Sunday, June 2, 2013

North Face 50k Endurance Challenge - Washington, DC Race report

So the time had arrived for the North Face 50k (Washington, DC) in Sterling, VA and I had been looking forward to running my second 50k since last December where I ran the Seashore Trail 50k.  About a month ago, I ran the Blue Ridge marathon as a training run for this race.  Well, just so happened the BR marathon put a little more of a hurting on my right knee than I wanted.  So much so, I ran my last 20 two weeks and hardly ran until race day...Not exactly the optimum situation going into an unknown 50k.  Additionally, I have been getting treatment for tendonitis in the knee for two weeks and it was just starting to feel better.  It didn't really bother me much on the short runs so I figured I would give it a shot.  Furthermore, all my long runs have been in cool to moderate temps.  So I am watching the weather all week and they are calling for 90+ on Saturday, the day of the race.  So the day finally gets here and Heather, the boys, and me head down to Sterling, VA to this parking lot where the buses will pick us up.  As usual, I am always paranoid of being late, so we get here at the crack ass of dawn.  This is a picture of me putting Vaseline on my feet before we get on the bus:

I'll skip the pic of me lubing up the other areas of the body....So after 5 runs to the dumper in the parking lot where it is flowing out of my ass like water, I get on the bus and head over to the start with the family.

We get there and yep, you know it, have to hit the dumper again:

The race is at 7am so we got there a tad early but not knowing the bus schedule, I didn't want to take any chances.  After some pics from heather, meeting up with another runner friend of mine, Eric, we finally get going.  
This is a pic of me moments from starting....

and we are off:

As I mentioned before, the temperature when I woke up at 3am was 70F so that told me this was going to be a hot one.  I figured I was fit enough to handle it - didn't matter how fit you would be fighting the heat all day.  Heather and I debated/argued about whether to take the handheld or the Nathan hydration pack.  I said I would run with the handheld until mile 12.7 and then pick up the Nathan pack when I got to Great Falls Aid Station (AS).  Conversely, she wanted me to use the hydration pack the whole way.  Well, I did it my way and paid a dear price.  The first 5.7 miles was uneventful and the pace was dictated by whomever was leading the single track trail.  Meaning, you really couldn't pass people that well without expending a ton of energy.  I drank a little water for the first 5.7 -  Here is some pictures of me during the first 5.7 miles of the race:

The guy on my left was Juan, some random I met during the race.

We took it out slow b/c you knew it was going to be a scorcher. 

During this run to Great Falls AS, we would be mostly on single track terrain.  At one point, we were going through 5 foot tall grass and a woman and horse came through and I am thinking WTF lady...there was absolutely no room to run, you had zero room on the trail to go left or right...just one of the many odd things we saw during the run...This lengthy run across some difficult terrain would put my small handheld bottle to the test.  We passed some great views the Potomac river, a beautiful house on your right, and thats about it.  About ~2 miles from the Great Falls AS, you got it, I ran out of water.  Here is a few shots about 2-3 miles out from the 12.7 mile marker:

Where is that Aid Station again?

Did someone turn on the heater, damn.

Only 20+ more miles to go :(

It wasn't the end of the world... however, it was starting to get quite toasty out most likely reaching the upper 80s and finally reached 94 later that day.  I finally got to Great Falls AS and heather had the Nathan pack ready.  This is a picture of the Great Falls AS:

What you didn't see is the other AS down the road so essentially, there were two AS.  The 50 milers do the Great falls loop 3 times where as the 50k runners do it only once (thank god).  So they put an AS for the 50 milers up close so that each time they came through, they could hit the other one first.  I hit both, why not :) Later, when I would return, it would be packed with people watching the race and ambulances.  During this section of the run, you would see people holding hands, bike riding and I'm thinking, its to damn hot to be out there.  And when I say there were people out on the Great falls course, I meant a shit load of people, enough to make it tough to run.  Add in the 50 milers, 50k and marathon runners all looping back, it was packed.  By the time I got to Great Falls AS, the 12.7 mile marker, it had taken me 02:23:01.  Yes, you read it right, that was crazy slow but the heat was starting to make itself know and lack of water was beginning to have an effect.  So after some oranges, a pretzel, and water from Heather, I was off through the Great Falls loop which dragged us up and down some pretty vicious hills.

 This is me heading out from the 12.7 mile marker at Great Falls AS.

Here are some pictures of those 8 miles from Great Falls and back...As you can see, very little running was being done here...

Now where is the damn trail at?

Are they F'ing serious?

This is just straight bullshit :)

Additionally, it felt like we ran the entire length of Great falls itself.  I would finally get back to Heather and Dora at the 19.3 mile mark - time here was a snails pace 3:56:45 - 4 hours to run 20 miles, easily the slowest I have ever run in my life.  Here are some picks of me at the 19.3 mile mark:
 This is me strapping on my Nathan pack - thank you heather.
  At this point, its boiling hot out!

 Heather asked me how I am feeling, this is the universal kids sign for "just ok" - however, I felt like burnt ass.  I could only smile knowing how shitty I really felt.

 At this point, I was wondering, can I actually make it back another 12 miles?  The heat was in full effect as it was almost 11am...I hung out there for about ~4 minutes getting my pack filled with ice and water..then, I was off - Thank you Dora for giving me that goo pack and putting ice on my head...It saved my ass about 6 miles from there.  At this point, I just focused on getting to the next aid station which was the Fraser AS, almost 7 miles away.  It took FOREVER to get there and by this time, we were in full run/walk mode...the hills were so brutal and the heat so hot, I really questioned even being able to walk up the hill.  Throw in the pain in my right knee which would surface if I would run more than 10-15 minutes at a time, it was a tough go.  Just a quick note about the right knee, the tendonitis starting kicking in around mile 8 of the race so I almost felt I could run hard even if I wanted to...The uphills didn't really cause any pain, just the downhills.  About 2 miles from Fraser AS, alot of runners had run out of water at this point.  I would joke with the runners I was with and tell them, they moved this Aid Station further in.  Another runner i had been running with actually broke both his big toes during a that happens, I still really didn't understand it as my brain was barely functioning at this point.  It really did feel like it was longer than 7 miles to get there.  The amount of bitching that that went on during this run was unreal, especially this one where the course was long and the heat and humidity were miserable.  Me, being a middle of the pack runner can only speak from what its like to run my speed.  I finally made it to Fraser AS and refilled up, had a brownie, which I ate, several cups of Gatorade, half of salted potato and I was off to the next AS which was 5k away.  Meanwhile, people were getting checked out by the Vienna paramedics and some pulled out of the race.  Some just walked in from the 5.7 mile mark...who knows how long it took them..Oh, just wanted to mention that at each AS, the volunteers were pouring cold water over everyone's head....that was an absolute godsend...By the time I got here, I only had to go 1.67 more miles and I knew I could crawl that far...By this time, the right knee was so sore, i could only run in spurts.  Finally made it in with a time of 07:08:34 at 2:09:52PM...These were just absolute sick conditions...Here is a picture of me coming in and finishing:

This was me and some guy named Don who was in the Navy...we both ran the last 3-4 miles in..

Better yet, here are some shots of me finishing the race:

Like I just won the race or something, ha!

At this point, Heather was screaming, "finish strong" and I am thinking, woman you are crazy..this isn't an 8k in 50 degree weather!!

Here are some pics of me after the race

Don't let the smile fool you!
and here:

All in all, it was a tough ass race and took everything I had to finish....the time sucked but in races sometimes you are racing to finish and that is what happened here.  Now I have to rest that right knee and see how it rebounds next week when I test it very easy!  My next race is the Vail mountain Climb on July 6th, 2013 which does a 7.5 mountain run from 8500 feet to 10,200..yikes.  This is the first day of my vacation and looked like fun...Bring on the misery, yes, its an addiction.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, wow, wow! Greg and I are very impressed by your perseverance. We enjoyed reading this and think you are badass! Congrats on finishing in such tough conditions.