Friday, April 27, 2012

“Skyline” in the title- RUNNER BE WARNED

Saturday April 21, 2012 I was happy that I was going to be out there running the Yakima 50k in eastern Washington instead of the Zane Grey 50 miler going on in AZ.  You see I have run Zane once and that was more than enough to know that I would never do such a crazy race again in my life!  Well Yakima SKYLINE 50k is now also on that list as well and I am starting to wonder if any race on that third weekend in April is doomed to be rough? Nonetheless let me tell you why Yakima has made it to my one and done list.
Some would think that I would have started to wonder about this race when I signed up and realized there was going to be around 10k of climb and decent over a mere 31 miles.  So let’s just say that I don’t look at elevation when I sign up for races- if I want to do the race then I will do it and figure out everything else as I go.  This may be a policy I updated in the future!! So yes I did find out after signing up that Yakima was going to be a tough 50k event, but once you have done a few 100 milers I guess you just start to think that you can do anything.  Yakima bumped me right back down into place and was a humbling 31 mile adventure. 
I should have known something was up when everyone was emphasizing and discussion the 4.5 hour cut off of the turnaround point.  Thank goodness I talked with Steve Walters before the event and learned that yup there were a ton of rocks and therefore I should not only wear my trail shoes but that I should probably have at least 2 bottles of water not just 1 as originally planned.  Those 2 tips saved me as I would not have been able to finish this race if I was wearing my road shoes or if I only had 1 hand bottle. 
The race started at 8am Saturday morning, quite late for a trail race and I was wishing there would have been an early start that we could have taken advantage of so that I did not end up back in OR after the race at 11pm.  Nonetheless with no early start we were all off at once.  Another thing that I have learned after my last 2 50ks is Rainshadow Running has some issues with dealing with crow control before heading out onto these single track routes.  We started in the parking lot and did an extremely short out and back in the parking lot around a sign and across a very small bridge that everyone was backed up at and straight up the mountain where there was little to no room to pass anyone for the first 2 miles.  It wasn’t terrible but could be a lot better if there was staggered start times or at least a ½ mile or so of running on wide dirt paths before we hit the single track. 
Up and up we went for the first 2 miles.  It was ROUGH, I think there was over a billion feet of climbing.  The whole time I was looking periodically to take in the views and remember that this was what I have to run down to finish this beast of a race.  Not a happy thought.   By the time I got to the first 5.5 mile aid station I had drained both hand bottles and was ready for more fuel.  After this first aid onto mile 10.5 I was able to talk with many runners and enjoy the time on the trial.  It was not too hot yet and the downhill and uphill to the next aid station were much more gradual than the first climb, but still tough.  Again I drained 2 bottles and took in a couple Gu’s so I was on top of my nutrition and overall feeling ok.  From mile 10.5 to 15.5 that I started to wonder what on earth was wrong with me and why I thought that this race was a good idea.  The temps were rising and the rocks were everywhere at this point.  It was a very painful slow downhill climb to get to the turnaround point and I made it right at the stroke of 4 hours and 30 minutes.  There were so many of my friends there at the turn around point that had opted for the ride back that I was seriously considering it.  When asked how I was doing I just said “horrible have you been out there and see what they have us running???”  After sitting down for a second I popped back up declaring “I didn’t come all the way up here to quit!”  Then I took of back out on the course before I could change my mind or realize how stupid it was to go back out there. 
I was doing ok on the way back and happy to get past the big rocks as I really think this part it was easier to run up them than it was to run down them.  I got back to the 20.5 mile aid station at about 6 hours and 30 minutes and knew that I was going to be running it close if not over on the overall time allotment for the race.  The funny part about this was at the 20.5 mile aid station they were just like get back out there you can’t quit here there is no room in the trucks to take you back.  So not that I was considering it for reals at that point, but they really got me moving out of there.   I had been running with my new trail running friend Jeremiah for the past few miles and we were having fun leap frogging each other and sharing our thoughts of just how stupid an adventure we were on.  Going out of the 20.5 mile aid station I let him know that he could not drop out because he had to make sure that if I died he told people.  I am really happy that he was out there for many reasons, but especially thankful for the heads up when he found a rattle snake stretched out across the trail just in front of us.  I grew up in AZ and never ran into a rattler until now… while I live in the NW… go figure! 

We knew the sweeps were just behind us so we hustled to the last aid station at 25.5.  I made in in first with only a few people behind me and was not about to get swept and pulled off the course so I got refills of water a few more Gu’s and was off.  I instructed the aid station volunteers to tell Jeremiah to keep going and catch back up to me and to hold the sweeps there and tickle them for a while.  The next thing I find was that I forgot there was still more uphill, I think I purposely blocked that out so that I would just have to keep going once I got there.  I was about 3 miles from the finish and the aid station trucks came up from behind.  The first car didn’t have anyone that I knew in it and when they stopped to offer me more water and check on me I thanked them and waived them on letting them know I was doing fine and was ready to finish this race up!  The next truck that came up had Jeremiah in the back.  He yelled out some encouraging words and let me know the sweeps were far back and not to worry.  Finding out this news just made my heart drop.  I think being that tired and exhausted, at this point I was just about on the 9 hour mark only eating Gu’s and water for the whole day.  I felt like all my friends had left me and these bully “sweeps” were going to come get me.  I was sad.  I was upset that I was now for sure in last place.  I was also determined not to stop even if they threated to carry me off the course.  So this is the point that I am sure that I started to lose it.  I mean I knew I was going to finish.  I didn’t know what time that was going to be, but I knew that I would get credit for my efforts even if I was a little tardy.  What I was not prepared for was when the 2 male sweets came up to me I started crying.  Not balling or to the point that I needed to stop.  But tears were there and I was trying to hold it together.  I did not want to be running it in with the sweeps.  I wanted them to be miles behind me.   I have never been in this situation before and I was very upset about it. 

I am sure the guys were baffled.  Wondering was I hurt or something?  The guys were so incredibly sweet.  They ran ahead and I am sure had some kind of discussion on what the heck to do we do here.  When I caught back up to them they were discussing races in which they had cried.  LOL  I love these guys.  Although I am sure they could not tell as I was practically silent just trying to keep moving and running forward but that really meant a lot to me.  They wanted me to finish and keep going and I knew it from this gesture and it really touched my heart. 
With less than 2 miles to the finish line I was face with the quad ripping downhill that I so dreaded when I had to climb up it.  It was so painfully slow that I am sure I frustrated the guys, but I have been off the trails a bit with IronMan training and the words of Rose Bak in the back of my mind about writing a chapter about falling while running I was very careful.  The good news is I did not fall.  The bad news is it was  a pretty slow downhill to the finish.  Nonetheless in just over 10 hours I was officially the last finisher to cross the line for the Yakima Skyline Ultra.  I am proud to earn my first DFL at this race because it was not a DNF and its one-hell-of-a-course!!  I never thought that a DFL could feel soo goodJ

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