Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011 URINEO - 50 Miles

With another year coming to a close, this could only mean one thing - NEO Trail's annual URINEO FA at Mill Creek Park.  I usually try to make this event every year and have gone the last 3 out of 5 years with the following results:
  • 2007 - 50K - 8:18
  • 2008 - 50K - 7:35
  • 2009 - MHM - 20 laps
I was feeling ambitious this year after knocking off one of NEO Trail's challenges a month ago - Gate28x2 at Slim Pickins.  My goal this year at URINEO was to accomplish the other challenge - 50 miles.  This would be a new distance record for me since the farthest I've gone up to this point has been 50K.

I just recently bought my first pair of trail running shoes and really like them.  I got the same kind my brother wears, Brooks Cascadia.  I've had many pairs of Nike Pegasus, so I really like the Brooks since they are just as light as the Nikes, but have a tougher foot plate to protect from rocks and roots.  A tough shoe sole has never been a big worry for me doing 50Ks, but after today I realized how much of a difference it can make for longer distances.

So back to URINEO....I went to bed early Friday night and set my alarm for 2 AM.  I left my apartment in Akron at 3 and got started at the Old Log Cabin at 4 o'clock.  I only saw one person there, but ran into Bob, Jim, Todd and a couple others as I was headed out.  I started counter-clockwise around the park.

The URINEO loop is the same as YUT-C except we skip the Lake Newport section and only run to the Mill for 7.75 miles.  If you're trying for the 50 mile finish, you add the Lily Pond section plus Big Bear for about 8.33 per loop.

My legs felt good the first loop.  It was cool running through the park so early in the morning, especially seeing the waterfall at the Mill with more water than usual rushing over it.  The trails were in good condition with only a couple icy spots on the boardwalk and mud in a couple places.

For aid, I had 2 Cliff Bars, 2 packs of Shot Blocks, a foot long Subway spicy Italian sub, salt tablets, and a gallon of Gatorade.  I'm starting to get smarter with ultras as far as what to pack for aid.  Salt tablets made a huge difference today.  Even though it was cold out, I'm sure I was losing a lot of electrolytes.  It only takes one bad calf cramping experience (Laurel 50K last Spring) to wise up and prevent it from happening next time.

The second loop was pretty uneventful.  When I got back to my car for the 3rd loop, I met two people from Pittsburgh, Cindy and Jeff.  Cindy had been to the park last year for URINEO, but this was Jeff's first adventure in Youngstown.  Cindy asked if I could show them the trail, so I ran with them for the 3rd loop.  My legs were starting to feel the miles at this point.

The 4th and 5th loops are a little bit of a blur.  Bits I can remember include:
  • Seeing Brian, Rich and Paul at the Monkey Hills attempting the MHM
  • Me sitting on the trail on the ridge by the log cabin during the 4th loop exhausted and massaging my calves as Taylor Sowers came by finishing his 2nd loop.
  • Slim Jim telling me the 4th loop is the toughest mentally since you know you have 2 left after.
  • Running hurt just as much as walking, so I ran as much as I could to get done faster.
  • Hitting my head pretty hard on a fallen tree across the Monkey Trail and almost doing it a second time the next loop.
  • Running with Cindy and Jeff on the 5th loop.  They really pulled me along and prevented me from having a really slow loop.
As I got back to the cabin before starting my 6th and final loop, the party was in full force.  I knew I had to get in and out of there since it was full of excuses to throw in the towel (food, warmth, refreshments).  Bill Losey said to me, "Get what you need and get going.  Don't get caught up in this bullshit."  He was right, but in my head I knew if I made it to this point, there was no quitting.  It was either stop at 4 loops or finish the whole enchilada.  A 5 loop finish would've meant nothing, or close to it.

So I started off counter-clockwise again, pumped up from the encouragement of the runners at the cabin.  I ran for about 30 seconds, stopped, then realized I was going to be doing way more walking than running this loop.  Each time after starting back up from the log cabin, my calves really ached due to sitting down.  Most times they got "better" after a mile or so.  However on this 6th loop, I can't say they really got better.  The good thing, I thought, was that you can only hurt so much and then you start to forget about it.  Or maybe just get used to it.

I ran into Cam Baker and Lloyd Thomas near Big Bear.  Cam was also finishing his last loop of the 50 miler.  I started singing "The Final Countdown" by Europe, he told me he did a 1-up and ran an extra MH, we exchanged words of encouragement, and were on our way.

When I got to the Monkey Hills, Rich was still at it.  He was just coming down the hill towards the road as I was starting up, so I walked the trail in one direction with him.  He was on his 23rd loop en route to a record setting 30 loops!

I could feel the finish nearing closer as I arrived at the Stone Bridge trail.  I couldn't believe what I was about to accomplish today.  All the effort and struggle throughout the day was becoming worth it for this moment of finishing.

I finished in 12:15.  Exhausted and relieved, I changed clothes and then walked into the cabin to a loud applause.

What a great day!  I think it's awesome our club has events like these.  It really feels like an extended family.  Each person seems to truly care about each other's accomplishments and encouraging each other along the way.

Below are my approximate splits I wrote down after each loop.  All the splits, except the first, include time stopped at the cabin refueling.

1 - 1:35 - 11:24/mile
2 - 1:45 - 12:36/mile
3 - 2:00 - 14:24/mile
4 - 2:14 - 16:05/mile
5 - 2:16 - 16:19/mile
6 - 2:25 - 17:24/mile