Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mohican 50 Mile: June 15th, 2013

Ultra Runners ready to blaze the trails
This race takes me back to the awesome trails in the Mohican State Forest.  In early April my good friend Lucas told me he was going to do the 50 miler in June at Mohican and asked me if I wanted to do this race with him.  I was unsure if it was a good idea to do a 50 mile race six weeks before my 100 mile race which I have been training for all year.  After consulting some veteran ultra runners I decided it was a good idea to do the race for training and I needed to take it really slow as to not get injured or burn myself out.  In the past I have entered races to be used primarily as training runs and the competitive drive I have makes me go faster then I want to and I end up needing more recovery time then from a normal training run.  Lucas assured me he would be going at a very slow pace since he suffered some setbacks in his training from injuries sustained in a car accident back in early February.  I was glad to hear that he wanted to go at a slow pace because it was going to help me restrain myself from running the race like it was my primary event this year.

I decided to to run Mohican in my Altra Superiors which are the shoes I have worn for a majority of training for the Burning River 100.  The nice thing about the Altra Superiors is they are still considered minimalist shoes because they have a zero drop (no heal raise), but they also provide a little bit of cushion which I found out I need for high mileage training and races.  In the past I always ran with VFFs or Vivobarefoot shoes which had no cushion and my feet would get weird pains late in races and that usually lead to me
The Hardbarger RV..that's how we roll!
The first pair of Altra Superiors
walking a large portion of the courses.  I put over 700 training miles on these shoes and two weeks before the race while looking at the large holes in them I really started to wonder if they were going to be able to hold up for the 50 miler.  I emailed Altra a few pics of the shoes hoping they would offer me free shipping on a new pair but they only told me their shoes are designed for 500 - 700 miles.  I ordered a new pair and never received a confirmation they shipped so I figured I would not get them in time and would have to pray the torn up shoes would make it 50 more miles.  Then a miracle happened on the night before I was to leave for Mohican.  I got home from work and the new shoes were waiting for me on the door step!  What a relief!! 

Pre-Race Speech
After work on Friday I left early and got down to Mohican about 6:30.  I found our camp spot where Lucas had already set up his RV.  Race camping in style this year!!  We headed over to the pavilion across the street from the campground to pick up our race packets and get the pre-race pasta dinner.  They were not messing around with the pasta this year as they piled it a mile high on our plates.  We also had a few draft beers from the Great Lakes Brewing Company beer truck!  After listening to the pre-race speech we kind of hung around talking to people we knew.  We ran into our friend Nick and he was talking to someone who had a shirt which said Brew Crew.  The funny thing about that was his friend's name was Brew and he was crewing for him.  The guy with the brew crew shirt mentioned they are from Asheville North Carolina and that he was here with his friend Brew and Brew's wife Jennifer Pharr Davis who is the current world record holder for fastest thru hike on the Appalachian Trail.  About a year ago I read her book about her first thru hike of the Appalachian Trail and now I was meeting her at Mohican of all places, it's such a small world.  Nick,
Jennifer Pharr Davis, world record holder hiking the App.trail in 46 days!
Luc, and myself hung out in Lucas's RV for the rest of the night.  I was able to get all my stuff prepped and ready to go for the morning.  We stayed up kind of late but it was nice catching up with those guys.

The alarm went off at 5:00 am and I got up after only a few hours of sleep and got ready to hit the trails.  Lucas and myself made our way over to the starting line and before we knew it the 6:00 am start was under way!  We took it really easy for the first 10 miles or so as we were weaving down the switchbacks and talking about everything and anything.  This notion of taking it easy was very difficult for me even though I knew I could not attack this course like it was a regular race because I was using it only as a training run.  I noticed that this course is different from the Forget the PR course and it was nice to experience some different trails in Mohican.  Another thing I noticed which was very strange, there was not any mosquitoes, which was awesome!

Luke and I at the pre-race meeting
As the miles went on we continued our slow walk / run pace and got to go through some nice patches of mud and also a few river crossings which were nice because they cleaned off our shoes!  We got to run through the ravines near Lyons falls and also do the hand over fist root climb at little Lyon's falls.  These are a few of the most scenic areas in Mohican and it felt good running through there.  Then we reached the covered bridge aid station where we filled up our water and I found the famous no bakes I was looking for (referring to my last blog from Playin Possum 50K)!!  After leaving covered bridge we had to face one of the hardest sections of the course.  There is a lot of long steep climbs and we did a good job powering through them and then in a flash I stepped on a rock under a plant and rolled my ankle really bad!!  Our slow and steady pace started to get a bit slower after the climbs in Hickory Ridge as we reached the aid station.  Also, we got passed by the first place 50 miler in this section which was really humbling.  He went on to win in a little over 7 hours. 

Me, Luc, and Nick partying a little bit on 50 miler eve

During the 6.5 mile run back to the starting line, to complete the first loop, Lucas starting feeling a bit of his ultra running nausea that seems to haunt him at Mohican every year.  By the time we reached the starting line aid station I think Lucas was in bad shape.  We walked the next 5 miles to the Park Road aid station and we got passed by the first place 100 miler on this section as he was on his third loop, pretty impressive!  We rested at the aid station for a little while in hopes that Lucas could shake his nausea.  He ate some watermelon and drank some water while sitting down.  None of it seemed to help.  As we left the aid station I was treated to a classic Luc puke!!  I felt bad for him as I know it could not be a pleasant feeling.  We walked for the next 4 miles to the fire tower aid station and during this time Luc had lost his lunch again and i think he even yelled F&#K Mohican!  Lucas was sitting down for awhile at the fire tower and hoping to come around.  Jay Smithberger came into this aid station and he was also having a bad day as he was 62 miles into the 100 mile run and proclaimed that he was dropping.  Lucas asked him for a ride back to the campground and he told Luc no as he was trying to encourage him to keep going.  Lucas told me that we should leave and walk to the next aid station which was only 2.5 miles away.  As we started off he was again tossing his cookies!!  He stuck out his fist which was the fist bump sign for go ahead I am dropping.  Jay ended up giving him a ride back to the campground.  I knew he was feeling awful and going on without being able to drink water or eat food was just not a good idea for him. 

So, since we had been walking for the last 15 miles I was chompin at the bit to do some running.  I took off after saying goodbye to Luc and about a half mile later I rolled my freakin ankle again!!  It didn't seem to hurt to bad so I kept running on it.  I really made up some time on the decent down to the covered bridge aid station.  Then I did the climb up to Hickory Ridge and felt like I made some good time there as well.  Feeling pretty good as I cruised into the Hickory Ridge aid station which was the last stop before the 6.5 miles back to the finish line.  My pace slowed down quite a bit after leaving this aid station.  I think I was pretty tired from not sleeping much the night before.  I pushed on knowing the end was near!  All I could think about was Trail's End Pizza and some good craft beer!  This last section certainly dragged on for a long time, but I was pretty happy that I passed a few people in this section on the way to the finish.  As I got closer to the finish line my friend Tyler came running out, it was awesome to see him and it helped to secure the thought that I was almost done and ready to party!  As I came around the corner toward the finish line I seen that Luc, Luc's wife Jen, and Tyler's girlfirend Liz were also there.  It was nice to have a cheering audience as I crossed the finish line and got my Mohican 50 mile medal!  It was a well deserved medal because this Mohican course was really tough.  There was some awesome ascents, river crossings, and great trails.  I was glad that Luc was with me during this race until mile 35.  If he was not running with me then I would of surely ran too hard and injured myself worse then I already did.  I also had a lot left in the tank at the end of the tough 50 miles which was a good sign.  Lucas took this video of me coming into the finish:


We sat around the campsite and partied until late.  I could hardly keep my eyes open but the beer and pizza were tasting great and we were also having some great conversations so I fought the sleep as long as I could.  My ankle was really swollen that night and actually it took a couple weeks to heal.  As I sit here writing this blog my ankle is at 95% which is a great sign.  I have completed all of my super hard training weeks and I am tapering for Burning River.  Lucas is coming out to pace me and hopefully the next blog I write will be the story of me training for and completing my first 100 miler with brother Lucas pushing me to the finish line.  I am nervous and excited at the same time, but I just need to take comfort knowing that I have put in well over 1,150 miles of training since late January and I have done all I can do.  So whatever happens....ummm...happens!  Until next time I bid you adieu!