Sunday, June 19, 2011

Shadow of the Giants 50km

Shadow of the Giants 50k
June 4th, 2011 Fish Camp, CA
by Christy Scott

I had two goals going into this race.
  1. Break 5 hours
  2. Finish in top 3 women

I am thrilled that I was able to meet both of these goals. This was one of my goal races for the year and was a good lead into my next 100-mile training. We planned a family vacation around the race and starting planning all of our outdoor activities, including hiking and whitewater rafting.

The pre-race dinner was at the race location, which was in Fish Camp, approximately 2 miles outside of the Yosemite gate. Tony, the kids and I all went and had a great time. We med the RD, Baz, who was quite the character. He greeted everyone with a big hug, as if we were all old friends. He went over the new race course, which came about due to the extreme amounts of snow that they had there. He told us about the “Quad Killer” section at mile 9, which was not only a steep downhill, but was also part of a dirt bike trail, which meant that there were ruts and constant rolling “bumps” to contend with. It also meant that we would have to keep our ears open to make sure that we didn’t get run over by a motorcycle while running. Hooray. He was also kind enough to tell us about the huge black bear that he had seen on the course the day before.

Saturday morning was drizzly and a cool 41 degrees. Really, this was great running weather for me. All that I needed to add was a pair of light gloves, which I had been sure to bring along on the trip.

The only person that I recognized was Michelle Barton. I had seen her picture on the race website and knew that she had won the race a several times. I went into the race hoping to be in the top three women, and she was one of the ones that I would need to be watching for.

Tony was there with me to send me off, and then ended up working the aid station at mile 5/16. It was nice to see him during my race and have him cheer me on. He always enjoys working races and is great at encouraging everyone. He ended up having to help a runner who decided to bash his head on a branch and talked him into going to the hospital. Just like most of us, the stubborn runner thought he could continue. HA! Check out the picture in my report of this poor guy. He actually came back to the awards to let us know that he was ok after having staples put in his head. Ouch!

We started the race around 7 AM and right away started climbing uphill and running through some snow. I could feel the effects of the altitude, as we had only arrived there on Thursday and was obviously not acclimated to it yet. Each time we climbed I could feel my lungs burning and throat tighten up, but nothing too terrible. The first 8 miles wasn’t too bad and was pretty uneventful. That all changed at mile 9. The “Quad Killer” lived up to Baz’s description quite well. It was a very steep downhill mile with the dirt bike ruts and hills to contend with. Mile 10 went straight back up the mountain at a steep incline. The rest of the race was constant climbing up and down. There was nothing flat for the remainder of the race. Mile 22 took us through the start area, which always kills me mentally. Then, uphill again to the last turnaround where Baz had seen the black bear he told us about. Thank goodness there was no bear around here today. Whew! I kept reminding myself to push hard on the uphill sections, knowing that the last 2 miles of the race would be steep downhill, which I feel is one of my strengths on the trails. We were able to see the leaders on the last 4 mile section and I saw Michelle come barreling down the mountain as I was going up. She was on fire and looked awesome. I knew that there was no way I would get even close to her! I kept an eye out for the next woman and was thrown off a little, as a couple of people had taken the option to start the race an hour early. These people were mixed in with those of us that started at 7, which made it harder to figure out who was in what place. I was pretty sure that two of the women I saw right behind Michele had started early, since I didn’t remember seeing them at the start line. One other woman was behind them and I knew that she was in second place. There was a younger woman close behind me and I was determined not to let her pass me. The last 4 miles was my most painful for me. I pushed hard on the climbs to keep my position in the top 3. The last 2 miles was the nice, steep downhill that I had been looking forward to. I flew down the mountain, calling out positive words to the people climbing up the section that I had just finished, thankful that I was done with that. The last ¼ mile or so was on the asphalt leading back to the camp and it was raining harder by now. I worried a little about slipping, but kept up my pace. I was thrilled when I saw the clock showing me that I had finally broken 5 hours. Tony and the kids were waiting there taking pictures and I was almost in tears. I was thrilled that I had met my goals and that my family was there to support me.

3rd place award

Snow along the course at mile 23

Wounded runner at Tony's aid station

Some of the awseome scenery

On the course

Coming into the finish