It’s taken me a few days of reflection to share my thoughts on this race. I had much higher hopes than the outcome but let’s go back to the beginning and everything leading up to it.
A couple of years ago I did the 25k version of this race and really enjoyed it. It was a good course, very technical with all the roots and rocks; but fun none the less. It made sense to come back sometime and do the 50k, I mean, why not right?! So for the past few months I trained the best I could for it.
After a few weeks of training I was dealing with an Achilles thing and it put me back as I had to recover and that took over a month or more. I tried my best to get back into it after I felt good and was able to knock out some decent long runs before the race, my longest being 20 miles just a week before the race. I know, not a good idea as I should be tapering, but I wanted to make sure I could sustain it. It went well, was tough as it was really warm out but I got the 20 done and was healed and ready to go a couple of days later.
I drove up the night before and met up with some of my fam from Strong Hearts Vegan Power. We decided to camp on site, the race was being held at Pittsfield State Forest. I got a chance to see some old friends and make some new one’s. We really have a great group of people in this running crew, and the new folks seem to gel just as well as some of the long timers; SHVP is amazing to sum it up. We got a fire going and cooked up some dinner. I had brought some seitan ribs and others brought some Fieldroast sausages.
After grubbing pretty hard we all turned in to get some sleep, the next day was going to be long no matter if you were running the 25k, 50k or the relay option.
5 a.m came pretty dang quick and I was the first one to wake up. I got outside of my tent and looked around, it was so peaceful and I absorbed what I could before the storm of the day was to come. I cranked up my portable stove top and got the percolator working so we could get some coffee in us before our 6:45 a.m race meeting. We went over a bit earlier to grab bibs and our shirts.
After a brief pep talk it was suddenly 7 a.m and the 50k racers were off. The course starts off with a pretty gnarly paved hill that has a sharp angle to it. Knowing it was going to be a long day, most people walked it to save that gas for later. At the top of the hill you enter the woods. The course is a loop that is just over 5-ish miles so the 25k folks do three laps and the 50k racers double that. I was running with a teammate, Jess (also of Vegan Outdoor Adventures) for a bit. We were chatting quite a bit and had to be careful, it seemed like when we got super chatty our focus would come off the course and the potential for tripping and eating sh*t became real.
I don’t remember when but maybe around mile 4 I wasn’t paying attention and hit a root that twisted my knee pretty good. I didn’t feel it right away, but that was the beginning of the end for me.
Jess and I finished that first loop strong, she was absolutely crushing it. Mid way though the second loop I encouraged her to run her race and leave me to run mine. I started running from aid station to aid station, trying to keep my mind off the growing pain in my knee.
It was after my 4th loop that I decided to call it and take a DNF. Technically I finished the 25k but I didn’t sign up for that; I signed up for the 50k and failed. I was super hard on myself. The self-deprecation was real and palpable. Like a child, I sat down on the grass and pouted. My team (friends) were sitting across the street from me and would have been nothing but supportive yet rather than join them, I sat alone; dejected.
It’s now 4 days later and while I still feel a bit bummed out, I feel accomplished. I showed up for the race, did what I could and logged just over 20 miles. I could have been riding the couch instead but I chose to get out there and give it all I got and that’s what I did. I feel good about what I was able to do and can’t wait to try for some redemption.
Thank you to my teammates, to the Vegan Power 50k folks, those at the aid stations, the other racers that checked in on me as I walked a good amount of the course. Thank you to my wife and kids for always being supportive of me and for not letting me pout too much when I got home.
One of the first things my wife asked me was if I was done now, meaning, am I done ultra-running. A few hours earlier I may have said yes. Luckily for me I had a 3 1/2 hour drive home to settle down and realize I enjoy this sh*t. Sure, it hurts whether you are injured or not. I enjoy the test though. This will not be my last 50k or my last ultra attempt, hell a year from now I am hoping to take on my longest run to date. See the tab up top titled “Run Across Cape”? You can read more about it there. See you all soon, it’s off to Wanderlust this weekend!
* photos taken by Ben Kimball, Ellen Biagini and myself.