Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Diablo 50k Recap (longest post ever!)

I hope you are all not thinking that we are disappointed with this race.
You were thinking that, weren't you??

Since we have never DNF'd, and we've been looking forward to this race for ...well, 5 months now....it would make sense that we would be bummed by the day's events.

The thing is, dnf'ing is part of racing.  It happens. Even if you only enter events/distances that you have done a bazillion times, eventually the day will come. Unimaginable, I know, but it will.  Brian and I have always known this fact.  We also know that we like to take risks (in a relatively controlled environment) when it comes to testing the limits of what we can do.  We have always said that when the day comes, and we need to pull the plug, there will be no question that it is the right thing to do.  Not because something is hard, or uncomfortable, or we're just tired....but when there is no other choice but to be done for the day, we will know and be ok with it.  In a heat induced haze of dizziness, a heart beating out of my chest, burning skin, 1/3 bottle of water left with 1.7 miles to go to the half way point, I had that moment.  I knew I had to call it.

We're off! B is in black just over my shoulder.
                 We got to the parking lot right on time, got on the first bus that headed to the start of the 50k.  There was a lot of excitement in the air, and a few familiar faces.  We ended up sitting right in front of Catra Corbett, who is just amazing.  The ride to the start was beautiful as we got a glimpse of the kind of terrain we would be seeing during the day.  Once we arrived, we hit the potties, visited with other runners, and refilled our water bottles.  It was already warm at 8 a.m.  After Sam warning us to respect the course and the heat, we were off.

Sam, RD, half of Brazen
The first few miles are small rollers and flat, but lots of sun.  I was just watching us get closer to the hills were were heading towards, waiting to come around a corner and see the climb.  Not quite how it worked, but eventually we did start the first climb. I knew this was the longest climb of the course and we were patient making our way up it, but definitely wanted it to end.  It kept going and going and going and I kept telling myself "you knew this was long and steep and would take a long time, keep moving".  We caught up to a runner who was also doing his first 50k....actually....his first race ever of any kind.  Said his boss talked him into it. While I did not think that to be a brilliant choice, we talked to him and tried to encourage him/distract him so that he would keep moving. It seemed to be a last minute thing for him, he did not know the course or how far the race was. Scary, but thankfully he ended up dropping at the first station. (in his case, this was the best thing he could have done) Towards the top for me it was take a few steps, bend over with hands on knees....take a few more steps...etc.  I would have loved some shade.  Just some relief from the hot air, not so much on my skin, but breathing it in...it felt like breathing in stale hot air while being under a blanket.  There was no breeze at all.

At the top we were able to pick it up and run again w/o much of a problem.  I was surprised that my legs felt so good and i had energy to pick up and run because coming up the hill I was so drained.  I badly wanted to pour water over my head, but I was also afraid of running out.  We kept running and made it to the 8 mile aid station in about 2.5 hours?? We refilled our bottles (we managed fluids well and both had about one sip left in each bottle when we got to the aid station), made good use of the bucket w/sponges dousing ourselves, stuffed my top with ice, drank, grabbed watermelon and 7up, and headed out.  About a mile before the aid station we passed Ernie (you'll see him below), and Alva was at the station when we arrived and left.  She looked ok and was just taking a minute to cool down.
I knew coming out of the station we started the 2cd of the 4 major climbs.  We ran the flats and hiked the hills.  This section was nearly completely exposed, and in no time the heat had drained me again. I wish I could describe the feeling, it's not tired muscles, just like moving  through stagnant hot air. We were climbing for a while, but eventually just taking a step forward was hard.  I was dizzy off and on, light headed almost the whole way up, and my heart just would not slow down.  As slowly as I was moving, it should have slowed down from what it was at our running pace.  Going into this race, Brian's major concern was my heart.  It does fine while running, long distances are no problem.  But anytime we run over 80-85 degrees, it goes through waves of loosing it's rhythm. (Its hard to describe what this feels like, but you know when it happens- random pattern, some really hard beats, some super soft, and sometimes a few seconds of nothing) Usually I stop running, cool down, it evens out with in a few seconds, and then we keep going.  (please dont' lecture me, I know)  Well, that was not happening, it kept rhythm, just super fast.

We were eating - half a cliff bar, salt pill every hour, FRS energy chews, and sour patch kids- and drinking - this was more tricky since we had 7 miles to go between stations for this section and no mile markers anywhere, it was a guessing game as to how far was left.  I drank what I needed to on the climb and figured I could make due w/less on the downhill/flats.  We had studied the course map for months and knew basically where we were based on the climb/downhills.

So somewhere near mile 14 I  knew that I needed to be done. It did not feel safe anymore, in fact there were quite a few times I was scared.  It was just the heat.  Everything that was happening was heat related.  We have ran further and  hiked harder hills before....but not in that heat. 
Me and Mrs. NTL at finish

There was no doubt we would make the cut off, we had around a mile left and about 45 minutes. It was downhill and flat, a few rollers but not major hills.  I started asking Brian if he would continue if I dropped at the next station (mile 15.6).  He said as long as he knew I was safe, he would keep going.  I told him with out a doubt I needed to be done.  I knew coming out of the 15.6 station there was another steep exposed hill, and there was just no way i was going to be able to climb it.  Once I told him I was done I slowed way down, walked everything, even the downhill/flat sections.  I told him a few times that if he was going to continue he needed to pick it up and get going, but after talking it out, he was done.   He said he was done, too, that he didnt' want to be stupid and end up getting into trouble.  He said he needed to be smart, was starting his new job on Tuesday, and didn't want to do anything to get in the way of that ( I assumed he meant a hospital stay but didnt' want to ask).

So that was it for our racing day.  We called it, slowed down, and walked it in.  I begged him to let me sit in a pond since we no longer were concerned about the cut off, but he was convinced there were leaches.  A runner came up from behind us, she was going to try and make the cut off but was out of water.  I told her we were done for the day and gave her my water bottle, and told her to go for it!!
the copter that came in for 13.1 runner.

We were at the bottom of a hill and heard a runner behind us at the top of the hill yelling down at us that a female runner #140 was down with heart trouble and needed medical. We knew who was behind us, there were only 2 females back there, and we were pretty sure we knew 140. We took a second swap water bottles around and the runner then yelled again to "RUN", so Brian took off running for the aid station.  I mean running, running, like a Kenyan, running.

I was alone for the first time on this run.  Every now and again I would hear something large in the bushes behind me. I was still overly warm, light headed, and not going to run.  If there was something, it was going to have a nice lunch.  I kept hearing it, and didnt' really care, i mean I was nervous, but not much I could do.  Eventually a horse came out of nowhere and I knew I was not going to be lunch.  About then the medical truck came up the trail, so I knew Brian had made it to the station. Eventually I did too, and found Brian wet, red, and sitting in a chair.  He had a headache and needed to get cooled down.

There were 3 runners there, 2 had made the cut off but dropped anyhow, the the runner who I sent our water bottle with, she ended up missing the cut off by a few minutes.  So then we just sat and waited for the runners left out on the course to make it in, and for medical to bring in runner 140.  She ended up being ok, she also has heart issues and the heat got to her.    A highlight for me was getting to ride back to the finish with Ernie.  We see him at nearly every Brazen race we have done and also at a Coastal run or two, and on NTL's blog.  I introduced myself before the race, and we shared a ride when our day was done.  Such a neat, happy guy. i think he said he just turned 65?? His story is really amazing, he's lost over 300 lbs, had a few reconstruction surgeries, has lost half his foot, is diabetic....and just so full of joy and zest for life!  He really is amazing, and I really enjoyed getting a chance to chat with him.
Jasmin, RD, other half of Brazen
Back at the finish, we were greeted right away by Jasmin who made sure we had our goodies and said nice things and tried to take the sting out of the day a bit.   We visited and chatted, and broke the news to NTL who greeted me with a "what the he#$??", a smile and a hug....we will get it done next year!!  Mrs. NTL rounded up medals for Brian and I and a few others which we had engraved with 'First DNF'.  It was not the day we planned, but a first and to be remembered!!  We watched the 50kers come in, including a bro from our hall, and then we called it a day.

As always, thank you to Brazen for having created an environment where people like us can venture into longer distances without fear of failure or judgement!!  Brazen celebrates every runner, from the youngest 5ker, to the elite 50kers, to those of us who have a less than ideal day.
Outback Steakhouse man
This race, as every Brazen race is, was very well organized.  Everything was top notch, quality, orderly, on time - from packet pick up, to parking, to potties, to really nice tour buses to the start, to the food, shirt, medal, engraving, bag check, aid stations, volunteers......there was not a glitch anywhere in the system.
50k finishers, and NTL w/Hoover in the back.

Thanks as well to Save Mount Diablo for all they do, and all they did on race day.  To the radio guys...thank you!! Thank you for the ride back to the finish area.   I don't know who to thank for having partnered with Outback Steakhouse for the finish area food, but thank you, too!!

 I leave you with this - we saw the movie Chimpanzee last night.  One of the film makers said "there are easier jobs to have, but they are not nearly as fun".......
There are easier, less challenging hobbies Brian and I could have, but we would not have nearly as much fun!

Here's to many years of adventures and future dnf's to come!!

(Pictures - some are mine, some are from Brazen, and some are from NTL's site)


  1. What a great recap! I love your attitudes about this day and think you are awesome for how you approached this. I love how, standing around the finish area, it was impossible to tell which runners were DNF and which weren't - everyone was tired, happy, and generous with their encouragement and laughter.

    Of course, the real question is: what's next for you two?

  2. That is the question, huh??
    We have already been looking for a more temp friendly 50k (thinking coastal), and we will for sure be at Wildcat, I would love to do the Diva 5k with my girls, maybe make a weekend of it and do Western Pacific???

    What distances are you two doing at Quicksilver? Too bad they are all sold out!

  3. That was such a great blog! Thanks so much for sharing. I love all that you and Brian are, outstanding in every way. So nice to meet new friends through you guys too. I have been wanting to do a Diva race for a long time. It looks like so much fun. Which one are you doing? Would you mind some company? Allen and I are signed up for the 35K. He was thinking he might upgrade to the 50K but it all depends on his knee. My first 35K, and I'm a bit frightened. You two are rock stars and you still went further than me even if you did DNF!

    1. You are too kind : ) I am thinking the San Fran Diva, would love the company, I'll let you know if I will for sure do it.
      You have nothing to worry about w/Quicksilver, you can totally handle it! You two both have mad endurance and climb like you are part goat....you will be fine!

    2. Diane, the Diva half is sold out, just the 5k is open and it's the day after WP...5k is 80%full...probably not going to do it.

    3. Ok, let me know if you do though, please?

    4. For sure I will tell you!! You would be a hoot, there's a tiara and boa station....hard to pass that up!

    5. I'm in.....hurry and register before it's full!!

  4. We are doing the 25K. I've talked to several people that tried to get in but were too late (I normally wait until the last minute, but was warned to not wait for this one.)

    Most of the Coastal and PCTR 50Ks are multiple loops of a Half course, which is OK but not my favorite. PCTR Skyline to the Sea is awesome and point to point. There are also a couple of 50Ks that are put on by other companies that might be worth looking into (I'll have to do some poking around to remember what they are).

    Diane is running the 5K at WP, I'll be at a Half aid station. I'm hoping to be up to doing the Half at Wildcat (Diane too most likely).

    1. NTL, we were noticing that about Coastals 50ks, not my first choice as far as courses go. StoS would be awesome, has PCTR seemed to have steadied itself?
      As always, you know we love the input...if we start to lean towards a 50k I will for sure be hitting you up for thoughts.
      When you asked what was next earlier, I should have mentioned that asap we will have someone drop us at Old Finley and run out the second half of the course. First non-scortching Saturday that comes along, i want to finish the second half. : )

  5. I'm glad that you decided to stop instead of push your body to it's limit and hurt yourself, though it's hard to dnf, it's also wiser in the long term! Glad you still had a great experience and there are always more races to run!

    1. Thanks Danica!
      It is not usually easy to do the wise thing, but for this race it was a no brainer.
      The Long Beach full is looking really good about now!