Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2013 Buffalo Run 50 Mile Race Report - Matt W

When I first woke at 4am I got reports from others driving to the race of unplowed roads and blizzards, but from my doorstep the sky was clear and the moon was bright - I could easily see the island from my porch. I picked up Leslie dark and early at her hotel and headed straight out to the island.
Once at the starting line, we lingered in the car, anticipating the cold, but finally headed to the tent to drop some bags and use the POPs. Standing just outside the tent near the starting line, we found Josh and then Sam - who had locked his keys in the car with all of his stuff! Luckily he was dressed and was wearing shoes, and fellow runner Mark lent a lifesaving water bottle. We were chatting away and snapping a few quick pics when we heard Jim give the countdown and "Go"! Oh, I guess we're starting!
About to Start - Photo by Mark
We were a little ways back in the pack, and hung there until we hit the trail and the incline started to increase, where we quickly moved our way up to our 'place' in the group. It's always fun to watch the natural order of everyone settling in and finding their spot among the throng of runners. There was a little weaving in and out, but it wasn't long before Leslie, Sam, Josh and I were our own little group cruising along. It was cool to look down and see a long line of headlamps making their way up the hill. Had I paid a little more attention, I likely could have seen MattVH's light making its way around the knoll from the north and towards the finish line.
We hit Lone Tree hill and walked for the first time, at a brisk hike. We hit the top of the hill and blew straight through without stopping. They were directing people to do the out and back first, but we decided to continue on and do it second, missing a lot of the congestion. As we dropped down into the valley, we were the only ones in sight as the sun was starting to light the sky. Ran fairly easy and comfortable to the bottom of the valley and then up the switchbacks. Gotta love those switchbacks. As we neared the top of them, Josh and I started to put a small gap on Leslie and Sam, but they continued to stick close behind. 
Back at Elephant head, we made a left hand turn, again without stopping, and headed out to the point. Another fun section, and we passed a good number of people that were on their way back from hitting the point before doing the loop we had just done. We stopped very briefly at the point, and then headed right on back. Again, Leslie and Sam weren't far behind, so we gave them a hearty hello and kept on going. The sun was now out, and we were really enjoying ourselves, but I think Josh and I were both starting to feel a little tired, especially (for me) right after one of the (really) short climbs. I ate a little more and then took a minute to stretch while Josh was filling his bottle at the aid. We got right back on the trail and cruised down Lone Tree hill and across the valley. 
Just as we started hiking out, the front runners for the 50K came cruising down the hill. We said hello to a couple friends and made the split after running by about 10-15 of the 50k runners. The more I run this trail the more I enjoy this last section of the loop. Weaving in and out with a very gradual climb as you skirt the mountain, until it brings into view of the start/finish area, where you meet back up with the trail you started on and rocket your way down the hill. As we were running down we could see the wall of 25K racers start. We wanted to be done with this loop before they started, but it wasn't too much trouble to run off trail as they were running up (most are too excited about starting their race to notice that there are people coming down).
Finishing the 19 mile loop just as the 25K runners are heading out
I was happy to see my dad and brother in law waiting at the fence to say hello, and I grabbed my drop bag from the aid station and handed it to them, only taking out a bottle and drinking some CocoGo before handing it off. Was happy to see Craig, Kelli and Jen there at the start/finish, and talked to them for a minute, but only after we hit up the POPs.

Me looking for Josh to get out of the POP, Kelli, Craig, and Jen looking on for Leslie
I could see my wife pulling into the parking lot, and I waved, but she was looking for a spot to park and didn't see me. Back on the road we walked up the hill for a minute, I ate a few bites of tortilla and nutella and then we were running down the steep hill to the Mountain View Trail. Josh cruised down fast in front of me, and I started to feel my energy drop a little. As we headed north on the out and back, I took a squeeze of EFS and the dreaded stomach turn hit me. Rolling stomach, couple of dry didn't want this to be happening so soon. Josh had put a nice little gap on me, and I could see my wife, dad and brother cheering from the turn around. As I got close, Josh was now heading back and he said something like "Run Faster" as we passed. I hit the turnaround and said hello to my family without stopping and then followed Joshs advice and tracked him down. What I found was that my stomach soon felt fine and I was able to run well again...hmmm...

"Run Faster"
Me almost to the turnaround (L), Josh heading back (R)
Once I caught up to Josh we passed Sam coming towards us, he mentioned that he had a bit of a low spot, but looked to be moving well. He didn't say anything about Leslie, which had us wondering and spending the next several minutes as we were stopped at the aid station, looking up the hill hoping to see her running down. With no such luck we continued on, discussing the fact that we certainly weren't going to be hitting any aggressive goals today, so we'd just plan on running together for the day and have a good time.       
A couple of miles later I knew that it was time for a little refuel - well, here goes nothing. Pounded a little more EFS, with the same close-to-puke inducing results. Josh moved on ahead, since I'm sure he didn't need or want to hear me going through the motions. Again, a minute later my stomach would turn and I'd be back to feeling good and would catch back up. Weird, but I can take it. About a mile out from Lower Frary, I saw a familiar figure running towards us in the distance. It was Scott with his pacer Rob and about 10 miles to go on his 100. We stopped and gave him a congratulatory hug and chatted for a minute before sending him on his way. Once at Frary we both needed to empty our shoes and change jackets - it was getting warm! We had hoped there was a POP at Frary (turns out there was, we just hadn't seen it!) and it wasn't too long before Josh took advantage of some rare sagebrush cover. I just marched along until he caught up to me just before the last road crossing before getting to the ranch. We continued to clip along and I began to feel really hungry. 

Heading into Lower Frary

About that time we saw two familiar faces approaching - Kelli, who was running to meet her husband Scott, and Jen, who was to be pacing Leslie. When we stopped to say hello, they gave us the bad news of Leslies DNF with a quad tear, which we were both very sad to hear. Jen then asked if she might be able to tag along with us. The more the merrier! Kelli went of in search of Scott and Jen ran the mile back to the ranch with us. 
Back at the ranch both Josh's and my crew were there ready and waiting, I quickly made use of the facilities and then took some time to throw glide on my feet and eat some food. I wore the socks I had been wearing all winter, and they were a little too rough and stiff for this ride, so I wanted to take a little extra precaution. Randomly, my next door neighbor from when I was growing up came over and said hello, he happened to be at the Ranch with a school group. Finally, I called over to Josh and we made our way off. My little crew was so helpful.
We walked for a bit to help the food settle, and then finally decided to kick things back into gear and start running. A mile or two later we crossed paths with Sam again, who was still trucking. I do enjoy out and backs in that you get to see everyone running the race and say hey. The way back from the ranch really seemed to go pretty smoothly, I was feeling pretty good, especially with the food I'd been able to eat, and now the EFS was going down without trouble too. Nice. Josh was still battling with some stomach problems, and would periodically pull off the trail and would catch right back up. At one point I planned on a nice long stop and Frary to wait for him to catch up, but when I turned around when we got there, he was pretty much right on our heels. The rest of mountain view really seemed to click by without incident. I can't say how much it helped to have Josh and Jen to run with on this section. Every other time I have been on this part of the trail I have been by myself, which always seems to be more of a mental battle. Jen and I were having some good conversation, dodging through some mud, when all of the sudden we were at the Mountainview aid. Once again, Josh was right behind, having caught up from a stop. 
Hesding back from the Ranch - table for 3!
After a brief stop and all of the flat running, it felt nice to hike up the hill and use some different muscles. Once at the top of the road we picked up a run again, but it wasn't long before Josh had to pull off into the bushes again. I really felt for what he was dealing with, it's no fun, especially on race day! Jen and I continued on to the pavement and then to the brief cross-country course towards the Bridger aid. Just before the aid, we came upon a big Bison grazing solo just off the trail. I mentioned to Jen that Kelli would probably pee her pants right here...Jen said she hadn't even noticed him there until I said something, she had been looking at my feet. The joys of pacing. Since he had his back to us, I decided to give him a little "Ole, Ole, Ole" shout out to let him know we were there. I think it probably made Jens heart jump a little. A quick stop at the aid for another Coke and we were off. We couldn't see Josh coming until we were a little ways off and then saw him running into the aid. I yelled to him to hurry it up and pushed on. 
Before the race I wasn't sure how much I would like this last, technical section of trail, but once I got there I absolutely loved it. Aside from one brief stop to stretch a cramped hammie (it wasn't used to bounding over rocks), I ran the whole time. I was getting hot again, I even ditched my jacket for this last part (thanks to Jen for getting it stashed for me while I was still running). I could smell the finish. I was able to keep the last 3 miles at a sub 10 min pace, and once the finish line came into sight (still about a mile out) I just tried to keep it going. I passed a lot of people through this part, many 100 milers and a couple from the 50. 
Now onto the dirt road it was a quick right turn and then a long, straight run down the road to the fence. At the last turn up to the finish, I merged with a 50K runner and gave him a "Lets get this done shout" and then powered on up the hill and to the finish. I was feeling really good and was even a little surprised with how much energy I had in my legs. Crossed the line in 9:16 to a hug from Craig - who'd been pretty much hanging out there greeting people in for the last 9 hours, AFTER finishing a killer sub 19 hour 100 that morning. Then a hug and a kiss from my wife and from my niece, who was there celebrating her 5th birthday - her dad (my brother) ran a 50K 'just for her birthday' (she was totally psyched about that)! Josh came in just minutes later looking good as ever. 

I felt really good about the race and the day I had. I felt like my energy levels were pretty consistent, I had the usual lulls, but no real bonks or rough spots. I was very lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing people. My wife, dad and brother, who followed us along nearly the entire mountainview trail. Josh for sticking with me the whole day really helped to keep me moving. Having an unexpected pacer to our team with Jen was awesome, she was so supportive and encouraging to both of us, and was just a pleasure to run with. Sam and Leslie for giving the day a good start and being with our group, and Leslie for having to make a really difficult decision to stop. Josh's family stuck right with us the entire race as well, which was great. So many other friends out sharing the trail (Jeremy, Kelli & Scott, Mark, Brent, Kristel, Davy etc...). 
Great day at the races with Scott, MattVH and Craig killing it in the 100, all with PRs. Craig was a stud sticking around all day and supporting everyone. My brother Aaron got it done with a 5:45 in his first 50K. Awesome! As always the race organizer and volunteers were top notch. 

I can't recommend this race enough. It was just what I needed as I now focus in on the Bryce 100 coming up in 2 months. 

Chillin' (in more ways than one) at the finish
L-R, Me, Craig, Josh, Jeremy
Pre-Race Breakfast:
3 egg omlet with Spinach, mushrooms & garlic (yum)
1 glass Odewalla Superfood juice
2 Amino Acid Tablets

Race food:
~30 oz water
14 Oz CocoGo - Grape
3 EFS flasks (~1200 cal) 2 berry, 1 vanilla

6 orange wedges
4 cans of Coke (~600 cal)
1 can Mountain Dew (~150 cal)
1 can Sprite (~150 cal)
1/4 chicken salad sandwich on croissant (mostly croissant)
2 bites of tortilla with nutella
1 tiny salted potato
1 dried mango slice
Bunch o' S-Caps


Mark Allgood said...

Nice review of a wonderful event Matt. The Buffalo Run 50 was my first Ultra and reading your post was a great way to re-live that special day. Happy Trails!

Josh G said...

You ran so strong all day. It was a privilege to be able to run with you nearly the entire race. Congrats on a strong finish. You're gonna nail it at Bryce!

Sam said...

It was so nice to run with you. I would have been alone if not. Thanks for letting me tag along for a bit. You did awesome.

Scott Wesemann said...

Excellent report! You are so ready to go down and kill it at Bryce.

jun said...

Absolutely brilliant article. Well written. You just were 'on' all day. What a great race as you prepare for your first 100.

Anonymous said...

A great report for a great race! For future reference, if anyone wants to know the difference between a buffalo/bison/water buffalo, just ask Matt W.! I've said it a hundred times already, but congratulations on a run well done and thank you for letting me tag along. --Jen

Joyce said...

You are amazing and a wonderful example! Love you!

Jennilyn said...

I am still hearing about how you looked better running that race than most of us do on our training runs. Congrats! Maybe I'll try to follow you at Bryce...