Saturday, March 30, 2013

PST-50 Race Update

Well, I finished.  That is what ultras are all about, finishing.  Of course I had to keep reminding myself that as I watched people much older than me pass by.  It is amazing the condition some of these guys are in...well into their sixties and seventies I might add.  And I can't leave out the ladies. Plenty of female runners passed by, too.  And to think, there was a day when women didn't run in any organized foot races.

I kept asking myself, "Should I be going faster?" and then saying, "Remember your training.  You trained to run slow and take walk breaks." Then I would remind myself, "You have two metal plates in your leg and sixteen screws...the doctor didn't even think you would run again.  Just finish!"  Quite honestly, I really wasn't sure how I would hold up, so it was quite an honor just to be able to finish.

But it gets better.  Around the half way point, the predicted (and dreaded) storm came in...apparently even worse than anyone expected.  In fact, the only preparation I had made for the storm was to bring a wind breaker to put over my fleece pullover if it got windy or started to sprinkle.  How could I know I would be pelted in the face by sleet coming at me sideways?  And don't forget it was supposed to be Spring. 

My face froze and went numb.  Soon the sleet turned into giant flakes of snow that were accumulating quickly.  At one point, I felt like I had a brain freeze.  I started thinking I should have worn a hat.  Then I felt my head, and there was a hat there...of sorts.  It was about an inch of snow that had accumulated on top of my hair (thus the brain freeze).

I guess the snow did provide some positives, however.  The landing was a bit softer on my Planters Fasciitis I had acquired a week or two earlier.  My feet and toes were numb so I couldn't feel the usual pain that comes in that region after twenty five miles or so (okay, I felt it plenty, but maybe it would have been worse if had not been for the snow!)

I have got to say, it was pretty terrible to run in when you got to pavement.  Immediately my feet were drenched and soggy in the slushy snow.  Every time I lifted my feet out of the slush, my hip flexors were yelling "Mommy!"  But anyway...

My mind really went to the fact that I was originally going to try the 100-miler.  Many of these guys would still be running ten hours or so after I finished.  By the way, after I finished the snow really started coming down.  On my way home, I could see little lights bobbing up and down in the snowy darkness as the brave runners pressed on.  As it turns out, only five of the sixty 100-milers finished before their race was called off.  I guess there was six, but it turns out one of them was disqualified (I don't know enough details to speak about that situation).

This was my first ultra with Epic Ultras. I will tell you right now, if you are an ultra runner or interested in your first ultra marathon, Eric Steele and his crew have got what it takes to make your experience...well, epic.  Perhaps that is an overused word, but it actually fits here.  One definition of the word "epic" is simply "Extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope."  Well, by that definition, all ultras are epic, and Epic Ultras goes beyond the ordinary in other ways.

Everything that I saw in this race was very well thought out and organized.  Each worker at the aid stations were very helpful and polite.  All provisions seemed to have been made.  I only apologize that I couldn't think clearly enough to communicate well with the workers, but they did a good job interpreting my frozen tongue language.  I hope they understood that I was thanking them profusely for being there.

I plan on being back next year for the 100...and perhaps I won't be able to make it that long before I find myself signing up for another grueling ultra...but let's make it a warm one this time, without the snow!


Mark Berry said...

Rocky, great review of the race. I'm sorry we didn't get to meet, but am pleased to know that you finished under extremely adverse conditions. Of the myriad ultras I've run, the Prairie Spirit course is my favorite and one I will run whenever there is a race in the future (even if it does snow buckets and pelts me in the face with sleet for hours!). Congratulations, my man!

2maryn2 said...

Awesome job, Rocky! I always thought running in cold (snowy) weather would be better than running in the heat, but it's just as bad. . .Numbness doesn't always equal numbness. It just equals a different (sometimes worse) kind of pain! congrats on finishing. You inspire me! :)

Rocky said...

Thanks Mark and Maryn for the kind words, and thanks for reading. Looking forward to whatever is next.

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