Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wakely Dam Ultra Race Report

The Wakely Dam Ultra is a beautiful beast. It runs along the Northville Placid Trail in the southern Adirondacks from Wakely Dam to the Piseco Airport 33 miles later. It is hilly, but not crazily so, it is more the severely gnarly nature of the trail that makes it tough, along with the fact it is entirely self supported. 

I felt a little too great the first two hours and went out way too hard, digging myself into a hole from which I never fully recovered. I'm disappointed in myself for ignoring what my heart rate monitor (which I wore specifically to avoid this!!) was clearly telling me, and wasting the opportunity to run well on such a great trail in perfect weather conditions. Past the half way point it got incredibly difficult as I tried to recover by walking a lot and taking care of myself. I was not in a good place mentally at all. The last several hours dragged on and on and on, and the trailhead just never seemed to appear. I was downright miserable and negative, which feels bad in my head today.

Structurally this race was a big breakthrough though, with absolutely no hip pain. This is shocking to me, no Advil required. I can hardly believe it after years of it getting worse and then trying to get rid of it but it never getting all the way healed. My f
eet were really good with no blisters, and my quads got a bit tight by the end but not too bad. So...just a total execution error, which also feels bad (and stupid) in my head today. 

Still, it was great training on an extremely difficult course which I seriously underestimated. I think it was harder this direction than the original South-North Damn Wakely Dam version of the race (because it is now rockier the last third), plus longer by 2.5 km of road at the end. I lost count of blowdowns to negotiate but there must have been over 50 bad ones not counting the hurdleable ones. I fell hard going over a slick one, and the fallen tree almost seemed to catch me as I lay nuzzled among its branches like a hammock. Rocks, roots, mud, overgrowth, hills...a very tough journey, but it's so special to have a race on this kind of trail. It makes Hali seem almost buffed.

My gear was good, the UltrAspire Alpha pack with 2L felt like nothing, and I enjoyed having the handheld too. I wore my La Sportiva C-Lite 2.0s, DryMax socks and La Sportiva singlet and shorts. My fuel was Vitargo, dates, and Lara bars. After 3-4 hours I realized I wasn't drinking enough so I had to unfortunately risk taking untreated water. This seems dumb I know, but we had an equipment failure and had to improvise a bit which affected us both in different ways. I did what I could to pick clean spots and am hoping I got away with it.

There were only eight women in the field so unbelievably I managed 2nd and got a super cool plaque on a varnished slice of tree trunk. The first woman, Christine Tokarz, was over an hour ahead of me yet she was there at the finish still and very gracious. It felt good to congratulate her excellent run.

As I approached the finish I was getting very concerned that I didn't see Derrick, but then right as I crossed he was there thankfully. It's not really possible to drop out of this race, but through my own misery I was thinking how painful the trail must have been on his troublesome achilles and ankle. 

Congrats to Jan Wellford on the overall win; excellent write up here

Thanks to RD's Kim and Doug and their crew of family and friends for putting on such an awesome event! 

Chilling out at our campsite the night before the race

Approaching the trailhead after a long journey

Remains of map post-race.


EJ said...

Who's that guy who keeps photo bombing your pictures? :-)
Great training run indeed...what are you training for?? Haliburton 50mile, 50km??? How did this race compare to Run 4 The Toad? Your race kind of reminds me of my 6hr. Wore the hr monitor so I wouldn't go too fast...went too fast...had a 2 hours of fun... then suffered the consequences. Hey at least you didn't have any structural issues. Great to hear your hip held up.

Sara said...

Yeah, that 2 hours of fun sure hurts later! It seems incredible after the fact how delusional we can be! I've done this an embarrassing number of times on trails, yet was very disciplined at pacing marathons correctly.
RFTT is way buffed. I saw a woman trip on a root near a group of volunteers, and by the next loop the root had been removed. :)
The plan is Haliburton 50 miler, though yesterday I swore no way.
I'm really happy about the hip, thanks.

Buttons said...

Good job Sara and Derrick. B

Sara said...

Thanks, Buttons!