Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Squamish 50 DNF

DNF, mile 42.  

There, I got it out of the way.  I got pulled at mile 42, as I was ~12:20 into the race, with 8 miles to go to a 14 hour time limit.  I like reading other peoples DNF race reports for lessons learned, so here's what I attribute mine to… not making a pace chart/ understanding the course, bad knee, hot weather, and (very minor) aid stations time longer than expected, not knowing aid station nutrition.

Regrets:  Not enjoying the beauty of the course more, not saying "thanks" to more volunteers.  

Start:  We gathered at 6:15 AM at Squamish Oceanfront for the inaugural Squamish 50, a "reboot" of the Stormy 50 Mile.  Same general area, but a different course.  Gary Robbins paid tribute to the old race as it's founder stripped off multiple shirts dating back to 2001.  Gary said "follow the pink ribbons.  The other ribbons are not the course.  And a white ribbon is LAVA.  Don't cross.  And we've extended the cutoff at Quest University (mile 26) from 1 pm to 2:15 pm, with a hard stop of exiting at 2:30".

10K:  And then we were off, weaving through the flatlands for 10K.  The course was well marked and very flat.  I had a brand new Paul Oakenfold Essential Mix to amuse me. I rambled along at around 11 minutes  a mile, thinking how easy and non-technical this was (ominous foreboding sounds cued).  The course had ~10K feet of elevation, and the first 12% had maybe 500 feet.  Which meant all the elevation was still to come.  While I stopped to adjust my pack (a scoobie pack had fallen out) a female runner with bells on her pack passed me.  Bells?  that would annoy the crap out of me to run with bells for 50 miles! (cue more foreboding)

16.5K:  I turned off the road into trail.  It quickly became rolling and rooty.  As I walked one small uphill, I saw a break in the woods to the river.  In it the break was a hairy hindquarter of an animal that was about bear sized. Oh #$@.  It wasn't just bear sized, it was a bear.  That's why the girl had bells on her pack.  To scare off bells.  I kept running.  (You're reading this, so there was no further bear incidents).  I had much more respect for her wearing bells.  The course split, with one arrow pointing left and one straight.  I turned left and climbed, climbed, climbed to a radio tower where a friendly couple offered me water and said "2 miles all downhill".

20K:  It was not in fact all downhill. I cued my downhill music, but instead it was more technical ups and downs, followed by some relatively flat.  I worried I was off-course, and worried more when suddenly faster runners were whizzing past me.  Had I CUT THE COURSE??  When I arrived to the aid station I learned I was on course.  I was about to do a 5K loop that would run back over the last part I'd just run.  I tried to fill my pack as quickly as possible, but the big cooler seemed to run so slow.  I wished for a liter pitcher which would fill my pack in a flash. 

to 25K:  a fun loop up through the trees.  At one point, my trail paralleled another trail, and I saw another racer, roughly parallel to me.  Was I off course?  No, there was a white ribbon between us.  he was ahead of me by ?? many miles.  So then I stayed  back down to the same aid station.  I was concerned to see the aid station had been partly dismantled, it's awning down and less volunteers.  Uhoh.  I was back of the pack.  

to 30K: I set out strongly for the next station.  Around one lake, then another called "Edith Lake".  I popped out at the next aid station, just as a mess of 4 relay runners finished behind me.  "You're in the wrong place" the aid station volunteers said to the runners behind me.  I asked the aid station volunteers to verify my course direction.  "You've been running at a good pace, you should make sure you go the right way", said a guy sitting at the station.   A sign said "5 miles to next aid station"

to 42K: It was not, in fact, 5 miles to the next aid station.  A fact I only verified after the race.  The runner from the last station caught up with me.  He was running the relay, and his wife had gotten lost for 2+ hours!  Peter said "You have a calm and steady'll finish!"  The two animals on the course were cougars and bears, and I said I'd rather be a cougar.  "A cougar…really?"  Which reminded me of a friend of a friend who was on (yes it's a real site) and said she was 36 instead of 46.  It's dateacougar!  it's okay to be older!

In this section I went by the white ribbon I'd seen on the way to 25K.  If I'd stepped over the one, I would have shaved ~10+K!
This section seemed to last forever, as I kept expecting the aid station to be around the corner.  My knee hurt, and I debated dropping at Quest University.  If I dropped, I could have the whole afternoon to…to what?  There was nothing I'd rather do than be on the trail!  I decided that bad knee and all, I'd rather be out on single track than sitting around watching Olympics.  A long section of technical single track, where I passed another runner.  Finally I popped out at what I thought MUST be the aid station.  Nope, it was a road.  A volunteer said "2 more miles to the aid".  2 more mile???  I'd been out for 2 hours since the last aid station!  Finally I arrived to Quest University at 1:23 pm.  I had to make up time on the 10 mile loop--easy peasy, right? I grabbed new Scoobies and set off.  

to 45K: A climb up on a paved road, than a gravel road.  A quick relay runner easily passed me.  I turned off into a trail.  The faster runners were doing this section as part of a second loop.  I turned a corner, and saw a runner bent over, reapplying Body Glide.  Two guys (and a gorilla) were at the aid station.  They refilled my pack with what I'd thought was Gu2.  Nope!  It was Heed.  My stomach felt sour.  

to 58K:  I climbed and climbed up a forest road, then up single track. I saw the white ribbon dividing, and I knew I would come back down this hill.   Finally at the top, ready for a nice downhill.  More and more technical trails, all helpfully flagged with their mountain biking difficulty "Most Difficult".  Never a smooth stretch where I could let loose.  My knee kept me from going as fast as I wanted to go on the rooty single track. 

to 60K: Back at Quest, it was 5:20.  It wasn't looking good for me finishing.  Ken (an Alaskan campmate) and everyone else was being picked up at a van to drive back to the camp.  The sun was still bright.  I wasn't ready to give up.  I would go down fighting.  Back down the road again, back to the Gorilla Aid Station, trying to make up as much time as I could.  The hill I'd walked before I ran now.  

63K:  I ran the loop as fast as I could, but when I got to the aid, it was 5:40.  I had 17k to go and 90 minutes.  I didn't mind finishing after the cutoff.  I wanted to do my 50 miles!  But though it was still sunny, it would get dark sooner in the trees.  The Gorilla Guys had been told to pull me, unless "I knew the course well".  I didn't know the course well.  I didn't want people worrying about me out in the dark.  So I DNF'd.

The Gorilla Guys gave me a ride back--it turned out that Mike & Ran (their actual names) had been on Ellie Greenwood's crew with Coach Ken.  And knew Pano from Alaska Running Camp.  Small world!  

Things to improve on:
1) Poor planning leads to poor execution.  I didn't do a pace chart or write down aid stations.  I didn't have a clear idea of where they were, or how I was doing.  I had undue stress. 
2) Lay out my race outfit AT HOME.  The night before I realized I hadn't brought a sports bra!  Luckily there was a Walmart by my hotel.
3) I wish I'd spent more time to enjoy the scenery and the day.
4) Being nicer to volunteers, even when frustrated with looping course.
5) Don't drink Heed during races.

Things I did well:
1) New Oakie tracks on iPod
2) Kept going as far as I could
3) Plenty of S-Caps

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