|Genia and I ran together most of the 50 miles|
Sun Mountain 50 mile is my second 50 miler of the year, and I am doing R2R this weekend as a 50 mile ultra. My plan is to use the races to improve my 50 mile endurance, which will help me mentally and physically prepare for Cascade Crest 100 scheduled for late August. I've been really enjoying the 50 mile distance. I feel like I graduated from the 50k this year, but I still have a lot to learn about myself and the distance in relation to 50 milers. So far I have completed all my races injury free with what I consider minimal recovery time. For 50k I need a days rest and for 50 milers I need a 2 day rest before running again. On to the race report---->
The Tuesday before Sun Mountain I began experiencing tingling that began innocently enough in my feet upon waking. As the day progressed the tingling moved up my legs into my thighs and appeared in my hands and arms and even in my lips and face. Just so y'all know, this is a pretty scary feeling, especially when you don't know why it is happening. I wasn't quite sure what to do or not do about it, and because I felt otherwise fine, I chose to ignore it and race on Sunday. By Sunday, it was better, but I was still feeling tingling in all extremities. I started the race figuring that I could stop at any point if I began to feel worse.
Winthrop is one of my favorite places, so I was pretty excited to do the full 50 miles. I began the race chatting with Evergreen Trail Series Race Director Roger Michel. We ran around the lake and onto Frost Road where Genia and I began to chat and run together. I could tell we were keeping a good pace for a 50 mile race, but I felt good and it was great to have her company. I figured I'd be doing pretty darn good if I could keep up with her for the whole race. Genia just did the Boston marathon in 3:18, a pretty impressive time!
When we arrived at the first aid station at mile 5.5, I checked my watch, 45 minutes. Hmm, that's a little on the fast side as I had planned to average about 10 minute miles, but we were doing 8 minute miles. I mentally checked in with my body and still felt good, plus there hadn't been any major hills, so it seemed okay to be going a little faster than expected.
Just after the first aid station I arrived at a one of the many cow fences/gates that RD James had warned us about pre-race: don't open the gate if you don't think you'll be able to shut it. Many of the gates required a good deal of force to close, and if not closed properly the cows could escape. Keeping this in mind, I opted to roll under the gate and in the process I set both my hand water bottles, my knee and my hand in cow shit. I didn't realize it until I had completed my roll under the fence and stood up. Genia was right behind me and I'm sure she heard my foul mouth spout out some obscenities. The only reasonable thing to do at this point was to continue on my way and hope that the cow shit didn't make it's way into my water despite it being all over the water bottles albeit for the nipple. I pathetically tried rubbing them in the sagebrush and then thought, fuck it, and chased after Genia.
Genia and I ran through the lovely wildflower strewn fields and ohhhh'd and ahhh'd at the little calves in the fields. Genia got caught in some loose barbed wire at one point, and quickly untangled herself. I stopped to help if need be, but she was tough and quick to untangle herself. Aid station 2 appeared before we expected, somewhere around mile 10 instead of mile 14. My friend Ian was kind enough to clean the rim and bottle of one of my poopy handbottles with a wipe. I refilled my water, ate some potatoes and salt, and looked up the trail. Yep, up. What had previously been a rolling hill trail began to climb, quite steeply after the aid station.
Genia and I were still together, chatting and laughing, and we began to power hike up the hill, with some jogging. The trail continued upwards, then flattened out and climbed again for what seemed like several miles, but the views were incredible and I was feeling great. Well, I was mentally feeling great, but my legs were tired. I had not tapered much for the race because I am such a cross-trainer. I just can't help doing workouts and I had discovered Bodyrock the week before the race and delved right into several of the workouts, leaving me with a sore butt for race day. The hillsides were covered in sagebrush and other small vegetation with very open views of the surrounding mountains, lakes, and wildflower covered hills. The landscape was like food to my brain and body and I fully enjoyed the trail.
As Genia and I were descending on the trail around what we thought was mile 14, we came to a trail marking that said we were 18 miles in. Well, that would be great, but time wise, we thought we outta be at mile 14. We had been keeping a pretty consistent pace, but still....18 miles?! A few miles later we arrived at the next aid station, where I had a drop bag with a bottle of water and Perpetuem. Perpetuem is Hammer's calorie rich powder to add to water. Each packet has 270 calories. Which makes it, in my opinion, the perfect "food" to onsume every hour. My goal was to consume a packet in 20 ounces of water every 10 miles. That almost covers what you need to consume to comfortably continue running for hours on end. Optimally, I would consume that many calories every hour, but I didn't quite have enough packets for that. I also had grapes, watermelon, and a few GU's early in the race. At about mile 30 I consumed 1/5 of a almond butter and honey sandwich.
Here is the list of what I ate during the race:
3 perpetuem packets, 270 calories each, each dissolved in 20 oz of water
2 GU gels
2 Hammer gels
4 watermelons slices
several handfuls of grapes
1 small square of almond butter/honey sandwich (1/5 sandwich)
1 Peter Rabbit Organic Fruit puree (kid's food, really good for a race, I LOVE THESE!!!)
After decending the trail from mile 18 we ran for a few more miles then turned left onto the Sun Mountain trail system and promptly began getting passed by the 25k and 50k runners who began their race at 10 am (we started at 7am). It was a really good motivator to run with the 25k and 50k runners who were still really fresh, only 20 minutes into their race. Genia and I sped up for a bit and were carried up the hills by the wave of runners, many of whom we were friends with and had fun talking to. As we got closer to the top of the hill we reached another aid station, which Genia and I were super excited about as we were both dehydrated and looking forward to getting more water. When we arrived we both gulped down several cups of water, filled our bottles, ate some watermelon, and continued on our way.
The 25k and 50k runners expressed their admiration that we were running the full 50 miles, but I just smiled to myself knowing that, once you set your mind to a distance it becomes attainable. If you have only planned to run 25k, 50 miles seems INSANE! Genia and I pushed eachother to contine running as much of the course as possible at this point. We were 28-31 miles into the course, the distance at which I am usually done with a race (50k) and I had to tell my body that there was really 20 more miles! The trail headed steeply uphill then steeply downhill then a gradual, but brutal uphill, during which I passed many 50k runners who were either running slowly or walking. At this point they were 15 miles in, and some were really hurting. I kept myself running, knowing I'd be done sooner if I did so.
Genia and I were still running together and as boisterous as we had been at mile 5. Probably more so at this point, as it was all we had left to feed on. There was an unsaid agreement at this point that we'd push eachother through the race. We reached the aid station at mile 35-ish, again, sooner than expected and blasted though grabbing so many grapes thast I had to put handfuls in my Nathan pack.
The next 15 miles were tough, hot, and challenging. There were steep, hot climbs through fragrant wildflower meadows, and at one point we climbed to the Sun Mountain Lodge. This was the point that I really began to feel like I was suffering, and was as close as I came to bonking. I struggled to keep up with Genia and at one point let her get a good 1/2 mile ahead. As we began descending again I made an agreement with mself that I would catch up again so that we could chat and laugh together, I wasn't ready to run alone.
Over the next 1.5 miles I caught up with her and again we laughed and passed the miles and time with our freindship. It was such a gift to run with such a fun lady. As we ticked away the miles we began to wonder where the aid station was at mile 44. It seemed to take forever to get to it. Finally we reached a road, turned left and the aid station was in sight!!! I refilled my bottles, grabbed more watermelon, said hi to friends working at the aid staion, and continued on. Genia and I ran down the road and I saw James' truck coming down th road! What a nice surprise! We waved and yelled hello as he passed, and I wondered why he was driving on the road. It turned out some hikers had taken trail markers down off Mt. Patterson and he had to head up there to replace them.
At this point in the race, we only had 6 more miles to go, and one major climb up Mount Patterson then back down and around to the finish at Chickadee Trail head. This last climb and descent was really mentally difficult for me as I didn't know the route and I kept thinking that we were done climbing, then we'd keep following markers up-up-up! Genia and I continued to run together, reached the top of the mountain then headed back down, scaling a fence, and running through the sage brush. We crossed the road, and there was only 1 mile left! At this point I struggled to keep up my previous pace, and I fell behind Genia. As I approached the finish, she came back and met me to run through the finish together. What a great experience!! I feel so lucky to have such a great friend to run with all day! I finished in 5th place, with a new PR of 8:54:??. And the rain held off until about 1 hour after I finished. What a day....
|Genia and I after the race|
|Before the race, chatting with Roger Michel|
|Super Runner Al Coyle travels with the Blackberry Bushes String Band|
|Sun Mountain race course|
|The band, James, Brandon, Al, Ian and I hang out the day after the race.|
|A nice game of baseball|
|Kendl and Joe of the Blackberry Bushes String Band have fun on the tight rope|
|Brandon, James, and Al|
|More baseball, on top of the original Rainshadow Running vehicle|
|Al causing trouble...|
|We know how to have fun....|
|James and the original RR car.|