50 Mile

Colossal Vail 50/50

Colossal Vail 50/50

My quest to complete a 50 miler brought me to Tucson to run the Colossal Vail 50/50.  I found it kinda funny that I left home for a race in Tucson that had 40 people in my distance (100-125 overall) the same weekend a 40,000 runner Rock & Roll event was held back home in Vegas.  40 people on a beautiful trail, 40,000 people jammed together on pavement?  I made the right choice!

IMG_5329

The race was crazy well organized for such a small event, somewhere around 150 volunteers for a race of only 100-125 people.

This is a very nice fast course.  One could run this whole thing, there isn’t any technical portions and very smooth trail. … I couldn’t run the whole thing, it’s more of ‘in theory’ you could run the whole thing.  🙂

IMG_5334

The design of the course is a double out and back – 34 mile out and back south and a 20 mile out and back going north.  There are no real killer sections, but the climb from mile 12-16 before the turnaround and then the mid day heat on the return half of the 50k knocked a lot of people out of the 50 mile.   So watch yourself there.

IMG_5333

The deserts in Tucson are more varied than the Mojave desert in Las Vegas.  The trail flows between the scrubby desert with scrubby bushes that I’m used to, to the greener deserts you see in old westerns.  In the north portion, you get the saguaro cactus forest that AZ is more famous for.  Though at that point I was just trying to survive to the next check point so maybe I was imagining things.

IMG_5344

I’ve done several trail races, this was the first course that was on an active section of the trail.  Several day hikers and through hikers were out on the trail.  I’d imagine its because that even though there was no huge ‘payoff’ vista or anything, this was a good solid trail – a place and a route you’d actually go for a hike even if there was no race.

IMG_5347

So about the volunteers and aid stations, there really were more volunteers than participants.  There was an unofficial bacon aid station at a road crossing as well as pork chops at the 50k aid station!

IMG_5338

The most famous runner in any race is generally the fastest.  The second most famous is the person at the back.  That’s the person that is keeping all the volunteers out on the course.  From Mile 34-48 I was that person!  🙂 Though there was a runner still on the course after I DNF’d – but I was famous for a while.  I bring that up because there were at least a half dozen mountain bike volunteers out sweeping the course and making sure I was ok.

When I made it back to the finish line (via a car) there was still a ton of food left.  A nice treat for me – as a back of the pack finisher in trail races–  finish line food is usually very picked over.  In fact, the camp fire was still going and it looked like the ‘party’ would continue for hours after I left for my hotel.

 

Advertisements

ATA Colossal Vail 50/50 Nov 14 2015

I registered for the ATA Colossal Vail 50/50.  This will be my 3rd attempt at 50 miles.

The first time I tried the 50 mile distance I had a naive nervous confidence that I could handle the distance.  Then I DNFd at 40 miles.

The second time I was determined, I had the training down and even had a successful 50k training run.  I had to downgrade to the Marathon distance.

This time its different.  After 2 unsuccessful attempts– the distance is way more intimidating.  I’m healthy, training is going great, but can I figure out how to make it through the inevitable dark places?  Can I get my nutrition and hydration right and if not, can I recover?

The course sounds interesting and I’ll get to run in the dark — assuming all goes well and I don’t DNF.  That will be interesting.  Running in the dark sounds cool but I have a hard time remembering things when I’m at an aid station.  It would be very disappointing to forget to grab my lights from my drop bag.

It always is cool to have a race on the calendar.  It raises the intensity of training and it puts a major goal on the horizon.

E

Labor of Love 50 Miler (ok, maybe just a Marathon)

Labor of Love 50Mile (Or maybe Marathon) Race Report

Just before LOL 2015 Race Start

Just before LOL 2015 Race Start

Saturday was my second attempt at 50 Miles. I had my strategy down, had my training down…

Joyce with Calico Racing always puts on well organized events.  She knows many of her runners by name.  Aid stations were every 2 miles or so and nicely stocked for a road race (though maybe a bit sparse if you are used to ultra aid stations).

The course is a road course about an hour from home.  The starting line is around 4,500 feet, about 2,000 feet higher than Vegas.  Not that much elevation but I need to set up my excuses for race performance  :-).

Starting temp around 60-70 with a high in the low 80s.  Not particularly hot for me but hotter than it has been  (More set up for excuses).

The course is an 11 mile out and back with some repeat sections to get to the magic 26.2, 50k, or 50 Mile depending on the race.   Its about a 5-6 mile rise, then a steap descent (for a road race) for 3 miles and then more climbing.  The marathon has about 2,000 feet of climbing (4,000 overall for the 50 mile course).

Asthetically the course is nice, scrubby desert ‘forest’.  The landscape doesn’t change much but the road has enough bends in it that the terrain doesn’t get monotonous.

LOL 2015

Ok, back to the race.  The race had about 250+ runners.  80 toed the start line for the Marathon and beyond distance (13 of those were 50 milers).

I set a very slow 14 minute/mile goal pace, which would give me plenty of lee way for the 15 minute/mile cut off.  Did a decent job of keeping my pace down, I was running 12-13 minute pace and on the uphill section to boot but I kept my pace down.  Yay!

The 5-6 mile climb was ok, it wasn’t that steep but it was never ending.  My legs didn’t feel as fresh as they should have been.  The climb was slowly doing its thing to me and then the Sun started to do its thing to me as well.  Not much mind you, just slowly and relentlessly trying to stop my forward motion.

Did the extra lap at the top of the course and was able to figure out that there were 2 50 milers behind me at the 13 mile mark.  I was a little more tired than I wanted to be, but this was the start of the downhill section and I had time in the bank so I should be able to recover.

But around mile 18 was the big climb (the descent on the way up the canyon).  I mostly walked up the climb, but even that was too intense for what was going on in my stomach.  By the time I crested the hill my ‘health’ was fading.

This is a picture of the descent.  You can see the road off to the left of the picture

This is a picture of the descent. You can see the road off to the left.

I made it to the mile 23 aid station and was able to sit down for a bit.  Despite nausea, I knew I could complete at least marathon distance and so trudged on.  That was not a fun 3.2 miles but I did it.  I crossed the mat and downgraded to a marathon.

I then went over to the ultra aid station to get a soda and was told that they were trying to save the soda for the ultra runners.  Ouch.  I knew I should have gone to the aid station before downgrading.  🙂

So What went wrong?

I expected problems going into the race.  About a month before the race I did a 50k training run with no problems.  But a little more than a week before the race I ran into nausea problems doing a 20 mile run.  The difference is tempature.

During the winter I can run 10+ miles without water but during the summer it takes me 60-80 ounces of water to cover the same distance.  Over the past 2 weeks tempatures have climbed but I’m not acclimated to it yet.

My theory is I was taking in more liquids than my body could handle.  When I added the last climb to the heat, higher elevation, and the miles my stomach finally rebelled.

Oh, and of the 13 or so starters, there were only 7 50 mile finishers so I wasn’t the only one who downwgraded to a shorter distance.

E

Labor of Love 50 Mile

I mailed off my entry today to Calico Racing’s Labor of Love 50 Mile race!  This will be my second attempt at 50 miles.

Labor of Love 50 Mile

I’ve run this course as a half-marathon before.  I was recovering from a torn calf muscle (ouch) and so I dropped from a marathon down to a half.  If you ever want to ‘podium’ in a race, sign up for a medium-short distance in a primarily ultra event.  I believe I finished 3rd in my age group but the field was really small since the focus was on the ultra-distances.

Whatever, this is a nice course and hopefully the weather will cooperate.  I think I have my pace down and I think I know some of the reason for knee injuries.  The biggest concern is going to be nutrition.  Hopefully even if my nutrition is messed up, I’ll be able to recognize the problem for what it is and tough it out.

E

Ed’s 50k Red Rock Canyon Run 3/19/2015

I had some PTO time to burn up so i took Thursday off to do a 50K long run.  Never mind that I was still recovering from my Marathon a while back and hadn’t run for 2 weeks.

I mapped out a a nice route.  From Red Rock Station (NV159 & I215) to NV160 (NV159 & NV 160) is 15 Miles.  Then to make it a loop instead of an out and back, I went a bit east on 160 until I hit Fort Apache and then took that back to I215 and followed I215 back to my car

Ed’s Red Rock 50k Route

IMG_3952

This is a pretty nice part of town and there were a few people out for their morning run or bike.

IMG_3958

After a little bit you get into undeveloped desert.  This whole section runs through Red Rock canyon.  Very pretty place to run.  No burros were on the road today though I did see 1 on a hill.  I was excited to see 2 coyotes run across the road.

IMG_3959

NV159 has a nice wide shoulder.  There are very few large vehicles on this section so you should feel very safe, even when it gets busy.  As you get closer to NV160 there will be more large vehicles as there are some Gypsum mines/plants.

IMG_3964

My last marathon was at the Red Rock Canyon loop.  I ran by the entrance and exit to the loop but that wasn’t part of my route today.  Which was fortunate.  The loop has more elevation change than the route I mapped out.  I believe I started around 2800 feet and peaked out around 3600 feet and bottomed out around 2600.

IMG_3972

I finally made it to NV160.  NV160 is a busy road with a lot of large vehicles moving pretty fast.  Fortunately the side of the road is a wide packed dirt shoulder.

IMG_3974

Fort Apache @ NV160 probably isn’t the best road to run on.  Very narrow paved shoulder and the gravel shoulder has several obstructions.  At one point, there is a blind curve and no gravel so you have to run on the road.  What makes this more harrowing is the heavy construction and gravel truck traffic.  Maybe the weekend traffic is safer.

IMG_3981

By the time I got to Wet and Wild water park the road was fully improved with sidewalks.

IMG_3989

Part of the reason I went this direction was because there is an urban trail that follows I-215.  I drive by it all the time and a trail that I haven’t run on always seems to call me.  Plus running a city street with traffic lights stops every mile isn’t the funnest.

IMG_3998

One of the signature items on this urban trail is the Town Center pedestrian bridge.  By the time I got to the bridge I had to debate if I really wanted to climb the switch backs or simply walk across the road – I took the bridge.

IMG_4006

I was able to complete this run with no acute pains and no nausea! Somewhere around mile 20-25 I ran out of legs so that may be a problem for a 50 miler.  And I don’t think nausea was too far away.  But this run was definitely a win and it really boosts my confidence for longer distances.

Rainier To Ruston 50 Mile 2014

R2R Race Report

Rainier to Ruston 50M was my first attempt at 50 Miles.  The course was a downhill point to point course with about 20 miles of trail and about 30 miles of paved trail. This is a very fun course with the whole distance being very runnable.

Just before the start

The start of the race was a bit disorganized, not bad, but a little crazier than I’m used to.  Driving to the starting line, we nearly turned around before we got to the start due to lack of signage.   Much of the confusion is understandable. I’m used to races set in rural areas or mountain trails in the middle of nowhere.  Those RDs mark the course during the week and get everything set up the day or night before.  This race was on a heavily used urban trail and ran through city parks.  The RD must go crazy trying to get a 50 mile course up in time for us.

My ‘plan’ was a 12 minute mile pace for a 10 hour finish.  Figured I might drag at the end but still be able to make 12 hours.  We were off and quickly I ran into my first strategic error (second if you count the goal pace).  Turns out there are trees in Washington.  I’m used to running in the desert southwest where I can always see the sky.  My Garmin lost signal under the canopy of trees — so my primary tool to rein me in during the start of the race wasn’t very useful.  Without the feedback of the watch, and with the wave still tightly packed, I probably was running 9-10 minute miles.

The first 3 legs of the course are primarily trail.  Some of the relay runners were nervous about the ‘secluded wilderness’ advertised on the website but these are the best legs! (Assuming it hasn’t been raining) This was a very pretty trail that you could actually run on.  Some roots are there to try and place you in the dirt but I was able to get through unscathed.  There were a few muddy sections to scramble around but it was a dry year for the course so it wasn’t too bad.  This section could be very challenging in a wet year.

2014-06-07 08.29.06

After the trail sections, the course moves onto a nice and active urban trail.  From this point on it was like running a ‘supported’ run out in the community.

2014-06-07 09.17.31 2014-06-07 10.09.51 2014-06-07 10.55.20

Navigating the course was easy; although I spotted some runners heading off in the wrong direction in 2 spots so you can get lost if you try.  Some of the city portions can get a bit sketchy – especially if your pace starts falling off.   I was cheered on by some homeless guys later in the race as I ran under a freeway overpass.

2014-06-07 14.42.59

I really enjoyed the course, but I struggled the whole way with my pace.  It didn’t help that my left knee was killing me.  By about mile 39 I lost the desire to go on.  It was a combination of exhaustion and nausea that probably finished me – though I didn’t realize how much the exhaustion hit me until 2 days later when I noticed I had 2 black eyes.  I kept on going until about mile 41, search and rescue was stationed there and my wife and her friend also had walked down the trail to that point to cheer me on.

I sat and talked for a half hour trying to rally but that wasn’t happening.  I ended up DNF’ing at 41 miles and 11 ½ hours or so.

Perhaps with more experience I could have rallied and gone on.  I didn’t notice the nausea.  I’ve been nauseas on runs before but this felt different.  I just didn’t feel good.   While I was being driven to my car I fixed my nausea problem  :-).   My pace had dropped off to somewhere around 20-25 minute/mile pace but perhaps with caffeine and an understanding that I was going to take 12-14 hours and not 10-12 hours to finish I could have combatted the fatigue.

But those are all …could have dones… They didn’t start to hit until a week after the race.  I was pleased with the distance I went.  I am starting to plan my next 50+ mile attempt.

Key Learnings:

  • I figured the ‘easier course’ would compensate for the longer distance.  I had run several 50Ks, but they were intense courses.  -Nope – Miles is different than intensity.
  • Pace.  Argggh. –Maybe I should have spent more time ‘resting’ at the early aid stations.  That would have helped me get away from the pack that I was running with.
  • My left leg – Grr.  I wore an IT strap above my knee.  I think it worked – or rather it hurt worse when I tried to run without it on.
  • Hammer Anti-Fatigue caps seem to work.  When my legs got sore, taking one of those eased the pain.
  • Around mile 20-30 my shoes felt like they were a half size too small.   Not sure if that’s just my mind finding something else to worry about.
  • I’ve never had problems with socks before.  But after a while my socks felt a little like sand paper.  I even changed socks at mile 20.  My feet were fine after the race so maybe it was all in my head but it will give me a reason to buy more running gear.
  • Caffeine!  10+ hours running – I need to add caffeine to my nutrition about 8-10 hours into the course.

Aside from the DNF, I had fun on my run.  I need to figure out my stupid left leg and make some other changes to my strategy and try again.