Needles 50k

my body feels fine today but my attitude is grumpy. ah! perfect time for a report!
first i want to write something about my training. i almost always run from home so i am proud of myself for that. i dont want to drive anywhere if it’s just for training. just because i dont have zero-impact on the environment (and there are SO MANY REASONS NOT TO DRIVE besides the air pollution) doesnt mean i can’t try to limit my impact or minimize it. i just find the idea of driving up to the pass or to tiger mt or somewhere else every week to be entirely too selfish. fine if you do but it’s my decision to minimize my impact. i am not religious about it but if things are going to change we cant count on the government to make everything better, we’ve got to do it with our own choices and be aware of our own impact. each one of us, but the only one i can change is me! just thinking about it has made me cut out about 80% of my driving and at least 50% of the occasional airplane flights i do.
ok back to the RR. Needles might be the toughest 50k out there. my friend Lena told me about it so i signed up early knowing i would have a friend there. very minimal event sort of an in-crowd thing i guess. their website is a facebook page. fuck facebook.
…but i was up to the task. no results posted but my strava indicated time of 9:24 avg pace 17:32 with 10,400′ climbing over 32 miles with a moving time of 8:15 indicating my stopped-time was over an hour (old-man breaks and water refills).
i tapered well and showed up for the early start which gave me a good 12 hours to finish. didnt need it but it turns out my prediction of being close to ten hours was true so i feel good about knowing my own fitness anyway.

one new thing was a Clare Gallagher inspired knee brace. i saw a photo of her at WS and she had a stretchy band tied around there. mine worked great with no knee pain! in fact my knee doesnt hurt at all today. wtf? i was also wearing my reading glasses on a hanger around my next which helped read the app called gaia to which i uploaded a gpx file and the arrow was on the line the whole day which i think helped me reducing the stress of always questioning my self if i was on course or not. the app worked until cloud cover or something else then it didnt refresh but by then i was in the latter part and there were more markings. i also had an extra map in case i got lost. mostly the markings were minimal but were there where they needed to be just as advertised. the aid stations sucked except for the water but that was also as advertised. more toddler delights. no pickles in sight. but it’s only 50k so i survived on gels and was grateful for the water. another thing that was new for me was they had images in two locations you had to write what it was on the map they give you. they didnt seem to care about it when i finished and i forgot to give it to them but i walked it back over later and they still didnt seem to care since i was not one of the top finishers.
i remember the start was the usual everyone taking off running fast. i cant do that. i need at least a mile or two at shuffle pace and i was just about dead last when we hit the first ascent so i had to pass a lot of people. oh well. im used to it. i guess you can all run your own race but why take off so fast when you are not even warm and then hike so slowly in the climbs? this course IS climbs! but i was feeling pretty good. i wanted to run with my friend Lena whom i plan to pace at bigfoot but felt like her pace is so consistent and mine is so not and i was feeling good so i took off fully expecting her to catch me on one of the descents (others certainly did). the views from the ridgelines were gorgeous and i wished several times during the day that i was just out for a hike and not running another stupid race, but i continued to feel pretty good and snapped a few pics with my phone. my nutrition plan was on target (1 muir cacao-almond gel on the hour and 1 other spring energy on the half-hour) and i was staving off cramps taking 2 sports-legs caps per hour. i had 2 liters of water and it was just enough to get the 12 miles to the first aid and then another 12 to the next one. had my pack dialed in well with waterproof layer bungied on and 3 soft flasks with long straws in the pack i could grab and then use my naked running band to hold it in until empty so i only had to remove my pack at aid stations to put the full bottles back in. the second part of the course is more interesting with an out-and-back up thorp peak and a “cardiac needles” section with shorter steep climbs up over high ridges. i was slogging it out by then but the scenery kept me pumped. didnt see any bear but saw fresh sign and lots of great habitat for them. i did however see one Van Phan who was taking my picture as i passed. not sure if she was marshalling or just out for a hike but she now has one embarrassing pic of me all bloated and a little worn out. the flat part at the end felt really nice and i stretched my legs there a bit. i was running along leap frogging with someone i met at the start. he kinda schooled me at the finish but i still finished strong and feeling psyched about how well my body did considering the fewer miles (and hills) ive run so far this year.
i waited a couple hours at the finish for my friend Lena. i just wanted to see her finish and thank her for her kindness. they had some lentil dal and pasta that was pretty good and a keg of beer. pissed of a couple of people by accident (normal) and i joked with Kendall a little (he’s the one that schooled me) that socializing was actually harder for me than mountain running (actually true)…and i was feeling grateful for everything and always feel privileged to do these things…but…something got in my craw later.


what was not advertised was that they said there would be a prize for best selfie by the shitter on Thorp Mt. pre race email says: There will be a special award for the best selfie from the shitter on Thorp. It’s about 100 yards north of the lookout. It isn’t easy to find but the view from that throne is superb. well i took the time to find it but at the finish RD told me that was for the top finishers. kind of insulting really. i dont give a shit about their “prize” but i want to and they should also give kudos to everyone who finishes something like this…especially those who endure hardship and still finish…or not finish, or have to get extracted. those who are on the rebound from something. those who weren’t sure they could do it. those who were out there longer. those who finished in the ugliest way possible. fuck the top finishers. this sport is for us also-rans’! it’s something regular folks can actually participate in, and without us it wouldn’t exist. skinny 20 years olds can prance around thinking they can do anything they want and never get old well ive got news for you: this world will turn HARD on you at some point and you will have to have the grit to do something you were’t made for. no it’s not all about you. kudos to all those who ran this race with many years of hardship. kudos to those who tried their best and ended up running alongside a sasquatch like me. stinky, disgusting, grizzled, worn, broken, frail, too fat, too skinny too old, too ugly, peg-legged from cramps, half blind, bloodied and battered and still laughing from the absurdity of it all,  or simply overtaken by the single question: why? you fought the fight. kudos to the dfl!


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