Sunday, July 26, 2009

Voyageur 2009 Race Report

Last night my wife "Well, I guess you are a fair weather runner."

Ouch! Where's the love? She happens to be right.

Yesterday can be summed up with that one word. OUCH.

Somehow, I am in more pain after yesterday than any other ultra I have done (this was #11). Although, Superior was about the same.

Long story short, I was fine until right before the power lines on the way back (30 something). I started getting massive leg cramps (something that almost never happens to me), and the mid day sun with a 65 dewpoint drained my body of electrolytes and fluids. This happened quickly. I red lined my heart rate going over the power lines. Once that starts happening, there is no turning back.

I ended up walking most of the last 10 miles to come in just under 10 hours. I battled Kevin Grabowski for the last 3 miles, mano a mano. It was a vicious back and forth. But I put the hammer on in the final stretch and crushed him. Here is a picture to prove it. We were moving so fast, the shot is blurred.

Voyageur also brought back the battle of the Matts.

There was Matt Aro

Matt Ostrander

Matt Long

and me, the slowest Matt

At one point, 3 of us were together wondering who would be the fastest Matt. There was pretty much no question is would be Aro, but it was fun trying. I ran a majority of the race with Matt Ostrander, until he dropped me like a bag of sand after the power lines on the flip trip.

At the turnaround, I saw Matt Long was not far behind me. Knowing that he can maintain a solid pace forever, I knew I did not have enough distance on him. After I started walking at mile 40, I could feel him behind me (the 2 other Matt's had already passed). I finally heard someone off in the woods, and just knew. I said "Is that you Long?". He replied with a laugh "Is that you Patten?". I knew then I would be the slowest Matt on this race.

It's a good thing all of the Matts are good guys. And considering we were all under 10 hours, that aint' too bad. Right?


I went to Voyageur not 100% mentally prepared, and I paid the price. This report is not the standard play by play as I don't want to relive the last part. And..... I am not up to it. So instead, the highlights, the obstacles, and the lessons.

The Highlights

Getting through any ultra marathon is an achievement, so I can't sit here and whine about not running the race I wanted. I am grateful for the year I have had, and all of the friends who have supported me along the way. Any 50 mile finish is a highlight, and this is one bad ass course. It is hard to compare it to Superior, as it has some extreme sections I am not used to. I am happy to have made it under 10 hours (9 fifty something).

It's great to see fellow training friends/buddies do well. Zach Pierce shaved an hour off his time and passed me in the last 3 miles. I told him before the race that this was his chance to beat me, and he poo pood it (I even have the sent email draft to prove it). Great job Zach.

Of course, his awesome wife took over 200 pictures. The can be seen here.

Meeting a few people I only knew by name was great.

Opening my drop bag at the 25 mile turnaround to find a old animal trap stashed in there (thanks to mr. Quick). In return, I peed in one of his water bottles when he wasn't looking.

Finally getting to say I have run "The Power Lines". They are hard to describe, you just have to experience them..... on the way back.

The obstacles

Coming off the last big power line hill on the outbound leg, the course took a sharp turn into thick vegetation. No way this can be the trail. After some runners came bushwacking back towards us saying there was not trail ahead, we realized someone had sabotaged the trail course markings. There was a pack of about 5 of us standing there trying to decide where to go. The obvious course was before the sharp turn, but there were no flags. We ended up doing a fire line with runners spaced apart, so if someone 1/4 mile ahead eventually found a flag, they would yell back and tell us this was the way. Matt Ostrander and I hung back and told people "we think this is the way to go, but we are not sure yet". It wasn't long before we got the yell, affirming the correct direction. We remarked the course, and went on our way.

Warning to those who sabotaged the course. Next year I will volunteer, and camp out in that section. I will find you. You better start training now, because even if I am the slowest Matt, I will catch a saboteur.

I can't begin to imagine why someone would do such a thing. It's probably the "These are my trails" attitude.

Moving on.

When I got behind on electrolytes, I cramped like I have never cramped before. I got some serious chaffing too (worse I have ever had).

For me, once the dewpoint is in the 60's, my time is limited. I can handle heat, just not dewpoint. Oh well.

The lessons

I decided with the cheaper grade trail shoe I have worn before, but not on races. Asics changed the tread pattern on the Gel Enduro last year, and it sucks. They must have designed it for "trails" being crushed dirt/limestone. I should have gone with the tried and true Asics Kahanas I have done well with.

I couldn't find the second sock of a pair, and went with a low cut sock. Bad choice.

I wore a different pair of shorts, and they hung down over the compression shorts and chaffed my thighs big time.

When I saw how much I was sweating, I should have slowed down or walked for 15 minutes/1/2 hour to bring my hear rate down. Sweat = dehydration = higher heart rate = loss of electrolytes = lactic acid build up.... Okay, the order is messed up, but there is a domino effect in there. Once I hit that threshold, I could not reverse the process.


But, It was great to be out there. It sort of took the will out of me to do another big race this year, but I am sure that will change tomorrow. I have days or so to make certain decisions.


Julie B said...

Nice run, Matt. The slowest Matt and still under 10 hours is pretty sweet. I can't believe somebody took down the course markings. Thank you for remarking!

nwgdc said...

I can't imagine moving markers. I'm with you, would totally be worth it to be out there when the dumb@ss decides to mess with them.
Congrats on a great run, and your point about "I got to run it, so what is there really to complain about" is a GREAT ONE!
Is it too early to ask "What's next?"

Andrew said...

I know its not what you wanted, but nice run none the less.

I always appreciate the first report from a race, thanks.

Zach said...

One thought, when I saw your black tank top, I was thinking that was a risky choice, but figuring it was supposed to be overcast and rainy, didn't think it worth mentioning. I almost never wear dark clothes to races, even in the winter. In the winter, too hard to control high and low temp, in the summer, can make a huge difference in hydration needs if sunny. There was even an article in ultrarunning at some point showing the dramatic diff between dark and light clothes on sweat rate. Just a thought, might have contributed, getting out in the open sun during the powerlines. Of course the humidity is a huge exacerbating factor, but the heat is the root of the problem.

wildknits said...

It was a nice run Matt - and that trail is a beast. You looked pretty good coming into the last aid station!

I have respect for anyone who runs this course - the Half Voyaguer is enough for me ;->

brothergrub said...

Still licking my wounds from that savage beat down you gave me. -
And don't listen to Zach -to hell with function - the black shirt was very slimming!

Carl Gammon said...

I hadn't heard the course marker story. Thanks very much for sacrificing some of your own time for the rest of us.

Wayne said...

Nice job, Matt. And great finish... way to put the hammer down!

SteveQ said...

I've heard of replacement of markings in other races, but never at Voyageur (hard to imagine where they could do it). Then again, I've never heard of a wolf trap in a drop bag before. Surprising that there was no one who knew the course in your group (d*** newbies).

Breaking 10 at Voyageur is an accomplishment - the power lines give you a beat down no matter what the weather.

Matthew Patten said...

Zach - I would not have worn the black if I knew it would have been that sunny. I relied to heavily on many different forecasts. Not one said that much sun. I have had great success with that tank top - ZERO chaffing. Need to find a white one.

Steve - Funny you mention that. I was with Chris Hanson and Bill Gengler when we turned into the jungle. I turned to Bill and said "Come on, you know this course". He was pretty sure it went the way we ended up going. Chris Hanson was wearing his "5 time Voyageur Finisher" shirt, and he wasn't even convinced which way was correct.

And by the way (for those who don't get my sarcasm) - Kevin could have put 2-3 minutes on me easily towards the end. Probably 10.

nwgdc said...

Oh, come on! SteveQ is already coming to Glacial (I believe) so you can once again pull off the "Ride-with-Steve, Run Ultra, Ride-home-with-Steve" Duathlon, just like at Kettle. Food's on me Saturday night, too. It's my home course! It's my backyard!
Perhaps we can work together on our wives...

brent said...

Way to hang in there Matt and finish a tough one. The power lines on the return trip are tough especially in the afternoon heat and sun. Nice job!

Runnin-From-The-Law said...

Congrats. 50 miles is huge. Even if it's not the way you wanted it. Still a great run.

Kel said...

Nice run Matt - high humidity is tough!

I've heard of markers being relocated on that course before. Did you notice any giggling idiots perched in a nearby tree watching people run the wrong way?

SteveQ said...

Looks like Nic's planning an orgy at Glacial - "we can work together on our wives." I'm doing Glacial, but that's as far as I go...

nwgdc said... words were taken a bit out of context. My apologies to the Mrs. Patten.
Anyroad, I'm only doing the 50K, so that way I can heckle you and Steve on your way in.

Helen said...

Not to take away from the great race report but the comments page is a pretty interesting read too :)

Trust Steve eh?

Great run Matt considering it hasn't been your focus this summer. And thanks for sorting the trail markings. I honestly have no idea if they were correct or not when I went through as I zoned out plenty but managed to stay on course.

Run the 50K at Glacial and beat the Wisonsonite on his own turf :)