So today was the big 50k in Mohican. Even though I had no intention of 'racing' I was still excited to get out on the Mohican course in a race environment. Rob did an awsome job organizing the race, every little detail was taken care of, and it was great to see so many familiar faces. The race started quite well. I went out at a comfortable pace, averaging 8:30 miles through the first to aid stations. I was told by a few people at the Covered Bridge that I was in running in fifth position, but I'm not sure how acurate that was. The purple/blue loop is a little more technical and there are quite a few big hills so I decided to conserve energy on this section of the course. I ran a relaxed pace and came through the lodge in 5th but Wyatt was right with me and that was pretty much the last I saw of him all day. Wyatt looked strong and I wasn't going to let myself get sucked into a fast pace. At about mile 18 I started to get a little nausious and by mile 20, as I arrived at the Covered Bridge again, it was really starting to bother me. I was averaging 9:00 miles and my legs felt really strong so I pushed on even though I was really not enjoying myself at this point. Onward to the Fire Tower! I ran pretty well up to the Fire Tower and I only got passed by one runner (in 7th at this point). Since my legs felt so fresh I decided to climb up the Fire Tower, which caught just about everyone off guard. I got a lot of cheers and I think everyone really loved that after 25 miles, and in the middle of a race, that I took the time to climb the tower. I got overtaken by another runner while I was climbing the tower but it was totally worth it...it's a memory I'll cherish. The red loop should have been a relief after all the uphill on green but my stomach problems finally caught up with me. I wasn't able to drink or eat anything since mile 20 and I was pretty dehydrated and sick. I walked a lot on the second half of the red loop and a few runners passed me...at this point I wasn't concerned at all with pace or position, just grinding out a finish. When I came through the Covered Bridge again, with 4+ miles to go had pretty much decided to just walk to the finish...I was really really feeling sick and couldn't get myself to run. The first two miles of this section were the longest miles I've ever covered. Alright, if you've got a week stomach this is probably TMI, so skip to the final thoughts. I felt so bad that at 29 miles I decided to just make myself throw up. I had been sick for 9 miles at this point and was desperate to feel better. I was on my knees for about 5 minutes, pretty much dry heaving because there was nothing in my stomach. Several people passed me and I could have cared less. After a few minutes a guy named Seth walked by and asked if I'd walk with him. He was so nice about it and I was feeling a little better at this point so I agreed. After about 5 minutes of walking he asked if I was up for running a bit with him...I said I would try. After 4+ miles of straight walking it felt GREAT to run. Seth and I ran the 1/2 mile to the north rim trail and walked up the hill. Once we got to the top of the hill Seth wasn't ready to run again but he insisted I run if I was able to. Well I felt great so I pushed on, running 7 minute pace to the finish (I passed a couple of the people who passed me while I was on the ground throwing up...that was nice :). I ended up finishing in 5:50, which was much slower than it should have been but I learned A LOT from todays race, so in retrospect I'm really pleased with todays run. I learned the following things:
1. When you feel sick in an ultra run make yourself throw up and refuel at the next aid station, instead of struggling through 9 miles.
2. Heed Mellow Mellon is not a good fluid choice for me. I'm sure it's got all sorts of great ingredients in it but the flavor was not for me. I don't know if it had anything to do with me being sick but just the smell of it made me nausious when I wasn't feeling well.
3. Even when you feel like your on deaths door there might be a second wind around the corner. Someone told me after the race that this is one of the big secrets to the 100 mile runs. There will be times when you feel like you are going to die, keep walking, keep hydrating, and you will get through it.
If I had run a great time without pushing myself too hard I would have walked away being overconfident. In a 100 mile run things are going to go wrong and you have to be tough enough to endure through it. If I have a bought of sickness in the 100 I'll know how to remedy it and I'll know that I can come through it.
I've got to give another shout out to Rob who put on a top notch race today. The aid stations were well stocked, the course was well marked, and he even held off the rain...well done Rob!