Monday, October 4, 2010

Pisgah 50k Race Report

Pisgah 50k
September 19, 2010
Team Robert - Pre-Race

Fresh off a strong 16 mile run with Rik and I at Pisgah. My brother Steven was ready to attack Pisgah. My concern for him was that once in the woods, there is no bail out points. So i suggested that Rik and he do the 23k option and see how things go before deciding on heading to Ascutney for the VT50. Rik, Steve and Loni toed the line for the 23k. Grant, returning to my side after a 2 year hiatus, was planning to crush a PR and "whip" me into a PR myself after i made him suffer earlier in the year at Pinelands.

Aparently over the summer Rik had grown some super spicey pepers that he had conned Steve into licking and had brought me one to take home. It was described as being so hot that it "just made your mouth numb," and was transferred to me in a twisted sandwich bag like drugs.

With the standard pre-race chat we were off. Grant pointed at these super fit shirtless guys and said, "those are the guys we're trying to beat right?"
With Grant and I trying for a PR we quickly pulled away from Loni, Rik and Steve who were doing the "easy" race of 23k. Leah was just out to hike, enjoy the day, and work on some downhill training for the VT50 the following weekend.

Grant and I talk for awhile about the course, and how for him it's like his "home course" being his first ultra. And then we talk about how long the first downhill stretch is. We catch Dave Delbac really early on. TOO early on i said. I never catch Delbac this early. Either we were WAY to fast or I was in for a world of hurt later in the day. At the bottom of the first long decent you come to a hair pin turn in a swamp. Normally slippery and dangerous, but this year with the dry weather. Just another photo op

At the first climb the pack we had been running with splits up a bit. One guy, a road runner, was out on his first 50k and asked for some advice on what he was to expect ahead. Other seasoned veterans piping in on details that i had missed out on. It was shortly after here that i took a typical mid-race pee break where you step off the trail and find a tree. In this case i found a tree with an odd view. There was an old 50s sedan no more then 100 feet in front of me near the swamp. Obviously abandoned years and years ago, but it made me smile and think about how these massive trees were once so small or not even there that this was passable by such a vehicle.

Grant looks back at the next climb and see's me gaining. If you know either of us, we're the yin and yang of trail running. While I'm able to climb like a champ. Grant is able to pound the downhills at such a rate that i've never seen. This makes it tough to run together on some days, but also is a great motivator for one another once we've decide we're going to run "together"

For those who've done Pisgah long enough I'm sure you've run into the bee's in the first stretch. Before the start of the race Rik asked "you gonna keep at eye out for people 'dancin'?" Regarding the first time Rik and I had run together and had come across this bee's nest. Rik and I had been chatting until we saw a runner in front of us lose his mind and freak out. It wasn't until we were in the nest ourselves that we knew what was up. Luckily for us, this year. No bees were to be found. I quoted GIR and cracked up as we rolled into the first aid station

I feel that we're still going way to fast through the first aid. We catch up to
Julie on the next climb. Julie is another strong New England Ultra Runner that normally i cross the path with at Pinelands, Peak, or the VT50. We chat for a bit to pass the miles. How she might be at Vermont or perhaps in VA picking up another rescue dog. Joe huffs and puffs past us, we catch him again at next climb. He asks over his shoulder, "you must have done this before." We lose him again at the next downhill, only to stop and take a photo of a cool balanced rock before rolling into the next aid station. Grant and I climb up switchbacks talking about P90X. How i've heard nothing but good things about it, and how he and his girlfriend have been talking about getting it. At the top of the climb joe catches us once again. Only this time to pull ahead for good. As we climb up Chesterfield Hill we catch up with another GAC runner who's fast. Chris i believe. Grant scoots ahead and runs into the 2nd aid with those two with me in tow. I'm already starting to feel the effects of the swift start.
From the second manned station it's a climb back up to to where the 23k-ers tie miles and hours ago. Here i finally decided to add the gatorade mixture into the my nathan backpack. Hoping that the minimal extra calories will help get the lead out of my legs. I tell grant i'm hiking ahead knowing that he'll catch me on the next decent. I wasn't joking, just after the trail leveled out Grant came up on me like i was standing still. still saying he was feeling great. He might have been feeling great, but i had to pull out my camera to snap a photo of how i was feeling. At the 17 mile aid station, we were told we were, "about mid pack." Which at this point of the race was better then I ever had been. We tried to wolf down some food but we both decided that eating store brand fig newtons was like eating concrete as the sometimes delicious treat turned into paste in our thirsty mouths.

Then the summits, or rather, the 3 false summits before the actual climb up Pisgah. This was where i would excel and turn things around if I was going to. Grant, who claims to not be a strong climber, kept up with me step for step.
(Grant and I at the summit)

As we come off the top, Grant has a look in his eye. He's gotten over the worst part. He'd been telling me all day that i was going to lose him on the climb. And that we wouldn't know how we were doing for our PR goal until we reached the Kilborn Loop. On the decent into the aid station, i told him to just go ahead. And ahead he went. He was leaving the aid with John Izzo as i rolled in. I was hurting something fierce. I grabbed a banana, some pretzels, and quickly leave. Knowing i wouldn't catch either on the down, but perhaps at the long climb at the bottom i'd stand a chance to real them in.

I ate so much food, and drank so much water on that loop. I caught Izzo just long enough to ask him how he was doing to which he said. "i don't think you're going to catch your friend." Then he disappeared as well. I was done. Totally done. I wanted nothing less that to be out there anymore. When i came back into the aid station Leah and Loni were waiting for me. They offered to help, but i wanted none of it. I topped off what i could in my pack. In 26 miles, and approx 4.5 hours. I'd drank about 5 liters of water and had only pee'd once. And STILL was battling cramping whenever i would link a stretch of running. As Leah and Loni walked with me up the access road they told me that Grant had come through 15 minutes before. And Izzo maybe 10. It took a lot of effort to walk PAST Leah's car and continue up the trail. I hadn't run with another soul for about 6 miles when I met up with Paula. She was another GAC runner that i had spent time with on the trails on countless occations. She mentioned to me that she was the "unfriendly runner" from Sherpa John's VT100 Race Report. But had told me that with the backstory that she had been puking for hours and hours. She didn't need to defend herself to me. I laughed and told her, "yeah, Sherpa is that kinda guy. He certainly knows how to start something with just
a few words." She told me that if i wrote about her i'd have to write something nice. And I had no reason not to. The chat we had took me out of the doldrums that i had been in up to this point in the race. All of a sudden I had some new found speed and I was off down the trail. She was obvoiusly a vet of the race as well, and told me to, "save her a burger."

4 runners and two climbs later I saw someone ahead i recognized. It was Izzo! for the next mile i quietly stalked him, slowly closing in, but not close enough to where he'd hear my footsteps. Deciding where the best place to pass would be. Then all of a sudden i recognized where we were on the trail. The final turn before returning to the road back to the fire station. It was on. I flew down the trail and patted him on the back at the gate. "Get the Lead Out John, I'll save you a burger!"

Then he started to run. *F* i thought, i was already dancing on cramping up due to the running it took to catch up with him. I maintained my pace and out of the corner of my eye i see him jump a little. Then a yelp, then more jumping and groaning. He was also battling cramps and the short jaunt caused him to do the same thing i was just avoiding. I ran the next two miles with my head on a swivel. Looking back to make sure he didn't catch back up to me. One runner passed me as i was snapping photos of the farm. It was too nice to not spend the 15 seconds for.

I rolled in well after Grant, who'd really put the hammer down since the last time I'd seen him. Coming in well ahead of his previous Pisgah and 50k PR times. Loni, Rik and Steve had come in happily hours earlier. Steve, had a last bit of speed himself, leaving the others in his dust at the last aid station. Me, I rolled in at 6:20, nothing special, about 15 minutes off my 50k PR, but, it was the fastest i've run this race in the 8 years i've run it. No complaints here!

Complete Photos Here

Team Results:
Steve -3:29:07

Loni -3:33:44

Rik - 3:34:05

Grant - 6:07:21

Josh -6:20:06

1 comment:

"Sherpa" John Lacroix said...

"Puking Paula" form the VT100. Ran with her some at the VT50... she was much nicer at the VT50 for sure.. but... MEH!