Mt. Si 50 mile Ultra
Feeling a bit sore today in strange places…all my breathing muscles, stomach, shoulders and, of course, legs. I do ok if I keep moving. The great thing about all this “ultra” distance is that the recovery times seem to get shorter and shorter. I expect by Wednesday or Thursday I’ll be feeling fine. I have the next 3 weeks with less than 30 miles per week as recovery time.
Race report: It was very dark when I got up at 4:15 and I had everything in the hotel bathroom set up the night before so I wouldn’t disturb DH and sister. I showered, did foot prep, got dressed and ate (yogurt, crumpets and nutella) and left. I got there in about 40 minutes and it was still dark and foggy and 33 degrees. I picked up my race number then did my pit stop before standing around outside in the cold waiting for the start.
The race was a combo of a relay of 57 miles and the 50 mile and a 50K solo runs. The 50 milers and some of the relay runners started at 6AM and off we went. It was dawn by now and still chilly, but I layered pretty well and I was comfortable. I felt great for the first 10 miles or so, like I was just getting warmed up in general.
They promised us porta-potties that never materialized until mile 17 so I improvised earlier. Good thing we were running through the woods. I dropped off my gloves too soon at my drop box around 12 miles and my hands were frozen for a while. I knew it was going to get really warm later so I was glad it stayed cold in the woods as long as it did.
I ran for about 30 min with a nice fellow but then he went to “use the woods” and I never saw him again. He didn’t even materialize after the turn-around so he must have dropped out (or got lost in the woods).
After the first 20 mile out/back the trail changes to a wide, flat gradual uphill grade until the second turn around at 35 miles. It started getting warmer but the sun was low enough that the trail was partly shaded. I was doing my 18 min run and 2 min walk intervals and eating and drinking properly and felt pretty good. I remembered my salt pills and never needed to change my shoes. I peeled off layers of clothing as it got hot and at the second drop box put on sunscreen. I hit the 25 mile mark in 4:27.
The 25-35 mile section was starting to get to my pace because of the constant up…it wasn’t ever really a “hill” but it never seemed to end. Finally I made it to the turn around and headed back down. It definitely felt better to be running downhill and the whole “quads hate downhills” never happened to me. By this time the trail was not shaded and pretty hot.
Most of the race there were relay runners whizzing by. There were 2 late relay exchange areas that whooped it up a bit when I went through the exchange (the ultra number were 1-52 and in red so they could tell us apart). I always ran through my timed walk period if I was passing an exchange 😉
The last 10 miles were hard to hold my pace, more for concentration reasons than just plain fatigue. I kept reminding myself that running slower didn’t hurt any less (it didn’t) and I’d speed up only to notice a few minutes later I was shuffling along again. Keeping track of the next time I could walk kept me somewhat focused and I looked forward to the breaks. But, it didn’t really feel any easier after walking the 2 minutes. I did it anyway because it was the plan. Towards the end I was able to maintain a bit of a faster pace when I saw some other ultra person to pass (I passed 3).
As I passed the final stretch off the trail and back on the road into town I was able to pick up the pace quite nicely and sped to the finish line with an 8:55 last mile (!). They announced my name as I crossed the finish line but everyone standing around was just hanging around after the relay to eat and relax and they were in their relay groups. It was all very anticlimactic.
But, the lady I’m dog-sitting for was there and found me (she ran in the relay) and she talked to me for a while. There was really nothing much to do so I just got my drop boxes, grabbed a water and drove back to the city with the windows up and the air conditioning on!
I much prefer the atmosphere of a pure ultra event, rather than the small add on the ultra seemed to be to the relay. I’m pretty independent and didn’t plan on any support with this run, but it would have been nice to be near other ultra runners throughout the race. The field was just so spread out and I was so much slower than the rest of them that they were all long gone by the time I finished.
I’m looking forward to the end of July when I plan to do the Mt. Hood run again and I already know some folks who may be running with me there.
All in all I’m happy to report that 50 miles wasn’t NEARLY as hard this time as the last time. It seemed harder than 50K, but not that much more (mostly because this trail wasn’t really a “trail” like the mud runs were on). I’m eager to try a 100K on way to my quest to tackle “the big one” in a year or 2.