Discretion is the better part of valor

Categories: long run   race   report   Uncategorized

Today, as y’all probably know, I was scheduled to run the Pumpkin Butt 50K, at Kennesaw mountain. Well, I was there, and here is my quick race report.

The morning started well enough. I met up with David Ray to carpool, and we picked up Donald enroute. We showed up around 6:45, and took it easy until the 7:30 start. After a quick briefing by Janice, the race director, they started the clock and we were off.

(For those interested, the race consisted of 5 loop up and down the mountain, changing directions each time. On the last 2 loops, you have the option of carrying a pumpkin to win prizes. The pumpkins are assigned randomly, and vary in size from about an acorn to “big”.)

My plan was to take it easy, and walk as I saw fit. (Which I anticipated being the majority of the uphill.)  David and I hung together for the first mile and a half or so, until I stopped to take a picture. As I was taking it, Donald came up behind me, and we ended up hanging out for the rest of the first lap. Thinking I was taking it easy and conserving my energy, we completed the first one around 1:40.  The big thing I learned this lap was the course, and that Kennesaw Mountain is really high!  Going up Pigeon hill is pretty tough, because there are a lot rocks to step up and around.

Here’s a sample of what the trail looked like in some places. That’s a big granite slab the trails up.

After a quick check in and drink, I headed back out. (Sans Donald who was talking to someone.) Heading the opposite direction. The first mile was fine, then I hit the paved section for a long, drawn out uphill. Boring, but doable. Circling around, then heading back down, the going got a lot tougher. A lot, lot tougher. I was anticipating slowing down crossing the boulders, but boy, it was much slower going than I thought it would be! But I was having fun, taking plenty of pictures.  I finished the second lap in around 2:20.  (Did I mention I slowed down a lot?)

Another break, lubed the toes up, then back up for lap 3. Started okay, then I hit the Pigeon Hill wall. I started heading up, and boy, it was just slow going. My plan of maintaining at least a 4 mph average quickly got thrown to the side of the trail, kicked, and forgotten about. (At this point, plenty of people were asking if I was doing okay. I’m guessing I looked like crap.) I hit the granite, and probably slowed down even more.

I went up. And up. After that, there was a bit more of a climb. I stopped and rested at a bench next to some civil war canons. (I’m not sure what side.)  That was one really neat thing about this run, the park is a historic national marker. There was some big battles here during the civil war (Or Northern Aggression, if you’re from the south.) Plus, the view were amazing.

At the top, I chatted with some people a bit. Donald caught up to me. I high-fived the 15 yr old kid who was doing this. (And I felt bad for him. He missed one of the turns, and ended up doing an extra 5 miles.) Saw David again, about 3/4 of a lap ahead of me now. Then power walked down.

Then, the downfall began. Right as I was stepping off the trail into the local neighborhood to finish the loop, I got hit by a bad cramp in one of my quads. I hobbled in, and casually mentioned it to one of the ladies running the aid station. She tried cramming a bunch of electrolytes down my throat, and being a very experienced ultra runner, I took her advice and ate and drank a lot of salty stuff.

Grabbing my chosen pumpkin, Number 19, I named him Ned, I headed back out. Unfortunately, I didn’t get lucky. Ned was a hefty pumpkin. (Maybe that’s appropriate, since I’m a hefty guy.)

3/4 of a mile out, I started to get some other cramps. I continued a bit, then stopped to rest and stretch. As I was stretching, I got hit by a few more cramps. Not wanting to risk doing serious damage myself, I decided to call it quits, so I headed back.

I hobbled my way back, checked in for the 35K race. (Yeah, they didn’t know they had a 35K option until I showed up. Sounds much better than a DNF.) I then stretched, sat, ate, drank, and took it easy. It was wonderful.

And here’s my cool new gadget I played with on this run. I used a GPS data logger, and synced everything up. You can see my whole race and the pictures I took here.

My total distance, pretty dang close to 35K.  Elevation gain/lost? Well, look at the picture below of the analysis of the GPS log. I don’t know how accurate, but feels good to me. Besides the cramping and one bad blister, I feel pretty good, and had a real good time.

Written on October 12, 2008