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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Way Too Cool 50K

My goals were to get a 50K PR (previous PR - 5:11 at McKenzie River) or at least to get a WTC personal best (previous best at WTC- 5:18 in 2001- my first ever ultra; each of my subsequent three visits were significantly slower). My quest was made more challenging when the WTC powers decided that the course had been too short and added 1.2 or so miles to it this year to make it officially (?) 31.0.

I got my WTC record by four minutes and missed my 50K PR by four minutes. I'll be running the much easier Tehama Wildflowers 50K next month and so have a good chance of getting my PR there.

The trails were in perfect condition today, the weather was perfect and I ran a good race but the four or five big steep climbs were a little too much for me. Most of the rest of the course I was running between 9:00 and 9:30 per mile. I finished 7/36 in my age group. My friend Ron Adams from Vancouver also finished 7th in his age group.

24 year old Leor Pantilat won with a blistering 7:05 pace (3:40 total), which is absolutely astonishing to anyone who has been on this course.

As usual I struggled on the big climbs and flew down the descents. Many of them were technical, but I am pretty fearless and pass a lot of people on these downhills, folks who are much more timid (or intelligent) than I.

I remember the steep technical descent in a rutted, technical rocky section between miles 8 & 9. I was passing so many others, and going so fast that at one point I literally flew down the course.

Yes, I know what "literally" means.

I always wondered what would happen to my attitude about downhills if I ever took a big fall on a steep, rocky downhill section (my occasional falls have generally been gently with soft landings). I caught my toe on a rock while speeding down, and went airborne in full, arms-outstretched Superman mode. Unfortunately I was unable to fly all the way down past the rocks and came down in a bad place.

Fortunately, God sent an angel to protect my face, head and bony parts. My water bottle protected my left hand. My right hand doesn't look bad, but the bleeding didn't stop for about a half hour afterwards. (Unfortunately, I had just taken my gloves off). If there had been sharks, I would have been in trouble.

My lower left leg got pretty messed up. I couldn't see how much because (fortunately) I was wearing tights. I could tell that the tights were torn, the shin was scraped up and the leg was basically sound.

Fortunately no one saw me (the people I passed were still a ways behind). So I stood up, surveyed the damage, said "ouch" or something like that and did what our dads and coaches always told us (us boys, that is) to do in such a case: "shake it off". The whole thing took less than a minute and didn't bother me (though I could feel it, and the blood dripping off my hand in two places was a nuisance). I continued down the downhills fearlessly. Of course, one might argue, it really wasn't all THAT bad of a fall.

When I finished and took my tights off, it looked like you'd expect- road rash and some funny and impressive swelling.

Way Too Cool results are posted here.


David Ray said...

Well, congrats on the run! The fall sounds scary but good job on the quick recovery.

Timothy Chen Allen said...

I've looked at that photo for a while, and I for the life of me can't work out the orientation of your leg. Is your kneecap in the upper left hand corner (and thus horrendous swelling starting down and to the right), or is the huge swell to the right your kneecap? I am consumed with the (k)need to know!

Mark Swanson said...

You're right to be confused, Timothy. Looking at my leg, the crooked angle at the back of my leg is directly behind my knee and above the scab at the top of the pic. But in the pic, the crook is below the scab and my knee is just above the top of the picture. Must have been a weird angle. It's the exterior front quadrant of my leg. Almost better now (Sonoma 50M tomorrow), but still sore to the touch.