Monday, September 11, 2006

Run 35 miles in the smoky mountains of Montana? Who's bright idea was this?

On Saturday my friend Erik and I ran a 57k Mountain Run in the Swan Range. WOW, that was tough!!!!!!!!! There were times I really wanted to quit ~ then I realized we were miles from anywhere, and this was an unsupported race ~ no one was going to come and get me!

The most I had run at one time before this race was 16 I was happy to complete the course (well the abbreviated version ~ 32 miles). Next year I will have loftier goals.

Twelve people signed up to do the course this year and when we arrived at the start line I knew we were in for a beating. The people who signed up for this were total studs - and you could tell this wasn't their first ultra distance run.

We started the course at about 6200 feet and worked our way up to roughly 8000 feet over the first few miles. Once at elevation we stayed up on the crest of the Swan Range until the last 7 1/2 miles. The terrain that we were going through was simply amazing...we ran through rocky sections, alpine sections without trees, meadows, lakes, over streams, through forested sections, etc. We saw atleast 10-15 piles of bear scat in the trail - sometimes very fresh piles!

If it hadn't been for the smoke we could have seen for miles! We had a pretty good rythym going until around the 18 mile mark... Once we began running again after Trincut Lake (a mandatory out and back trip) my legs really started to bother me. My hip flexors were extremely sore from switching from running to hiking (up the inclines) and back to running again. It was more and more difficult for me to make my body propel forward. I was so thirsty for regular water instead of the water with all the product that I was sucking down from my camelbak.

There are a couple of things that I did that I most likely won't try again....first I won't run with a brand new pair of shoes again. I didn't get any blisters or hotspots but my feet just didn't do well in these shoes that I just couldn't get the tightness of the quick-pull type laces just right. If I had them too loose my feet would slip from side to side in this pair of shoes that was little too wide for my feet, and if I tightened them too much they cut off the circulation to my feet. For most of the last half of the course I couldn't feel my feet.

The second thing that Erik and I both decided that we wouldn't try again is putting product (Perpetuem and Heed) in our camelbaks. In fact, I'm not sure I would bring a camelbak again. We were the only people who brought a filter with us and looking back now, I think I might also drink straight from the streams in the future. There was a convience factor to having the filter in that even if there was just a trickle it was easy to get nice fresh clear water. I also brought a lot of extra weight that I will never carry again. I will never carry "real" food again. I remember at one point I pulled a couple soft granola bars out of the camelbak and we both looked at them and wretched. There is no way in heck that even if it seemed appetizing that we would have been able to chew. What is it about exersize of any length and what it will do to your jaw? Weird. I brought a lighter (I guess in case we got caught out at night or something?).

I think that I will bring a waist pack that carries just a couple bottles of water and a couple flasks full of a gel, perpetuem, ecap paste.

All in all - I had a wonderful experience. I am excited about doing this same course next year. I think that I could really get into these long endurance runs! We will see....

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