Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hashawha Hills 50k Recap

The Hashawha Hills 50k has come and gone. And with that, a lot of memories have been made. I had a great day, a bad day, a really bad day, all rolled in to one. It all started with a sleepless night of less than two hour's. I woke up at 3am to get everything ready and to grab a bite to eat. I didn't know it at the time but eating a microwave pizza at 3:30 in the morning was my first mistake of the day. Matt, Jamie and I left from Matt's house at a little after 5am to get down to the race in plenty of time. Being that I was feeling tired, I drank one of those 5 hour energy drinks. Second mistake of the day. We made it down there, found our way to the visitor's center, grabbed our bib number's and began to stretch out some before the race. By this time it was after 7 am so I took down my VESPA and ate a small waffle. Still didn't know it but eating that little waffle would be the third mistake. I should have just stayed with what work's, VESPA All-Natural Amino Acid.

At 7:30ish we were standing at the makeshift starting line. The wind had picked up quite a bit and was in our faces. It was cold but nothing bone chilling. The Race Director yelled, "Go", and we were off. A good amount took of like it was a 5k so I settled in with the pack and just went. Matt was already in 2nd place and pulling away with a pack of three. Jamie was right up in the top 10 leading onto the first road, and small hill. I was somewhere in the 20 range and just floated along the road section leading to the trail. We eventually hit the trail section after about ten minutes and started running on some nice little single track. It looped in and out and was fairly flat. I walked the first hill. It wasn't too steep but I knew if I wanted fresh leg's all day, I had to be smart and walk. We did the "out and back" section where the first little stream crossing was.

If your leg's were long enough you could almost jump this. I ended up getting one foot wet and felt the ice cold of the water freezing my foot. From there we made our way to the turn around. We had to grab a thick rubber band on the first loop to prove we actually ran this section. From there we turned back around and made our way back to the main part of the trail. We ran a few more mile's of trail before being dumped out on to the road for a mile or so.

I won't sugarcoat this at all. This race was pretty blah on the scenery. It may be a great view in the summertime or fall, however, in the winter months, not much to look at all. The road went back to trail and then back to road after a few miles. The first aid station was at 8.46. I topped my water off real quick and headed to the farm field's for a quick 2.3 mile section. By that time, the leader's were passing me. Matt was sitting on the shoulder of the leader and looked at ease. It would be nice to run with that kind of ease. We turned left and onto the trail. We climbed some hills, which eventually lead us to the farm field's.

The wind through this section was strong and cold! Out of all the section's we ran, I disliked this one the most. The footing was horrible and it was cold..cold..I can't stress that enough. It was cold!! I was so happy to be done this section, but dreaded the fact that I had to do it again. I went through the aid station at 10.76 miles. I knew the big stream crossing was soon to come. It came and was cold!!

I went through an area that was about knee deep. I wanted to just run through but the splashing made it worse. It felt like it took a few miles for my feet to thaw back out. The wind chill kept it at or near freezing all day so once you got wet, you stayed wet and cold. Luckily it was all trail's leading back to the start/finish area. The scenery was, to me, the best out of all the sections. I hit the halfway mark in 2:48, right where I needed to be. Leaving the aid station I knew I was in trouble. The leg's felt good but every time I ran I could feel my stomach yelling, "I quit." Going in to the race I knew that if I wanted to qualify for the JFK 50 mile Ultra, I would have to run a 5:45 to get in. I tried to make myself believe that I could do it, but in the back of my mind I knew it was a stretch. From the moment my stomach went against me, I aimed for just getting the finish and getting a trail PR.

The mud was much worse on the second loop and sucked your shoes at times. The bad thing was that the mud weighed heavy on your shoes and tired your leg's fast.

The miles came and went and so did the dreaded farm field section. I smiled as I hit the road heading to the final aid station. I took the time to stop and thank them. I grabbed a cookie and potato and headed for the stream. The second time I hit the big stream crossing I noticed 5 people walking across a tree that was wedged over the stream. I looked at the tree, looked at the water, and went for the tree. I am so glad I did.

It was a steady run/walk mix for the next several miles. Pretty uneventful. I was near mile 30 when I took my biggest fall of the day. Two previous times I had fallen but it was on the "butt slide" hill so it wasn't too bad. The fall at mile 30 was my biggest and hardest fall ever. I was going down hill and caught my right foot on something. I heard myself make a grunting noise and the next thing I know I was slamming my left shoulder and head in to the ground. I didn't even have time to try and brace myself. I went down that fast. I didn't want anyone seeing me on the ground and popped up too fast for my own good. I should have regrouped and checked myself out. I was dirty and sore and personally embarrassed for falling. Later I would come to find out I must have pulled a chest muscle because I couldn't use my upper body and couldn't sleep. A nice lady had caught up to me with a half mile to go. We chatted our way to the finish line. We both had just run a PR and were sore so we didn't take off to beat one another to the "line." The RD was there to shake our hand and give us a super great handmade mug as our finishing reward.

I am pleased that I beat my best time, but not pleased with how the second loop turned out. I need to work on fueling and what to eat prior to running long event's. I know I need more trail training. The CAT-100 is April 28th-29th. This was a good training run for that. It gives me an idea on what I need to do, and not do.

I had come to find out that during the event some runner's had "cut" the course. The trail and turn off section's were visibly marked, and marked well. The Hashahwa Hills crew did a great job marking the course. Everything about the race was great. Good food, good aid station's. Positive attitude. And even though this race is run like a "fat ass" event, it does make me mad to know that people ran what they felt like and placed better than I did. Call me competitive in that regard, or a stickler to the rules. But a 50k is what it is. It's not a 30k, 40k, or what ever you want to run. It's a 50k. Point blank. Real ultra runner's live by the creed of being true to the sport and being true to themselves. We honor that code and frown upon cheaters. If you know the best you ever ran was 9 hours and then you run a 5:15 to 6:15, there's something wrong. I strongly oppose cheating. DNF if that's what you need to do, but don't cheat other's by cheating yourself.

Thank's a million to my Sponsor, Injinji Footwear for keeping my toes blister free and calves feeling "good" all day. Thank you to VESPA All-Natural Amino Acid for keeping my head and mind clear. And thank you to the Hashawha Hills 50k for putting on a great event. Next year I will know how to run it.


Jessica Karazsia (@irun26at8) said...

Wow! You are my hero, Ray. That is hardcore. After the first foot in icy water...I would have been like, "Ok...that was enough fun for one day!" Ha. Great job and keep up the hard work. It is inspiring.

Welcome said...

Thanks for reading, Jessica. I sometime's feel like I write this for no reason. Only a few followers is discouraging. But then I think, I am doing this for my daughter to read when I get It was a good day. Thanks again!!

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Nice report. It was a great event at a nice location. I wish with the small field I would have gotten to meet you. Always nice to meet fellow running bloggers. I hadn't heard about the course cutting. I guess not everyone is out there for the same reasons.
At least when you run the best race you can that day, you can still hold your head up high (even if you can barely lift your legs the next day).

FYI: I'd comment more often but word verification is a pain on my mobile. sorry

Ray said...

Hi Shelly. Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out my report. I remember you from Fire On The Mountain (2010). You were way ahead of me at that race as well. There were some people that cut some sections out. Oh well, we ran the whole thing and that's what matter's! Great job out there!