Len Huffman's 2014 Mountain Madness 50k Race Report "Gutting it out"
As September neared its end, I was preparing for my 3rd Mountain Madness 50k. I had mixed feelings about the race this year. Last year I had trained on the course often and had more miles in my legs but felt under trained this year. A busy schedule had kept me from but just 1 training run on the course. The course was also different this year due to pipeline construction. Never the less, I signed up and prepared to do my best.
It was a beautiful morning when I arrived at Shepherds Lake. It was cool but temperature were expected to go up. I prepped and chatted with other members of my MPFit/Campmor team who had come out to support Chris and I. Around 9am we gathered up for the start. I said goodbye to my wife Debbie who I would see later at AS4 where she was volunteering and got ready to start.
With a go, we were off around the lake to a right hand turn that lead onto the trails. It was a long uphill start and I tried to pace myself. It soon turned into nice runnable trail. I was joined by 2 friends from the NJ trail running group and a few others. We pushed a good pace to AS1...maybe too good a pace... I knew I was going out to fast but was caught up feeling good running with the group. After the aid station, I laid off some to try to conserve for later, I would need it. AS2 came quickly, I was still feeling good. The course now took us in a loop back to where AS1 was located. During this stretch I started to feel drained. It was still early in the race. I continued on my nutrition schedule and drank. I soon started to feel energized again. After AS3, it was mostly downhill to AS4 in Ramapo reservation. I ran this section with the spirit knowing I would get to see my wife there along with my friend AJ who was also volunteering. A quick hello and I was back on the same course I took in but this time I had to go mostly up. I mixed walking with running, trying to conserve some energy the best I could.
Soon my stomach turned against me. I felt bloated and nauseous. I carried on for a few miles but found it necessary to throw up. I felt a little better after but was unable to stomach any more gels. Not being able to take in calories soon left me feeling weak. I gutted it out back to the start/finish area still in decent time. Joe from Mountain Peak Fitness helped me with getting some proper energy and liquid in me. I set off for the final 7 miles on the mountain bike loop. It was going to be a test. I mixed running with walking. The miles seemed to go on forever. I kept waiting for the trail junction where it met the rest of the course that came through, indicating the end was near. As I hit the road to the finish, I pushed with whatever I had left. I finally came through the finish in 6:35.
This was my 1st ultra that I experienced such difficulties on the trail. I needed to dig deep both physically and mentally to finish. I am glad I stuck with it. It will only make me stronger for the next time and that is why we are out there.