Rockin' K 50 Mile Trail Run - April 4th 2015"Daddy here is a rock to carry in your pocket to give you good luck during the 50 miles, it’s my luckiest, smallest rock"
Having a kid that has a rock collection is awesome; having a kiddo that shares her luckiest rock with her Dad before he goes off into the wilderness to make an attempt at running 50 miles is amazing.
Friday morning I headed towards Kanopolis State Park in Kansas for my 2nd 50 mile trail run. Around 3 I arrived at the park and got my packet and then my hotel in a nearby town for the night. After securing my room I headed back to the park for a short run to check out the trails and get an idea of what I was in for. Immediately into my shake out run I was astonished by the landscape. The views were amazing and the single track trails .. well they rocked!
The top left pic shows an arrow (where i am) and it shows it in relation to the course. This worked flawlessly during the run. Anytime i was unsure of weather or not i made the correct turn i could look at this and know. The other is how many miles remaining until the next 'Waypoint' I wish i would of set this on up a bit better and only had water stations and not each gate crossing in; but it did work well and is a nice feature to have. The race provided a Spaghetti dinner the evening before so I had a big helping of spaghetti and sat around a nice fire and had a bit of time to my own thoughts about the run tomorrow.
Saturday morning came after a pretty good nights sleep. I stopped at Casey's Gas Station on my way to the race and got a bagel, ham & egg sandwich and a glazed donut. I'm unaware of how i had no breakfast plan and if they wouldn't of been open at 5:30 what would I have done? I don't know how I didn't have a plan for breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day & on a 50 miler race day it may be the only meal of the day. Somehow in all my planning i forgot that simple thing but was saved by a 24hr Casey's General Store.
The start finish was buzzing with people anxious for the race to start. I packed up my Orange Mud Vest pack with 1 bottle blue Gatorade, & 1 bottle water. I also had 2 bags of different types of trail mix, 2 Kind bars, Lemon Drops, & Honey Stinger Waffles. Quickly 7:00 rolled around and we were off. The sun was just coming up as we headed out and quickly made our way to the single track trails. These first few miles were relatively flat without any crazy inclines; a perfect way to wake the legs up a bit before the big hills.
I settled into a nice pace early and was at the first aide station at mile 7 feeling great. I filled up my water bottle here and headed back out. The trails were a mix of 4 wheeler trails though a prairie, single track dirt through trees and sand around big rock formations. I learned that Kansas has cactus looking plants, never knew that. I kept working my way through the trails and got to the manned aide station feeling pretty good.
I filled up water again here at mile 13 but had no other concerns that needed addressed so I headed out on the part that i had been warned about. "The Big Bluff loop" This was a 5 mile loop that finished back here at this aide station again. This loop was made up of some intense climbs. I was not able to run some of them, even on the 1st loop when I had energy. At about half way through the loop you get some nice momentum gaining declines and can actually make up some time. I made it back to that aide station at around mile 18 starting to feel a big tight and fatigued.
Nothing alarming yet just felt like a guy who ran 18 miles and some big hills. I refilled my bottles and left that aide station heading back to the turn around. Shortly after this aide station you hit that unmanned aide station from before to refill bottles but then it is a long stretch from here to the start/finish turn around before anymore water. I took note of this for the second loop. Their were 2 big creek crossings in this section. The water was above my waste and about 50-60 foot across the creek. I was nervous for these before the race and when i came upon them I'm like no way really; we cross that! Then as soon as I got in OMG that's cold!! Then as soon as i got out, OMG that was awesome. I took my time thru the next crossing; letting it shock the muscles in my legs. Heavy shoes after the crossing in the sand made for a difficult few miles but mostly these miles went by fairly smooth. I hit mile 27 right at the turn around point. They all started to cheer as i came in and I quickly said. Hold your cheers; not a marathoner. I have another lap. I came in the aid station and immediately looked for my drop bag. This was weird because i didn't need anything out of it. Just found it opened it and was like ok, closed it and got my water bottles back; grabbed a PB & J and started back towards the trails. I made a point not to spend much time here and get back at it. From here i would not see another sole for 11 miles until that manned aid station at 38. These miles were going slower & getting harder with every mile. My legs were very tight but was still able to run. At the turn around point they mentioned i was in 3rd place. During this stretch I made it a goal of mine to hold onto that spot. I started reaching for my good luck rock here a few times. I'd take it out, feel it and put it back. It was nice having that piece of Kier with me.
I finally hit the manned aide station at mile 38 but had been feeling pretty rough the few miles before it. Everything in my legs was tight at this point; I filled my bottles and asked for some ibuprofen. I took 3 of those and headed back out hoping that'd help. I had been drinking good up till now so i figured they'd loosen up and they did. I felt like i ran the "Big Bluff Loop" pretty good. I was thinking man you are killing this part considering it's lap 2 and 40 miles in. Right at about that point i saw 2 runners less than a mile behind me. This was my first sight of another 50 miler runner since we left the start gate 6 hours earlier. I was like ok maybe your not killing these because they are obviously gaining on you. 3rd place remember; lets get this! I hit that last manned aide station at mile 44 on my watch. I mentioned something about 6 miles left and I appreciated the correction that it was 8 miles to the finish. I remembered then that i had seen on Strava that runners in years passed were about 52 miles. I grabbed a bit of food here and headed back out determined to hold onto 3rd. These miles got so long; I never realized how long a mile could seem.
I kept looking back and then yelling at myself to quit looking back and just run. I found myself really looking forward to that first crossing so it'd be something different. Just change things up. I again started taking that rock out of my pocket, it seemed to give me a little reminder of perspective.
Trail running has a way of doing that for me; putting life back in perspective. Regardless of the outcome of the race, a good run or a a bad run; i always just feel so blessed to be out on the trails!
I hit that 1st creek crossing and drenched my body with water to cool down. It felt so nice. Soon as i got out though I didn't have that rush of endorphin's or runner's high where everything feels better; i actually felt worse. Now i was soaking wet and my shoes are heavy as can be, and i'm tired and 4th is closing right in on me. It was at this point i said ok, this is were i think you lost 3rd. I remember having that thought. When you get done and you get 4th and wonder where you lost it it's because of this here. I got over that attitude fairly quickly and just kept trying to run when I could and walk when i had to for those last few miles. at mile 51 (1 mile from finish) I realized i was going to get 3rd and running felt fine now. I was able to run without walking now and it didn't feel so hard; I do not understand my mind would do that. Weird how are mind & body works together.
I came in the finish line and was so happy to be done. I loved the trails & the park but finishing is the best feeling. Getting through these 50 miles was an amazing feeling.
This finish line was perfect. Amazing people, fellow runners, burgers being grilled, fire in the shelter. I spent the next 2 hours eating, chatting and laying in front of a nice warm fire.