What to say about this race? The short of it is that Sharon and I finished in 7 hrs, 0 minutes and 21 seconds. That's slower than I was hoping and expecting, but I suppose the conditions warranted a slower run. This is supposed to be a mud run. And yes, there was mud, lots of mud. But really, the overall factor of this race was the water....the falling rain, the water...err...streams on the trail. It was really wet.
Sharon and I took the early start, which I'm very glad we did, because based on our time for the first loop, about 3:40 (which is actually more than halfway), we would have been pulled. (Now that I think about it, 3:30 for ~17 miles is a pretty strict cut-off.) It was raining, but not too heavily. After the out and back on a gravel road we started the first loop around the lake. The trail conditions reminded me very much of Wildwood. By the time we cut up the road to cross the dam, it was raining pretty hard and it continued raining steadily for the next four hours. The first two sections around the lake had some muddy spots but it really wasn't that bad. The real muddy areas were on the last third, after the final aid station. It was very sloppy, with a lot of deep puddles. One advantage to all the water was that the mud wasn't sticking to our shoes. But it sure was slick. And my feet were soaking, sloshing wet. Our biggest laugh of the day came when Sharon, who was leading, stepped into what looked like a shallow puddle and sunk down almost to her knee. Okay that doesn't read funny, but it was hilarious. For a moment it looked like she was going to be swallowed up into a mud puddle alternative universe. Another funny part was when I started to slide on a steep uphill and I gently put two fingers down, not wanting to plant my whole glove smack in the mud. Sharon was right behind me and sort of had to lift me up to get me going again. That was the closest I went to going down. We may have thrown our backs out from slipping and sliding and twisting, but we didn't go down!
Fortunately we had parked very close to the start, so when we finished the first loop we quickly changed our jackets and gloves. It didn't really matter that much because by the time we got to the first aid station I was wringing out my gloves. I was soaked, and for awhile my fingers were especially cold, even though it wasn't really a cold day. The second time around the course looked like a whole different trail. It was one big stream in many spots and on hills we had run down without a care, we now had to step more gingerly. The good thing is that the second loop went by really quickly. Before long we had arrived at the one mile to go sign. Sharon wanted to have our traditional, near the end of a run Resen, but I looked at my watch and saw we had about 13 minutes to beat 7 hours and told her I wasn't stopping now. So we ran it in and I was pretty sure we'd break 7 hours. But when we crossed the line the clock said 6:00:21 (plus one hour for the early start.) However they may not have synchronized the early and regular starts exactly, because my watch still said 6:59:something. I don't care for myself, but since it was Sharon's first 50K, I told her that she should consider that she beat 7 hours.
At the end we got to chat with Tom R and Maniac Hippo as we warmed ourselves under the heaters. Despite being my worst time, it was probably my best 50k so far. I ate pretzels, pbj and/or fig bars at every aid station and in between ate the sports beans and candied ginger I was carrying. I wore my hydration back which was filled with Ultra. The sports drink served was G2O, which probably would have been fine. But when I refilled my pack after the first loop, I opted to use the Ultra powder I had brought again. I never felt nauseous and had a lot of energy throughout. I'm finally realizing the importance of starting to eat early and then just keeping on eating. I felt some ITB pain in the last few miles, but I attribute that mainly to all the slipping and sliding. I was tired at the end, but I could have kept going. And despite running for miles with a stream inside my shoes, I had no real blisters to speak of.
My next 50k is McDonald Forest. It's hilly so I doubt that there's a PR in store for me there either. My age is working against me, but I would like to get faster. But right now my focus is on the 50 miles in July and being able to finish that distance. Maybe after that I can start working on speed. Or maybe I'm destined to be on the cusp of mid-packer, back-of-the-backer. All I know is that it isn't any less fun back there!