Sunday, June 5, 2016

2016 Cayuga Trails 50: Could not Stomach the Day

This race has been my Achilles heel.

I have finished 9th in 2013, 7th in 2014 and a DNF in 2015. The race has always been a tough one for me. Maybe it is because of the time of year, the humidity of early summer? I really am not sure.

Getting to the race site the night before and sleeping in the Nathan Mobile was nice to be able to be right where the action would happen. With a nice cool morning right around the high 50's, it was great to sleep with the windows down and the beautiful starts overhead. I felt poised and ready to go. You never go into a race feeling 100% perfect though training had gone well and I was hopeful for a great day.

Photo Credits ATRA  Myself and the chase pack
Photo Credits: Mountain Peak Fitness --Hanging with Avi and Zach
 * The race like all of the others had us gather together with Ian's blowing of the ram's horn. I settled a little further back than what I normal would do putting myself around 10-15th place. I wanted to start the run more conservatively than in years' past because I have encountered issues when going out with the front group. I also wanted to take the time to enjoy the beginning of the race more so than before. I felt that maintaining an upbeat attitude would bode well for conserving much needed energy for the longer ups and downs encountered the 2nd 25 miles of the course on tired legs.
Photo Credit: ATRA
 As the field began to separate, I met one of Zach's friends from Ann Arbor, Avi who we spent a large portion of miles together. The photo above shows the fun we were having rattling off strong but consistent miles. We kept our pace in the 7:45-8:30 minute range through the gorges and the steps of the course. It was really great to have someone along for the journey. This course knows how to pack a punch and I was feeling really strong besides the humid and warm day. With my job, I had spent the past month in some warmer spots of the country so this was helpful and felt that with maintaining a sound hydration and nutrition plan, things would go well. I was making sure to drink 18 oz every 6 miles and making sure to take a gel every two aid stations. Avi and myself began to catch other runners around the Buttermilk turn-around. I had some GI issues leading up to that aid station and had to stop to use the bathroom. I lost some time here as Avi heading up the steps of Buttermilk falls as I took my pit stop.
Photo Credit: ATRA
Life was going pretty well in the early stages...
Then things became real!
The pit stop was the first warning sign. I began to sweat a little more but my stomach felt better. I continued on my nutrition plan. I knew I could catch Avi again as he was maybe a minute or two ahead of me. I soon caught one runner and then latched on with former Red Newt/MPF runner, Ben Nephew. We hung together as I noticed Ben was going through a little low point and eventually decided to make a move to pass. I started taking in more Boom Gels and Tailwind and started noticing a weird sloshing in my stomach. I continued to try and remain calm knowing that stomach sloshing could be caused by all types of things.
Photo Credit: TJ Moore
After a bathroom pit stop, I did not think anything of this. I kept trucking along.
Photo Credits: TJ Moore 
This photo was the breaking point. The stomach sloshing with the heat really was making me feel sick. I dumped water on myself to get some evaporative cooling before the next push to mile 25 turnaround but really had that sea sick type of feeling.

All it took was right after the Highway Aid station I stopped to walk on one of the uphills and then felt it coming. I threw up some and then began to resume running hoping that was going to be all I had to deal with. Boy was I wrong. My body's system had enough. Any bit of running and I was projectile vomiting all over the trail. I had to walk. I thought maybe a few minutes of walking would do me good. Soon Ben Nephew and some other runners passed me by. They could tell something was off. In an ultra, you have some time to rebound and make a race of it. I knew that at this moment, top 5 would be out of the picture but if I could put together a strong last 25 miles, I could maybe crack the top 10.

It was torture. Every moment I got going into a running motion, I would find myself throwing up. I finally after struggling for the last 7 or so miles and being passed by the lead ladies, I knew my race was in jeopardy.  I finally crawled into the 25 mile turnaround point and knew I had to make a decision. I already felt dejected knowing that already 25 miles in that this race was not the redemption race I had hoped for.

Stomach Problems Led the Way:

Photo Credits: ATRA
Here you can see me dejected and sick. The whole team at the Start/Finish was incredible. A friend of mine, Dom was the man of the hour getting me back to feeling stronger with ice pops and plenty of water. It took me a solid 15 minutes before I headed back out. Kudos to everyone there to help boost me up as best as they could. That support was truly incredible. I was leaving the 25 mile mark at about 4:03. If I had a solid second 25, I could still make some magic happen. The downside, was that I was not sure if I was really feeling back to normal. I told my fiancé, Ashlee and my Dad to meet me at each aid station as we would play it aid to aid to see if I could improve and rebound.
From the energy of all the volunteers, I bolted out of the 25 mile aid and up into the gorges. It was maybe about a mile or so before I stopped by a rock and puked some more. Then tried to run again and the puking continued. That was it. I continued to average 15 minutes a mile through this section until I had made the near 50k mark. I hit the aid station finally and sat down on a chair here and said I had to drop.
At this point I had thrown up maybe 20+ times in those last 5 miles and was not able to put anything else down. I felt weak and dizzy. My race was over.
Again, the Cayuga Trails Course bested me yet again. I made it back to the Start/Finish to cheer on  MPF/RNR teammates and other finishers.
The heat made it hard for all of the runners out there but so many preserved and finished.
Incredible races by:
Tyler Sigl who ran a gutsy 6:43 besting Sage's course record on a hot and humid June day was incredible.
Jared Burdick who has been so consistent here with two 2nd place finishes!
And props to MPF/RNR teammates:
Ben Nephew for his 6th place finish
Jan Wellford showing he has some ultra speed too finishing 9th
and Silas Carey finishing in 10th.
Photo Credits: Ashley Lauren

So what went wrong?  

Pretty simple: After talking to everyone, eating fibrous fruit for breakfast was not the best idea. I had two apples and a peach with the skins on. This mistake with the hot and humid conditions only made things worse. I noticed when I threw up the first time that the skins were the only thing I could make out in the mush.  It goes to show that we can always learn new things about ourselves.
Even though the outcome was not what I hoped for, the people of this race are what  I truly love and am thankful for. Thanks to all of you, this is the reason why I love this event year in and year out.
Thank you to all of the race volunteers for keeping me going when I thought I should just throw in the towel, the RD: Ian Golden for putting on a killer race year in and year out, Dom for almost reviving me, Elizabeth of MPF and so many others.
Thank you to sponsors: Mammut North America for being such an incredible company to represent as well as Nathan which is also become a second family for me, Fits socks for the best in merino blister-free socks with the best Fit around, Boom Nutrition that keeps me fueled and ready to go, Redfeather Snowshoes for the best in running snowshoes, and Team MPF/RNR for helping to inspire me each and every day to train and race my best!

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