Race Report Sapper Joe 50K.
This it the inaugural run of this race. You could see the excitement on the faces of the National Guardsman and the Race Director. Many Guardsmen were going to be running and were checking in with those that would be manning the course. It was as well managed and organized as St. George which speaks volumes for the organizers and volunteers.
You could not ask for a more perfect day to go running. The energy wind turbines were slowing turning as we gathered on Camp Williams for the pre-race briefing. The temperature was perfect, just enough of a chill to wear a long sleeve shirt. Big, partially connected rain clouds moved overhead causing the humidity to be high but it was cool and comfortable.
My previous race was the St. George Marathon barefoot. It rained and 26.3 miles on pruned-up feet was an interesting journey. So beautiful cool weather, on dirt, sporting a pair of FIVES was going to be a treat, or so I thought.
Stats: Weight 251lbs and healthy. Completed a 20 mile training run one week prior to race feeling stronger and more relaxed than my last work up for the St. George Marathon. Michelle noted that I looked very relaxed at the 15 mile mark compared to the last time I had done this training run.
Minimal Shoes: Vibram Five Fingers KSO’s (FIVES).
I love running in Vibram Five Fingers. So I was excited to be running my second race in them. They are like old friends as I had already put 460 miles on them before this race. However they are getting a bit thin.
You cannot see how thin they are from the picture I have here, but you can see the wear. The thinness did not worry me as I just need a little edge to take off the bite from rocks — that I knew I was going to encounter on the trail.
Food: Hammer Gels (2), Powerbar Gels (3), Guru Carbonated Energy Drink (1) Paul Newman’s Fig Newtons (9).
The Fig Newton bars have become my energy food of choice both during and before the run. The energy bars on the other-hand do not seem to make a significant difference to me. I used all of the Hammers and two Powerbars, and I ate all the figs.
At the aid stations – Watermelon, bananas, HEED, Hammer Gels, and M&M’s. The water tasted like tap water, and so I stuck to drinking the HEED. It felt like my body wanted it and it felt refreshing. I drank it at each stop. I skipped food at the first aid station, ate a banana at the second. After third aid station the clouds cleared and it was getting hot. I started to crave carbonation. I had a can of GURU for a post race fix as I like the carbonation and how it seems to clear out phlegm in the back of the mouth. Oh boy did it taste good. At about mile 20 I started to crave something cold and sweet. The gels I was carrying were not going to do it. I am not a watermelon fan, but when I pulled into the next aid station I devoured 5 pieces of watermelon. Oh it was perfect and satisfied the craving. Interestingly, when I hit the next checkpoint I was back to the man who does not like watermelon and I opted for a banana. Next time I race I am going to carry S-Caps and Fig Newtons and forgo the gels.
Water – I had my 64oz hydration pack and was sipping on it slowly and consistently throughout the race. When I hit the aid stations I went through 2-3 6oz cups of cold HEED each time. I thought I was doing good on water, but on the leg before the last aid station I ran out of water and I was suffering, my mouth was dry, and I could feel the heat effects on my energy. Fortunately a humvee from the last aid station cam rumbling by. They asked if I needed water. I must have looked like I did and I was able to fill up my pack.
Hydration Pack / RAW PATCHES – Did not connect the straps in the front of my hydration pack. This caused me the only injuries from this race. Huge raw patches on my arms and the side of my body were my arms the straps and my body intersected. Took almost a week to heal. I normally do not have these connected when I train. I am doing more and more training runs after this with no pack and caring two water bottles one in each hand.
The Race - The bottom line here is that I was the last person on the course to finish in the alloted time frame. Well almost – I was 9 minutes over the 9 hour cut off mark. The race director was waiting at the finish line and saw me sprinting across the finish line. The first thing I said was “Did I make it?” He nodded his head and handed me the inaugural finishing medal – I was stoked.
After the 2nd check in I was cruising with the guy that took 20th overall. I was feeling good. Then came the 6 miles of gravel road and my feet gave out. FIVES were definitely the wrong shoe for this race.
Negative 4″ road base on the last 3rd of the course going downhill finished me off and I was tender-footing it the rest of the way — If was an exercise in pain management. When I got dirt I went fast speeding up to a 10 or 11 minute mile. When I hit rocks, especially if it was downhill I slowed to less than a walk.
During the last major elevation change I was caught by an experienced ultra runner was kind enough to pace me up the longest hill before the final descent. When we hit the downhill she took off and finished almost 50 minutes ahead of me.
The last six miles were road base – the same stuff that killed my foot strength. I was singing songs — making up my own lyrics – “You can make it – Go Faster – Beat the Cut-Off – Its only pain – Recon Daddy Gone Take a Little trip – Faster Faster – Venga Venga Venga.”
I was now on the road were we started and I knew I was going to finish. I pushed the limits of pain. I was approaching 9 hours on the course and I refused to DNF or DQ. Other than the pain in my feet I was feeling good. When I hit the asphalt for the last 800 yards I sprinted with strength not indicative of my total time on the course. The smooth asphalt felt smooth like butter to my legs. YES! I would have taken the FIVES off and ran barefoot, but I did not have time to do so.
As I approached the finish line three paramedics and the race director were waiting. I do not think they expected me to be in as good as shape as I was. My wife was there at the finish line and we kissed and she paced me in barefoot. She is a rockstar. I took off my hydration pack and tossed it in the air, easily clearing the finish line banner.
“Wrong Shoes I Declared As I Crossed The Line!”
I was handed a loaded Army Back Pack, and directed to the cold drink coolers.
I soaked my legs in cold water from an Army Water-Buffalo.
No damage – no blisters – Ran 6 miles the next day.
I was glad to finish.
Yes – I will do it again next year.