Sunday, February 12, 2012
Kaci’s 2012Psycho WyCo 50K Race Report
First off I just have to say that this race was very organized by the race directors and the volunteers were outstanding. The course was well marked and I never felt like I was going to get lost. It was my first experience running a long distant trail race (I’ve ran a 5 mile trail run) and my first Ultra. I was going into this with absolutely no intention other than to finish. I had no idea what to expect and I was more nervous for this race than any of my other races I’ve ran (just because I didn’t know if I would be able to finish!).
I never even had this race in sight until I ran the Chilly Cheeks 5 mile trail run on Jan. 22, 2012. This was my first trail race experience. I had a fun time running on terrain other than the road. The past 3 years I had been focused on road racing and marathons, so this was a completely new direction I was going to try. I needed to spice things up! On my cool-down after this race I was running with a fellow friend, Jason Zakaras, who started talking about the Psycho WyCo 50K coming up that he was going to run. After some discussion about it and with all the endorphins running through my body at that time I said “I’ll run it with you”. Had I known what the course was like at that time I would have said told Jason, “Are you nuts”.
I did some research on the course and read over the race reports from past participants the following week. After reading about how tough it was I was scared out of my mind! I didn’t know what I had just gotten myself into. The following weekend Jason asked if I wanted to go run at Platte River State Park with Jayci and Matthew. He said it was going to be similar to what Psycho WyCo trail conditions are like. We ran 10 miles out on the single track trails and by the time we were done I was completely famished. I was sore from the technicality of running up steep inclines, twisting and turning, and watching every step I took in order not to fall. I was sore for the next three days. I really doubted myself at this time, thinking that was only 1/3 of what I will be running. Had I just chewed off more than I could handle? Don’t get me wrong, I thrive at challenging myself and my body’s limitations; however I am also one who sets realistic goals! I was pretty sure I was out of my mind! My goals were A. To finish, B. I’d be happy running 2-2:20 loops, and C. Be in the top 3 females.
Next, thing I know is the following weeks I am scrambling trying to figure out how to even prepare for a trail race let alone a 50K! I hurried and ordered some trail shoes, thicker socks, and GU’s. I asked all of my Ultra-running friends for advice and tips. And before I knew it Friday was here and gone and we were on the road down to Kansas City!! Here I was heading down to KC with my 4 of my great running friends (Jason and Jayci Zakaras, Scott Giddings, and Tim McGargill).
5:35am, I rolled out of bed and decided to embrace what the day would bring. It was 9 degrees with a -4 wind-chill, YUCK! I despise running in the cold so I knew I was going to have to dress in multiple layers. I ended up wearing 4 layers on top, tights, 3 pairs of gloves with hand warmers; the best thing since sliced bread, a stocking hat, and my Brooks True Grit trail shoes. We left the hotel at 6:30am. I ate my typical race day breakfast, a chocolate chip Cliff Bar and banana washed down with Grape Crystal Lite. We arrived right at 6:55am and grabbed our packets and swag then headed back to the car to stay warm.
7:45am, we decided it was best to use the porta-john one more time and drop off our drop bags. I think I put everything but the kitchen sink in that bag. We lined up among the rest of the shivering, anxiously awaiting runners.
Loop 1- Conservative Measures
And we’re off! My legs were stiff and not warmed up running across the bridge and grass towards the first bridle path. This was horrific terrain. Last week’s rain and multiple horse and human tracks had turned the path into torturous frozen ruts 4-6 inches deep. Not recommended for weak ankles! Within the first mile I ended up inverting my right ankle hard, causing a huge strain onto my fibularis muscles. OUCH! I continued hitting ruts and aggravating my leg. I thought to myself I might not be able to run another loop if the pain worsens. Finally, after much to my relief I caught up with Tina Long and her owner Larry Long! I knew Tina and Larry had ran sub 6 before and so I asked if I could run with them, as I had no idea how to pace myself. We made it to the Triangle where the volunteers greeted us and yelled out to another guy with us “Go Packers!” as he was wearing a stocking hat with their logo. I yelled back “No Da’ Bears”. This lead to them yelling “GO Bears” every time I went by for the rest of the race!! Anyway, boy did Tina know her way around the infamous Triangle. She and Larry were excellent negotiators and lead us out of the Triangle in one piece. I made it to the next aid station at the road about the half-way point. Never in my life would I be so happy to run on a road, even though it was all uphill and only for less than ½ mile. It just felt good to not have to think about every step you were taking. I remember them saying, “Well that was the easy part the next half is the hardest”. I thought…are you serious, that was incredibly tough how can it get worse! Well, they weren’t lying. This next half had the most steepest, rockiest, hills I have ever seen. I somehow managed to get through to the next aid station without falling; I grabbed a half frozen Vanilla GU and continued on. I ended up tagging with a guy who had run this course before and knew what he was doing. I asked him if he would mind if I tagged with him, as misery loves company. I finally thought to myself, I haven’t taken He knew exactly what to expect and told me here comes the worst hill. What! They get worse than what we already experienced! Sheesh. Woo hoo the first loop was done. (1:34:00).
Loop 2- Pace Yourself
The next loop I stayed with him for the entire loop. We began meeting up with the 10 milers’ right after the Triangle. It was tough going trying to get around people on the single-track trails but fortunately most of the runners were very kind and went out of their way to move out of our way. This loop I was more conscious about stopping at aid stations and drinking water and the orange Heed. I took another gel at the second to last aid station. With just about a little over a mile to the finish of the second loop we ran into Jason! Yay, my fellow teammate! I told Jason to stay with us and we would grind the last loop out. He came with us along with one other runner. We were all in sight of breaking the 5-hour barrier! WHOA, wait a minute…seriously break 5 hours…I never even thought that I would be near that timeframe. We had a good 2 hours of cushion to for the final loop. (1:35:52)
Loop 3- Ignorance is Bliss
Okay, so the competitive spirit in me took over for the final loop. At the aid station I grabbed some fluids and a vanilla crème cookie. I mowed down the cookie while catching up with the other 3 guys I’d been running with. I knew breaking the 5 hours was in reach and I was going to do my best at attaining that goal. We stuck together for about 2 miles, and then I and one of the other guys went ahead. We pushed each other and kept positive conversation going to power us through our dead-leg syndrome, aches and pains, and delirium. As I came down on of the steep, rock laden paths I couldn’t stop and tripped falling face first into a tree. Thankfully the tree was there to break me from falling off the cliff edge. My heart was pounding now, just in time to go up another steep hill. We made it to the road, aka ½ way-point, and I literally hit the road running. I powered up the hill and embarked on my solo journey to the finish. I knew at this point that 5 miles was doable. I had time in the bank and if I could stay upright I would be golden. I had no sense of time or miles at this time and just keep trudging forward. I knew the end had to be coming, but when?! I ran up upon a man and asked is the end close and he said yes, little less than a mile. I had that darn huge hill to trek up and if I could make it up that I would be home free. I heard the cheers at the finish line and as I crested the top of the hill I saw the clock saying 4:46:xx…VICTORY! I crossed with the biggest grin on my face, feeling so blessed to have been able to finish and in a respectable time of 4:46:19. I was the first woman to run under 5 hours in the 8 years the race has been going on. (1:36:27)
What I learned is that the body is incredible. It can do things the mind doesn’t deem possible. I have a new found passion of trail running and hold high respect to those who do this. It is a completely different animal then road racing. So, if you have a strong will, strong body, and strong ankles and don’t mind getting a little dirty…this is for you! Thank you Trail Nerds for this amazing adventure!