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A cold and wet bear-hug

The Bear 2005 – man did I have a tough time doing that one … read about my epic battle 🙂
Wow! This was one race!!! Remember when I thought CCC was sort of easy because I never felt down? This was the true test for me. NOW I feel like an ultra runner 😉

Things went GREAT up to about mile 50. I think my split was 12 hours (way too fast, which may have something to do with my later problems). The colors on the course were AMAZING. I very very highly recommend this race. I have never seen anything even remotely like it. I took a bunch of pictures, but I doubt they’ll do reality justice!

Now right before mile 50 I had some bad foot pain (I think it was a pinched nerve in my metatarsal area – I could barely walk uphills and even downhills it occasionally hirt very badly). The kind of pain you can’t ignore, I even wondered if I had broken a small bone. This shook my confidence massively, and I learned firsthand how your confidence and your condition are linked. I was really worried this might prevent me from finishing. Around that time I developed some nausea as well, although there may be other causes. Fortunately the pain was better after I massaged my foot (also ascertaining nothing serious is wrong) and later in the race it disappeared.

But this was just the beginning. I left the Paris aid station, which is 7.8 miles from the next one (Dry (yeah) Basin) and consitutes the handle of the course (later we would do this part back) into rain (even light hail/snow) and lightning (which struck at one time quite close to me) and after the first climb the course was one whole mudslide – and I am not kidding. Falling was impossible to avoid (now I realize I could have saved a lot of time not trying to avoid it). In addition my nausea was getting worse, and I didn’t have very warm clothing either (I thought it would only get cold after the next aid station). I had a rwater-repellent (but not -proof) jacket, and I also had a trashbag in my pack (with holes already cut out) – and I didn’t put the trashbag on! Duh! The 7.8 miles took a whopping 3.5 hours to complete – for most people who had to deal with the mud. At the Dry Basin aid station I was severly hypothermic, extremely nauseated (I tried to throw up earlier but nothing was in my stomach) and demoralized, because I knew the rest of the course would be like this. Fortunately I had already bought a bear logo hat, which I wouldn’t be able to wear if I didn’t finish, so I carried on. The next hours up to mile 82 were filled with nausea, pain and despair. I would fill up, warm up and eat at each aid station, be ok for a little bit, then get nauseated about midway to the next one … I was very close to despair many times. Even worse, because I was unable to maintain a constant effort, I had troubles keeping myself at a good temperature – I would sweat, get wet, then cool down … brrr. At some point I could barely move and would tell myself “I’ll go 10 yards, then sit down”. After ten yards, I’d say “ok, there’s no dry spot to sit down here, let’s go 10 more” and so on. I had a few good strong phases, but probably only like 10% of the time. I went through nearly all of this alone (I think a pacer would have helped there – so I am glad I didn’t have one!) Finally, at mile 82 it became light again (no sun though for the rest of the race, and it stayed very chilly), and I was able to come back and do the 7.8 mile return very strong, overtaking three runners! After that the race was basically mostly downhill, and nothing major happened. At the very end I had a good mile on the road to the finish – for some reason I thought it would be fun to finish under 31, so I ran very fast, and jumped through the finish line – of course, since I didn’t go fast all night and my legs were thus still ok 🙂 In the aftermath I don’t feel too bad, although my feet are badly trashed (and while my new Montrails did good with my arches, they couldn’t prevent enormous blisters on my heels – no wonder, running 50 miles with wet and muddy socks). Note btw that even although my legs did feel tired after only a few miles in the race (well there’s a GIGANTIC climb at the beginning) and they burned, I don’t think that I would have done much better if I hadn’t run CCC before – I believe a lot about the recovery aspect is mental and the problem that you may have a bad attitude or be more asily inclined to DNF if you did a finish shortly beforehand. At least THAT wasn’t a problem for me (actually I REALLY didn’t want to DNF this one).

I will send out some pictures soon, and write a race report (along with my CCC one;)!

Anyways, although I didn’t get the sub-30 buckle, I a actually very happy because I found out I can go through a very bad (for me) race, and even although I know Hardrock is many times more miserable, I feel like I might have a chance 😉 I am certain that if I pace myself better, am smarter about eating (I think I got so disorganized I just stopped thinking and made a lot of mistakes) I should be able to do much better, maybe even sub-29.

Also Hans-Dieter suggested I do San Diego. That one is a bit easier, and I am seriously thinking about it (He sort of discouraged me from HURT which I was thinking about – he thinks they use an unfair cut-off to make the race artificially hard, and I would think Hans knows what he’s talking about …) Anyone else interested? 🙂 Hans is of course going to be there …

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