Oct 17, 2010

Rock'n River 50

Waiting for the start
Some delirious night about a month and a half ago I decided I wanted to try to qualify for Western States 100 next June and I needed a 50 mile race that needed to be completed in less than 11 hours. I browsed and what I found was the Rock'n River 50: a 50 miler in Auburn, CA just outside of Sacramento which coincidentally is where the Western States finish line is. It's the reverse route of the classic American River 50 that is run in April.  My training since my Bulldog 50km in August had me running 28 days per month, including one longer trail run of 2.5-3hrs every week.  The day finally arrived and in all honesty I had been quite nervous about the race.  

 I have never walked, run, or hiked 50 miles in one day before and frankly I wasn't sure if I would be able to make it.  I am usually pretty wiped after a 50km race so how the hell was I going to finish 19 more miles?  Megan, who drove, and was my crew, said I was having these mini convulsions in the middle of my sleep the night before.  The run started with a delay because the bus that was supposed to be shuttling people to the start line hadn't shown up yet.  15 minutes later the race was underway and I felt really good from the onset.  I kept telling myself to keep a good rhythm and keep my stride short and light.
The course is quite beautiful as you wind along this great single track along the American River.  I hooked up with a small group of people from the onset and it was fun just running and chatting.  Then I started to go off on my own feeling good and staying in tune with my running.  Just before the 22 mile aid station I spent five minutes looking for the pink ribbon, which delineates the course, but of course there was no ribbon until someone shouted from afar that I had to loop the parking lot and find the aid station. I was absolutely confounded as to why there wouldn't be an obvious ribbon placing showing the way.  Unfortunately, this would be a reoccurring theme. I got to the aid station as other confused runners were trying to find their way to the aid station.
Rolling into mile 26
I soon arrived at the mile 26 aid station feeling fantastic.  I was immediately told that I was in 10th place overall so I got what I needed from Megan and took off.  I was moving steadily along this wide fireroad keeping an eye out for the sparsely placed ribbons when I saw a ribbon veering right into a 1000 ft climb over an unused trail. So I start climbing this thing wondering where this thing was taking me when all of a sudden I arrive at the top where about 4 junctions present themselves and no other ribbons to be seen except orange ones. I spend 8 minuted frantically searching on and I blindly pick one going steeply downhill. A man suddenly coming up the hill tells me that someone has been supposedly messing with his ribbon placement and that this climb was completely unnecessary. He points me in the right direction and I finally make it to the aid station where I see runners that I know I passed earlier on resting there. They tell me they know this course and took the correct flat route to the aid station gaining about 20 minutes on me. At this point I am livid and Megan sensing that tries to calm me telling me that it's over and to just continue on (turns out others didn't keep their feelings to themselves at that aid station).  I soon depart and venture into unchartered waters. The furthest I have ever gone is 32 miles so I am quite curious on how my body reacts.  I make it to the next station in tact but finding it difficult to run on my own.  I hook up with Craig Sowash and we run together instantly forming a bond and making the running easier.  We are easily staring down a sub 9:30 finish. One mile before the mile 43 aid station I start to get familiar sharp pains on my right lateral knee everytime I bend knowing that I am starting to get tendinitis in my illiotibial (IT) band and like a positive feedback loop, the pain gets progressively worse with each bend. 
IT band really starting to bug me
So I was resigned to walk and shuffle with a stiff leg, keeping from bending it. I soon saw the finish and did a quicker shuffle making it in 10 hours 0 min 0 sec.  The ending was bitter sweet. I was pleased with the time, qualifying for Western States, finishing my first 50 miler but also knowing I could have gone much lower were it not for the ribbon screw ups and the IT band issue. I was also quite nauseated the last 7 miles as well probably from taking too much ibuprofen in hopes of calming my knee down and not taking in enough electrolytes.  I ended up finishing 19th overall and 2nd in my age group. I want to make a special mention to my girl Megan who was absolutely stellar in accompanying me; driving to and fro (12 hrs total), being my crew and meeting me at each aid station with goodies, and being there as psychological support.  Also to the wonderful volunteers there who clapped at every aid station and helped me when I needed it. Also special thanks to the parents and wife of Craig who also cheered me on and were great company for Megan.  They let her follow them to each aid station because of the lack of correct directions. 


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