Sunday, February 14, 2010

Psycho Wyco 50K Race Report

Design by Jason Crosby Illustration

I'd read about this race a few times and was sort of thinking it might be a nice way to kick of the season early. Previous February races had been Moab in 2007 and Orcas Island in 2008. This time last year I was in Argentina attempting to climb Aconcagua. With a California race next month I didn't want to travel too far, so it helped that Kansas City is both within driving distance and right up there on the list of exotic destinations. An email from race director Bad Ben informing us of the "Mud Stud Challenge" sealed the deal - I may finally be able to answer yes when asked - So, do you, like, win money for doing this?

We headed off from the TCRC (
Twin Cities Running Company) store in Eden Praire, travelling in style...


Adam, owner of TCRC, a speedy runner with a great driving iTunes playlist, who happened to be extremely mistrusting of other's RV-driving ability, was running the 10 miler (1 loop), while the rest of us were in the 50K. Yes, we did give Adam a hard time for taking the 'easy' option. Much discussion on the way down regarding goals and times. And of course the prize money! $75 for guys under 5 and gals under 6. $250 for going an hour faster but I don't think any of us were seriously aiming for that. I'd gathered together some of the previous year's times but without knowing many of the runners it was hard to tell what was a 'good time'. And of course, every year the conditions can vary quite a bit in terms of ice-to-mud ratio. Regardless, I knew I wanted to run sub-6 and felt like it should be doable. I'd taken a look at the registered runners list to check out 'the competition' (can't help myself) and didn't recognize any of the names. But I was more concerned about my own time, and the added bonus of some cash, than wondering if I could win. As it turns out there was an additional $75 for winning. I need to do better research!

We got down to Kansas City around 6pm Friday evening and headed for Gary Gribble's running store to pick up our numbers. Very nice technical race shirts and a cool mug. Backtracked to the hotel which was only a mile from Wyandotte County Lake Park (the WyCo in Psycho Wyco, the Psycho will become clear). The gang went for dinner but I decided to chill out in the room. I vary between wanting a steak dinner the night before a race to just eating a few snacks. I wasn't feeling great, not sure if it was nerves but wanted some time to sort out race gear and needed to do a bit of work also. Watched some of the Olympics opening ceremony - very cool. We were in bed by 10pm with the race not starting until 8am.

Nic met us downstairs for breakfast and rode over to race start with us. He was looking fit and in shape despite being six months pregnant. Got sorted out with drop bags, everyone milling around the start area. We chatted with John Gustafson, fellow MN runner. And got ready to rock and roll. It seems TCRC's yellow shirt is setting a trend...


The first few hundred yards was wide open as the field started to spread out. About 20-30 guys ahead, as we headed up the first hill, onto a short section of road and then into the woods. The terrain was a mix of rocks, dirt trails with room for passing. Some snow, but overall pretty decent footing as we meandered through the woods for a few miles until we hit the first aid station and entered...


A mile of singletrack zig zagging through the woods. On any other day this would be my favourite type of trail to zip around but today I took the first loop pretty tentatively figuring it could be a bit icy. The second time through was much more fun as I let loose and apart from a few turns the trail wasn't too greasy. Yet. Loop 3 was misery.

Out of the loop and back on dirt trails. A bit of everything over the next few miles, plenty of up and down but all runnable. Some of the downhills were a bit tricky with the mud taking over already. Out onto some meadow and then a short uphill to the next AS at around mile 5. Starting out I was aiming for a 1:40-1:45 first loop. Got here with 50 mins on the clock so was happy with that. A few hundred yards uphill on the road and then back in the woods again. Just under 3 miles to the next aid station. Entering "Fester's Wander" (the dog-designed section of trail) wondering if we'd ever emerge... came out of the woods hoping it was the AS but knowing we hadn't run that far - through some meadow and back into the woods. A few nice uphills through here and eventually up a short hill and the park shelter and AS at the top. 2.5 miles to go. Plenty of hills here that killed me on loop 3 but the first time around I think I ran them all. I'd left the AS at 1:08 on the clock so was thinking about 1:45 for the loop but came through at exactly 1:40 so I'm thinking that last section is a bit shorter than 2.5 miles. In any case, it was 1 down, 2 to go.

Still clean...


Heading out on the second loop I was feeling pretty good. Figured I should aim for a 1:50 second and then a 2hr final loop. That would be 5:30 which I knew I'd be well pleased with. But it was still early and I had no idea how the legs would hold up as the mud piled up.

Paul passed me about a mile later and I kept him in sight through the triangle and for the rest of the loop. Took a spill in the second section at exactly the same spot I'd seen the guy in front of me fall on the first loop. Slammed down on my right hip and knee, scrapes and bruises, no lasting damage. I hit the 5 mile AS at exactly 2:35 so I was on track. Jogged up the hill happy for once to be on pavement. Then tried to keep it up a good momentum on the downhill singletrack through the woods. Got a wicked cramp that slowed me down for a few minutes - probably the result of drinking a few cups of coke too quickly at the AS. I should know better. The course was definitely much greasier but still a lot of very runnable sections. The worst of the mud started to hit towards the end of this section. There was a slightly downhill section around mile 7 and it was just impossible to get through without holding your breath and hoping for the best. It had already become a 1-foot wide channel of thick mud with trees on either side so no real option of 'taking the high road'.

Coming into the end of the second loop I saw 3:30 on the clock so was happy with that. Stopped at my drop bag, downed half a can of sf red bull. And off again. Great support through here, including
David from Kansas who I'd met up at Superior last fall. I could still see Paul up ahead but knew that wouldn't last for long. Called to Adam as I spotted the RV. Was beginning to think the 10 mile was indeed the smart option today.

There wasn't much of a break from the mud on Loop 3. Even the trails that seemed dry and packed in the first loop had dissolved into slop. The triangle was no fun at all. But surprisingly I managed to stay upright and made it through the first few sections without using my entire vocabulary of swear words. Not so much once I passed the mile 5 AS and got back in the woods. I am not sure if the uphills or downhills were worse. Passed quite a few people on this loop - mostly 20 milers as well as a few 50K'ers, some of whom were probably on their 2nd loop. It got a bit tricky passing people as it wasn't always a simple matter of stepping to the side but for the most part people were great. Though I did get a little impatient heading down a steep mudbath behind a guy who seemed quite content to tell me how muddy it was with no sign of thinking I might want by. At the bottom of this slide was a creek crossing which earlier had required some navigation but now I was stepping right in hoping to clear some of the mud. At least momentarily. I think I made a bad sock choice though as my feet were cold for most of the run. Back to the SmartWools next time.

I was so glad to reach that final AS on that last loop! The volunteers were great - coming out from the AS to grab water bottles to refill and making sure we had everything we needed. The spread at each AS was perfect for the event though I didn't need much with carrying 6 gels and
Nuun tabs. Took a few electrolytes early on but probably not necessary. I carried my iPod shuffle the entire way but never listened to it. I was just enjoying being out there in the woods. Even in the moments of mud misery it was still a blessing to be running on trails in pleasant weather conditions in February.

Smiling, happy to reach the final AS...


My shoes, however, were not so happy...


The final few miles passed pretty quickly. I'd left the aid station at 5:11 so I knew that a 5:30 finish was out the window but figured maybe 5:32... that was soon revised upon hitting The Three Hills section for the final time. Navigating that final downhill mudslide, a reprive on grass, and then down towards the finish... felt so good to be done! And I have to say there's nothing like a race director with a check book to greet you at the finish line :)

5:34 - 1st F, 15th overall. A $150 check, a $50 gift cert for Gary Gribble's running store and a free entry to next year's race! And if that were not enough I later picked up a pair of Mizuno trail shoes. Not bad for a day's work.


Caught up with the guys, all of whom had great runs - Brian went sub-5 (4:58) to take 3rd place. Tony was 10th in 5:20 and Paul next in 5:26. I think Paul's lap-to-lap ratio was the smallest by far! Nic ran a great race to take 6th place with 5:16. Sorry
Matt, I think you'll know better how to stack the odds in future! The race was won by Andy Henshaw who'd taken 4th at Leadville last year. He set a new course record in 4:15. And possibly another record for most stylish finish line dive...


Valeria, who's name rhymes with Malaria (it may have been easier just to teach the guys Spanish), came in second and also went sub-6 (5:55). Nice one!


And Kami came through a bit later, with an impressive amount of mud. And still smiling - as she was early on while still clean...


We got cleaned up. And felt (and looked) so much better...


After all, Adam wasn't letting anyone back in the RV until we were clean...


Speaking of Adam, he ran a strong 10 miler to take 4th. But we still gave him a hard time - after all, he was beaten by a 16yr old. This kid meant business...


Time for a group photo before we headed for home...


And then the party started...


Champagne in plastic cups. Ah, we're a classy bunch indeed.

Thanks to Bad Ben and Sophia (and Congratulations!) - and to all of the volunteers and supporters. Despite my lack of love for mud, it was a very well organized, fun event that I would definitely recommend to people. Also, thanks to the busy photographers (Dick Ross and Kristi & Rick Mayo) - most of the photos above are downloaded from the links on the race website.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bad Ben's Mudbabe here. Thanks Helen! Your group added such excitement to the race. That 16 year old told me he's got his sights on Henshaw in the future, so maybe Adam is safe for next year......

Thomas said...

Way to go! And to pick up some unexpected cheque is always a nice bonus (as if I'd know how that feels).

Jen said...

Great report Helen, and congrats on another fab finish! Can't wait to see you race in person - not sure we'll cross paths til Afton tho :(

olga said...

Awesome outcome on the great run! And, did Bad Ben and Sophia do it? For real? :)

Sophie Speidel said...

Great way to start the racing season, Helen! And I love the RV---the VHTRC needs one of those. Congrats!

Londell said...

Cool... I did this a few years ago and my thought about the course is that the first loop is totally opposite the last... and that mud is not even mud, it is more like quicksand! Great job!

Kel said...

Nice one Helen! Sounds like 2010 is starting just like 2009 - another awesome racing season :)

Matthew Patten said...

I blew my whole 401K on that bet. I guess I need to bum a few quarters off my kids to bring it back to full $$$.

Awesome job. That mud is different. It's like glue.

I will be in that area this week. I will see if pieces of you guys are strewn across Wyndotte Cty park.

Was Nic showing with his 5 months prego?

Beth said...

Congratulations, Helen! Great job and a fun race report. The mom in me was cringing at the picture of those shoes. Oh, my. I'm so glad that you won another pair along with all of your other goodies. Way to go!

Chris Swenke said...

A hearty congratulations you on your achievement this past weekend. I was thinking about you as I did my mere 10 miler Saturday morning. Nothing like that new shoe smell!

SteveQ said...

I thought your "sub-6" hope was way too easy. Nice race, as always, though you might've blinded the other runners with those white legs (good thing the mud took care of that)!

Champagne and Shiner Bock. Mmmmm.

SteveQ said...

My first race: Irish For a Day 10 Mile on March 13. You wanna race?

Andy said...

Great job on the sub-6 and overall win and the cash! I had hoped for a sub-5 this year due to the incentive, but it was not my day. I came in 1 minute ahead of you.

Anonymous said...

Nice job, lady!!! Not that I stand a chance against you, but a race is way more fun and interesting when you are in it! Looking forward to many more!! :) Vale

SteveQ said...

I just saw that 10 Miler I mentioned is $45. Forget it.

davidultra49 said...

Congrats Girl. Nice race you ran. Had it been a bit dryer you may have gotten close to the womens record. It was good to see all of you again.

Post a Comment