December 7, 2013
Normally at this time of year, I am running the Ridgecrest 50K… but because they like to do their race on the first Sunday in December and that fell the weekend after Thanksgiving, I was not willing to zoom back down to run the race… but I still wanted to do a nice December 50K… so I opted for the Bulldog course which I have done loads of times.
I knew that I would know several people at the event, including Laura Sohaskey and Taffy Tingley (from the LA Hash) because I knew in advance they would be there. I drove up on my own with the possible intent of visiting my aunt and uncle afterwards in Northridge. Laura also wasn’t sure what distance she would be doing… because of the impending rain.
As the race began, it was raining lightly and never really went into a downpour, but the fact remained that the rain made the ground super muddy and saturated. This made for some slow going, especially on the initial mini-hill climb and descent. After the water crossing (which was more raging than usual), I reached the first aid station (before the REAL climb) in 32 minutes (for 2.7 miles).
Heading up the hill, it was like skiing uphill and very tiring. I was happy to get to flat (muddy) sections and then onto rock faces (not muddy). The volunteers at aid station #2 said that people looked pretty worn out. I did manage 18 minute miles which is not bad considering the hill and the mud.
From this point, I knew it was downhill to the third aid station at the M*A*S*H film site… however, I knew that I don’t do particularly well on muddy downhill. Yes, I know I keep mentioning how muddy it was, but it was difficult. On the downhills (since it had stopped raining by now), the mud was thick and not super slick. This created a problem as my shoes were caked with mud and I could not effectively run downhill. I did my best to use any part of the hill that was not muddy, but there weren’t a lot of options. It took me 55 minutes to go 4.5 miles DOWNHILL!
Once I got to the aid station, the rain started up again. The creative folks at the aid station had stored the dry food in one of the rusted out “ambulance” trucks. Fortunately, this section after the aid station is mostly on a creekbed and I had the opportunity to get the mud off my shoes… just in time for another muddy section.
I made it back to the start finish in 3:44, which meant I had about 30 minutes to spare to be on pace to finish in under 8-1/2 hours. En route to the aid station, I saw John Hampton. He looked the way I felt… waterlogged. At the aid station, I saw Laura and Taffy… and they were going to throw in the towel (after they used it to dry off).
As I headed off on the second loop (argh), I saw Yolanda Holder (the World Record Holder for most Marathons in a year). She was probably 20 minutes behind me and walking fast.
The mini-hill the second time was not as bad because it wasn’t raining, but I was tired. The water crossing was much deeper than before, but it didn’t really matter at that point. However, it did take me 11 minutes longer than before.
Heading up the steep hill was less muddy because it had dried out somewhat. However, it was very lonely, as I did not see anyone, at all, for probably the entire ascent. I couldn’t really get going up the hill, and ended up averaging 22 minutes per mile.
I kept an eye on my time knowing that I could lose a certain amount of time on each section and still finish under the time limit. I had already lost 33 minutes on the course and could lose up to an hour and still finish in time.
I did a little better on the downhill section, ONLY losing 9 minutes. I sure am cutting it close!
On the remaining section, I ended up getting passed by Yolanda (the “indignity!”) and ended up finishing LAST. This seems to happen to me frequently on these courses, but more than anything, it usually points to people dropping out and my insistence on making it all the way to the finish.
Afterwards, because I like to save money, I limped out the 0.5 mile to my car, and then drove over my aunt and uncle’s for a visit and dinner.