Friday, June 29, 2012

Silver City 30k Race Report by Michelle

Photo credit Lindsay Seals

Ryan and I drove to Silver City Friday night with Derek Call who was doing the 100k with Ryan.  Ryan didn’t want to drive out on Saturday morning since his race started at 5am.  When we arrived, there were people huddled around the campfire at the start/finish line.  So we joined them and chatted for a while.  About 10:30 we called it a night and climbed into the back of the Expedition to go to sleep.  When I got in I realized I hadn’t brought my sleeping pill so I lay there all night listening to Ryan’s breathing and the wind howling outside.  All too soon, Ryan’s watch started beeping which was set for 4am.  Ryan got all his things together, ate breakfast, and went to the starting line to check in and get his bib number.  The weather was perfect at the start of the 100k race.  It was a little cool but most people just had a light jacket or arm sleeves on.  I gave Ryan a kiss and told him to have fun then he was off for 63 miles of non-stop adventure!

I quickly went back to the Expedition and got back into my sleeping bag to try and rest some more before my race started.  At 6:30 I got back up to watch some of my friends start the 50k race.  I was listening to the race directors telling the runners what to expect out on the trail and what course markings to follow.  Then I heard them say there were cows out on the course and I started to worry.  I really don’t like cows unless they are on my plate, medium well.  They are less unpredictable that way!  So once the 50k runners were off I went back to the Expedition to get dressed for my race that started at 9am.  Once I was dressed and had applied the appropriate amount of Body Glide, I sat outside away from everyone worrying about the cows and trying to get mentally focused.   I realized it’s hard to get mentally focused and worry at the same time!

Pretty soon they were announcing that they wanted the 30k runners to come to the starting line for the prerace briefing.  Once they were done I had a few minutes to grab my pack, my trekking poles, and chat with some friends.  Then they told us to all line up and then sounded the horn and we were off.   The start of the race was a gentle downhill which I love.  Unfortunately, this was about the last ‘gentle’ anything on the course!!  The race goes right through the small town of Silver City.  When I got into town there were a few spectators out cheering on runners.   On the other side of town, which was about 100 yards, I came upon a rancher who yelled out, “You can do it, you can catch ‘em!”  It made me laugh!  After that I looked up to see the first 100k runner about to pass me going the opposite direction.  Not far behind him was Tony Huff.  

The first aid station I came to was really for the 100k runners.  It was only 2 miles into the race for the 30k runners and the 22 mile mark for the 100k runners.  I was pushing as hard as I could just before the aid station so I could see Ryan in this section.  The 100k runners were coming down the trail as the 30k runners were going up.  Just after leaving the aid station I spotted Ryan coming down the trail in 3rd place.  We embraced and gave each other a quick kiss.  Wayne Rancourt and his wife Wendy were the aid station captains and we heard Wayne yell, “None of that, you have a race to RUN!”  This would be the only time I saw Ryan although there were other places on the course where the 100k and 30k runners cross paths. 
On up the ginormous hill I marched.  I bumped into Dennis coming down and he said that I would be getting my feet wet in about 100 yards.  When I finally got to the ‘water crossing’ I realized the trail had turned into the creek for about 30 feet.  I didn’t even attempt to go around.  I just went right through!  I kept meeting other 100k runners as they were coming down the hill.  It was nice to see friends pass by and each of them had encouraging words to say to me which was nice.

Photo Credit Lindsay Seals
I tried really hard to eat enough but I didn’t do a very good job.  I was always forgetting until my stomach was growling, which was way too late.  Sometime during this first big climb I tried to take an S-cap and my stomach immediately rejected it and I threw up.  So I got a fresh capsule out of my pack and tried again because I knew I needed it.  The second time it stayed down, thank goodness.  When I was about 4 miles into the race one of Ryan’s friends Brian Davis who was running the 30k came up from behind and started talking to me.  This scared me to death because I knew I was the last 30k runner on the course.  He and several other runners had gotten off course.  I felt bad that he gotten introduced to what ultra runners call ‘bonus miles’ on his very first trail race. 

It was just after this that I pulled out my MP3 player to listen to some music.  Finally, I reached the top of the hill and thought that wasn’t too bad!  Now the course for the 30k and the 50k merged together so I would no longer be alone on the course since many of the 50k runners had not reached this point yet.  I got to the Long Gulch aid station which was 5.5 miles into the race.  I forced myself to eat some soup and some Pepsi, which is my ‘favorite!’  (Thanks Davina)  I stayed for a few minutes and chatted with the volunteers who were very nice and helpful. 

Once I left I turned my music back on and started singing.  (It was downhill so I had a little extra oxygen to spare!)  I kept looking at all the natural beauty around me.  It was spectacular with all the green forest and meadows filled with wildflowers.  A few of my friends passed me in this section.  Each one of them would walk with me for a while and keep me company.  It was fun to hear how their races were going.  As I was getting closer to the Jordan Creek aid station at mile 10, I was looking off in the distance to see if I could figure out what trail would lead me up Tennessee Mountain which is the next big climb after the aid station.  I could finally see a person hiking up a trail and figured that would be where I was going.  I stopped and let out a little whimper but continued on.

Right before the aid station you had to cross Jordan Creek.  I didn’t even hesitate, I just walked right through.  The water came all the way up my calves which felt wonderful.  I wanted to soak my bandana in the water but it just seemed like a lot of work at that moment so I passed.  At the aid station they took my pack and filled it with water and ice.  I should have had them fill my bandana with ice to wrap around my neck but I didn’t think about it.  I ate some grapes, drank some broth, and had a Pepsi before heading out.
As I was leaving the aid station to climb the steepest hill in the race, I told Amy King if she heard any crying up on the hill it would be me!  She said, “Just keep your head down and keep putting one foot in front of the other!”  So this is what I did at first.  A number of people passed me on this part of the course, including the last of the 100k runners who by this point had already done 30 miles and were heading in the same direction as me.  Tennessee Mountain is a little over a mile long and over ONE THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED FEET OF ELEVATION GAIN!  This hill is so steep that you think you can see the top in places but I found that to not be true.  It just seemed to never end!  I focused on putting one foot in front of the other which was very hard.  I stopped often and looked up at the clouds moving across the sky that were blocking the sun.  

The overcast weather made it feel cooler during this section of the course which was nice.  I had looked at my watch when I started the climb and again when I got to the top.  It took me 90 minutes to get to the top and when I finally made it I shouted out “Woohoo, I DID IT!”  I don’t think anyone heard me because there was no one around to witness my VICTORY!  After having the pleasure of hiking my fat ass up Tennessee Mountain I realized I would have given it another name, or two that are not appropriate for this race report!  (After finishing, I heard many colorful and interesting names others had come up with too!)  While standing at the top, I looked over the backside of the hill and noticed the climbing wasn’t over.

The clouds were starting to get darker and darker.  When it started to sprinkle I thought a bird had pooped on my hat but it was a big fat raindrop. The rain felt wonderful not enough to soak you but just enough to cool you off  at this point in the race I was walking as fast as I was running.  Since it took me so long to get up Tennessee Mountain I began to wonder if Ryan was going to beat me to the finish line.   When I saw him at mile 22 he was looking so strong.  I thought for sure I would see him sitting in a chair at the end. 

I love these kinds of races where there are different distances so everyone can see each other out on the trail.  Right before I reached the last aid station a friend of mine Christine, who was running the 100k, passed me for the third time.  She walked with me for a while.  It was nice to have someone to talk to.  When I finally made it to my last aid station I asked the volunteers if Ryan had come through yet the second time (he hit that aid station twice with a 15 mile loop in between).  When the volunteer told me he hadn’t I did a little happy dance!  It was 5pm when I was there and Ryan had been through for the first time at 3:30 so there was no way he could catch me unless I sustained a major injury during my last 3.5 miles! 

I didn’t feel like eating anything while the volunteers filled my pack but I did manage to drink a Pepsi, some broth, and a muffin.  When I was ready to leave the aid station I pulled out an elevation profile map I had brought with me.  I thought it was all downhill from there but boy was I wrong. Leaving the aid station there was a short hill I had to climb.  Once I got to the top, I started daydreaming which was a huge mistake.  I had my head down and noticed that there were no footprints in the dirt.  I started looking around for course markings but didn’t see any so I continued on for a short time.  When I finally decided that I had gotten off course I turned around and headed back the way I came until I found the flagging.  The intersection was well marked and after seeing it I couldn’t believe I made a wrong turn!  This was my lowest point in the race.  I added an extra mile by not paying attention to the trail markings.  I couldn’t believe this had happened but I pulled up my big girl panties and continued on. 

Photo credit Christie Ebenroth
When I was about 2.5 miles from the finish my friend Sam rode up on the back of an ATV and joined me for the final stretch to the finish.  He had finished the 30k about 4.5 hours earlier (cuz he’s AWESOME).   I was so happy to have him with me.  He kept me moving all the way to the finish line.  At this point, I was really starting to struggle.   I hadn’t eaten enough calories during the race and the heat was getting to me.  I was starting to feel nauseous and had to take more breaks on the uphill sections (which at this point in the race seemed just as steep as the BEAST, I mean Tennessee Mountain).  While I was resting, the leader of the 100k race passed us.  I don’t recall what we talked about near the end but Sam had me smiling and laughing.  Once I could see the dirt road that leads to the finish line I knew I was close.  When I got to the road I saw my friends Jenny, Sparkle, and Christie there to cheer me on.   Christie joined me and Sam for the last half mile. I thought about running down the road to look strong at the finish but I was so exhausted from the race and the lack of sleep the night before it was all I could do just to keep walking. It was about here where Brian Snyder, the 2nd place 100k finisher, passed us like a bat outta hell!  He was just flying down the road.  Once I turned the final corner into the finish line I started running.  After all, I had to look good for the finish line photo, right?

It was so wonderful when I finally crossed the finish line.  Many friends were there to congratulate me and give me a hug.  The race directors, Davina and Emily, gave me the coolest finisher award.  It was a metal cereal bowl!  Just kidding, it was a really neat gold pan.  Woohoo!   Since we were in an old mining town it was perfect.  Then they gave me ‘The Last Nugget’ award for finishing last place in the 30k race.  (Ryan was jealous because he just got a really BIG metal cereal bowl, I mean gold pan!)

Total time 10:10:01, Elevation gain/loss 4,353 feet, Wily cow encounters ZERO

People have asked me why I do these races.  I love being out on the trails, the supportive fun atmosphere being around other ultra runners and enjoying the beauty of nature.  The fact that I walked nearly the whole thing and came in two hours after the finisher before me doesn’t bother me a bit.  I recommend that anyone who wants to try this, whether you are fast or slow should get out and give it a shot.  I bet you would surprise yourself with what you are capable of.   

1 comment:

  1. I am one of the 30k runners who got lost and came up behind you. Loved your description of Tennessee Mountain. That thing sucked! I loved it! Thanks for the great race report! Good job!


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