Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Saturday, March 29, 2008

OK, Yeah, I Choked

Gator Trail 50K today. Lake Waccamaw, NC- near Wilmington. Just decided to run a week ago. Not expecting anything. Three 2-3 hour runs in the week leading up to the race.

Race starts & I look around & wonder why I'm in FIRST place! I didn't want to be in first place. admittedly, there were only 28 people running. I was in the lead for the first 18 miles before the wheels fell off. Let me make this clear- I was leading the race! I still don't understand how that's possible. As a wise coach once said, "They don't give awards for winning the first half of a race." :) I do NOT think I went out too fast. I held back the first lap & ran comfortably the 2nd.

2nd place was 40 meters behind me at the 2 mile mark & I felt a lot of pressure, so I decided to surge a tiny bit for the next 800m. That gave me a more cushion so I could relax. At the end of each of six 5+ mile loops, you have a 4:00 section of out & back where you can see where people are. At the end of the first loop, he was about 2:00 back. I went to the outhouse (yes, outhouse) in the 2nd loop, but he was still 2:00 back, which means without the stop, I was still gaining ground. I decided, "If I'm going to win this thing, I need to get some separation and by the next loop, I don't want to be able to see him." My thought was "Out of sight, out of mind." If he knew I was making up ground, he'd forget about me. At least that's what I thought. ...I mean, I'm never close to this situation, so... So I picked it up from miles 10-13. My already queasy stomach had enough & at 14 miles, I puked. At the end of the 3rd loop, I was still 2:30 or so ahead. I took a little long between laps to get more drink & special needs stuff. Puked twice on the 4th loop and he caught me at 18. Another guy caught me at 19. Two others caught me at 19.5. Two others caught me in the 5th loop. I was forced to walk a few times the 4th & 5th loops, but ran the whole 6th loop- just slowly. I passed one of the guys less than a mile from the end, so I ended up in 6th. 4:49:40.

Laps 2-6 included about 2:00 at my car/aid station, but I was going pretty well until the 4th loop.
Lap 1- 42:11, Lap 2- 42:40, Lap 3- 41:59, Lap 4- 49:41, Lap 5 - 57:16, Lap 6- 55:45

I decided a while back my puking trouble has always been about nerves. I used to have stomach problems in every road marathon I ran b/c I put so much pressure on myself to PR. With trail running, I relax more & enjoy it, so no stomach problems. I think because I felt the pressure of not getting passed, I had the stomach problems. Dumb, I know. I've never led a race since 10th grade! Uncharted territory. I freaked out a little, I guess. Some of the problem, I'm sure was picking up the pace, but I wasn't exactly flying- 7:30 pace for those 3 miles maybe.

The course was OK. Very flat, longleaf pine forest, sand. The sand was loose & soft. Not ideal, but it was good enough. Not very technical, but there were sections with roots & little stumps. The sand made it tougher than it should've been though. Weather was perfect! 60, no sun & breezy. Course well marked & race director & volunteers nice & helpful. Sweatshirt. Finisher's award is a framed picture of you, which I like better than a medal. Something different. Saw no gators, but there was a baby alligator skeleton on the course. A 12 foot gator recently died there.

Eating didn't happen. With that & the pukes, I'm surprised there was no bonking, but I was OK. Got very hungry the 5th lap and ate some trail mix, which hit the spot. I also remembered why I don't like Perpeteum. My sciatic nerve problem was pretty bad. I'm sure I would've slowed due to it in the last 2 laps. My toe problem is getting worse & worse. Since I was little, one of them has curled under, but it's getting worse. When I run, the end of the toenail faces all the way down- perpendicular to the ground, causing some nasty problems. I'm thankful when it falls off 1-2 times a year, because it's so mangled you can't really cut it well. I think I need to have something done to it. Surgery to straighten it has always been in the back of my mind & I always say, "After the next race." I'm thinking it may be better to just get the nail permanently removed. I dunno. Yeah, it's gross.


allie said...

Congrats on getting through it. Sorry you lost the lead.

SLB said...

Nice run, seems a shame that you lost out on the win though, still I am sure there is something to be learned and taken to the next start line.

28 runners in one race is pretty cool though!

Jamie said...

Pretty impressive, especially considering the puking! Nicely done.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

psshhh. you can that accomplished?! dude. there were only 28 people in the race. I repeat: 28. Being in first for a while shouldn't of been such a shocker. and it shouldn't of been too hard to keep first place but i guess not everyone is as experienced in running as myself.
I have ran the Western States Endurance Run twice. It is a brutal 100-mile trail run from Squaw Valley to Auburn, which features more than 23,000 feet of elevation change. But that is nothing. Probably my second biggest run was the marathon I ran at Mount Everest and the one in Antartica. There's also the 135-mile race through Death Valley, and a multi-day race where runners cross the Sahara Desert. It's pretty much insane. So far I have run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50straight days. This is why my nickname is Forest Gump. Beat that suckaa! :)

Anonymous said...

I like the pic, senor Spence. It made me chuckle,it was like a photographer was outside hiking, taking detailed photographs of the natural botany. When all of a sudden, the illustrious pink-hatted coach ran past. I can imagine the photographer, lost in his shock, quickly snapped a foto, as quick as he could, not caring about the focus. It was like seeing bigfoot, and hurrily snapping terrible pictures of it, but better. By the way, nice race, 31 miles is lots.

Coach Spencer said...

Dean Karnazes, why are you reading my blog & talking smack? :)

barnacle bill said...

If Perpeteum made my feet look like that, I'd stop drinking it too! ;)

R Kelly said...

Hardcore feet, Coach!