Monday, October 13, 2014

Oil Creek 50K Race Report

In what is surely becoming a rarity, I am back in the same month with a race report. For my next trick...well, there really is, no next trick.

This was the Oil Creek 100's 6th annual event, and I have been a part of all 6. The first, which I affectionately call the "Ironman Year," I was used for pacer duty, guiding my brother and another lady through the last 14 miles of the 50 mile race.  Since then, I've been earning the bronze buckle in some fashion or another.  Either in glory, or just trying to get my rear to the finish. But in the end, it really doesn't matter, a buckle is still a buckle.

START:  This year was different from the start.  This was the first year I didn't have my brother or father anywhere near the event to help me out or just to go through the paces of the pre-race dinner, and the post race dinner and coffee fest. My brother has a bum wheel, and has been advised to keep to the lower distances. Something I think he has no real issue with.  My father, he's earned the ability to "retire" from the ultra-distance races.  He's earned a couple of buckles, and his knees were giving him fits at best,  So, I'm back to being by myself.  A theme for the first half of this race.

The first 7.5 miles to AS #1 was spent as most of these are.  The first 2 miles are on the bike trail and then a sharp right up the Gerard Hiking trail and the single track adventure begins.  This is a fairly long race, and speed is not supposed to be of the essence.  But, if you have a time goal in mind, like 8 hours, there is some jockeying for position in the first 2 miles to ensure that you aren't behind that long a conga line.  And when you're stuck, the agitation starts to mount, and irritability surfaces pretty quickly. I made it into the AS in 1:30, pretty happy with the pace, and not feeling badly either.  I spent less than 5 minutes grabbing what I needed and shoved off, climbing what I consider the worse climb of the event, the SwitchBack.

Trekking my way into AS #2 at Petroleum Center, I was still feeling pretty decent.  The fairly short distance between AS 1 and 2 have some decent areas to run, you just have to be smart about your pace.  I was thankfully keeping myself low and wanted to get in by 1000, or roughly 3 hours, but wasn't disappointed in the 3:10 pace because once you get to the top of this monster hill, there is probably about 3 miles of very runnable terrain.  Time spent in this AS was a tad longer at 10 minutes, but that was to fill up my bottle pack and get some more gels and the always popular grill cheese sandwich.  Although, having been deprived of my starting coffee, I should've gone in that direction.

After climbing Heisman hill, named after the local man who has a trophy named after him, I pretty much had the wheels fall off my bus. Near the top section is a group of rocks that you walk through and then hit the trail and it becomes a nice, fairly smooth track. Stepping over one small rock, I landed on another one and my foot slipped off it and when it hit solid ground again, the jarring throughout my entire lower back was pretty gnarly.  I stretched it for a few minutes, tried running for a little, but the knot in my back wouldn't release.

So what to do?  Figuring that I had to head back to the school, start/finish, for my truck anyway, I might as well do it as fast as I could, even if I had to walk real fast to do it.  And off I set.  Surprisingly, I didn't have a lot of people passing me, and when I did, they stayed with me for awhile. A girl finally caught up with me, she was doing the 100K and had screwed up her ankle and was more pissed than disappointed.  She had been a Marine, and her boyfriend was running the 100 mile.  Her own running resume was pretty impressive though.  We spent the better part of 7 miles together when she took off a half mile before AS #3.

Leaving AS 3 for home, having spent almost 15 minutes chatting with the very helpful, very cheerful group there, I made the 2 last big climbs fairly easily, wondering if maybe I could run again.  The next 1/4 mile pretty much told me I couldn't and that's when I met up with Greg.  Greg lived in my town for a long time.  We went to the same University, and we were going to spend the next 7-8 miles together walking a pretty decent pace.  It was also where I started to get real stupid in my future plans.

Nearing the last 2 miles, at the trail head, Greg was explaining that he pretty much power walked the 100K.  He did make the caveat that you just couldn't walk the entire 62 miles, it needed preparation and some running, but if you weren't pressed for time, could be done in a 24 hour period.  We separated at the end, Greg would go on to finish in 23 hours, and I finished up in 8:30, or something close, I quit looking at my watch after awhile, and didn't turn it off until I took it off for the shower.

FINALE:  This is a hallmark year.  I really love this race.  It's a well organized event, with a world class RD in Tom Jennings, a decent ultra runner himself, and a volunteer organization that I would be hard pressed to find better.  But, I just can't do the same thing over and over again.  At some point, I either have to move up, or move on.  Having talked to Greg, and put the bug into my brothers ear, I'm leaning toward the 100K next year.  There is a completely different mindset at work with this one. I have until March to figure it out.

On On

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