I never had any illusions that this would be an easy race. After all, last year, I quit after climbing up this first climb, which goes from about 7000 feet above sea level to 9000 feet above sea level.
|This is part of the devastating Los Alamos (google it) fires.|
On the way up Caballo mountain, elevation 10,400 or so, I had to step aside so that the faster runners could blast on past me on their way back down. That was okay, because it gave me time to breathe.
|Clockwise from top left: elevation, heading, total ascent, total descent|
(By mile ELEVEN)
Then I reached the top and was pretty damned happy there. Some guy asked me to strike a pose, so I did.
|You could so some fun subliminal stuff with the ski slopes||in the back ground.|
But then, on the way back down, my body started talking to me.
You've done it now. We are in full revolt.
At the bottom, I told the guys at the aid station that I was done, time to pack it in. I was exhausted, and it was only mile 14, for gosh sake. Where's the Jeep? I want a ride back to the start line.
They informed me that there was no transportation, and if I wanted to quit, I still had to climb 1000 feet up out of the canyon, no matter whether I went forward or back.
I might as well go to the next aid station.
Then I'll quit.
I climbed up to the Pipeline aid station, which was the begininning of another out-and-back, which are just lovely for getting a full few of how many people are ahead of you...(this is the needle looking thing on the profile above). I did it by hiking 25 steps, then stopping to breathe, and so on. I passed a couple people.
Pipeline outbound was around mile 18 or 19; if you look at the profile, it's at the top of that needle. It felt like one, too. I arrived at the Pipeline aid station, and told them I was ready to pack it in.
So, then I headed to the Ski Lodge Aid station, which was an out-and-back from Pipeline. I passed some folks I knew on the way back out of ski lodge: Dread Pirate, Johnny Tri, Joe...but no Sweet Baboo. He was far ahead of me. I looked at my watch. Holy shit, it was mile 20, and I'd been on the course for over six hours.
Well, hell. I only had 13 miles to go. I might as well finish, now. *grumble*
I noticed some people that had been ahead of me were sitting down, very still, with stunned, sickened looks on their faces. I left the Ski Lodge, headed back to the Pipeline aid station, thinking the worst of the climbs were behind me. But there were some disappointing ones yet to come. I did my 25-step-trudge-and-breathe intervals, and hated everyone. EVERYONE.
Mile 25. Where the hell is that aid station?
|More artifacts from the Los Alamos fires.|
Miles 28, I came into the Giage (sp?) Ridge aid station, inbound. All the way there I was so very, very alone. I didn't mention it, but part of the reason I think I was able to finish was that I sat down at every single aid station and vented. Okay, bitched. I hate this race. THis sucks. I'm not having fun. I wanted to quit and they wouldn't let me. Etc. Aid stations volunteers chuckled and handed me things. I had a large bag of fritos and M&Ms - I had peanut M&Ms before, but they were too much trouble to eat, which is testiment to how fucking hard this race was, Hey, do you have any plain M&Ms? The peanut ones are too hard to eat right now.
Giage was no exception. I sat. I breathed. Just 7 more miles to go. I stretched, and then headed out across the burn zone.
Very, veery alone.
Occasionally a 50-miler would go sprinting by me.
I ran out of run, and began walking enrgetically, although there were some nice runnable sections, but miles 31 took a loong damned time. My stomach was starting to revolt.
Then I came into the last aid station, and there was Sweet Baboo. I was too tired to cry. He suggested I sit down before the last climb out.
|The last climb at mile 31 doesn't look like much, but it was pretty disappointing.|
I sat down. I had chicken broth. My stomach felt kinda funky. I had some ginger ale. I sat on the stump for a while turning down offers for a real chair. When I stood up, I stuck to the stump, mostly because my hot ass had softened some pine pitch,which was now stuck to my shorts.
There was one last climb up out, and it was nothing. I walked energetically, chatting with Baboo, to the finish.
|Finisher's prize: a small pot from the Taos Pueblo.|
|Last Big View before descending.|
I won't tell you that. What I will tell you is this: Do not take for granted that you have done a few 50ks that you are ready to do this race. You should be prepared to be on your feet for at least 10 hours, unless you're some kind of freak, like Sweet Baboo, who finished it in 7 hours and some change. I will take to heart, too, that maybe I'd have finished sooner if I hadn't done those four marathons a few weeks ago.
IF YOU GO: This is a cupless race. Take a hydration pack, not just a bottle. The course is very well marked, and the aid station volunteers are unsurpassed. Since most of them had to pack it in, most of them are in damned good shape themselves, probably some sort of endurance athlete, so they know what you need. Make sure you get Popsicles at the Pipeline Aid station.
And, make sure that you have a few 50-milers under your belt, including altitude training. This was a damned hard race, and after I was finished, Sweet Baboo told me it's the hardest 50k in North America.
NOW he tells me.
On the way home, I had five pieces of Popeyes chicken, AND extra gravy, AND mashed potatoes. So THERE.