Much like last year, this was only supposed to be training run. Last year’s Ruck a Chuck turned into a battle for the finish (read that report here), this year was a little bit different ….
I really enjoy STR events because they are fun, low-key, well marked races and they typically really challenge you (which I like) and they often are on trails that you wouldn’t normally find yourself on, which I also really like.
The Ruck a Chuck 50k is entirely on the Western States trail, which is pretty awesome in and of itself.
First let me start off by saying, I was bad blogger this race. I took only one photo the entire day! So all photos in this recap are from STR and Chasqui Runner (THANK YOU!) and from Not Chris.
The day started with my Garmin dying. I’ve been having charging issues and needless to say, it was going to be a Timex kind of day for me. Which is fine, it was just kind of a bummer to not have my mileage, pace or elevation at the end of this race.
Not Chris however did have his Garmin and he was running his very first 50k! He’s been running well and if we’re honest, he really didn’t officially even “train” for this race, he just kept his mileage up. He’s a stud.
The parking at Driver’s Flat is limited so Pigeon and I carpooled to the start and were able to score a spot and chill.
The weather was warmer and dry and having remembered last year how humid it was out there, I started this year in a tank top. So glad that I did.
Love seeing so many familiar faces at these races. Lots of good people. I even met a few people that I “know” from social media only and that was super cool.
Paulo gathered us at the starting arch, gave us some final instructions and then passed the megaphone off to a friend to count us down.
We were off and running the 3 miles down the road to the river. Last year I remember really blowing this section up, yelling at myself and then stopping to use the restroom at the bottom as a way to calm myself down.
This year we flew down (Not Chris said we ran a sub 8) but it didn’t feel like we were flying super fast. I did tell Not Chris that we’d have to stop at the restroom at the bottom. I didn’t share with him yet that I’ve been battling an unsettled tummy for the last two days. I hated to stop but it was unavoidable.
Our plan was to stick together all day. His main goal was to finish feeling really good and to fuel better than he did at FOURmidable. My goal was to not race. I was supposed to “jog” nice and easy – Not Chris’s job was to make sure I did that.
After our bathroom stop we continued on. I noticed that for some reason, it was hard for me to breathe. The trees and flowers have really been blooming lately and man, have my allergies felt it. It felt like I only had one working lung instead of two.
Not Chris was LOVING the views and the raging river on our right. He was mesmerized by it all. I love when people get to see new trails for the first time.
We settled into a run and then hit the single track section and so the climbing began.
The course is very runnable. The trails were much clearer (the over grown grass section was gone) but in some sections, it seems the rocks have multiplied.
I tried to just focused on running and hiking. My lungs took a while to come to life but they did eventually. My stomach however, was always just one step away from being a problem.
Not Chris and I bypassed the first aid-station (mile 2.7) and the next one wasn’t for another 7.5 miles. We chatted along the way, having a good time and enjoying the day.
Everything was so green and pretty! The flowers were in bloom and the ticks were out. That was the one thing that I was super nervous about but hey, that’s mother nature for ya!
When we made it to the Cal 2 aid-station (mile 10.2) we couldn’t help but laugh. They were the happiest bunch of volunteers! The aid-station was fully stocked with everything you could need (including beer and shots) and they were cracking jokes. I almost didn’t want to leave … Not Chris I think was overwhelmed as he took some time at this aid-station. 🙂
On our way to Cal 1 we ran into a fellow co-worker of ours, Brad Rogers. The three of us chatted for a bit about work and running. Then I ran into Shavi! Shavi and I have never really met but we have many mutual friends so I said “hi” and introduced myself.
The down into Cal 1 (mile 14.6) is pretty steep but I knew that once we reached the bottom, aid would be close. Last year the race was shortened due to a rain storm and the aid-station was our turn-around. THIS year, we had to run past the aid-station a mile, grab a wrist band and return to the aid-station.
Not Chris and I barely stopped at the aid-station. As we were reaching the turn-around spot, we ran into lots of friends on their return. It was such an energy boost with lots of whooping and hollering.
Not Chris let out a bit “WHOO HOO” when we reached the bucket holding our wrist bands. We grabbed ours and headed back, eager to get to the Cal 1 aid-station (mile 16.6).
Once through we started our climb out. The section leading back is a gorgeous single track that’s super runnable and boy did we run! Last year this was the section where I ran into my Tommy Lee Jones friend Roger. Funny enough, I ran into Roger within the first 3 miles or so during this race and he laughed remembering last year’s brutal run and how he helped me push to score a nice finish. This time I said, “Don’t even think about it Roger!” 🙂
At one point, I think I was hallucinating as I told Not Chris that I saw the Cal 2 aid-station through the trees. Not sure what the heck I saw but it sure wasn’t the aid-station! 🙂
When we finally did come up on Cal 2 (mile 21) I was looking forward to the sections ahead. The descent out of Cal 2 is super fun. A switch back down that can really give you a boost of energy. Before we left the aid-station though, we laughed with the volunteers again. They were a riot, they told us to give them a good “YELP” review. 🙂
Not Chris took the lead and down we flew. I was no where near the speed I was last year as my ankle (that I tweaked the weekend prior) was starting to bark at me, a lot. Still, I think we ran down pretty well, excited to be on our way home.
Not Chris was thrilled because he ran his farthest distance ever on this down hill. Followed by his first ever marathon distance when we hit 26.2.
At one point on our way back we passed a guy on the trail and he said, “Trailmomma?!” and I turned and said, “Yea!” He said, “Hi!” So whoever that was (I missed the name on your bib), you totally made my day! 🙂 It also made Not Chris laugh … “Did that guy just call you Trailmomma?” 🙂 I hope you had a great race too!
When we hit the fire road that runs along the river, I was feeling a little bit better tummy-wise (though still bloated – started the race that way but what are you gonna do?) but I was also having some swelling issues. My fingers had started swelling as I was starting to retain water. I stopped consuming anything salty and luckily, there wasn’t much farther to run. The temps were humid and it even sprinkled on us a bit but it was still warm. Warmer than I think I anticipated and ultimately was a bit behind in my hydration.
We reached the final aid-station at Gate 101 (mile 28.5) and prepared ourselves for the climb out. It’s a nice long climb up a dirt fire road. We started out hiking, neither one of us eager to run. Then, as we both tend to get, we got bored and would pick “trees” to run to. “Okay, run to that second big tree! Now, run to that tree on the left!” Do what you have to do to move.
We turned a corner and I noticed a speed sign that was just littered with bullet holes. We both were looking it, talking about it when I turned my head right and saw the arches! “Hey!!! Look! HA! Let’s go!”
The finish line totally took us by surprise! We both started running and smiling.
I saw all of Not Chris’s family off to the side and they were cheering for him. Even his dog looked like he was cheering!
Woo hoo! We crossed the finish line smiling. We both had reached our goals, but I was beyond proud of him. He has the potential to run much harder than he did and I know he will some day, but it was so nice to watch him reach his goal and to see his family there at the finish witness it too.
Another awesome 50k in the books. Thanks Single Track Running for a great event, a challenging course and a well executed race.
Thanks Not Chris for keeping me company all day. You looked strong, ran well, kept me moving and my mind off my stomach. Man, the bloating and the swelling was not fun but that is what these training runs are all about right? They make us stronger. They help us figure out what we need to work on. I’ve been super lucky the last few years to have some stellar uncomplicated runs and races. I can’t always rely on the fact that everything will be perfect, but I can rely on myself and my ability to problem solve as I go.
As it turns out, Not Chris ended up second in his age group and I ended up third in mine! Woot woot! I’ll take that. 🙂
And a shout out to my hubby Vans, as he also raced this weekend on Sunday and he also came in third at a gnarly (muddy) mountain bike race in Cool.
Overall, a great weekend. I raced Saturday morning, Vans raced Sunday morning and our girls had their swim team clinic on Sunday afternoon. Perfection.
Full Disclaimer: I am not associated with SingleTrack Running at all and was not paid or compensated for writing this report. This is the fourth race of theirs that I have done, and I truly believe they host stellar, challenging and thoroughly top notch events.