Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oil Creek 100 50K Race Report

This is my favorite race for the 2nd year in a row.  Not because I'm stellar, or because I have a special need for immense pain, but because it is one challenging pain in the ass.  Over it's three year existance, there have been more than a couple of Western States and Leadville veterans that have said that this course is technically harder than the aforementiond venerable events.  I don't have any other race to judge specifically, so I'll take their word for it.  I do know that being out there in the woods when the sun goes down is one very dark place to be.


With the starting temps in the upper 50's with an expected high in the low 80's for the afternoon, I went with the tried and true maroon tech shirt, shorts, the Nathan's waterpack, and my trail shoes.  I added a race belt with slots for gel packs and it made hanging my iPod a lot easier too.  The iPod was only for the data since I figured I could keep myself company when I found myself alone, which is now a law in terms of racing.

I started off at a very easy pace, just at the point where I could keep a conversation and not have to stop talking to take a breath.  The course entered the woods at an earlier point this year, but the daylight was enough where I could see the treacherous roots, limbs, and rocks that littered the single track that is the first section of the course.  I stayed in a conga line group of 8 for pretty much the first 7 miles and our little group passed several stragglers who had taken off at the start and were now starting to pay the price.

As in last years race, I was very much worried about screwing my ankles up like I did early last year.  I had my eyes pretty much aimed at the calves of the guy in front of me, his name was Jacob by the way and he had some nice trail shoes and wore gaiters around his shoes.  Anyway, before the first aid station, there is a rather large downhill that is chock full of rocks, and roots, and leaves that cover rocks and roots.  I picked my way down this hill and halfway down I was almost tickled with how well I managed to avoid the pitfall of last year and that if I made the bridge over the creek, I'd be almost golden.  30 feet from the bridge, my right ankle, met moss covered rocked and slid acrossed it.  The snap, and immediate pain, was very heart wrenching, but I was able to put a little weight on it in fairly quick order.  I made it into the first Aid Station and took 5 ibruprofen, quitting wasn't an option.


The hill leading out to the rest of the course is called "SwitchBack" and it sucks.  Not just a little, but a whole lot.  Between this one, the "Neverending Hill" and the "Cemetary Hill" leaving Aid Station 3, the quads take an incredible pounding that I'm still feeling when I walk up and down stairs almost 5 days later.  With my achilles issues, running hill intervals is not a good idea, but I had figured that I'd be ok based on my cycling regimen.  Also knowing that cycling is an opposing motion to running, but I was hoping.

After Aid Station 1, which is called Wolfkiel, the course widens in a lot of places and allows you chances to make up time from walking up hills by running through these areas.  I was able to start running again, my ankle most happy with the ibu-, but I was also very careful when the trail went single track and the tree roots and rocks made grand appearences.  It was in first 5 miles between the 1st and 2nd stations that I met Steve from Pittsburgh, and we worked the course together at a good clip.  I would pace the uphills, oh the irony there was, and he would pace the running since he wasn't hobbled and he was very good at varying his pace to match the terrain.  We took turns pacing the run, but at mile 23 after a root reached out and grabbed the right ankle and I slid 5 feet down the trail, he became the full time pacer.  If I fell behind on the run sections, I would catch up on the hills. It worked out real well for both of us.

The great thing about these races is that competition is sort of a collective effort.  Yes, you know there are those that are keeping a podium finish in mind, but when a race doesn't have age groups, and 60 year old women can run the whole damn thing, and talking to the people in whatever group you find yourself in is more important than what placing is at the moment, then you know that compitition is a little different.  The Timex is recording the real enemy in an Ultra, the clock.  The Oil Creek race has very generous cutoff times and is considered an "entry level" type of event.  Yes, people still fail to make the times, and drop out for other reasons, but it's an event meant to be fun.  A painful type of fun, but fun nontheless.

With that in mind, Steve and I were looking for PR's after we found out that my iPod was too fast, and that his GPS watch had us 2 miles behind our actual location.  We puffed fairly quickly through the last section and even managed to run up a couple of the climbs. I knew the ankle was still there, but I was still able to run pretty well.  We hit the final switchback down the hill to the road below and the mile loop around the Drake's Well musuem.  For those history buffs, Edwin Drake is considered the father of the petroleum industry and where terms like Wildcatter and Teamsters originated.

We hit the road and I managed to run for a half hour before I was reduced to a fast paced walk.  Steve kept going and beat his PR and earned a lot of respect points in my book. My last 2 miles were a combination of waddle running and sloshing from my water pack and my ankle screaming at me every step of the way by now.  The pavement didn't help so I found the grass sections and kept on chugging.  I hit the finish at 7:43:30, or 13 minutes faster than last year.  Overall I was 53 of 116 finishers, and I earned my 2nd belt buckle.


I woke up Sunday morning and my wife telling me I needed to have my ankle looked at because it was a mass of black/blue/and red and shaped like a ball.  The Doctor had it X-rayed and other than a chipped bone, from when it was dis-located in 97, it was sprained to the 12th degree, or something like that.  I asked when the next time I could run, or at least ride the bike was and he told me to get out of his office.  My wife threatened to hide my shoes if I so much as set my alarm clock over the next couple of weeks.  So, I'm forced to paint some trim and work on extracting some pictures from my wife's old computer.  Can't wait until April to sign up again.

On On.

1 comment:

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats on the PR and the belt buckle!!

I hope you ankle heals up quickly