This is a race that I have been wanting to do for over a year. Last year when I first started trail running and looking into ultras, I put this race was on my list. At one point it was going to be my first ultra, but with all of the inspiration from the GUTS crowd I decided to move up my schedule for running ultras. Instead this was my fifth ultra and 4th 50k.
I had been pushing my cuz into ultras for about 6 months. He has been doing the swim, bike, run thing for a few years, and this race became his first ultra. I was thinking that a sub 7 hour 50k would be a nice target for both of us. He is in better shape and a little faster on the short runs than me. It was a little warm but much better weather than the hot humid summer we had been having. Sub 7 doable.
We started about mid pack and I found that there were about 5 or six people in-between us for the first few miles. I matched the pace that cuz was running and slowly work my way up to him. At some point I got in front of him and tried to hold the same pace, maybe just a bit faster. This part of the course is mostly down hill as well, so fast should be OK. This was putting time in the bank for latter in the race when we would be a little tired, and the return up this same stretch would be mostly up hill.
|Early down hill.|
Steady as she goes. We started hitting some of the up hills. I would power hike the steeper inclines and run the lesser, flats, and down hills. We were making some good time. Opps wrong turn. I was behind cuz, when he made to comment, "the guy with the weed-eater must have run out of gas", never a good sign. No markers, and the trail just stopped. We turned around and headed back the way we came. Sure enough after looking way up on the ridge we could see several runners up on the trail.
Back on course. We may have lost 15 minutes, but that was OK. I think we are still sub 7 hour. After a few more miles we start to slow down. Cuz is having a hard time getting his feet over the rocks and roots. Thump, @#% it, Thump, @#$%. Cuz lives in Florida. Florida is pretty flat with sandy trails. Did we go out too hard? I seem to be feeling OK. I am thinking that I should be sucking wind way before him. These hills are not that bad. Then I remember, I have been training hard, and on hills. This is terrain that he is not used too at this pace and mileage. OK we will slow down.
I have been able to push myself on training runs and in races but I have never had to push someone else. Do I push him? Motivate him? How about some of my inspirational quotes. I will go for all of the above, and see what works. I push him a little to run on the flats and downs. I keep him walking fast. Walk with a purpose cuz! This is runnable cuz! Then a Big Y shaped tree across the trail. Wish I had a video camera cause this is funny. He can't go over or under. He stands there leaning on that tree for what seems like forever not sure what he is going to do. Guess it is crawl through. Yeah! He makes it. Too funny. He tells me several times to "run on ahead he will see me at the finish". I don't want to mess up your time." No way cuz. I am with you to the end. Then he starts to question when is the next aid station. I am thinking that he wants to drop. Do I let him? No! If he ask, I will ask for one more aid station. He never asked to drop. Good. I was dreading the whole give me one more aid station talk anyway.
After a few aid stations, some Advil, and some stretches. Lots of stretches. Apparently squatting on the trail helps. We are getting close to the finish. I am getting him to run more. Runnable Cuz! Lets Go! Finally we reach the pavement with .6 miles to go. I can tell the emotion is getting him. I know cause it happens to me in every race. I have to make a joke. "Cuz, you better not start crying! You will embarrass me in front of my friends."
8:48:30 they have started taking down the finishing shoot, vendors are packing up, and most people have headed home. I don't care. I just got to be a part of his first ultra. Would I trade this for a sub 7 hour finish alone? No Way! Next year we come back and run hard for bragging rights.