Thursday, May 16, 2013

2013 Quicksilver 50 Mile Race Report

Let me just say, "Massive May".

Ok, perhaps some further explanation is required. While I knew in the back of my mind that I had Western States 100 coming up this summer at the end of June, I was having too much fun riding and racing my bicycle(s) to really worry about ramping up my running mileage to get ready for Western States.

Then suddenly, as the month of April came to a close, I realized that I had less than two months to go before Western States, and I was still only averaging a meager 20 - 30 miles a week running! Oh shit! Panic suddenly set in.

Then, as if by coincidence (or perhaps an act of God), my favorite Web site,, issued a challenge to athletes across the world to see who could run the most kilometers in the month of May. A dim flickering light bulb suddenly lit up in the back of my head. What if I were to throw my hat (er... running shoes) into the ring and try to win this Massive May challenge? Wouldn't that be just what I needed to get ready for Western States?

So, an idea was hatched. A bold-aggressive-foolish-idiotic idea. I announced my intentions to my wife: I'm going to retire from bike riding for the month of May and run myself into the ground. She rolled her eyes, mumbled something about me being an idiot, and walked off. Ok, so now she was onboard :)

My plan was to try and average 18 miles or so a day, with a long(ish) 10 - 14 mile run each morning or afternoon, and then a shorter 4 - 6 mile run in the evening. And of course I would throw in a few ultras during the month on weekends.

Quicksilver 50 Mile

The first week of "Massive May" went well, with me running my first ever 100+ mile week of 101 miles. It was a tough week with absurd amounts of running, eating, napping and whining. I would routinely fall asleep during the middle of the day at my desk while working. And I don't think I ever stopped eating. So many carbs. So many calories. Beer. Ice cream. Whatever it took to dull the pain!

The second week posed a bit of a conundrum however. I had a 50 mile race coming up that Saturday. Normally I would taper and take a couple of days off. However, I was locked in a heated battle for first place in the Massive May challenge with Lord Didsbury or Manchester, an Englishman who is both a sub 2:30 marathoner and a respected member of the British House of Lords. He is also an avid and prolific smack talker.

I came into Quicksilver exhausted and with tired legs. It probably didn't help that I slept in the trunk of my Mustang GT the night before the race in the parking lot. But hey, I was the first one in line for the porto-potties in the morning and I got a prime parking spot right next to the post-race BBQ and beer garden. It's all about location, location, location.

Shit hits the fan!

The race started and I went out at an aggressive but controlled pace. I knew it was going to be a long hot day and I didn't want to burn my legs (or what was left of them) out early. And then just 4 miles into the race disaster struck. My left hamstring cramped up an I had to stop, stretch and jog tentatively for a bit, unable to push the pace. This continued for the next 6 miles. Bouts of stopping, stretching, and jogging until the cramping subsided.

At least a dozen other runners passed me. Things were looking bleak. But I vowed that I was going to tough it out and finish the race -- partially as training for Western States, but more importantly, to add some miles to my Strava Massive May challenge in order to take the lead!

Out of sheer desperation I popped a 12-hour Aleve and ate as many bananas as my stomach would allow. I figured pain killers and potassium might help with the cramps. And it did! Suddenly the cramping went away and I was able to run again. It was getting hot and the course was getting hilly. While other runners were already walking the hills just a couple hours into the race, I was able to attack the hills with (relatively) fresh legs.

Back from the dead!

I started passing people. Lots of people! I caught up and passed teammate Mark Tanaka and buddy Chris Eide on the climb up Mine Hill. And then I caught up to teammate Dan Decker just before the 50K aid station. Things were feeling great. I tried to get in and out of the aid station as quickly as possible, since this is where I dropped the last time I attempted the Quicksilver 50 Mile back in 2011.

Things were still feeling reasonably well as I headed out into the next section of the course -- the section with the really steep hills. I decided to power hike the hills instead of running to conserve energy. It proved to be a wise move as the temperatures were moving up into the high 80's.

As I ran into the Hicks/Wood's Road aid station I saw my wife Amy and my son John Paul, which lifted my spirits. The aid station was being run by Quicksilver teammates Scott Laberge and Clare Abram. And while I was too out of it to appreciate it at the time, they had painstakingly decorated the aid station to look like a vintage auto garage. Pretty cool!

 I suffered through the next 4 mile uphill section to the turn around, where I got to see all other runners in front of me making their way back including race-leader Chikara Omine and teammate Jean Pommier in third place (Jean would later move up and finish in 2nd). I was surprised to see that I had moved all the way up into 8th place!

The Finish

Fueled by encourage (and an orange popsicle) from teammate Andy Benkert at the Sierra Azul aid station turnaround I picked up the pace and caught another runner on the way down the mountain. I breezed through the Hicks/Woods Road aid station happy to see Amy and John Paul again, and set off to cruise the last 4 or 5 miles to the finish line.

I felt great and pushed the pace a bit on this last section of the course, running all the hills (including a couple of steep ones). I momentarily had dreams of trying to sprint in under 8 hours, but I came up a bit short and finished just a couple of minutes over in 8 hours and 2 minutes for 7th place overall. A fine effort to cap a 120 mile week!

No comments: