2012 Hells Hills 50 mi Race Report

After DNFing at Nueces, I had nothing to really prove by running (or attempting to run) 50 miles at Hells Hills.  But I guess I wanted to try for some redemption and since I had already signed up for the 50 miler, then I might as well try.  I know I can run 50k, so what’s the fun in that?

The race started at 5:00 am and I must have pulled into Rocky Hill Ranch around 4:50 — things were already off to a wonderful start.  The start was pleasant, but it was going to be a warm day, more so when you aren’t really conditioned to run in the heat.  But start we did.  I felt pretty good the first loop.  I’m pretty sure I twisted my ankle somewhere in the beginning.  Some little hills in the beginning, but nothing killer.  Lots of switchback and lovely single track to run.  It is really a nice course.  My ankle later became a problem, as I don’t think my ankle had totally recovered since Nueces.  It didn’t bother me in the race, but I believe I tweaked it afterwards playing volleyball, and walking on the effing pavement, if you can believe that.   I remember a woman telling me she listened to a book on tape during Nueces…. I may have to try this out some time, seems like an interesting idea.  Well the first lap continued on, and it was humid, but when light came up, I started down a really wonderfully pleasant single track.  There was still some fog around where I snapped the picture below — I didn’t plan to take any on the 1st loop but I thought it looked just too cool.  Eventually you come upon a beautiful field before the last aid station.

I finished the last 4 mile or so stretch feeling pretty good, around 3:40 which is pretty much right where I wanted to be time-wise.  The next lap went fine, until probably I was reaching mile 25 or so.  At this point, it was starting to get hot, and the heat was starting to get to me (and everyone else).  I just remember the stretch before the last aid station feeling kind of nauseated, but some salt helped.  AND of course, the guy who was hosing you down with ice cold water.  Man, that felt so good!  The last stretch was tough at first, but the last mile or two I felt strong, really strong.  I came upon a young woman I had earlier played leap frog and told her to run it in with me to the finish, she was doing the 50k.  And as I was running through the start/finish, I saw some of my other friends there, already done with their races and drinking beer.  It can be really hard to go back out when it’s hot and you’re tired, and you’re friends are drinking beer.  But I still felt relatively good now about 8 hrs in.

Starting the 3rd loop, Elizabeth and I both seemed to be about in the same shape.  The heat was getting to me and she said she was tired.  I guess we chatted too much and missed the turn for the first hill.   Oh well, at least we weren’t really off course, a minor diversion.  The heat quickly started to get to me, lots of this area was exposed.  My right foot also started talking to me, big time.  What on the previous two loops was just kind of a nuisance pain I could easily run through, was quickly becoming very painful–I was surprised how quickly it became really painful, I wonder if lollygagging around the turnaround stiffened it up?  Somehow I briefly got ahead of E but soon my foot just hurt too much, and she passed me walking, since my walking was REAL slow.  I knew I was going to drop, just wanted to make it to the station. I hadn’t given up yet though, and the last ~mile before the aid station my foot actually started feeling a bit better, I actually ran pretty well that stretch.  Unfortunately, I had been going so slow and it was so hot, I drank all the water in my camelbak, ugh! I was feeling pretty crappy when I caught up to E at John Sharp’s aid station, but I just wanted to regroup before deciding what the heck I was gonna do.


Sharpie didn’t give me much time to decide.  No sooner than I sat down then he kicked me out with E, carrying a small container of cookies in one hand and a 2L bottle of coke in the other (maybe 1/3 full).  I’m pretty sure I was quite the sight, slowly limping along the trail, carrying all those treats in my hands.  Try putting that on your magazine cover, hah.  Since my foot started to feel better, I continued, but it was very shortlived.  It was very painful the rest of the way, I was walking very very slowly. I noticed I had stopped sweating too but still was quite thirsty, and knew I would run out of water long before the last aid station.  So I took my time and even sat down a few times.  I had no desire to over exert myself since I knew I was definitely going to drop.


Eventually I pulled into the last aid station, maybe a minute after the cutoff.  But it was fine.  Even if I had made it in time, there was no way to continue.  After I made it home, I took off my shoe where I finally noticed my ankle had swollen up… big time!!  I couldn’t even walk on Sunday, and even until Tuesday it was quite painful to limp around at work.  After Wednesday, it became much better.  I still need to visit a Dr (pain is almost totally gone a week later) just to make sure there is nothing serious with my ankle/foot.  Not sure what it was, but had I seen how swollen my ankle was, I think I would have dropped earlier.  But… it was a really nice run the first 2 loops.  No regrets about this one, I did what I could it just didn’t work out, there will be other runs to make up for it.