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Maciej Simm
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lasers! pew pew pew!
lasers! pew pew pew!

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Grizzly Peak sunrise from Saturday Morning. First frost for me!
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Mt Ashland, Sunday morning. It was 55 degrees up here while only 40ish down in the valley! I came way overdressed ;)
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"...'Cause that news coming down the wire, says,
that your world's on fire, And I'm
trying to get a message through to you"

Dave Rawlings Machine, Ruby lyrics struck a cord during YET ANOTHER dreadmill run this morning ;)

As dark and negative as this smokey time can be at times, I think the image below - courtesy of Jasman Lion Mander, reminds me that this is just a small spec in a much bigger picture. ;)

#headinthestars
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50 miles in 10 hours and 57 minutes (a story.)

When I woke up one day in the early August of 2016 I felt a certainty in my bones that I wanted to try the 50 mile distance in 2017. I've been inching up, from a couch in 2014, to a trail marathon in 2015, to a 50K in 2016, so it made sense to set the mark at 50M and grid at it.

There was no real time goal other than to make the 13 hour cutoff. In perspective, the top elites finish this course in around 7 hours. I knew I had no game at this distance considering my novice status, and mostly focused in "able to finish not injured" as a primary goal.

Fast forward to the morning of the race in July 2017. My day started at 4AM, with a strong coffee, biiiig fatty/proteiny breakfast, and a thorough review of the playlist for the day, aka The Most Important Thing. I drove to the start, at Mt Ashland Lodge, a familiar spot where I launched most of my training runs all of July. I think I was up there around 5AM, walked around to stay warm, and felt strangely calm (the year before, it was totally a shiverfest until the run started, mostly due to nerves, not the temperature ;) )

The few people I knew at the start line, were busy catching up with others, so I just kinda wondered around to the 3/4 way back of the pack, and waited for the start at 6AM. Off we went. Just at sunrise. It was great. Felt super light, resisted passing people, and focused on breathing and eating for the first 3 hours. Split the first marathon in about 4.5 hours. I thought that was a little fast and started to put in more walking breaks and sugar into the mix.

The wall came hard, at mile 35. Up until that point I had a great trot / powerhike thru the woods with my new friend Annie, a much more experienced runner, shooting stories back and forth, relating awe at the wildflower display along the way, and feeding off each other's energy. She took this pic, thanks Annie!

The change was like a curtain lifting over a perfect day in a very short amount of time. Suddenly the nice day felt overwhelmingly hot and bright. At the 50K turnaround station I was feeling very done in terms of running (for us I think that was mile 35?) This is where I sat down for at least 20 minutes, drank at least a liter of water, took care of minor issues with the kit from my drop bag, changed shoes and clothing, and kept going. There was a conflict between the mental drive to continue, and the legs' refusal to pump. I found this comical at times (hypoxia is like that! ) and talked my legs through the rough time. The runners were so spread out by then, there was noone to talk to for hours in between aid stations. Hot sun. Bright. I want nothing more than done-ness. I'm one with withe idea of not moving. Alas...

It's worth noting there was a patch of snow on the course. Very exciting! it was about 20 feet long. I fell on it both on the way out, and then on the way back. I'm so elite! lol.

For a while after M35 I walked. up until mile 42 it was feeling really miserable, every uphill sending my heart rate way up, forcing me to take a few strides and then lean against a tree to recover. My mood was still very good. I was eating. My stomach would let me know if I was pushing too hard and then I would have to back off. My legs were fine in terms of blisters and pain, but my ability to use them was fading, and now additionally breathing became an issue with diaphragm spasm kicking in about 10 hours into the race (I've never gasped for that long during my practice runs, lol!)

Around mile 46 the wall lifted. I was still extremely tired but more able to trot into something like a jog. The two young guys that have been leapfrogging me for the past 5 miles were off to the side hurling, so passing them gave me a welcome jolt of relaxation and confidence. I passed three more people I chased earlier in the race, who were sitting down unable to breathe, but working on it. I gave them some of my remaining salt and a snickers, as by that point it was very clear nothing else was going in, other than air, and even that, with some effort.

Last two miles were sort of a trot with a brisk shuffle finish. I tried to sit around and hang with the other finishers, but my stomach felt progressively worse, so I drank some water and drove home, throwing up immediately upon arrival in Phoenix, marking the start of a not-so-fun time that lasted thru the next morning. The next meal I had was late morning day after the race, followed by picking up my kids and starting my week with them. We had a blast.

It may sound like a bad experience with how it finished, but even as my stomach was churning on itself, empty and cramped, I felt elated and accomplished. There is a gain in confidence when you tackle a new distance and succeed. Perhaps it didn't end in the style I wanted it to, but in the end, it was a great experience in, well.. not quitting (which mentally was never too far, and physically, even closer.)

In my fantasy version of this, I sub-10'd and signed up for waldo immediately after.

In reality, that's not gonna happen. If I were to approach this distance again, it will be with much more preparation. The retrospective meditation on the "feeling defeated" part of the experience propelled me to signing up with Trails and Taramack coaching, under whose guidance I've been refining my chaos into a routine, to prep for the Portland Marathon (in lieu of the now canceled rogue run) in October, as well as the Lithia Loop in November.

For next year.. Maybe get some more experience in, do better at the 50M, and then reconsider a 100K upgrade.

tldr, climb mountain good
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stumped
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snow still there, above the clouds
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used curves in GIMP for contrast, otherwise stock iphone shot ;)
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it went from 86 to 66 and I got riot-hosed for 4 miles but worth it? yes
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lost in the woods with a bib on. got lost twice. came in 5th in div. #whatdoyouwanttobewhenyougrowup
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how i fight a cold #protectTheCrown

I cramped up after lap 2 (16 miles, 3K vert) so I called it quits, but after uploading to strava I noticed my standing course record is now 20 seconds faster. #smug #chuglife #realHillRepeats
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