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Monday, March 12, 2007

Pony Express Trail - 100 Mile Ultra Marathon

I thought you might want to know how my first ever 100 mile run went. Well, I'm still alive, that's the good news! I've run several ultra marathons (more than 26.2 miles) the longest being 100 kilometers or 62.5 miles, but this weekend I attempted to run 100 miles in 24 hours.

We decided on a beautiful...but very desolate section of the old Pony Express Trailway in the western part of Utah.

Three of us (and our support crews) knew the 24 hour goal was aggressive but possible. There would be two big elevation changes but most of the course was pretty flat so we knew that as long as we felt good and didn't have any major problems we could make the 24 hour mark. The lowest point was about 4,200 ft above sea level and the highest point was about 6,200 ft.

We started on a Friday afternoon, around 3:00pm and the first 26 miles (or one marathon) was great. I had clocked 4 hours and 23 min, which isn't bad for any marathon, but I had the equivalent of 3 more marathons to go. As dusk hit, and the sun went away, the temperature dropped to only 11 degrees at one point (it was freezing for about a 5 mile stretch).

The moon was a full one and the brightest I've ever seen. I could've run with my sun glasses on all night and still been able to see. We ran through several warm and cold spots of 20 - 27 degrees and covered miles and miles of dirt roads covered in snow from the previous day's storm.

My friend Davy Crockett (yes, that's his real name) was leading the way until about mile 28. After that I took the lead and kept it the rest of the way until mile 93. Crockett stayed within 30 - 40 minutes behind me. Heath (my bother) and my friend Rob had a good routine with the support vehicle... getting me food, water and supplies about every 3 miles and doing the same for Crockett.

Rob was up all night watching DVD's while Heath tried to sleep in between mobile aid stations, but he decided to get out and run with me for several miles again at about 1:00 o'clock in the morning. I ran the first 50 miles in 9 1/2 hours, which was 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

We continued on the Pony Express route all night with about 10 hours of moonlight until the sun came up again. The new day began just as we ran into the town of Callao, Ut. (Talk about the old west....this place has like 5 houses, one school and a radio broadcasting center....oh and about 30 dogs)

It warmed up a bit and I was soon taking off the layers and changed shoes to help my feet a bit. As we ran we would pass lots of memorials and old memories of the Pony Express Trail....even an old pet cemetary from a couple who lived out there in the late 1800's who couldn't have kids so their pets were like part of the family.

Rob had run with me for several miles before dark and then he decided to get out of the truck at mile 82 and ran with me for the next 8 miles again. I remember telling him I felt like I was putting in the same amount of effort to run 9 minute miles but we could barely cover one mile in 13-14 minutes. We were starting the last upward canyon ascent.

Sections of the course by name and milage

I was well hydrated the whole time, my brother made sure of that. I don't ever want to urinate blood again like I did in my first 50 miler two years ago. At mile 90, Heath swapped places with Rob and spent the next 3 miles running with me and encouraging me to run when I felt good and just walk when I couldn't run. He was also good to remind me that I shouldn't risk my health when pushing my body to such limits.

Mile 92 to 93 was the last straw. It took me 23 minutes to go one mile and I was starting to experience some very strange phenomena like, when I ate anything sweet I couldn't taste it, all I could taste was bitter and sour. The last sports gel I ate tasted just like shampoo, even though Heath swore it was yummy strawberry flavor. Even a handful of gummy bears tasted like I was chewing on orange peels.....yuck!

So at mile 93 I threw in my towel!!! I was done, over, finished, depleted and broken.... I was worried that going another 2 hours to the finish would have taken a toll that I wouldn't want to pay for. After 21 hours of continuous running I couldn't go another mile. It was difficult to stop because I was on pace to finish in 23 hours, a whole hour ahead of goal...but now I'll have to wait until next time:)

Crockett was only a couple miles behind me so I waited for him to catch up. Right then my dad, wife and daughter met me in the car and I was a bit ashamed to have them see me quitting, but it really was for the best. I later found out from my ultra running friend Mario Lacerda (brazilian) that the bitter taste in my mouth was a garaunteed sign of Hepatic Liver condition, or the beggings of liver failure. He said the best thing I could have done was to STOP and let my body recover!

I felt a lot better the next day, very sore, but I made sure I let my body and muscles recover before the Antelope Island 50 Mile Trail Run only 3 weeks later. Antelope Island 50

1 comment:

fabioatp said...

Fiquei muito animado em ler seu Blog, pois estou a poucos dias de participar de minha primeira meia maratona, tendo feito várias 10K, e um dia, talvez daqui a alguns anos que fazer uma ultra. Um abroço e boa sorte sempre!
Fábio Pontes