Race Report: Kanawha Trace 50k

This past Saturday marked my third ever ultra and my second 50k. The temperatures were in the upper 80s and humidity hovered around 70% which increased the difficulty of the race even more. Rather than give you the usual race report style type of post, I think it would be more entertaining if I just typed out the thoughts that went through my head throughout the day 😉

Miles 1-3: I feel good. Actually I feel great. My legs feel strong and rested and I’m scampering down the road as if I’m weightless. Who is this guy that’s chugging along next to me? “Hey I’m Trevor, this is my second 50k. You ran this race before?” The guy I’m talking to is Shawn. It’s his second 50k too. He ran cross country in college ten years ago and just recently got back into running, and is new to ultra running. He’s quick but I feel great. See ya!

Miles 4-7: In the woods now, climbing. Up, down, up, up, up, dooowwwwwnnn! Wow, I feel so fast. My heart rate is under control, I’m seeing the trail amazingly well. This is my day! Def collecting one of those top 5 awards.

Mile 8: Hello first aid station! MMMM watermelon. Gatorade please! I’ll just have a few Pringles now and off I go.

Miles 8-11: Asphalt road now over rolling hills. I can’t believe how good I feel. (looks at watch) Damn! 7:45 mile pace! I’m killing it and still feel amazing. All the training I’ve put in is paying off big time right now. That guy way up ahead in the white shirt, I WILL CATCH YOU!

Miles 11-13: More trail now. Lots of climbing and descending. Man it’s really heating up out here. And why are there so may bugs? I must smell. Yep, definitely smell. I’m soaked with sweat (rings out headband). Oh my god that’s gross, I’m losing a lot of fluids out here. I should take a salt pill. Where is this darn aid station? WHOA! (trips). OK, that was close, watch yourself Trevor.

Mile 14: “Gatorade in both my soft flasks please, and a peanut butter sandwich if you have ’em.” (Chokes on PB sandwich). I need some water. Some ginger ale too for my stomach. Damn it is so hot. (looks at watch) WOW 13 miles in 2hr 7min. I’m so on pace for a personal best and definitely an award. Only 17 miles between me and that finish line baby!

Miles 14-18: Oh man I’m feeling sick. Gonna throw up. Yep, I need to throw up. (walking a lot now),. It is so hot. I’m overheated and that’s why I’m sick. I just need to cool off and I’ll be good. (sees creek on side of trail. Lays in creek). This water feels so good. I could sleep here. Screw the awards. At least I’ll make a personal best time. That’s the main goal. Always getting better. OK, I’m cooled off now let’s run. (keeps walking). I said let’s go legs! I have nothing left it feels like. Still so far to go.

What is this? “BULL IN FIELD” thanks for the sign. As if the heat wasn’t bad enough now I have to worry about pissing off this bull as I run through his field. (climbs over barbed wire fence) I can’t believe this is the trail, but there’s the markers sure enough. Here we go!

Man it is so hot. I hope I can just finish. This heat is really crushing my soul right now. OOOO another barbed wire fence. Yay!…not. OK I have to go under it this time and this one isn’t actually barbed. Cool. OOWWWWWWW! No wonder it wasn’t barbed, it’s electrified!!!

Miles 19-23: Through farms and cow pastures. Stepping in cow pies. This is great, juuuuust great. I can’t wait for this to be over. I’m hot. I’m tired. I want to be done. I’m in 8th place and falling back farther. My PR is slipping away and my body is quitting. Why did I go out so fast? Rookie mistake for sure. OOO a downhill section. Normally I like this but at this point the downhills are killing me. Watch your step watch your step watch your step!

Man it’s been a while since I’ve seen a trail marker. CRAP. I’m lost. Wait no I’m not. YES, YES I”M DEFINITELY LOST. Great. This is just what I needed.

Miles 25-27: Thankfully I found my way back to the trail. Could this day get any worse? I’m nauseated, hot, tired, and I want to be done. I don’t want to admit it but if I could quit I would. Right now. Yep. No shame in that right? 25 miles is a solid effort. Most people have barely moved from the couch all day and I’ve done 25 miles. Keep going, you’re not a quitter. You won’t make your goal time but you will finish. Whatever it takes! (Imagine Dragons song playing in my head)

Mile 27 Aid station: Do you have any salt pills? Thanks. (shoves face with watermelon and banana. Thinks about throwing it right back up. Doesn’t). How much farther? Oh man I don’t know if I have it in me.

I turn around and I see another runner crashing down the hill behind me, barely enough energy in him to stop himself before nearly running into me. SHAWN. “Dude how you feelin’? I’m smoked.”

Shawn sits down in a chair and looks at the aid car that could take him straight out of the woods to the finish line, and, to a DNF. He tells me he doesn’t think he can finish. He’s  going to quit. “Don’t quit. I’ll walk with you to the finish line. We can do this, together. Honestly I want to quit so bad, I’m glad you ran into me (almost literally). Come on Shawn, we got this let’s go!” Shaw doesn’t let me down. Off we go.

Mile 30: We’re so close now. Shaw and I have been walking and talking and running (if you can call it that) the downhills. We’re both cramping up. The finish line is in the distance and so is everyone watching. We muster the strength to manage a slow, awkward jog. Around the lake and to the finish.

We must have look like a couple ugly, beat up, arthritis ridden men crossing that line. Together. We did it, 6 hours and 46 awful minutes. Remind me why I do this again please? Oh man I hurt. Wow this is a cool medal! And a buff too! Nice!

“We did it Shawn! Couldn’t have done it without you brother!”

So there it is. Another ultra under my belt. Not my best. But I learned a lot. That’s the key here. Looking back, I was a little overconfident. Coming of my 50 miler a few weeks ago, I thought I had this in the bag easy.  The heat was a huge factor and I need to do better at regulating my body temperature. I can do that by not going to hard in the beginning too.

The journey was fun though. I’m even more determined now to do my next race. The highs and low we experience during a race are drastic. But the feeling after is addicting. It might not be immediate, or even the day after. But eventually we get that itch to race again. To train harder. It’s a rush. I’m still loving every minute of it!

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