Thursday, July 5, 2018

Big Butt 50k Ultra, Lancaster, SC

Ok, I think that I have become a full fledged idiot runner now. On Independence Day, I ran Claude Sinclare's 50K Ultra in Lancaster, SC.

What make this crazy; you may ask? Well, just run a 5k in the July heat and humidity. How tough is it? Now, you need to multiple it by 10 x 5k back to back. That's crazy on another level. It is July? July is hot, July is humid, That's crazy? Right?

Shortly after the race, I turn on the ignition in my car to check the temperate. It was 95 degrees in the sun. There were only two thoughts on my mind then – I am glad that I am done, and where is the water.

For a race director, Claude has it easy. The starting line is not a stones through from his front porch. The course that he setup is a certified 10k so 5 loops make up the 50k distance. Each lap, we run by his house so our laps are tracked. So while he sets in the shade of the tree in his yard, we are running up and down the road in front of his house. Think about it; we paid for the privilege to do it.

So how was my race? Well, I arrived at Claude's house around 5 AM, and I wasn't the first even the first one to arrive yet everyone was up.

At 6 AM, I was packed up and ready to go. Claude gave us a few pre-race instructions about the course, and then fired his starter pistol.

One guy headed out quick. He was too quick for me. I settled in to chat with these two guys for the first couple of miles. The lead guy was soon out of sight.

We chatted for a while then I got ahead of them. From then on, I was solo for the rest of the race. Solo, yes, but not alone. With a loop course, I was seeing the other runners along the way which really helped. We gave each other encouragement and a reason to keep moving.

For the first lap, I was on high alert. Claude had placed signs telling us where to turn, but still I had to pay attention and look for them.

On the northern end of the course, we ran by the memorial. On the south end of the course, we ran through the state park and the camp ground. One note about the camp ground, there is a wicked hill coming out of it. The hill is not very long but steep, it is.

Finishing up the first lap, I already felt over dressed. My Charlotte Running Company Race Team Jersey was soaked and sticking to me. On the bright side, the sun hadn't crested over the horizon that I could see. I dropped the hat that I expected to ware for the entire race at my car. It was too hot, and I need all the heat being generated from my head to escape.

The second lap felt easier. I settled into a comfortable pace and went to work churning out laps.

By the completion of my 3rd lap, I knew two things. My jersey was coming off. I needed air flowing over my chest, and I was dropping my water vest replacing it with my hand held water bottles. 

During the first 2 laps, I turned down the bottle water being offered to me, but starting my 4th lap, I knew I needed it.

The moment that I touched it, I felt the cold. I immediately placed it on top of my head and exhaled. Anything cold felt good.

Within the next mile, I had down the entire bottle. Normally if I did something like this during a run, you could hear the water sloshing in my stomach. I never felt it or heard it.

By the end of the 4th lap, I felt like I was in a pressure cooker. The sun was up in the sky, and I could not seem to find enough shade on the course.

My pace was slowing but not drastically. I kept telling myself. If I cannot endure 50k in the summer time heat, how am I going to endure running 50 miles this fall. I kept pushing forward.

Starting the 5th lap, I took another bottle of water. Easily I downed it over the next mile. I also continued sipping from my hand-helds.

My pace was slowing a bit more, and I could feel my hamstring wanting to cramp. As I thought about it later, I was only drinking water straight up. I should have prepared some Nunn to help with electrolights and sodium. Definitely, it will be on my ticky list for the 50 miler.

I finished the upper half the course and came by Claude's house. I so wanted to just be finished, but I still had roughly 2 more miles to run.

I thought – “it is only two more miles. You can do this”. In to the Start Park for the final time, around the camp ground for the final time, and up the wicked little hill for the final time, I was checking off the small victories to keep my body moving.

But between ½ and ¾ from the finish, my hamstrings finally balked on me. Not one but both of them. I came to a slow awkward walk, but I kept moving. I was close to the finish, and I was close to breaking 4 hours which is something else that I wanted to do.

For nearly two minutes, I walked and massaged my hamstrings. My walk definitely looked funny as I was walking my heals with my toes pointed up in the air. I don't know why but it felt good to stretch those hamstrings.

Time was slipping away if I wanted to break 4 hours, so almost as if on que, I felt my hamstrings release and relax. I don't know why. I attempted to run. At first, I started easy. I was expecting them to balk again, but they didn't so I ran little faster. Then, I ran faster. In fact, I covered the last half mile nearly as fast as I had when was starting the race. Makes me wonder if I had slowed and walked a bit at the start the 5th lap would I have been able to run the entire lap faster. No way to know now, but it did cross my mind.

And, yes, I did break 4 hours with a time of 3 hours 58 minutes and 54 seconds. I finish second overall.

Like I said, I must be an idiot for running a 50k in the south in July.

Claude is an awesome host, and I enjoyed his race. Not sure if I run his race next year. I am not getting any younger and Lancaster doesn't have many cool July days.

The Cool Down Runner

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