This weekend I had the pleasure of racing out in the Dupuis Management Area, a nice little preserve with pristine trails and cool campsites. I was participating in my friend Christian’s Corbett 50 miler, 50k, 18 miler. It is typically run in the Corbett Management Area but, Christian was forced to move it because of flooding on the trails. This is the coolest race in South Florida in my humble opinion. All of the proceeds go to a charity called Team Lujan. This is a charity that helps kids in Salta, Argentina pursue musical dreams by purchasing instruments for them. It is named in honor of the race director’s (Christian) friend Lujan. So with the promise of some cool scenery, an awesome cause, and of course the company of the Florida Ultra-Running cool kids, I made the 90 mile trek from my house out to the edge of the everglades.
Dupuis set up nicely. It was a single track trail through some trees and rugged terrain. It also wound through some prairies. There were some wet and muddy parts, a little bit of sand, and a few spots where the hogs had tore the trail up something terrible. As long as you kept your eyes out for the cypress knees (roots?) and could keep your feet through the mud the trail was incredibly runnable. We were all set up to run two 15 mile loops and one out and back finisher loop. Christian did a great job of marking the trail so even a fancy pants road runner like myself couldn’t get lost. There were aid stations every 3-4 miles out on trail and on another spot to refill at the start/finish. This was a well supported, well staffed race. Big time shout out to all the volunteers who made sure I was always headed the right way! All in all this is the second time I have ran Christian’s race (I ran the 25k a few years ago before it became the 18 miler) and I have loved it both times. In fact it is still to this day the only trail race I have run!
I decided to sign up for the 50k distance. For those of you oblivious to the metric system, that is 31 miles. This would be my second Ultra race, my second run over 26.2 miles ever, and my first trail ultra race. As daunting as that may sound, I had a good perspective. I was really going to use this race to get my fueling and pacing strategy down as well as test out some clothing ideas for my “A” race at the Keys 50 miler in May. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to win but I knew what the main goal was.
The weather at start was perfect for this time of year. It was just over 70 degrees and cloudy when we hit the trail at promptly 7 am. I was in a small pack for the first 4 miles or so. By mile 7 or 8 however I was on the trail by myself and cruising along. Coming into aid station 2 at about the 7 mile mark I was feeling good and running strong.
As I ran the trails, I felt so light-footed and free. It is funny what a trail run will do for the mind, if it is in the right place. I was pushing a little but not to a point where I felt I was “going to the well”. I didn’t have a watch on but I was sure that I was cruising through at a decent clip. As I came back into the start/finish area I was informed I had made the first loop in just under 2 hours. I refilled quickly and hit the old soggy trail at full steam ahead.I decided to get a second handheld because I thought it would get hot soon. That turned out to be a great idea. I would continue to push hard until I got back to aid station 1. That is where, I started to let off a bit. I was getting the feeling that I had a decent lead and decided to relax and enjoy the rest of the race. That turned out to be a bit of false bravado. By aid station 2 the wheels were coming off a bit and I was struggling. My fitness was fine, my fueling and wardrobe choice were suspect. I didn’t take in enough of something. My singlet is too heavy. I am convinced of that now. But my Phase-x did unbelievably well on the trail, even in the mud! Here is a picture of the struggle at AS2
Around aid station 3 (mile 26) it seemed that I was getting back on track. I had started feeling some cramping in my hamstring so I let off the pace and started whining at everyone I passed. It was quite embarrassing but I am ok with that. If I could complain about anything it would be that silly out and back loop. It was definitely more than a mile and I was tired. It took me almost 11 minutes to get out there and get my sticker and come back. I might want to address my mental state at finish in the future, but at least I got this amazing finishing photo to make me feel tough!
So, all in all, this race was worth drive! Especially since 2 of my athletes (the aforementioned race director, and my friend Robert) presented me with my First overall trophy.
And I got to explain how important Takis are to your post race recovery.
As always I couldn’t do any of this without the grace of a loving savior, Jesus Christ. I am thankful for the platform and I only want to use it to His glory. Big time shout out to my coach Kyle who keeps me not only capable of more, but wanting more. I am so grateful for the love and support of my wife and all the sacrifices she makes that allows me to chase this crazy dream. Thank you to all of my friends and family who make me feel like all of this is possible!! Run Fearless!