My spring racing season which includes 3 races in 4 weeks with a total distance of 164 mile all started with a local RUT 50K on the famed podowanami trail (known to locals as the ‘poto’) in nearby Pinckney Recreational Area. This was my 6th FA marathon(+) in southern Michigan and they are starting to grow on me. No shirt, no medal, but you get good times, and meet new friends, and all for the lowball price of FREE!
I woke up at a normal time for me (5:45) and took off, getting to the race start about 45 minutes before the gun and met up with my peeps, Ryan and John. People filtered in and we talked about start BS before a FA race. There were about 25 of us when we finally all got to the same parking lot. The sunrise was so beautiful, and so I took the photo you see here:
Yeah, it was that beautiful. The temperature was mid 50’s and would get to low 70’s before it was over. This was the first run of any ‘warmth’ since last September, and that would hurt me. The 50K route was one run of the 17 mile loop, one run of the 14 mile loop which are almost identical except for one 3 mile ‘extra’ portion. The trail is a tough one. There are roots and stumps all over the place and the trail is up and down most of the way. No serious hills, just a zillion small ones. It was virtually impossible to run an even pace, no matter how fast you were trying to go. I will be right back here in 6 weeks doing yet another 50K so this was good training for that race.
My opening pace was pleasant, and I really enjoyed the scenery the few times I had enough guts to look up from the trail, which is dangerous on this course. About 10-11 miles into the 17 mile loop, I came to an intersection and I was not quite sure which way to go. Just then, my new friend Pete caught up with me. We thought about it, made our choice and moved out. In the end, I think it was a wrong turn, but we added miles (we think) that were undone by another wrong turn later. In the end, I ran just over 31 miles. I have the GPS watch data to prove it We stayed together and talked about his life (grew up in UK, moved here in January, post-doc in Natural Resources) and standard running banter. He is a cool guy and even wore a bright green St. Patrick’s Day hat on the first loop. We got back to the start/finish line in 2:20 (A little over 16 miles was our distance at that point) and loaded up our bottles, and were back on the trail in about 90 seconds.
I decided to -only- use my handheld water bottle that holds 16 oz this day and that was just dumb. I drank 16 oz of Gatorade during the first loop, and downed 2 juice boxes during that 90 second stop and re-filled my handheld. It would not be enough, not even close.
On the second loop, we continued our conversation, getting into educational philosophy (a favorite running topic of mine) and other topics. About 4 miles into the 14 mile loop, Pete started to drop back a bit, and indicated that the heat was starting to get to him (me too, just not as much. Yet) and I left him back and I headed out picking my pace up again. It took me about a mile to realize the miles were going by a lot faster talking with Pete. Oh well, turn on the techno and get back in the game.
After about 20 miles, my dehydration problem was rearing its ugly head. I still had liquid in my bottle, but I also had 10 miles to go, so I had to make it last. The temperature was rising, no wind, and no real shade. There are plenty of trees, but none had leaves, so I saw the sun all day, but I was rarely in ‘full force’ sunlight. By mile 24 I was walking up hills and just trying to get through the last miles, and they were slow. I kept looking back to see if Pete was going to catch me, he never did.
I got back to the car in 4:50, and when I stopped, I realized how dehydrated I really was. When I went to sit and drink some water (I drank 2 quarts almost immediately, 2 more in the next hour) I sortof fell. I tried to recover so I could get home (the race went longer than I wanted) as I promised to be home to my wife and children as soon as I could, so I wrote down my time on the official results board and got in my car and took off. It took me about 5 minutes to realize that my brain was not prepared to drive. My electrolytes had not gotten back to where they were supposed to be and I could tell. I ended up pulling over twice on the 1 hour drive home to get ‘stable’. It just took time for liquids to go back to doing their liquid thing. It was slightly scary for a little while.
By the time I got home, the gallon of liquid had run its course and I felt 137 times better, my legs were in good condition and my brain got back on line. Ah, yet another good learning experience.