Well, that was a big fat FAIL (as Danica would say).
With yesterday's 10K out of the way, and another 50K ultra coming up in a couple of weeks, it was time to get some mileage in on the trails. So this morning on the bright and early, I met up with the Trail Runners Club to do a 14-miler in the lovely Pt. Mugu State Park which is about ~40 miles up the Pacific Coast Highway.
There were a couple of items I wanted to test today: first, was my old North Face hydration pack that I'd stowed away and haven't used in some time now. As I recall, I had some problems with the fit of it, but thought it could really come in handy during a prolonged race like an ultra. Second, I received a brand new pair of shoes courtesy of Montrail (the Hardrock 09 version) for being a member of the TRC, and I was very excited to try them out.
Problem #1 today - before we even started running, the nozzle/mouthpiece popped out and spilled out about 12+ ounces of liquid from my bladder. Great I thought. I did have about ~32 ounces in there and hoped whatever was remaining would suffice. Not to be the case as you'll soon read.
Problem #2 today came courtesy of my new trail shoes. What can I say...initially, they felt great. I was quite pleased with the fit, the relative lightness of them (11+ ounces) and the stability they provided all at once. But a problem arose as the day wore on.
The group started off a little after 7am and I felt great when we started off. We started off on the La Jolla Canyon trail and through a series of switchbacks, found ourselves in the clear and hit a patch of lovely green fields. I paused for a few minutes to take some pictures and take in the awesomeness of it all. Gentle ocean breezes would come through and all you would hear are the rustling of the tall grass...for a moment, all was right in the world.
We then jumped on to the North Guadaslaca Fire Road which would be the first of two big hills in today's run. This single track path took us up and up and we got an even better view of the green mountains and valleys below. Further around the other side of the mountain, and we got an expansive view of the Thousand Oaks/Camarillo/Oxnard towns far off to the north. The long decent eventually took us down to the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road. It around here, that I started to feel the effects of yesterday's race on my legs. They were definitely starting to tire and fatigue. More walking breaks for me.
The next big climb came after another mile and this one was a toughie. The sun was getting higher and higher in the sky and as temps rose, so did we. Along with the fatigue, I kept feeling something on my left pinkie side - sort of like a piece of pebble was lodged in there. I ignored it for the most part and tried wiggling my toes to get rid of it, but that sensation never went away. When we reached the top and hit the Overlook Fire Road, I realized I was running very low on fluids. By a little after mile 9, I was out. Great.
The next 4 miles would be sheer torture. The knowledge that I wouldn't have any liquids until the end played havoc with my mind and probably made my thirst grow even more. I felt parched, hot and didn't want to risk extending myself too much for fear of dehydration. Still, with every step be it running or walking, my thirst grew. As did the discomfort on my pinkie toe.
My favorite part of this park came - the Ray Miller Trail. This was mostly a descent along the ridge of the mountain with the entirety of it having a vast coastal ocean view. It was a shame I couldn't enjoy it much. The switchbacks took us down and down, but all I could focus on was my growing thirst, tired legs, and whatever the cause of the pain in my left pinkie toe. This whole time, all I could think about was a nice, tall glass of coke with ice in it. The trail seemingly went on forever but I finally made it down eventually to the base of the park where some of the members of the group had already gathered. Almost exactly 14 miles from start to finish, specifically 14.02 miles - but it took a long ass time to finish.
I immediately made a beeline to the cooler and downed several cups of Powerade. Then, I took a couple of cups of chocolate milk. Then a donut. Followed by another donut. Followed by a handful of grapes plus more Powerade. Then a handful of pretzels. So it's no surprise that I wanted to throw up on my drive back. But before I did, I found the culprit to my nagging pinkie toe pain: a blister had formed thanks to a loose flap on the inside of the shoe dangling just above my toe. Urg. At least my right shoe worked out well. Wonder if I can just have them replace the left?
Anyway, I made the common mistake of drinking too much too fast when you're dehydrated and on the long drive back down the coast, I had a mixture of nausea and just downright exhaustion. So I finally decided to pull over on a nice shaded part of the road to get some shut-eye until I was fit to drive back again. Once I did, I hit up a McDonalds to get that coke I was fantasizing about (along with a Quarter Pounder + fries). All was right again.