood birds fat and healthy.

Johann said...

Wow, great post and report! Well done Tim! Stunning photos! Thanks for sharing this. I was talking to a friend yesterday about how we go from feeling great to feeling awful in a matter of moments. We were discussing what we can do to see warning signs sooner.

Ace said...

Nice report, and good work pacing! Seems like a good example of a pacer being an important part of the team. Also great to see you guys again! Always fu.

Indi said...

Wow..nice work! I've just started running trails with a local group and love it. I volunteered at my first ultra last weekend and it was amazing to see how this becomes more mental than physical after awhile.

Danni said...

Awesome. Sounds like quite the challenge.

ajh said...

Coming in 6th is awesome! And he's already doing another one in Sept.??? Impressive. Will you pace him again if he asks? That was no small feat in itself - 20 miles in hot weather on a hard trail!!!

As usual great photos. I enjoy your blog even more now that I have met both of you and have a slight idea of the areas you are writing about! It is nice and cool here today but still high humidity! I got 8 miles in a new place due to road construction. Not a run I would choose often.

Slomohusky said...

Really nice report guys.

You know I say this will be my last one (HM race) for awhile right after ever race. Yet, 2-3 hours later - okay when is my next one!

fun report! thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Shoot, I owe that finish entirely to you. I truly appreciate being able to share the day with you both. Thanks much and I'll look forward to the next one you run with me! Tim

Julie said...

Congrats to you Steve and Tim too! Way to hang tough and get it done:) I have nothing but respect for the Ultra athletes...not an easy thing to be:) Great photos! Those deer look right at home in your yard:)

Kathleen, you always look so flipping awesome....and I really mean it:)

Kathleen, I was wearing an Asics running singlet and a matching skirt. I picked up my race packet at the Sports Basement and they were giving a 20% discount to the half marathon runners:) I really liked it and never wore it before my half....thank God that it was comfy!

Anonymous said...

You gotta love summer heat, I sure do! Enjoy!

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

K was chased by a deer?! It sounds scary. Glad K is fast.

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