Resurrection Pass 50
When I scheduled these races earlier in the year I really had no idea how my body would respond running a pair of 50 mile races 2 weeks apart. While I experienced some general discomfort in my knees during WR (White River) they didn't give me any major issues. However, once I stopped running that race and sat down my left knee stiffened up so bad I could hardly bend it and it took 3 days before I could straighten it out. With that said I didn't run at all until the week after the race, a Wednesday, which was also 3 days before Resurrection Pass. My left knee felt good, and the rest of me for that matter, but I ran a bit too hard and my right knee felt strange. Either way nothing seemed seriously broken so I knew I would at least start Resurrection Pass.
I heard about the course change in the car ride back from WR which was less than 2 weeks from the race. Rather than running the 38 mile trail and then finishing off with 12 miles of gravel road, we would run 6 miles down the Devils Pass trail and then back up to the Resurrection Pass trail, creating a 12 mile out and back. This meant that the entire 50 miles was on single track. Based on the trails and distance the course has less elevation gain than the previous version, but the course changes also meant only 1 aid station, at mile 24. So overall I would say the course is perhaps a bit more difficult, or at least about the same difficulty overall as the previous course.
The weather at WR was great, clear the entire day, cool in the morning and about 70 at the finish. The forecast for Resurrection Pass, however, was much different, rain with a high of 59. It was raining Friday night when we arrived at the campsite but letup through the night. The race start was about 45 miles away, we woke up early and headed out. The temperature gauge in the car dipped to 50 while driving over one of the passes, with just a few spots of rain. I could imagine what the 100 milers had to go through running over the pass in the middle of the night in the rain, turns out they had a long night indeed.
I was the 36th runner to check in, the director said he had over 70 notify him they would run, looking at the results 48 finished with 1 DNF, so there were 49 starters. I didn't see anybody I knew so I lined up towards the front. The gun went off (not actually a gun, the race director gave us a 5 second countdown and said GO!) and immediately 1 runner took off like a wild deer down the trail. My plan was to run what pace felt good but not be afraid to push the pace a bit. I knew my body would probably not hold up the entire day so the idea was to bank time. Keep in mind this is actually a terrible idea in running, so I really have no idea why this was my approach, but it is generally what I do during races.
It took me about 45 minutes to settle into a good pace, but when I did I started to feel good. After 2 hours though my toes started to go numb and then felt like someone smashed them with a hammer, I still don't know why but was happy no one was around when I let out random groans of pain. Rather than walking this early in the race I made some adjustments to my gate that helped a little but generally pushed through the pain. I ran almost the entire way up to the Devils Pass trail intersection, walking only a short uphill technical section.
I headed down the new section of the course on the Devils Pass trail excited to run a new trail, and this section was awesome! The trail winds around a few small lakes before heading down the pass along the side of a mountain in a gorgeous valley.
Just a few miles out from the mile 24, and only, aid station, I saw Jeremy's pacer (and our friend) Matt, he informed me that Jeremy dropped at mile 70 from the 100 miler. As it turns out 7 of the 13 starters for the 100 miler dropped, so only 6 finished (cheers to them and to Tony for ultra #200). I made to the aid station, got my drop bag, ate some food, filled back up on gels, took a 5 Hour Energy, and headed back out on the trail.
Leaving the aid station heading back up Devils pass is mostly uphill, which really hurt. I tried to run but my knees were in pain from the climbing, but despite that I was still able to at least walk at a decent pace. So I decided to just try and power up the hill. This went well until my hamstrings started to cramp, and for a few minutes my quads felt like they were going to roll up into tight balls of wadded muscle. Towards the end of the climb my knees really started to hurt as well, but I was still able to run, at least on the flat sections.
I tried to calculate mileage remaining when I got back to the pass and onto the Resurrection Pass trail but my brain wasn't working too well. I tried running when I could which was still about 70% of the time. A few miles back on the pass headed toward Hope I witnessed a strange event, the sun came out! After raining most of the night and most of the morning there was a clearing! Unfortunately my body wasn't too willing to take advantage of the weather as I was now walking more than running.
While making my way down the backside of the pass I ran into Greg, he was the one who dragged me so fast through the race last year. We chatted for about 15 or 20 minutes while we walked along and then I decided to keep moving (he was finishing the 100 miler). It didn't take me long to resolve myself that I was going to have to walk it in as well, my body overall was doing fairly well but my knees weren't working well at all and were getting really stiff. Honestly at this point I was getting concerned about injury. A few miles later I saw Brandon running towards me to pace me back to the finish. I continued to walk but having someone to chat with and walk behind not only helped the time pass by but kept me motivated to keep moving as fast as I could.
I saw the bridge and people cheering so I knew I was at the finish. I crossed the bridge and then the finish line in 11:38:07, quite a bit longer than the 8:57 it took my last year but still not a bad time at all! Looking back at my splits it took me about 4 1/2 hours to run the first half and then about 7 hours to run the second. I think the first word out of my mouth was "chair", I sat down, drank a beer, chatted with a few people, relished in the finish, and then we headed back to the campsite. As most ultra runners will tell you, the real pain has only just begun!
Part 3 coming soon, lessons learned!