March 12 , 2011

Mesquite Canyon 50K

I had several titles in mind for this report...

1. How to lose 11 pounds in less than 9 hours.
2. If you truly loved me you'd hide my trail shoes! (I'll     save this one for my autobiography)
3. Am I really that stupid to continue doing this?
4. A disasterous day in Mesquite Canyon (sounds too     much like a Scooby Doo episode)
5. If this didn't kill me nothing will!

Coming into the Mesquite Canyon 50K I knew the course was very difficult from running the XTERRA 12 mile over some of the same trails in January. With long runs in the McDowell Mountains every Sunday in the 22-25 mile range and topping out with 31 miles on February 27 my only concern was the forecasted 85° temperatures. Because of this I made a conscience effort to pre-hydrate on Thursday and Friday before the race.

I started the race conservatively, knowing it would be a long day and I'd pay dearly if I started too fast. I topped off my bottles with Gatorade at the Mesquite Aid Station and headed out to the Black Canyon Aid Station 9.1 miles away. The hardest part of this 9.1 mile stretch wasn't the climb to the top but the rocky decent. We had to double back on this same trail after the aid station so I kept watching for the leaders. Finally just over a mile from the aid station the leaders started coming back at me. I counted 19 runners ahead of me at this point and estimated I was 20 minutes off the lead after 13.3 miles. Conserving energy and my legs I felt really good about this with a goal of staying within 1h:30m-1h:45m over-all (which I thought would put me in the 5:30 to 6 hour time frame to finish). At the Black Canyon Aid Station my time was 2h:25m, I grabbed another 20oz. bottle of Succeed Amino (I started the day with 2-20 oz. bottles of Amino) out of my drop bag, filled my 2nd bottle with Gatorade, drank a 350 cal. Ensure and started back up the trail.

I started back toward the Mesquite Aid Station slowly, I was eating a Stinger Honey Wafer and trying to maintain a slow but steady pace back to the top. Around the 15 mile mark I started getting light headed and slowed to a walk up this steep, rocky climb. That was the start of what turned out to be a very long last 16 miles. I fought dehydration the rest of the day. I stopped several times on the way to the top, once I reached the top I was able to run most of the way to the Mesquite Aid Station. Unfortunately, the 9.3 miles between Black Canyon and Mesquite took 2h:50m. I was supplementing my fluid with Succeed S-Caps every 30 minutes, I didn't need a watch as 25 minutes from taking the last S-Cap I'd start getting light headed. Around mile 20 the nausia set in and stayed with me the rest of the day.

At Mesquite volunteers filled both my bottles with water (I refused Gatorade, I'd had too much and was sick of it) and poured water over my head and neck at Mesquite and I left to start the last short climb of the day and what I thought would be a short 5.6 miles to the Ford Canyon Aid Station. If I'd had any idea that 5.6 miles would take me 3h:40m I never would've left.

Coming down through Ford Canyon was possibly the toughest part of any run I've experienced. I say I was "fighting" dehydration because I had been going back and forth since mile 15 thinking I had it under control only to hit a wall 15 minutes later. Back and forth all day. Once in Ford Canyon the temperature had risen to over 80° and the trail was completely exposed to the sun. The last few miles of Ford Canyon really doesn't have a trail, it's a dried up stream bed that's either 6" deep sand or boulders ranging from the size of basketballs to the size of Sherman tanks. And you don't go around then, you go over them. I hit absolute rock bottom about a mile from the Ford Canyon Aid Station. Course aid volunteer, Justin Lutick and another guy, met me at this point and filled one of my bottles with water as they were working the trail backward looking for runners. After assuring the volunteers I was ok (I'm one of the best liars in Arizona I guess) they moved on and I resumed my march to the finish.

At Ford Canyon Aid Station volunteers filled one of my bottles with water, the other with Gatorade (yuck) and I headed to the finish line 2.6 miles away. At this point the trail smoothed out and was a nice path to be on. I jogged 50-100 yards at a time and was feeling pretty good again but decided shaving 2 minutes off my time wasn't really worth the risk of slipping back into what I had endured for the past 6 hours. So I walked in with my tail between my legs and although very discouraged I had a weird sense of pride knowing what I had just endured and trying to learn an important lesson on how to deal with and right my dehydrated state. All in all it was just one of those days, I have to learn from it and move on.

My fluid and nutrition intake for the day.

4:30 a.m. - 16oz. glass of water and 3 swallows of orange juice (don't tell Laura I drank straight out of the bottle...again)
4:45 a.m. - 1 cup of black coffee and bagel with Nutella (omg, I love Nutella all of a sudden)
6:30 a.m. - 8oz. Ensure (350 calories) pulling into White Tank Regional Park
20oz. Succeed Amino and 1 GU before Mesquite Aid Station
20oz. Gatorade and 20oz. Succeed Amino before Black Canyon Aid Station
8oz. Ensure (350 calories) at Black Canyon Aid Station
1 - Stinger Honey Wafer
2 - 20oz. Succeed Amino and S-caps every 30 minutes before Mesquite Aid Station
2 - 20oz. water before running into volunteers on trail, 1 GU and 1 roll of Sweet Tarts (tasted like chalk)
1- 20oz. water from volunteers on trail before getting to Ford Canyon Aid Station
1- 20oz. water and 1 - 20oz. Gatorade before the finish line
1 - 12oz. Mountain Dew and 1 - 12oz. Diet Coke and drive home

264 total ounces of fluid
     0 total times I peed
   11 total pounds lost
     1 total drop bags I took to the race
     0 total drop bags I remembered to bring home (I wasn't thinking clearly when I left obviously)

Today I feel fine. No muscle soreness (but I did have terrible muscle cramping last night before drinking 2 large glasses of Gatorade, 2 large glasses of water and eating 2 bowls of chicken noodle soup). I don't have any races planned now until the Flagstaff Marathon in September. But I will be busy training and reading everything I can on dehydration, how to prevent it, how to correct it during a run and most importantly trying to figure out why it even happened yesterday in the first place.

Photos (provided by Aravaipa Running, modified by moi)


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