High Desert 50K – 2012

December 2, 2012

For my 12 ultramarathon in 12 months, I decided to do an old fall-back, the (Ridgecrest) High Desert 50K.  I was hoping to do this race with a few AREC friends, but two of them were not planning on driving up until after the Belmont Shore Christmas parade (late Saturday night), so my plan was to drive up by myself and spend the night in the parking lot of the start in my car (as I had done 8 years earlier – and run my 50K PR).

Fortunately, Laura called me Saturday morning (about 4 hours before I was thinking about leaving) and offered to drive.  Yes!!!

After our three hour drive up, we went and picked up our bibs and also went to eat dinner at the local Italian place (somewhat of a tradition for most of the people, since the spaghetti dinner provided by the race is EH).  We ran into a few of Laura’s friends from the Charlie Alewine races and had dinner with them.

After dinner, we made a trip to a few pharmacies to see if we could get a partial prescription refill for some medication Laura left at home.  After a bunch of promises that went nowhere (no computer connection or something), she finally gave up and we went back to the hotel.

In the morning, we drove up to the start.  The weather was chilly, but not too cold, but nonetheless, everyone was hanging out in the gymnasium rather than outside.  We saw several of our hash buddies, including Taffy Tingley, Katie Crowder, Dave Binder, Shannon, and Ethan.

The race started on time and of course, the run goes immediately uphill.  That means that I am walking up the hill (and falling behind) and then running the flats and downhills.  At the first aid station (5.5M), I am doing about a 9:55/mile pace, which I know I will not continue (otherwise, a HUGE PR for me).

For the next 5.5 miles, I see a lot of Katie (doing her first 50K) and Taffy.  They pass me numerous times on the uphills (when I am walking) and I pass them back on the other parts, but I eventually stop seeing them as they fade off behind me.  Likewise, I am ahead of Ethan for a while and then he surges ahead of me for good as well.

By Mile 11 (after a slow ascent of about 2 miles), I have dropped my pace to about 11:25/mile, and I lose an additional minute per mile in the next 5.5 miles.  I do 3 of those miles at about a 20 minute/mile pace at one point.

From 16.9 to 20.5 miles, I run mostly with a couple of different gals.  One is Tiffany Henness (from HB) who I met last night.  This might be her first 50K as well.  She is doing pretty well (and is also 10 years younger than me), but more importantly, we are having a nice conversation about ultrarunning.  She is very interested, but also has stories herself.

The other gal is Linda Dewees, a local to Ridgecrest, with whom I ran a little bit at the Bishop 50M.  She is probably 15 years older than me, a little odd (read: my kind of person).

In the "wilds" of Ridgecrest

In the “wilds” of Ridgecrest

Mile 22.5 is Grace Mansion, where I usually see Tom O’Hara (aka “See More Buns”). I have seen a few other hashers along the way, including Chris Spenker (“Undercover”) and William Lawrence (“Black & Blood”) who both started an hour early.  At this point, I deserve a beer (or more) and have a nice slug of Guinness.

As I continue, the course is very windy.  It is a bit like Big Sur in 1997, where I encountered 40-70 mph headwinds for most of the course.  Today, the winds are not that strong, but they ARE blowing the dusty trail up into my face.  Fortunately, I have my Buff and I am able to pull it up over my nose and mouth (and over my hat to keep it from blowing away).

A teensy bit windy

A teensy bit windy

From Gracie Mansion, it’s about a 5K to the next aid station, mostly uphill, and mostly windy.  I stagger (not being blown over, but it’s just awkward and not helpful) at a 15 minute/mile pace.  At the next aid station, I enjoy another beer (Waddington’s or something).  At least I am getting a little buzz on!

Now begins the downhill part (and also the psycho part) of heading back.  I keep seeing the college (where the finish line is), but it never gets particularly close.  You run behind it, around it, basically the longest possible route to get back.  There is one final aid station at Mile 29.4 (where hardly anyone stops), but of course, I stop, because I want one more beer!

I decide at this point that I am going to go for breaking 6:40 (6:30 is right out as generally I cannot run 1.7 miles in 7 minutes), and I try to press the pace.  Unfortunately, too much running and I get a few cramps… mostly due to stumbling on the downhill.

I think if it were not for the jog around the parking lot that makes up the final mileage, I might have had that time, but I finish in a respectable 6:40:17, less than a minute slower than Skyline a few months earlier… and given that I have done 12 ultramarathons this year, having a slightly slower time is totally in the realm of possibility.

Afterwards, we would normally hang out and maybe even have a beer with our hasher friends, but there is an unfortunate incident – Laura left her long-sleeved shirt and Smart Phone in the gymnasium.  One of the two items is stolen.  That effectively crushes the opportunity of doing anything but going directly back to Long Beach.  If only she had left the phone in the car (which was less than 100 yards away from the gymnasium)… Live and learn.

After 12 ultras in 12 months, my body is ready for a break.  Actually, it is something like 26 consecutive months with at least a marathon distance covered in a race (which includes a couple of DNFs).  I enjoy the ultras, but I need to be cognizant of the wear and tear on my knees.

The lottery for Way too Cool is later this month, and I might be interested still in doing the Avalon 50 miler next month.  We’ll see how I feel.

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