I woke the next morning full of anxiety and sipped my coffee as I tried to scope out my competition. "I wonder who is going to be up front", I thought as I saw more and more people arrive.
The pre-race talk was rich with Baz's usual anecdotal wittiness, and before I knew it it was time to toe the line. As we started up the hill my legs felt fresh and I did my best to hold back [note: next time I think I am "holding back" in the start of a race, I should slow down]. The long fire road was a little monotonous, and little did I know this was how 90% of the rest of the race would be. For the fist 20 miles or so I ran with Oswaldo Lopez, and he did his best to tell me the layout of the rest of the course. It was these long gradual climbs and descents on the fire roads that drove me into the ground. That, coupled with my stomach's aversion to any of the calories I was putting in it, lead to me running out of gas around mile 20 or so. I tried to double up on gels to re-boost my energy, but this lead to me puking them up a few miles later. Next I tried a little bit of soda: more puking (Mike: I did not get your text message till after the race with the #nopuking comment). So I sluggishly proceeded up and down the final miles, getting passed by, wallowing in self pity, and wondering if I could even consider myself any sort of contender at these ultra distances.
I finished the race in 6th place at 4:18:xx. Now, I know what most of you are thinking: "Erik, that's nothing to be bummed about." But, going from third to sixth in a few miles, watching people glide past you with ease when you a creeping along, all the while realizing that you would not be finishing the race in your imagined first or second place, becomes incredibly demoralizing.
After a few beers and some classic Baz hilarity, I packed up my truck, cranked up The National, and headed into Yosemite. What a beautiful place to heal my wounds; and although rain drove me home early, the energy of the valley and the giant granite walls was infecting. So, as it turns out, I am not a big time ultra-runner, at least not yet.
Congratulations to Oswaldo for his 7th win at the Shadow of the Giants 50K. He was great company for the miles we ran together.
|Classic Camp 4|
|Coffee in the Shadow of the Captain.|