Short story: Went in knowing I wasn't perfectly trained and ended up doing pretty well (but not surprisingly well).
So I don't know really where to start this story but let's just say that most of the time I would have done as little work as possible in terms of picking up the bib and getting to the start. I was quite surprised that the day before the race the packet pick up place was also offering 20% off nutrition products if you went to the early bib pick up. Well, that did it for me. I had my eye on some sports drink for probably well over a year and was waiting and waiting for my chance to not pay full price for it. Well, I got it. I mixed some of it. And then within the first mile of the race I threw it on the ground. No joking.
The morning of the race went pretty normal. I got up and showered and shaved and made sure I put on some of that anti-chafing stuff. I had my normal chips, pbnj, banana and some gummy bears. On my way out of my house to my car I was struck with a problem I didn't even anticipate: was I going to need a headlamp? I really hadn't even thought at all about this. But I did have 2 headlamps with me, but would I actually start the race with one on my head?
After getting to the start and all that normal stuff the race started with out a lot of fan fare. Just the race director saying "thanks for giving me your money." After a short list of announcements we were off.
My strategy for this race was only to not go out too fast and just get to the finish. I didn't have the confidence that I was going to be able to pull out any last minute magic so I just kept going as best I could.
So the first part of the race was rather dark but this is the part where most people are closer together and I was able to enjoy the benefits of other's headlamps and before I knew it the sun was making plenty of light.
The first 2.5 miles of the race is basically up a steady grade, not a tough hill but a hill nonetheless. I was making my way up just fine when I was struck with the thought that I have had at other races: why am I carrying 2 pounds of water on my chest while climbing this hill? I knew the first aid station wasn't far and before I though much more I dumped most of my liquid because I didn't think it was necessary to carry it with me and I wanted to not waste the energy to do so. So there goes a few cents worth of my new sports drink I had been waiting over a year to enjoy. Oh well.
Well, the race is on Antelope Island and if you don't know much about the island let me just say that it is pretty in a unique way. It's not a must see national park and there aren't blindingly tall trees and majestic canyons or rock formations. It's an island surrounded by the salt lake in the middle of a desert. There's a lot of short grass and bushes. There are some trees on the island higher up on the mountain, but they aren't dense and have to survive in some pretty harsh environments. Plus there was a fire last year that burned a good half of the south part of the island and some evidence of the fire can still be seen.
Sometimes when I'm out there trudging around I'm convinced that scenes from Mordor from The Lord of the Rings could have been filmed there. Just this short grass surrounded by exposed rocks and on an overcast day can look quite dreary.
Well the weather forecast for race day was set to be hot, and it was. After the first 25miles the effects of the heat really set in. The course was still heading south and running into the wind was nice and it helped. On this part of the course I was actually pretty happy with my performance. My energy levels were decent and I was able to keep a decent pace. I was hoping that the ranch would be soon but it wasn't. The ranch is the next turn around point at mile 33 and it is really far.
Well, I made it out there. I drank as much as I could and ate some junk food which this race my normal grab consisted of cheeze-its and m&ms.. I also ate some orange slices when I could.
Soon after leaving the ranch at mile 33 the heat really set in. There wasn't much in the way of wind while running north and it was pretty tough. All I could really do was to focus on moving forward and try to make more running steps than walking steps as each mile moved on. For the first miles after this point I decided that I would try to run a full mile and then walk/run the next mile and try to go back and forth. It actually kind of worked until about mile 40. Looking at my splits it isn't really evident, but it really doesn't matter.
After passing the lower Frary aid station the 2nd time, about mile 38, I tried to keep up and just move. I was focused on getting to the fence where I knew I could just hike up the course along the fence up the hill and then get a chance for some level road/trail until the end.
One I got to the fence and up the hill I passed someone who was probably not feeling much better than me. And at the same time I got passed by someone else who seemed to be doing much better than I was. Well, not much to do at this point, I was pretty tired and just had to run my own race and not let anyone else get to me. Well, I ended up passing them again before the next aid station and then, to my surprise they didn't pass me again at all. Wow. Now that I think about it the people that I passed in the last 10 miles I'm not even sure which event they were running. They could have been 100 milers or 50 milers. I didn't really inspect bibs as they passed me or I passed them.
Well, after the last aid station the trail gets really interesting. It's rocky and has a lot of turns. It surprised me and it kind of thew off my rhythm of walking 25 step and running 100 steps. But no big deal. It was just me, the heat and the trail and about 2 miles to go. Just go I had to tell myself.
By this point I was about 1 hour behind my desired finish time but I guess my estimates were just too big for me. But I'm not disappointed or upset.
I had a great time out there. I'm glad that I never really descended into darkness and absolutely hated life like I did on my last 100k. No serious nausea or stomach problems. I did sort of lose my appetite at the last aid station but I was still drinking and I know that helped a lot.
Not sure if this race is calling me to come back yet, but it is a close race to my house and it really couldn't hurt to try and do it again.
Antelope Island 50 Mile Ultramarathon 2017 Race Report
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