Friday, November 26, 2010

Race Report: Stone Cat 50 miler, 11.6.10: Sweet. Simple as that.

Yes, I know--it's like three weeks since the race.  But almost nobody reads my blog anyway, so no matter.  And the one follower I have, UltraChris--well, she ran Stone Cat too (much faster than me, I might add).  So she knows all about it.

Since I'm so late posting this, let's go straight to the videotape (you'd have to live where I do and watch NYC TV stations to get that...):

  • Sweet is indeed what this race was.  Great bunch of folks that  put this on, run the aid stations, etc. 
  • Fun is also what this race was.  Live band at the staging area and even at an aid station at one point.  Which point that was, I can't say.  It was all a little foggy by that time.   But I know I saw them out there, somewhere, playing music.  Well, I think I did.  Didn't I?
  • The aid stations lived up to their reputation.  What did they have?  How about, what didn't they have? I recall everything from sausage, eggs, and bacon to soup and grilled cheese, with the usual assortment of pringles, M&Ms, etc.  Thank You, Volunteers!!
  • I always carry a second light with me in case my headlamp fails.  Always.  Except when I don't.  It was really dark out there.  But the light did stay on most of the time, until going off for good about 50 feet from the finish.  
  • And in case you were wondering (I'm sure you were), yes, a three-battery LED headlamp WILL work with only two batteries going in the right direction.  It's just really dim.  Except when it goes out completely.  Did I mention it was really dark out there?
  • Trails were perfect.  Nicely soft from recent rains, but not slippery and not so soft as to suck the energy out of every footstrike.  Wet leaves on the trails made it slick in spots and hard to see, but it was manageable.
  • There was the small matter of that wetland we had to run through...the one where FREAKING COLD ICE WATER was running ankle-deep across about 100 yards of the trail and there really was no getting around it.  Oh, and it was conveniently located somewhere before the first aid station, if I recall correctly.  Meaning, with a four-loop course, we got to iceberg our feet four delightful times, and a change of socks at the staging area only kept your feet dry for a short while.  I did carry a pair with me to change after the swim, but just never bothered...hey, it was a trail run.
  • Wonder if it was the ice water that caused my right foot to slowly cramp as the day wore on, to the point where I started walking almost immediately after starting the final loop.  I was afraid if I ran it might cramp so bad I'd have to drop at an aid station.  But as I made my way along the loop, I found I could run, and once I was halfway through, I figured I could stump along for 6 more miles no matter how it felt, so I "ran" again.  Thing I like about these long-distance endurance events is dealing with adversity, be it injury, illness, weather.  And this being the worst thing that hit me all day--I'll take it.
  • Overall, the course was virtually entirely runnable, with very little elevation change.  Nice diversity--different forest types, wetlands, fields, and pleasantly rolling.  Being entirely runnable actually made it very difficult for me.  Courses with lots of elevation change, like Virgil Crest (my first 50 miler six weeks prior) force you to walk/hike a lot.  Not the Cat.  Run run run.  Until I barely could.  
  • The four-loop course was one loop too many for me.  To keep thinking (or trying not to think) all day that I've got three more...two more...that was hard.  But the worst wasn't the last, it was the third.  I knew if I headed out for Loop 3, I'd finish, because there was no way I was dropping at 37.5 unless both legs fell off.  And the end of Loop 2, where you can decide to run a 1.2 mile baby loop and take a marathon finish instead, that was (or could have been) the danger point.  Though I must say it wasn't for me--I came to run the 50 and wouldn't even think about dropping.  After all, there was the coveted Stone Cat 50 miler finisher's jacket on the line.  
  • Speaking of that jacket, I may have one from the tenth (?) and final 50 miler.  There is consideration being given to changing to a 50K next year, but no decision has been made.  I hope they keep the 50 miler, though--it's such a great distance, in my mind--plenty long enough to be truly challenging, but not completely destroying.
  • Oh yeah, my time: 12:32:02.  About 3.5 hours faster than VCU.  Which it should have been, given the less-topographically-challenging course.  At VCU I was about 6.5 hours slower than the winner, but just over 6 hours slower at Cat, so I figure that's an improvement.  And I was far from last.  Four people finished behind me, but around 40 either dropped to the marathon or dropped after 3 loops.
  • The Stone Cat Ale at the end, in my hand bottle and while wearing my Stone Cat 50 finishers jacket, now that was good.  Water bottles are made for more than just water and sports drinks, you know.
  • Stone Cat: Add to Favorites. Then click annually.  Loved it!!