The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Antelope Island 50 miler

What was not meant to be.

Going into this event I was nervous. Not that excited nervous like before Squaw Peak or Wasatch, just plain nervous. It was from my lack of confidence. When the race started I reminded myself to just go out slow and have a good time. I started out in 14-15th place. I watched the lead group's headlights bobbing way out in front. After 4-5 miles I passed a bunch of runners and was having a nice time with good friend Roger Smith. We continued to run together for most of the first 25 or so miles. Heading up those first hills I felt I was going too fast but I didn't want to hold Roger back. I had never had a problem keeping up with him in the past so I kept motoring along. Soon we started passing several more runners as we heading back to the starting line and I was feeling good going down those gradual hills.
My wife was volunteering at the 20.5 mile aid station and it gave me a boost seeing her. Soon Roger was motoring away and I new I wouldn't be able to maintain his quick pace so I let him go. I starting struggling a bit those next 10 miles but kept moving fairly well. I was a little dehydrated which I quickly took care of but I was starting to get a wicked blister as well as some sore feet and legs. I took 5-6 minutes at the Garr Ranch to see if a change of shoes would help and eat some food. Peter Lingren caught up to me and we ran the next couple of miles together. He gaped me as I stopped for a restroom break and it just got worse from there. At the Frary Peak aid station mile 38.4 Scott Mason asked me how the race was. I blurted out "I hate flat races!" Karl Melzter and Scott both chuckled with Scott saying "Yep, I won't do them anymore. Us Wasatch runners need mountains to climb." I agree whole heartedly!

I tried to keep running and chose the gradual uphills to walk if needed but by mile 40 my legs were dead, feet hurt, and my back was killing me. I started to slow down big time. The walking on those flat smooth trails just kills your time though. It sucked. I hate getting passed and usually I start slow and do most of the passing on race day. Not this day however as I walked/jogged in those last 10 miles getting passed by another half dozen runners.
As I went through mile 44 where my wife was working the aid station she tried to encourage me but she already knew I was frustrated with my performance. My father who also was helping out at the aid station cheered me on, proud as always. I ended up finishing 16th in a time of 8 hrs 32 minutes. Congrats to Nick and Hiroki who both went well under the course record as well as good friend Roger Smith who ran the race I wanted to placing 5th in a time of 7:35. Congrats to all the SLC guys who seemingly ran well and thanks for everyone who said hi to my wife. She was totally surprised when people went by and congratulated her!

Anyway, this race was possibly the worst of my life. It was flat out embarrassing. It came down to one thing and one thing only. My training has sucked! I thought that a few long runs would hold me through the race but I was daft. If I am going to competitively perform in ultras I have to put in the miles and so far this year I have not. Although my training has been decent, I have never run a race this long this early in the season. Frankly, my training has been more like marathon training, not ultra training. Not surprisingly, I actually felt pretty good those first 30 miles. I should have run the 50K. However, don't let my negative experience take away from the race itself. Jim Skaggs does a phenomenal job with good aid stations, organization, etc. I just wish I had trained better/not completely fallen apart. This will not happen at Squaw Peak. Mark my word.


Brad Mitchell said...

Hey Brian - Sorry to hear you didn't have the race you were hoping for but it sounds as though a valueable lesson was learned. Big difference between marathoning and ultramarathoning.
Don't get too down, you'll bounce right back and just think you had a fifty mile training run.

peter said...

Brian, I dropped last year at mile 36, and I think, drew a similar conclusion - training mileage counts. Way to stick it out and finish. That long trail back with cars passing, and ridges that are so far off in the distance, with many more miles to go. It is very inviting to drop. I suspect this will be a very good experience for you before Squaw Peak.
If you have a chance, can you send me Rodger's email. I think that you should have mine from Christian's emails this winter.
Best, Peter

Anonymous said...

Brian, don't get too down on yourself. As you pointed out, flat races really DO suck. Besides the farther north you live, the harder it is to train for something this long this early in the season. And sooner or later everyone has a bad day at a race.

Evan said...

Live to run another day.

Even Micheal Jordan missed a shot now and then.

At least you did not quit. That would have been the easy thing to do.