Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dogwood Canyon 50K

Nerves were pretty high for my first 50K, got up 3 hours early and had a bowl of oatmeal and some greek yogurt. Got to the park around 7 and had time to walk around and rethink my drop bag. Finally decided on using it, pretty glad I did. Put in a change of socks and shoes, plus the ankle brace and ipod. Never swapped shoes, but did use the ankle brace and 1 sock, plus the ipod. Really think the music helped near the end.
The race started pretty typical, the mass of 15, 25 and 50K runners all packed together.
Crossed the covered bridge and continued along the paved trail for a while, until it finally turned to some gravel double track. We also hit the first of MANY creek crossings. It did help to thin the crowd, although still had people splashing through. I tried to pick the edges and stride long enough to miss the deep water... that was only effective on the first couple. I remember about 10-12 creek crossings in the first 7 miles or so. Plenty of wet feet, but the shoes seemed to dry out ok, no real issues.
The 'spectator' station was around 7.5-8 miles, was feeling good coming into seeing the family. All smiles and pics!

At the first couple aid stations, I just grabbed some potatoes and water. Wasn't anything I used in training, but felt ok risking it. I still had my gels, and tried to stay on schedule taking one every 45 minutes.

At the 15 mile aid station I stopped for my drop bag. The ankle was getting fairly painful and the rocky footing had me worried. So I put on the ankle brace, a new sock on the left foot, and grabbed the ipod.  Then the shoe back on and grabbed a pack of crackers from the aid station and headed out. This is where the trail headed out into some fields, felt like we were on top of a mountain clearing. At the peak of the field there was a pack of horses that came down to see what I was doing. Wasn't sure how they would react, so just kept cruising along. I headed down a hill and around a corner through another field, and in the distance saw 2 horses messing with something. Gave out a loud shout which scared them off... and found out the one horse was knocking a trail marker sign down. Glad I saw them, any later and I'm sure I would have missed that turn!
Saw the family another time after passing the aid station again (mile 18 or so.) This was another section on the paved path through the park.... I really preferred the trails, but the flat path was admittedly a nice change. I even paused to pick a rose for Lori :) A slight negative on the paved path sections were the public tram tours and bikers, but didn't really cause much of an issue.

Off of the path, we started back into the hills, woods and creek crossings. Legs were pretty tired, even this early, which I didn't expect... but the worst part was the pain in my quads and knees. The pounding from the steep downhills had definitely taken its toll, and my legs were trashed. The creek crossing that I was able to skip through and just barely get wet in the beginning, now seemed like 4 foot deep wading pools! While the cold water felt good on the feet, and splashing up on my legs, the water logged shoes felt like lead weights on my feet.
While it was understandable to walk the uphills in the first half of the race, for the latter sections I was forced to walk most of the downhills too. Both because of the pain, and for fear of loosing my footing. I did what I could to run the flatter sections and just keep moving however I could on the hills. The closer to the end I got, the more I ran up the hills, figuring there was nothing to lose, no 'saving it' for later. And some of the 'not so steep' downhill sections, I just endured the pain, trying to stay light on my feet and skip down the trail.
At the 25 mile mark I hit what I thought was the last aid station. Not much on the table either, but grabbed a couple potatoes and some jelly beans, quick drink of gatorade and headed up a hill.
The trail headed back up and made a couple more passes through the power line cut outs. That was one of the coolest views I have ever seen, looking back across the up and down cut outs, seeing where the trail had crossed before. Really wish I had brought the camera for that shot! I pressed on, not really seeing anyone for quite a while, and feeling very tired and ready to be done. After about 4 miles, coming down a hill... there it was, an 'extra' aid station! The extra last aid station was a VERY welcome surprise. Not that I needed anything for fuel, only grabbed a small cup of gatorade... and re filled my bottle. I seemed to go through twice the amount of water in the last 10 miles as I did in the first 20. Not sure what that is all about.
Before leaving the aid station, one of the guys said something about 'almost there' and 'only 3 more miles'... Not what I needed to hear. In my head I was calculating it to be another 2 miles. That put me in a funk for a bit, until I came up on 2 guys walking... one of them in a pink tutu. We exchanged hello's, and one of them joked, 'OK, now it's a race.' They picked up the pace and started running some after I passed them, which was just what I needed to push me on and not stop. Most of the creek crossing were still left, but I trudged through as best I could, not wanting to give up an inch to anyone behind me. Then the most welcome sight  arrived... I hit the first bridge we crossed at the beginning of the race. I knew I was close. I could finally see the main lodge... and the bridge... and the finish! I was grunting the whole way, but not slowing down. When I got to the bridge, the people who were standing and sitting all along it started cheering, what a great feeling. And there in front of me was Lori snapping pictures from the finish line!

It was over and I was spent! I got my medal, hugged Lori, and then Wyatt and my mom came running up. And oddly enough, I started dancing to Gangnam Style song that was playing on the speakers. What a great race, and great day.
Final Results were very surprising (although after the fact, could have done much better; more than 25 minutes of non-moving time!)

Michael Allen
bib number: 602
age: 40
gender: M
location: Wentzville, MO
overall place: 18 out of 60
division place: 3 out of 10
gender place: 15 out of 45
time: 6:08:25
pace: 11:54

I received the 2nd place award for my age group (1st in my age group took 2nd overall!)

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