So why all the plus signs after the 50k title, you might ask? Give me a bit and I will get to it.
A friend of mine from our On Cloud/Charlotte Running Company Race Team suggested that I come out for the Stevest 50K Trail Run. Since I needed a long run this past weekend, and the prospect of doing a solo long run sounded less enticing than running with other runners, I told him to count me “in”.
To commit to the run, I went out to Facebook, marked myself as attending the event, and noted the whopping high entry fee of $12.99.
The run is held on the Rocky River Trail near Harrisburg which is on private land owned by this guy Steve. Apparently, this Steve doesn't ride mountain bikes or run trails, but finds his passion in building trails. What's not to like. Right?
I followed my navigator's directions and find my way to the parking area a few minutes after 7 AM on Saturday morning. To my surprise, I found few familiar faces in the crowd: Martin, Tim, Adam, just to name a few.
I signed in and got my wrist band #46.
Nothing left to do but put on my shoes, add a little sun screen, and grab my hydration vest.
A couple of a great race directors gave us some last minutes instructions. Among them that this was a 3 lap run. Ok, I noted from the sign that 1 loop was 14 miles. By my calculation, 3 laps come up to a bit more than 50k. Thus, the reason for my additional “+” signs.
But who knows? May be they had shorten the course. Wrong!!!!
The first lap took me nearly 2 ½ hours. My Garmin was nearly to 13 miles. By the time, I finished the second lap, I am already marching toward 26 miles, and I have not even started the 3rd lap. In fact, I was seriously thinking of quitting after the second lap. I was out of energy because I had not fueled well for a this type of distance.
As I set there on the ground contemplating getting in my car and leaving; someone offered my a Popsicle. It was like the most delicious thing ever. Even better, it was cold. I needed to cool off, and I needed energy. The Popsicle helped!
After several minutes, I rolled over and pushed myself back to my feet. I stuff a bunch of M&M into my mouth, scooped up a hand full to eat along the way, drank several sips of slushy coke and finally headed back out. I felt a bit light headed and weak but better than when I finished 2nd lap. Besides, I wasn't a quitter. I had to finish.
I don't know the exact amount of time but it was 2 or 3 miles before my energy levels came up again. At first, I just ran the easy flat sections. Then, I started running on the flats and downhills. I pretty much followed this pattern for the rest of the run. I would walk the uphills and run the downhills and flats. Those last 14 miles took me a while, and I was worried that I might not make the 6 PM cut off.
I wish I could give you an exact time but I hadn't expected to be out for such an extended period of time. My Garmin gave up some where after 8 hours. Best guess, my time was about 9 and 5 minutes for about 42 miles.
Of the roughly 40 to 50 people to start, only 3 guys and 2 ladies finished. Martin passed me shortly after I started the 3rd lap and was soon out of sight. Tim caught me during the 3 lap but as I felt better I reeled him back.
Had I known it was 42 miles, I might not have run it or at the very least, I would have planned my eating a little better. But I will say the experience was invaluable. I am saving my thoughts about fueling for another post here soon so look for it.
As for the course, I give Steve major kudos. He has built some nice trails. For the most part, the trails zig zap with in a few feet of each other. Someone might pass by me going in the opposite direction only a few feet away but by the trail, they could be more than a mile or two ahead of me. Of course, there are plenty of rocks and roots. I took two falls one on the left side and once on the right side. The last fall left a huge gash across my right palm and blood dripping from my hand when I rolled down over the bank. Fortunately, there was plenty of mud and sweat to coat over it. If there a section that I least enjoyed, it was the gorge section. These were near vertical drops to a small wooden bridge only to be followed by a near vertical climb out. On my first first lap, I lost a layer skin from my hands on the decent. By the 3rd lap, I developed a system of sliding down on my “but”. It wasn't easy but at least I can always buy a new pair of shorts. Aside from the gorge section, there are no crazy steep climbs and 99% of the course very runnable. Just keep an eye for the rocks and roots.
To all of the runners out there on race morning, I appreciate you welcoming me into your fold and letting me participate. As hard as this run was, it was an awesome experience and one that I will not soon forget.
The Cool Down Runner