The Girl was volunteering as race doctor, which got me in for free. Winforce 100 is a very hilly, but mostly non-technical trail race. A 50K on that course would fit me very well. Next year, Christian Madsen, the RD, may add a 50K option. This year, for me, it was running the race or watching the kids all day, so I figured I would run 2 or 3 laps.
The route is 4 gorgeous loops of 25K. They Girl ran the first loop with me, before tending to potential heart attacks and what not. The course starts out with a difficult 2K on the beach, through dunes, seaweed etc.
Then it opens up into a nice, albeit windy, 3K section along the ocean. It's a little sandy on this section but otherwise quite runnable. After this, one gets 5K of very runnable forest singletrack. Then a long section of "Scotland", ie. hills and more hills with sheep and ocean vistas. There are two short out-and-backs, which is really nice. It doesn't feel as lonely as some ultras.
Did we start out slowly? It's hard to say, as everyone ran severely positive splits. We ran the first 25K in 2:30, somewhere in the middle of the pack. That pace, ie. 10 hour pace, would easily have won the race, even though it felt desperately slow compared to the front runners. So I don't know; how does one race an ultra? Do you take walking breaks, even when your legs are fresh? Do you slow down to below comfortable cruising pace?
On the second loop, I started moving up through the field. Or rather, people started coming back to me. I may have run a little faster on the second loop, but not much. By the end of the second loop (50K in a little less than 5 hours, I think), I felt really good.
I hadn't really expected that I would run the 100K but at the halfway point, I felt very good and was even considering my chances of finishing on the podium. The Girl was telling me how good I looked and seemed genuinely excited to see me do well. At 55K, I was in third place with music playing and emotions running high. I ran all the runnable stuff fairly fast.
Then things started to unravel. The sun had come out and it was getting really hot. I started to feel nauseated and dizzy. I thought seriously about trying to throw up, but I didn't want to lose the fluids, and I didn't think it would make me feel better. It seems like the stars of ultrarunning can throw up at will; maybe that's something I have to work on.
Anyway. I have never felt that miserable in a race. I have sucked at ultras many times, but it's always been my legs. I have gotten used to feeling relatively fresh until my legs suddenly cramp up. Kind of like relaxing in your car and suddenly you have a flat tire. Saturday was different. I felt so sick and miserable, whereas my legs felt fairly good. A few times, I had the wherewithal to ask of myself why exactly I couldn't just run faster (to get it it over with, I guess), and the answer was simply that I felt more sick, dizzy and disoriented every time I sped up. At 65K or so, I was passed by Maibritt, who would later win for the women. She told me she felt horrible, and I figured I could tag onto her for a while.
I would run an inner data analysis to figure out just why it felt so bad to run her pace. We were probably going 10 minute miles or slower, but I just couldn't hang on. Gawd, I felt bad.
At 70K, I asked Moses Lovstad, of Danish trail running fame, how to deal with nausea. His official answer was "Coke works for everything", but the way he looked at me, his real answer read more like "drop out and go sit in the shade for a while".
When I got in after the third lap, I still thought about continuing. I was in third place for the men and fourth place overall, and rumor had it there were decent prizes for top 3. The race doctor paid me some special attention and I drank maybe 2 liters of Coke. I didn't feel any better. I sat for a while contemplating my options, when the fourth place guy, Fabricio, came in. He looked very smooth and composed, and it felt like there was no way in the universe I could keep up with him.
So I dropped out. And good thing I did, because the next 3 hours were spent sitting miserably in the car, sometimes sleeping for a few minutes, sometimes debating whether I could open the door and lean out before throwing up.
What a miserable experience.
I don't know why I keep trying these ultras. I have promised myself that I won't run another ultra (50Ks don't count, of course) until Voyageur next year.
A big thanks to Christian Madsen for making a race like this happen. I would recommend this race to everyone. I was impressed at how he seemed to know exactly where the runners were on the course, especially after nightfall, when the field was so spread out. The course markings were excellent, especially considering the two potentially confusing out-and-backs.