The 2019 Cremator 50 Mile race is a 50 mile road race in July in
Hell Beaufort, S.C.. Hosted by Lowcountry Ultras/Grounded Running, this was the 6th running of this stupid idea of a race. The course consists of two 12.5ish mile out and back loops on the pavement with little to no shade over 99% of the course. Last run in 2015, Tim Waz announced the race was taking a hiatus for a while prior the that running. Needless to say there was a ton of speculation as to why Tim was stopping the race. Rumors from Tim running from the Feds to his conscience was getting to him for making so many runners suffer every July. Those of us in the know, knew it was for an entirely different reason…Tim’s career as an International Hair Model.
Kidding. Obviously. Or am I? I’ll never tell.
On my birthday last year, Tim announced the lottery will open on December 1st to 50 “lucky” souls. In only the most sadistic way possible, Tim decided to hold the live drawing for the 50 spots on Christmas eve. I was busy building a toddler kitchen and stopped for a moment, low and behold, I had the notification that I was one of the lucky few…Merry Christmas to me.
Training for the Heat
So my challenge as an early morning runner is getting heat acclimated. Sure it’s warm at 4:30 in the morning but it’s not middle of the day, skin burning hot. What am I to do? I took 1-2 of my early morning runs and moved them to mid-day lunch runs from work and moved my Sunday Long runs to mid-day as well. The heat slows me down but it does tend to work in my advantage as I’m able to keep it positive even while sweating bullets on the run.
We decided that it was the smart choice for Jenny and Emma to stay home and not travel with me to the race for several reasons. Peter the bunny just had his surgery, There’s no way I could expect them both to be out in that heat all day, Trying to crew me and watch Emma would be an overwhelming task for Jenny, and a few other reasons. I headed down to the Beaufort area and arrive at lunch. I walked into Tim’s store, Grounded Running only to be greeted by several ultra running friends I’ve come to know and love over the years. Man, it was good to see them!
While at Grounded Running, I took a few minutes to try on some new shoes, I’ve been a die-hard Saucony Kinvara fan from the very first model. However; starting with the 8s, I have been having problems with the toe box being a little narrower ultimately causing a pain in the balls of my feet. Tim confirmed by suspicions and told me the 10s were back to the originals. The only problem…the outsoles are so soft that there is no way I could get my typical 400-450 miles out of them. I tried on a couple pairs of Altras (Escalante, Torins, and Torin Plush) and have decided the Torins will be my next road shoe. After getting my packet and hanging out for a few minutes catching up. I decide to head to my campsite for the weekend with a stop at everybody’s favorite, Wal-Mart for needed supplies. After getting to my campsite and setting up, I needed to make a second trip to Wally World because the mosquitoes were eating me alive…and they normally don’t bother me one bit! As I’m walking down the aisle, a cart turns from a side aisle and sure enough…there was Dodgeball (Ervin Mack) from Columbia. What are the odds to be at a Wal-Mart 2.5 hours from home and run into one of your F3 brothers?
3:40 am, alarm clock sounds. I get up, groggily and climb out of my tent. Thankfully the mosquitoes are not bothering me. I grab my JetBoil, fill it with water and fire it up. Once ready, I fill the two cups of oatmeal I brought for breakfast. Refill the JetBoil, boil more water and add some coffee grounds for a cuppa. While the oatmeal is getting happy and the coffee is steeping, I get my clothes ready. Eat, have a few sips of coffee and make way to the campground bathhouse for a quick shower. I get to the race start right at 5 am. See Jennifer (my crew chief) and say good morning to the few early birds. We move my gear/supplies to Jennifer’s car just in time to
ignore listen to Tim’s pre-race announcements. Tim finishes the announcements with 10 minutes to go before race start.
We’re off. Within a few minutes, I find Tony Varney and we run together and chat about the important things ultrarunners talk about…you know going to the bathroom and trying not to overdo it but still going just fast enough to bank some time later. I cracked a joke to Tony “Hey, look we’re in the top 8!” Needless to say, that wouldn’t stay that way but it was nice while it lasted!
I wasn’t trying to run faster than 10:30 to 11:00 minute miles. My plan was to do an 8/2 run walk cycle for the event. I was feeling great on these first 6 miles. The humidity wasn’t THAT bad, the temps were mild, considering and I was feeling really good. I kept a steady pace, even when it came to climbing the only “hill” on the course, McTeer Bridge. At some point on the bridge Tony and i split up. I kept the pace comfortable and steady. I didn’t start my 8/2 cycle until 38 minutes into the race. These miles, were all on sidewalk and uneventful. Splits: 10:14, 10:25, 9:33, 10:37, 10:43, 10:42
So shortly after mile 6, the runners go from sidewalks to a bike lane, then eventually just a small sliver of asphalt to run on between the white line and the dirt line. There’s a few small portion of sidewalks scattered here and there as well. Did I mention that we are running IN the direction of travel for the cars? You have to trust that the cars coming up behind you are moving over to allow you run. Most of them did move over. The sun was up and it was starting to warm up…quickly. After mile 6, Jennifer and Sam were catching me about every 2 miles to replace my bottles with cold water/electrolyte drink and to swap out ice packs that I started wearing around my neck.
I was slowing down but still managing a great race. My walk portions were slower than the last set of miles but I was still running a 10:40-11:0 minute pace when I was running. I was taking two salt caps every hour. I was sweating. I used the bathroom twice, which by the way, is hard to do when there is almost no cover to go. I was staying well hydrated. I was eating Honey Stinger chews about every 90 minutes. Around mile 11.9, Tim must have really wanted us to suffer as there was a rotting deer carcass with vultures enjoying their “find.” the stench was BAD, REALLY REALLY BAD. I get to the turnaround point. Jennifer has a couple PB&J squares to hand me, Sam is swapping out my bottles, pouring the remaining water from the old bottle on my head. Jennifer grabs me some chips and lets me eat a few before moving me along with “Go, you’re spending too much time here!” I turn and thank the volunteers and Jennifer and Sam and start my way back. Tim walks with me for a few paces to chat to see how I’m feeling, hydrating, etc. Splits: 12:12, 12:49, 12:45, 13:47, 12:28, 14:08.
Miles 13 – 19
Mile 13, I took slow. I was still eating the handful of chips I had and I needed to let the food I scarfed down settle. Still in great spirits and ready to tackle to next 12.5 miles. Facing the flow of traffic afforded the runners a nice, warm dry breeze coming off the cars passing by us. In one sense, it was nice having the breeze but in another, It was tough because the warm hard constantly hitting you was drying up the sweat and it was hard to tell just how much you were sweating out there.
Just after mile 16, I was on a section of the road where it was fairly narrow between the white line and the dirt. A lifted Silverado came barreling down the road and either didn’t see me or didn’t care and was not moving over to the yellow line more. I took it upon myself to step the left onto the dirt to create a little more space between the 6500 lbs of metal that was danger close and me. When my left foot landed, I don’t know if it was because my shoe was drenched or of I just hit a loose sandy spot but my left foot went out to the left unexpectedly. I felt it tweak. GREAT! I tried to run but was met immediately with resistance from the lateral of my left knee. So…walking it was. Every time I tried to run, it just felt worse. I was able to walk at a decent pace for a while but by the time I got to mile 18, even my walking was noticeably slowing down. Somewhere in this stretch of miles, when I come up to Jennifer and Sam, Sam is holding a cup and offers me a watermelon slushie. I don’t know if it was because it was so dang hot or what but I swear that thing tasted amazing. I had to force myself to hand it back to Sam. Splits: 16:29, 13:16, 16:43, 14:38, 15:59, 18:1616:55
At the “half way” point on the course, crew teams were told specifically not to park on the race side of the road and to park at the gas station across the street. One crew didn’t heed the warning and their JK Jeep Wrangler was STUCK in the mud. Like almost completely covering the right front fender with both passenger side tires fully submerged. Whoops. I hate I didn’t think to take a picture of this if nothing more than to share with my fellow FJ Cruiser owners, HA! At this stop Jennifer also handed me a collapsible cup with a magic elixir in it, beer. I had a few swigs while walking and talking with Jennifer and Sam. I hand her back the cup and went on my way…walking. At this point I knew in my head that my day was done when I got back to the start/finish area. I hadn’t officially told Jennifer and Sam that I’ve come to this conclusion yet. Partly because I was frustrated but wanted to stay positive and partly because I was feeling a little guilty that they took the time to travel up to support me and I wasn’t going to finish the race. They stayed the course and keep meeting me approximately every 2 miles. At some point between 19 and 23, I let them know that I wasn’t going to be able to continue. Between my knee getting tight and my pace slowing, I knew I wasn’t going to make cutoff. On top of that, as a result of slightly changing my gait to adjust for my left knee, I had the sure signs of a blister on the ball of my right foot. Just before mile 23, right before we get back onto McTeer Bridge, they met me and Jennifer was planning to walk with me over the bridge. We got to chat about running, life, work, bunnies, etc. which was nice. At the base of the bridge, Jennifer and Sam switched up and I then got to walk with Sam doing the same thing. When we were about 1.5 miles away, Jennifer met us and the 3 of us walked it in chatting the whole way. When we arrived at the start/finish area, I tapped the table to signify the first lap completed, looked over at Tim to make sure he record the completed lap for me and then told him I was done.
I sat down, took the above picture and took off my shoes and socks. The whiteness of my feet nearly blinded the three of us and that was under the cover of the shelter! Jennifer grabbed me a beer and a PB&J sammich, Sam grabbed my slides and I just chilled slowly stretching my legs and feet as best as I could. Cremator 50 Mile 2, David 0. I’ve DNF’d this race twice now. Both times was because of something other than the heat. In 2013, I wasn’t able to hold anything down and got way too unstable (read walked like I was drunk) to continue on such a busy highway and dropped at the turnaround on the second lap. This year it was my knee. I know one thing, had it not been for the knee and my feet, I’m am sure I had the right mindset and crew to get me to the finish line! Maybe in 2020, I will finish what I’ve started and be done with this race! Splits: 19:27, 22:18, 18:52, 18:07, 17:45, 17:50, 19:04 ( the last .58 miles).
I’m lucky to have such an amazing support crew. From Jenny and Emma at home, cheering me on and sending me the most amazing videos to keep my spirits up to Jennifer and Sam taking time from their lives to support me on this crazy adventure. I am very lucky!
For me, as of today, I only have the FATS 50K planned…as a runner and no longer the Race Director. Which will be odd to be back there as a runner after directing the race for 6 years.
Quick Shout outs to the brands that I’m currently an ambassador for:
A couple more for brands that I’m not currently an ambassador for but love to support: