Well, after a lot of planning and training, the Harding Hustle 2012 version has come and gone. Was I ready for it? I thought so. Was I trained properly? I thought so. Once the race started I knew neither was the case. I was aware that there was 4000 feet of climbing in the first 9 miles, but I didn’t fully wrap my mind around how steep that was. Within the first mile I knew I was going to be pushing it hard all the way to the top. I was able to run where the incline was not overly steep and I hiked the rest, with the plan of running my tail off all the way back down.
I hit the mid point aid station where I feasted on gummy bears, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and drank some Coke. I had not had a Coke a cold in at least 10 years, maybe closer to 15 but it hit the spot during this event. I thought to myself that if it works in Ironman triathlons and ultra distance running and cycling event, it would work for me. Well, something didn’t work for me because when I stood up from tying my shoes (the Altra Lone Peak, which worked fantastically by the way-a great shoe with everything you need and nothing you don’t. Only one small blister on my longest toe from all of the continual downhill pounding. The shoe design helps by having extra room in the toe box. Get a pair) and started back down I could feel a tightening in my left hamstring and right calf. Despite trying to ensure I was topped off with hydration and nutrition and trying to add extra calories and electrolytes as I went the cramps became worse as I went to the point both legs were fully framing up from my outer hips down to my calfs. I went from being able to run for 3-4 minutes with no cramps to where I could not go more than 3-5 seconds without the cramps. When I hit mile 18 and the trail went back up I had to go at it with a sideways gait in order to get up. But I did finish.
My goal of sub 4 hours didn’t happen due to the cramps and not being aware of what this beats of a race had in store for me. If you hear someone say that this 30K is harder than a marathon on the roads, take it from me when I say that is the truth, The 50K must be a real party in the park. If we are back in Newport for the 4th next year and this race is the same weekend, I will be doing it again. I learned a bit about myself, which I think trail running is all about-met some very nice people from the race director to other runners, and had an overall great experience. At least I was not the last finisher and was not the guy puking his guts out at the turn around aid station. As I think back on it I don’t remember one runner going by in the other direction who did not smile, wave, or say “good job”. As I said before, a nice group of people. I have since researched cramps and discovered that current research says that cramps have much less to do with your electrolytes and nutrition than with your level of fitness and training for competition environments. It was hot that day (relatively speaking) and up, up, up. I will be ready if I come back next year.
I took some picture while out on the run and took some at other places along the trip. Here are a few.
While I was at Oakley I was able to pick up a pair of limited release glasses that are being provided to the US Olympic team. I should have taken a picture of them. They came in a bag that is red, white, and blue and has the Olympic team logo on it. The lenses have US team etched on them as well. I will get a picture.