Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Couch to 50 Miles - AKA My North Face Endurance Challenge Race

Too start with, I am pretty happy looking back at the last 20 months or so, as anybody that knows me I started running in April of 2012.  I won't bore you with the details because I have already in the past. :)

I signed up for this race right after the SOB 50k (July) because I knew (hoped) it would give me enough time to train for it.  I had also hoped at that time that it would be a stepping stone to greater goal of getting into Western States (it takes years sometimes to get in) I could have started that process with this race into 2015, as long as I could get this run done in under 11 hours. 

After SOB I started training in earnest for this, I was extraordinary fortunate to have John Burton offer to guide (train) me though this. He gave me some great help with what I should be looking to do with miles / elevation / time.  I think for the most part besides a kidney stone (which was part of my issue looking back at SOB), and a little bout of tendinitis I stuck to it pretty well even through in a 50k in Redding that sure wasn't a push over either. 

John has been very patient with me, and I was extremely lucky with with John, I also got to run with Amy who is an insanely good ultrarunner as well. So I get to ask her questions and advice while trying to catch my breath. 

Let's fast forward to before the race, I had a friend that was lamenting his lack of miles so I thought I would invite him to pace me for the last 23 miles since being a pacer for a slower runner like me is just a great long supported training run.  He has his first 100 miler in February that will be a lot of fun to hear about...

I picked up David Friday after work to drive up to San Francisco and we stayed at a cheap hotel near one of the shuttle pick up points. It was raining pretty good up there but died off later in the evening. We made it up to north face store to pick up the packet and there was meet and greet with Rob Krar and Dean Karnazes, fun to listen to them talk about the race and their experiences. 

Ate a pretty standard pasta dinner (can't really go wrong with that), then got probably 2 hours of sleep after tossing and turning before an asinine 2:45 wake up call.  I was frozen walking to the shuttle, but I found a race report somewhere that someone ran in oversized pajama bottoms so I had grabbed my oversized sweats. They worked great but I didn't think I wanted to run in them, so took them off and found a fire table. Sat around and BS'd with a few folks before race started all of us lamenting the cold but glad it wasn't the monsoon from last year.

Pretty soon it was time to start running and get warmed up. I felt like I started pretty well, I didn't go out fast just nice steady pace I felt I could hold up the whole time...  And I was pretty steady even up some decent climbs for the for 28 miles.  They had a section of "out and back" on some single track that was unforgiving you had a drop off on one side and a grassy up hill on the other.  Generally the going out runner makes way for the coming back runner, which I know the group I was bunhced up with did a good job of doing for sure even yelling runner so that people behind knew someone was coming.  On my way back their was a woman couldn't have been much more than 4 foot 6 going at a great clip right up the path, about 3 of us had to jump out of the way, I don't think she was going to give an inch :)  Kinda had to be there, but we laughed about that for a few miles for sure.

One of my favorite sections was the downhill for a couple of miles leading into the Stinson aid station it was wooded switchback with a bunch of stairs, I passed 6 to 8 people there. This is where I would pick up David. I was feeling really well minus some sore hip flexors. I think I was averaging about an 11 minute pace here so well ahead of what my "stretch goal" of 12 minutes. 

Then the wall or should I say stairs, coming out of the aid station you go up some of the dipsea stairs to the cardiac aid station (that is as imposing as it sounds) and got to see Rajeev again (Quicksilver teammate and RD for our new 100k). This is where it got tough, I was having a hard time running anything, I was still pretty strong on the downhill though.  David was trying to keep me moving along at a good clip and it was helping a lot.  Having a pacer to move me through the aid stations and ask all the right questions was great. I think we could get good at this if we traded pacing duties every now and then. 

At one point at the beginning of one of the climbs I saw a lego guy, now I just sort of went past because I wasn't quite sure how to handle that and I wanted to keep moving - I am certainly glad  David got a picture with him. Something to remember for sure!

Lego Guy with DavidLego Guy with David

As you can see by some of David's pictures the views were outstanding, these climbs were normally runnable and I did at the front end of this race just couldn't muster at the back end.  I will improve my time a lot when I can dial that in.

After looking back at my drop bags, I am wondering if I took in enough calories at the beginning (this is a new thought as I write this), I know a lot of my walking had to do with fitness, I think I can dial in my calories better as well though.  I might have to drop the Tailwind, I think it is harder for me to keep track of than GU or something like that.

I dropped most of my stuff at the Tennessee aid station as from there it was a pretty easy climb (I walked to much of :( ) and then flat / downhill to the finish only about 4.5 miles away! I finished at a run :)  (note both feet off the ground).