|Runner Arms = T-Rex Arms|
|No Thank You|
|There can be only one|
Towards the top of Picket we ran through a section that actually looked familiar. This turned out to be the section of a trail that we had rerouted around a huge pond that had flooded a 100 yard section of the course. The lack of the rain this past week made the work almost entirely unnecessary as the "pond" had receded and was little more than a large puddle. At least I got to wield the MacLeod solo.
Following this we turned up a pretty steep climb to top out and then descended two miles along a forest service road passing streams, little waterfalls and a few hikers. Thankfully after a mile or so of slightly boring road running we turned back onto a nice piece of single track, passed more mountain streams, a few ponds and then dropped down into the first aid station back at camp moran. I ran into Danny as he was on his way out and noticed he had ditched his jacket and was now running in a short sleeve with some gloves. We said hi and good luck as we passed and I decided that ditching the jacket would be an excellent idea. The volunteers were lively and extremely helpful. They made a point of asking each runner what they needed in our hydration systems, filled everything up while we stuffed our faces with cookies and made sure we were all feeling okay. After an abbreviated stop I took off back across the grass field, gave words of encouragement to all the runners that were making their way down to the aid station and proceeded to enjoy the next couple miles of fairly flat, soft running. This was not to last...
|The easier section of the climb|
After what seemed like an eternity I finally reached the top, tentatively increased my pace to a jog on the short flat and then cut loose on the downhill. This turned out to be a huge mistake. Metering out your effort is one of the most important aspects of ultrarunning. You cannot outrun your stomach, quads, lungs or any other piece of necessary gear during the race. In this case I'm not sure what I pushed too hard but my body crashed out out about halfway down the hill. I went from a 6.5-7 minute per mile pace to about 8.5-9.0 minute per mile on technically easy single track. I really wish I would've held onto the faster pace but I just haven't trained my hill legs enough to maintain my earlier pace. After this we came down to mountain lake and ran the length of it.
|Where is the lake?|
|To Constitution and beyond!|
|The face of an Ultrarunner?|
The aid station offered a large variety of food though I didn't really feel like eating. That being said I decided to muscle down a small piece of PBJ, some chips, a pretzel, some mountain dew and an orange slice and then shot down the trail like a rocket without any jet fuel. My quads were blown, the trail though not particularly exposed to switch back repeatedly and offered many opportunities to trip and roll a hundred feet or so down a nice steep hill so I took it super easy and just tried to keep a pace that I felt I could maintain over the next 8-10 miles. Eventually I came to a flat section and started running with a few fellow racers. I settled in behind a tutu girl and a tall dude that looked like he was getting ready to hibernate in his pain cave. We ended up dropping the guy who was struggling and then followed the pace set by the tutu girl who I would end up finishing with. Lisa was super fun to run with, seemed to have words of encouragement for everybody we passed or passed us, and kept me going over the last 1.5 hours of the course despite me wanting to curl up and sleep on several of the moss covered boulders. We chatted a bit which helped pass the time, almost turned our ankles on several occasions and all around had a fantastic time running the gradual uphill and the descent back down to cascade lake. (At one point I tripped, caught myself, watched my left calf cramp and then ease up all within the space of about a half of a second. A severe cramp would've ended my day...) At this point we ran into a volunteer that said we were "almost" there. It turns out "almost" is a pretty subjective term.
|The finish line...about an hour after|
|At the finish|
In conclusion...this is the first Ultra I've run that actually felt significantly more difficult than a marathon. I'm pretty sure that is a bit of an understatement...
31 Miles, 8000 feet of elevation gain, Shower, Hot Tub, Dinner at Allium...Great Day. Onward to recovery...and Longer Races.