Old Goat 50M - race report

This past Saturday I ran my first big boy ultra, the Old Goat 50. It takes place in the Santa Ana Mountains of Southern California and boasts nearly 14,000 feet of gain. The most talked about climb is the 8 mile continuous "up" from Holy Jim to Santiago Peak accounting for 4,000 feet.

My main goal was to finish the race...under my own power...and before the 14 hour cutoff. To do this my main focus was to be on nutrition and hydration. If this stayed solid I knew I could sustain the slow steady pace needed to finish, barring any unforeseen circumstance of course.

Friday night I drove down to stay with relatives in Laguna Hills. It saved me an hour of driving in the morning and let me get up at the later 3:30am time. That was a huge help, even though I didn't sleep well and probably only got 2.5 hours of sleep total.

I left in plenty of time for the 6:30am start but had a very difficult time finding the turn off route 74 in the dark mountains. I finally parked the car at 6:37am and still needed to get to the start line, check in my drop bag, and get my bib number. Needless to say I was stressed. I grabbed all of my stuff and ran to the start line (about half a mile) where thankfully they had not begun the race. With the help of volunteers I got my race bib pinned on and drop bag in place as the final race instructions (none of which I heard) were finished being announced. I crouched down to tighten my laces just as the race started. That was close. Thankfully that was the only issue I had with missed turns for the rest of the day.

The next three photos below were taken by Benjamin G. His wisdom was helpful in keeping my pace reasonable so that I had enough left for the climbs ahead.

the tunnel reminds me of a scene from Lord of the Rings

From pretty early on until the aid station at mile 11 I was stuck near the front of a 28 person train. That's a lot of people on single track. It broke up pretty good after that and people got into their own rhythm.

At mile 21 we could access our cars and so I stopped quick to switch out my socks and swig some electrolyte drink. As I began a climb a few miles later I was running alone and decided to plug in the company of my iPod. About a song and a half later I caught up with a local and Old Goat racer, Garmon. He had previously hiked about 30 miles of the course and told me the major snow covered peak I could see in the distance was San Gorgonio. Cool. Good memories of that from my hike with Stitch.

rocky dry trail

I met several other cool people along the way including Jay and Ben. It was also Jay's first 50 miler. Apparently this is an ill advised first 50 due to difficulty, but many of us were out there to attempt it. Deborah who was also completing her first 50 miler knew the course really well and helped keep me company as well as provide "tour guide" service. Also in the Bear Springs area I met Jennifer, who despite throwing up for hours during the run, somehow powered on and finished before the cutoff.

the Santa Ana Mountains

The volunteers and organizers were also amazing. They had kind words and provided great service when it was really needed. I appreciate all of their hard work and support. Thank you.

The photo below is me heading into the aid station at Santiago Peak. The last couple miles to the peak were tough, but the rest of the race was very manageable. I felt better and more consistent than in any 50k that I've run. Mentally I felt very strong the whole way too. No real low points. That was huge. Must have been the Night Owl singlet (thanks to Evan and Zach for their support and encouragement).

photo by Charles Borlase

The rest of the race was a blur. Going from aid station to aid station, not believing there was only 13.2 miles left, 10.5, 5.2, etc. A lot of this was downhill which was painful but manageable on trashed quads. If anyone knows better, correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think anyone passed me the last 22 miles or so of the race. Of course being in the back of the pack there aren't statistically as many people left to pass you! However, I'll take this as a positive sign that I didn't crash and burn later in the race.

Final time 13:18.48. I was 81st of 135 starters. Not a bad day in the mountains.

Post race...

I'll leave out the less glamorous post race stomach issues and inability to keep down anything, even water for several hours. By the next day I felt great and had a big appetite. My quads are still a little sore but I can handle stairs and slow running. I'm on my way to a really good and fast recovery.

I had no feet issues with my Inov8 Roclite 315s and Drymax trail lite socks. The only "injury" I sustained was in the last 1/4 mile while running in the dark when I ran into a tree branch with my shoulder. Apparently I wasn't the only one to smash into this branch! The iPod got only 5 minutes of use and mental clarity was much greater...hmmm.

Again, someone correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the weather was amazing. I never felt overheated or too cold (with the occasional aid of my windshirt). This could be due to finally properly hydrating and thermoregulating for a race. All in all an amazing experience.

great swag at the Old Goat

Thank you most of all to my beautiful and amazing wife Nicole. Without her support through all of the training and preparation this race would never have happened. You are the best!


Andy said...

Fantastic race report and awesome job out there. I've heard that one's a tough race but just haven't had the chance to run it yet. Even some of the "fast" people's times are generally over 10 hours!

Paige Kennedy said...

This is amazing, Dave. YOU are amazing. It almost makes me want to take up running. I still prefer using the excuse that my chiropractor told me to stop though... Anyway, congratulations!

JAD said...

You did good kid!

Alaskan assassin said...

Nice job out there. See I told you it would be a piece of cake! Great report and love the pics as well.

Billy Burger said...

Great job Dave! You picked a helluva first race for your 50-miler but it sounded like it was more fun than agony :)

Major congrats on your finish. I'm sure other 50's will be cake now compared to this one.

Tedzo said...

Congrats Fredonia boy! This could never have happened without the support a long time ago from the Green Team..haha

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave, it's Garmon. Saw the results, typed in your name and found your blog. So glad to see you finished strong. I ended up getting sick at the top of Santiago Peak, left a big pile of vomit on the trail as a reminder to anyone in the future that bravely ventures through that section. Hahaha. Anyways, just stopped by to say hi.

NJ said...

Congrats on a great first 50! Sounds hard but fun! I may have to add this to my "to race" list if I ever end up out that way.

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