“Well Jeff, I can say that this is the longest run I’ve ever done.” “Me too” he replied. And so we marked passing into the 27th mile of the Skyline to the Sea 50k Ultramarathon. Jeff and I had bumped into each other on and off through the day, but after that exchange we stuck together and finished together. It’s SO helpful finding someone who’s going about your same speed (or a little better).
My goal for this race was six hours, and crossed the line in 5:48! I had a hard time guaging how to pace for a race like this. Overall, the course goes downhill – it starts near the top of a mountain and ends up a couple of hundred yards from the ocean. But there were a ton of steep uphills (walkers!), and a LOT of technical downhills which really trash the quads and knees. One thing that probably ended up helping me a lot was that I was about the last person to get lined up due to standing in a slow moving porta pottie line. Right before I made it to the front of the line they asked people to line up for the start. Well, I didn’t anticipate that they literally meant line up – as in single file! Since the trail is so narrow, we were strung out on the course in one long line, with me at the back. But this meant that there was NO way for me to start off running too fast. Things opened up after a while, and then I was able to pass some folks.
And then Nature kicked in – and kicked in with a vengance. You could hear it from the runners up ahead: “BEEs!!” Well, they were actually wasps I think, and they didn’t take kindly to 200 people running through their yard. Over the course of the first 10 miles I think there were three separate nests. One guy on the course cracked: “They should call this race ‘Beeline to the Sea'”. I was stung three times on my legs, and three on my back. I was pretty lucky – some people got hit a lot more (and some not at all). The pain was quite intense. About six hours after the end of the race the needle like pain subsided…only to be replaced by crazy bad itching. One person on the race forum reported that they went to the emergency room because of the itching. It’s been three days since the itch kicked in, and I’ve eaten a box of antihistamines, and a ton of cortisone cream…and I still can’t sleep normally. 🙁
Nutrition wise I did pretty well. I wore a Camelbak with six hours of concentrated Infinit drink, and then I wore a bottle holder with plain water which I refilled at the aid stations. The only problem I had was the long gap before the final aid station. The previous gaps had been only 7k long, but this one was almost 14. Halfway through that gap my water was gone. Let’s just say, I was really glad to see that final aid station! I ended up not drinking 16oz of my Infinit. Since it was concentrated, I had stopped drinking it during that long leg. But I didn’t feel the loss of calories. I also had 5 or 6 electrolyte pills (SaltStick) over the course of the race. All in all, I felt good about my nutrition and hydration. But considering I only pee’ed once on the course, and not again until hours after the finish, I was well on my way to being dehydrated.
Special thanks goes out to Marcus Frame and his girlfriend for giving me a lift to the starting line, and to Karen and the kids for making the long drive to pick me up. After the race we went over to Waddell beach for a while. The kite surfers there are amazing! It’s a cool mix of parasailing, surfing, and windsurfing.