Steep Ravine, 50K race
So, as I wrote in the weekly report, after some deliberations, I decided to run the 50K race this Sunday: Steep Ravine. Frankly, it didn't occur to me that the name is kinda scary, until now ;). The course was was a to-and-fro affair, which comprised 25K, so we had to do it twice. That meant that I'd have to run any given segment 4 times. Not ideal from the "sightseeing" point of view, but could actually help mentally, as it's usually tad easier to run over a "familiar" territory.
It was a 1.5 hour drive and I didn't expect much traffic on Sunday morning, so this time I decided to sleep at home and drive there in the morning. That meant that I had to get up at 5:30. Five thirty. In the morning. On Sunday. I know plenty of people who would consider running 50K in the mountains a crazy proposition. Not myself. But getting up at 5:30 in the morning on Sunday to do so... frankly, I started questioning my sanity ;)
I got there without any problems, registered and had enough time to warm-up and think about race strategy. Last time. I won my age division and it came as something completely unexpected. But the funny thing is that, now that I did it once, I wanted to do it again. Gladly, it's rather difficult to plan that so instead I decided to concentrate on a more personal goal. Last time I finished the same distance in 5:57:42, after getting lost and doing some 3 kilometers extra. And the elevation gain seemed to be very similar to this event. So I thought it was not impossible to aim for 5:30:00, as my target finish time. With this thought I lined up at the start and off we went.
The number of participants was much smaller than at Coyote Ridge, plus this time I was on time, so I was able to position myself more or less in front of the pack. Everyone quickly formed into an indian file and for a while I was even able to keep track of my position, which was oscillating around 10. The course was one big hill that we'd have to climb and then descend... and then repeat this process 4 times.
At halfway checkpoint I had good and bad news awaiting me. Good news was that I left it at 2:44:36, so in principle I was still on track for 5:30:00 finish. But the bad news was: I knew it ain't gonna happen. I was tired. Too tired for halfway point in the race.
I left and tried to fight but my pace was deteriorating and fast. By the time I reached the turn-around point (3/4th of the race) I was almost 15 minutes behind. And it got worse.
At first I was angry at myself. I thought that I lacked the persistence and strong will to push hard enough -- clearly a crucial skill of any ultra-marathon wannabe. But then some 10K from the finish, during the final ascent I started feeling dizzy. I had to slow down and eventually stop.
Something was up. And the race was certainly over. If it was a boxing match that was the moment when I'd throw the towel. And it could be the first time in my life when I wouldn't finish a race. Problem was -- that wasn't an option. I was still 10 kilometers away from the finish and my car and no one was going to carry me there ;). So, slowly and gently I trotted towards the finish, walking parts of it.
The nice thing is that this gave me an opportunity to take some photos; hope you'll like them. And the course was beautiful. So was the day. It just wasn't my day. Well, happens. I wasn't very sour about that. That's racing. Sometimes you conquer the mountains. Sometimes they conquer you. C'est la vie.