This last weekend I competed in my first ultra trail race in southern Oregon just outside the small town of Merlin called the Sasquatch 50K.The race started and ended at Sam Brown Campground which is about 3.5 hours away from where I live, so my wife Jamie, my youngest son Bodee and I were going to drive down the night before and camp out with a number of other runners that planned on doing the same thing.
On the way down we got the chance to talk about what I was going to need from Jamie and Bodee as they were going to crew for me during the race. For those that don’t know what a crew is, it’s when one or more people are on standby at checkpoints throughout the race ready to help you with just about anything you need like filling up water bottles, changing out shirts or socks, getting you food and the list goes on. Of course the amount of aid that you might need from your crew a lot of the time is biased on the length of the race, temperatures , elevation and your level of experience. Some longer races like 50 and 100 milers allow you to have a pacer on some parts of the course for when you need someone to help you stay on track with your time and give you positive reinforcement while you’re out on the trail. This race was just a 50K (31 miles) so no pacer, but because it was my first ultra I asked Jamie and Bodee to help me out (this turned out to be very helpful).
After arriving at the campground we got everything all set up, cooked dinner and then turned in for the night around 9-9:30pm so that we could be up bright and early for the start of the race at 7:50am. None of us slept very well, but we crawled out of the tent around 5:30am and ate breakfast before packing up most of the camp. After checking in and picking up my race packet, we walked back to our camp sight to put away a few more things and walk around a little to wake my body up a bit. Before the race got going, the race director gave us a brief description of the course, before we toed the line and the horn went off.
When the race started my plan was to go out slow and run my race without getting caught up in placing or finishing high. After all this race is just a training race for the G2G in September, so I was just going to work on my pace and running mechanics. The problem is that I’m a competitive person and if I’m competing in something I want to do everything I can to win or come as close as I can. I knew I wasn’t going to win the race so I was going to try and place as high as I could, but I tackled it the wrong way. My first mistake was going out too fast and the second was not staying on top of my hydration and nutrition. Going out too fast has been a long time problem for me and one I need to fix before my next race, or I’m not going to be able to finish it. Not eating or drinking enough was a newer problem for me although I have had one training run where I failed to hydrate and ended up getting pretty sick, but other then that one time I haven’t had an issue with hydration or nutrition.
The first half of the race went pretty well for me and at the turnaround I was sitting in 16th overall and was feeling good. Jamie and Bodee had been at every aid station ready to help me out and I was thankful that they were there because at the next aid station after the turnaround, my inability to stay on top of my hydration and nutrition while out on the course between aid stations caught up with me and I found myself walking into the next aid station a little loopy and nonresponsive to questions Jamie was asking me. Bodee ran to get me some water and Jamie fed me some fruit to try and get me back in my happy place and back out on the trail. The weather played a big factor with my issues with it being in the high 80’s and someone had reported a few days after the race that it had been close to 100 at some point and I hadn’t done a good enough job with combating the heat with hydration. It took me several moments to regain my clarity, but once I did I made my way back to the course and closer to the finish line.
I did start to develop some leg cramps in my calves and hamstrings, but after taking some HotShot (a formula drink for cramps) at a few aid stations I was able to run pain free. At the last aid station before the finish line I felt like I was doing pretty well but I knew because of my long stints at a few aid stations that I had slipped down the leader board and if I wouldn’t have gone out so quickly and stayed on top of my hydration and nutrition, that I could have finished higher.
When I crossed the finish line Jamie and Bodee where right there waiting for me and cheering me on along with the race organizers and some of the other runners. The thing about being part of the running community is that everyone is so supportive of each other and even more so in the trail running community, or at least that has been my experience. My legs felt good, my mind was clear and I was happy with my performance overall. I made a number of mistakes, but I will learn from them and use them to my advantage in my next race.
Looking back on the race i’m able to say
1. It was a tough course for my first ultra
2. I wouldn’t have been able to complete it with out the help of my amazing crew (Jamie & Bodee)
3. The race organizers and volunteers were top notch
4. Last but not least, I will take everything I learned from this race a better myself as a runner
A few more things that helped me through my race were some top shelf products and professionals that I’ve been using over the last few months and some for years. Tiger Tail USA has a number of trigger point therapy tools that I’ve been using on my body (the roadster & tiger ball), Skin Strong Equipment makes some bad ass anti chaffing products that protected my skin, Skout Backcountry makes food for outdoor adventures that I’ve been eating (pumpkin seeds are my favorite), Saxx makes some running shorts that I have fallen in love with, my amazing Drymax trail socks that kept my feet dry through the multiple water crossings in this race and two guys Dr. Casey Ferguson my chiropractor at Conservative Pain Solutions and Stacy Graves my Massage Therapist have put in a ton of hours making sure my body can withstand the long and crazy trails.
I’ll need all of these products and people to help me with my other races this year and I’m ecstatic to have them all in my corner.