Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Skyline 50 Report...and Lessons Learned The Hard Way.

 Right before the start of the Skyline 50.   Excited, but COLD!  Hence...the crazy moeben sleeves and strained look on my face!  We're not in AZ anymore!  HaHa!
There's nothing like racing in 60 degrees, slightly overcast temps after spending months and months waking up at 4:00 in the morning just to beat the sun, get some decent miles in before triple digits hit, while desperate for the only shade available-- a little sliver offered by a giant saguaro cactus!   Skyline 50 in Castro Valley, CA offered me every opportunity to kick some major ass--cool temps, soft trail, and a fast course.    When my brother, his girlfriend, and Kelly brought me to the start at 6:30 in the morning, it was so cold, I was wearing two sweatshirts and track pants.  I huddled over a little bonfire with some other runners and shivered with anticipation.  At the race start, I overheard two other women talking about the qualifying time needed for a spot on the North Face Endurance Championship Team for Dec and how they'd better break 5 hours.  After listening in on their race strategy, I realized I'd probably be stupid not to follow their plan, since I had every intention of gaining one of those spots for the team.  The first three miles of the race was a rolling paved bike path around Lake Chabot, which I was dreading.  My left foot, right below my middle toe and the ball of my foot had been bothering me for a few days and I was worried the pavement would irritate it more.  I was wearing my NB Minimus, which I knew would be fine on the softer forest trails and even the fire roads, but pavement?  Yikes!  I scrambled to get a spot near the sides of the path, where I could run on what little, narrow dirt I could find.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, I was moving fast.  Maybe too fast.  But I got those three miles done with a huge sigh of relief.  The next several miles were pretty hilly--lots of wide dirt fire roads with glimpses of the lake and some canyon country below.  The fog was still pretty thick though, and there were times I couldn't see anything but the road before me and the trees above me.  I cruised at a decent pace, keeping my two "competitors" in sight at all times.  We passed each other several times before hitting the single track forest trail near mile 12.  It was here that I felt most relaxed.  I was ahead of the girls and it was quiet.  The trail was soft , but challenging, with a massive amount of poison oak to keep me alert and constantly  watching my footing.  My speed was decent, I hit my goal of under 2:50 at the halfway point, decided to dig into my drop bag at the aid station and switched to my NB 101's since my left foot was starting to cramp up, and took two hammer gels along with some endurolytes.   I left the aid station feeling strong and excited to head into the gorgeous redwood forest.  About 5 minutes later, trouble started brewing in my stomach.  I took a ginger chew, hoping to settle things.  The vomiting started a few minutes later.  Frustrated, I tried to back track and drink more water.  I tried another gel, then another ginger chew.  Nothing stayed in my stomach.  Not even the water.  My back started seizing up from all the vomiting, and I was reduced to walking.  Several people passed me, offering salt tabs, electrolytes, and ginger.  Someone alerted the aid station a couple miles ahead and one of the volunteers met me about a quarter mile from station to assess my situation.  I was desperately trotting at this point and told her that I thought I might need to stop.  At the aid station, the volunteers gave me pepto, sprite, and more ginger and asked if I thought I could make it to the next aid station, 4 miles away.  I thought I could and went on my way. My back stopped seizing up, but I continued vomiting off and on for those next few miles.   At the next aid station, I drank some ginger ale and mixed it with some endurolyte fizz and this seemed to do the trick.  I was able to get back to my cruising pace and pass several of the people who had passed me in the forest.  Still, I had lost a good 90 minutes and came through the finish line happy to have finished, but frustrated with my time.

Having spent three months building up to race form, it was definitely disappointing that I had come to a point of almost DNFing the race.  But I certainly learned a lot from my experience at Skyline--#1 being that I simply can't be influenced by other's race strategies.  If I had stuck with my plan, MY strategy, instead of following those two women at the start, I probably would have run a great race and hit my goal and qualifying time for North Face.  I know I waited far too long into the race to fuel and hydrate properly and I certainly paid for it!  

No regrets though.  The course was beautiful and so different from my training grounds that I was mostly in a state of bliss, even after it was all said and done.  I met some amazing people, including several incredible volunteers who certainly went out of their way to help me out and cheer me on even in  my worst moment!   And though I didn't qualify for the championship team, I can still enter the championship race in Dec.  Another beautiful northern CA course---how can I resist?

1 comment:

  1. No DNF, that is awesome! Glad you stopped vomiting! Not good.

    I can't wait to do my first ultra! I am really enjoying reading your posts!