WR50M is as always a wonderful event with a kick butt course. This year we had perfect weather and temperatures in the low 70's. The skies were clear in the morning which meant we got an awesome view of Mt. Rainier on our way to Corral Pass. I have run this race 3 times before and my best time was in 06 when I ran a 10:20. I have never put WR50M on my list of "A" efforts mostly due to other events like WS100M and this year Tetons 100M. Some day it would be fun to train hard, taper and run WR with the intention to push the limits of my fitness.
With my bummed out knee I was going to be happy with a solid training day in the mountains and no further damage. I had my new orthodics now lacking the pesky metatarsal pad but my feet were still healing from the blisters. In the morning I taped my right foot because the blister was open and any direct friction was irritating. I didn't bother to tape my left foot. When we signed in Stacey and I were handed these yellow tags to pin to our backsides. They were age group identifiers for the USATF championships. When we asked what these were for the guys said, "Anyone who is USATF certified must wear it so others know who they are competing against". Apparently it's broken up in the 5 year age groups so mine read, "F-40-44". I wasn't going to wear mine but since it was a rule I figured I should comply. It was a little weird to have my age plastered on my behind! Stacey and I immediately began making a joke about it, calling it a dear tail and laughing our heads off. When we arrived at the starting line we didn't see many dear tails and began inquiring. We found out that only the over 40 crowd that were USATF certified had to wear them. That was even more funny because all the 40+ year old woman were up front so it was just us in the back with our yellow tags. Oh well, more laughs!
I decided not wear my barrier glasses. I figured I would run without them but I put them in my suntop drop bag at mile 37 just in case I started having issues. The field was really fast this year and before I knew it I was in a good train of runners making our way to corral pass at mile 16.9. I felt so strong. It was nice to have so much power but I didn't push the effort knowing there was a big race ahead. As we made our way to the top the leaders were coming down, flying and looking so incredibly fearless. I found that super motivating, like having a front row seat at some big event. The power and speed those folks have it just amazing. As I crested the hill heading towards the aid station I could feel my old blisters, mating and creating babies. I wasn't prepared for any type of blister problems so I decided the best thing I could do is find some Vaseline and smother my feet with it. I felt this (amazing photo by Glen Tachiyama) would stop some of the friction but whatever damage I had already done I would have to live with. At the aid station I peeled back my sock to find a cluster of small blisters. I caked on Vaseline and headed off for the first major descent of the day. My feet were pissed! The blisters hurt but the Vaseline did help some. I could also tell my eyes were becoming foggy and I should have worn my barrier glasses. I decided to pull out my sunglasses to stop the wind from hitting my eyes and making it worse. I knew I would be needing my barriers which were in my drop bag at mile 37. Now that I have created a decent amount of drama with blisters and foggy vision it was time to torture my knee. I began the downhill and it took a bit for me to find my groove and confidence as my mind battled with the thought of coming down on my knee. The worst thing I could do is brake for 7+ miles so I found my rhythm and only had a few ooh and ahhs. I stop and pull out my cho-pat strap and wrap it tight. That helped. I am in a state of pure laughter at my self imposed drama. I made my way to buck creek (mile 27.2) and retrieve my drop bag. I grab one hand held, stuff gels in my pocket and leave. I had thoughts of calling it a day thinking why suffer anymore. My feet were pretty blistered, my eyes were foggy and my knee was okay but not great. The reasons I kept going is because I was soooooo strong physically and was really enjoying the feeling of strength. I am also not a quitter and I didn't want to give in to my self imposed drama. I should have taped my feet better, I should have wore my barrier glasses and I should have treated my knee better. All the "should haves" somehow made me feel like I needed to see it through. Call it self suffering, masochistic or whatever you want but for me it was a duty. I almost needed to suffer the consequences of some poor decisions. I certainly won't be repeating them again soon. Maybe I figured I would get it all out of the way before Teton's.
As I made my way to fawn ridge and started the second monster climb I was steady and settled. The climbing was less daunting on my feet and my knee and I could run more than 70% of it. That alone was worth all the pain. Without much effort I could trot up the hill if I wanted. My fueling was awesome and spot on. I even tried the new GU product called Roctane. I felt nothing new but it didn't bother me either. I had forgotten all about the yellow tag hanging from my butt until I passed a guy with one. When I reached Fawn Ridge I stopped to apply another coating of Vaseline only to find my sock full of blood and other yuk. I smother the slimy stuff over the open wounds and it wasn't pleasant. I think the worst part was putting my dirty nasty sock back on the exploded flesh wound. It hurt like crazy too.....good thing is it made my foggy vision and bum knee seem like nothing! Off I go for the last bit of this climb to Suntop. Good thing we are still climbing because I was having a hard time making out the details of the trail and my blisters had time to create an environment of their own. I was anxious to reach Suntop (mile 37) to pop out my contacts, stash my sunglasses and get my barriers on. I was hoping my eyes would have a chance to come around before I had to do the last 6 miles of technical trail. I crested the hill and pop into the aid station where they hand me my drop bag. I got myself prepped for the last 12 miles.
This screaming fast dirt road heading into Skookum flats is awesome if you have legs. Legs I had but eyes I did not. Thank God it's mostly smooth. My feet were an absolute mess and the down hill was brutal on them. I shortened up my stride and got my turnover going nicely. I only sunk in a pothole once or twice (photo by Glen Tachiyama)because I couldn't make out the details on the road but all in all it was good descent in just over 8 minute miles. When I arrived at the last aid station I had a little better vision in left eye but my right was still super foggy. I was in "get it done" mode. I didn't even care that I was track for a PR because I could only muster up enough umph to deal with the pain in feet. The bummer is I felt really strong but none of that matters if you can't see and your feet are hamburger. As I made my way through the rooted trail I found a few new words as I grimmest in pain when my foot would slide over a root. The roots were everywhere. I tried to give myself a talk, "Just take the pain, don't fight it". I think I must have said that 50 times! It really didn't help me move faster but it was something to do I guess.
I finally found the finish line in 9:59:42 which is over a 20 min. PR on this course. The run was bitter sweet. The effort was easy but the day was a series of bad choices and all of those choices were made before we even started. I became a lazy ultra runner and took the trail and my body for granted. My eyes were a mess and that could have totally been prevented. My feet should have been taped because they still healing up. My knee didn't seem to be to bad and it's no worse off but that could have been prevented by stretching. As sick as it might sound I enjoyed the learning and reminders the day brought. It's going to take along time before I forget it because it's going to be at least a week for these blisters to stop oozing. :) This is a recovery week and that's good because I can't even tape up my feet to run yet. I hope I can get them moving around by Wednesday?????