Tag Archives: 50K

Corner Canyon 50K

Spent too much time browsing potential races on Ultrasignup. Definitely hooked on the rush of signing up for another race. It’s great to have a race to look forward to, but my wallet hates it. I had seen the race, but anticipated being in Moab to volunteer for the Moab 240. However since I did R2R2R and spent way too much there, I couldn’t afford the time off to volunteer for four days like I had planned. I was scheduled to work the day of the Corner Canyon race, but not until 2:30… I could do this. So I signed up.

A newish race about 7 years old. It’s a charity race raising money for people with major medical issues. I figured it must be easier so that more people can run it. Nope. It was a genuinely challenging course. There was plenty of easy flat runnable sections with crazy steep climbing sections mixed in. There were a few out and backs, but too much repetition. There were some nice views throughout the race.

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Temps were pretty dang good. The start was a bit cold, but not too cold. The start was the usual mix of excitement and mild dread about the many hours ahead. My goal for the race was to push myself harder than usual. That meant less walking and running at a faster pace. I wanted to see if I could actually finish in Ultrasignup’s predicted time of 6:51. Since I didn’t know anyone running, I could just chug along without much distraction.

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Running hard has become a foreign concept to me. My usual mentality is to run slow so that I don’t get my heart rate too high and then get tired. It was hard to break out of my comfort zone and force myself to work harder, but I did. Just not smartly.

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I ran hard straight out the gate. I felt great for the first few hours, but then unsurprisingly, began to fade around mile 23 -24. And then there were some major hills to contend with. Normally, I love crazy steep hills. But being calorie deprived made it really tough. I was plodding along step by step. I chose not to use poles, and even though it was tough, I still think it was the right choice.

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There was a “short” out and back section where we had to run to the turnaround point and mark our bib with the Sharpie there. From where I stood when the volunteer directed me, it looked to be just an extra hill. He informed me that it was past that. He told me a distance which I heard as .3 or three tenths of a mile.

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So I run up to this hill, and then down the backside. I’m following the guy in front of me and he’s going up another hill. Get up over to that one, and I can see more runners… and more hills. This is the longest .3 miles of my life!

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I tried to disassociate myself from my current struggle by pretending I was FutureSelf. Futureself had the pleasure of being finished with the struggle and looking back to tell PastSelf that it would soon be over. This is a newish strategy for me, and I imagine I’ll have to rely on it heavily during the Franklins.

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Finally I make it to the turnaround spot and grabbed the maroon Sharpie to mark my bib. I contemplated writing “Bitches I made it!” but settled for something less offensive.

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The return trip was quicker, but not by much. Everyone coming the opposite direction looked strong. Even though they were behind me, I knew I was going to get passed.

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I questioned the volunteer about the distance because it seemed further than it should have been. He said it was “three quarters of a mile.” (And that might have been each way.) I guess the “point three” that I thought I heard was wishful thinking.

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Here a couple guys I had been leapfrogging finally left me in the dust. I was really hoping I could catch them at the end, but no luck. I wonder if they thought to themselves “oh that guy’s going out too fast. I’ll catch him later.” I hate being that guy.

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At the next two aid stations, I forced myself to eat more. While standing there nibbling on whatever, I stared at the table in a daze, wondering what else I could tolerate. Two women passed me during my calorie contemplation.

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Eating perked me up energy wise and started moving better. Finally my mental game picked up, which was great because from the last aid station, it was only three more miles. PresentMe took over and pushed hard for the finish. I didn’t catch those guys, which was a little disappointing, but NBD.

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Kirby Flats 50K Report: First DNF (with an Asterisk?)

Kirby Flats was an inaugural race, and actually the first time the director had ever put on a race.  There was a 50K,  25K,  and 10K. All three were free provided we gave our honest feedback about the race.

It was a small turnout, maybe 50 people for all three races combined. In the 50K, there were only eight runners, and three of us were Rockhoppers. The race started at 6 am. It was a cold, misty, and dark. At the start we joked how everyone was guaranteed a top ten finish. And whoever came in first would set a course record.

Kyle the race director sent us on our way at 6 sharp. We started with a long steep incline. The other two Rockhoppers Brian and Ed chatted away, I just listened. There was another guy right behind us who became part of our group due to proximity. After a mile, (!) we never saw the other four guys again, which was weird because we were not running fast at all.

The second mile was unrunnable. There was no clear trail on the ground, so we had to keep hunting for the next flag. And unfortunately, the flags were not reflective. But what really slowed us down was the terrain: tons of slippery exposed rock and steep uphills/ downhills covered with scree and leaves. It took us 29 minutes to cover mile 2.  This set the tone for the rest of the race.

Eventually, we did reach some sections that we could run. After hiking so much, it felt weird to actually run.  Unfortunately, we soon entered a super flat and super boring section that ran along the fence line of pasture. It felt like when you were in high school and they made you run laps around the field as punishment.

I felt dumb having complained about how tough the earlier sections were and now how boring these flat sections were. And we were still having to figure out where the flags were leading us.

It may have been as early as mile 2 when the topic of dropping the race came up. At an average of only three miles per hour, it would have taken about 10 hours… to finish a 50K! We had expected 6 or 7, maybe 8 hours, but 10? Was it worth it? (I joked that we weren’t even getting a t-shirt for our efforts.)

I had never not finished a race, and I knew this would happen eventually. I felt conflicted as to whether I should continue or not.  I wasn’t injured. But did I really want to spend another 6 hours out here in the cold rain on this poorly marked course essentially by myself? (The new guy said he wanted to finish. But this was his first trail run and he didn’t even bring water with him. I certainly didn’t want to have to rely on him.)

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Trail version of Groundhog Day: Stephanie, Jazzy, and Adnil ran the same loop 3 times.

After almost 4 hours, we made it back to the start having completed one 20K loop. (The 50K was (2) 20K loops + (1) 10K loop.) There were lots of 25K runners at the tent. The race director was there, listening to the runners’ woes. Apparently, everyone had had navigational issues. One group of ladies had somehow managed to run a small loop three times. Basically, it turned into a big drop party. At the time, I didn’t feel bad dropping since everyone else was.

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Three 50K DNFs and three 25K DNFs! Still smiling though!

But two days later, I feel crappy about dropping.  Sure it would have taken a long time, but it’s not like I’ve never run for 10 hours before. Sure the course was confusing, but we (think we) ran it. And the poor new guy – I could have helped him finish his first trail race.  But what bothers me the most is this was a challenge and I pussed out. I could have finished, I just didn’t want to, which seems like the worst excuse possible.

There’s nothing I can do about it now, the DNF is in the books. It’s certainly a bummer, but not the end of the world. I don’t know if the RD is going to post any “official” results – as there may not be any results to post. I am curious if any of the other four 50K guys finished. I will feel a little less crummy if no one finished.

KF 50K DNF

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racer’s Anonymous Support Group?

The first step is admitting that you have a problem.

“Hi my name is ________. I have a problem: I’m addicted to racing.”

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The last two races have not gone as well as I’d hoped, and that has dampened my enthusiasm for racing and running in general. Or so I thought.

After the last race, I didn’t run at all for a week. The first few days I physically couldn’t. Once I could walk normally again, I felt like I had lost my mojo. I didn’t want to run. I wasn’t running and I didn’t care. It didn’t bother me one but. If you are like me, you know there is something seriously wrong when not running doesn’t bother you.

I managed a short run the other day, and then two days slipped by. Finally, last night I went for only my second run in two weeks. It was later than I usually run, but I was determined to get in a run. The temperature was absolutely perfect.

It was dark out, but I chose not to use my headlamp. It’s kind of hard to see, everything’s kind of grainy and dreamlike. What I see in front of me looks a lot like what I’ve seen in my dreams. I’m always running somewhere, and can’t really tell where I’m going.

I started thinking about what to do about this Wild Hare race, which is coming up quick – November 16. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to run it or not. Originally I assumed I would do the 50M,  but after my poor performance in Chicago, I thought I would skip Wild Hare and try to redeem myself at the San Antonio Marathon (it’s the day after the Wild Hare), but then I realized it’s waaaay too soon for another marathon. So I thought, “Just do the 50K.” Then for the last few days I felt so burned out,  I thought, “Just skip it entirely. Just focus on Bandera in January…”

A couple miles into the run, I warmed up. I started to remember what it feels like to really run, and I remembered why I like doing this. And then my brain made a crazy connection. In one of the old Super Mario Bros Nintendo games, Mario could jump and then gently float down for what seemed like forever. I’ve often had dreams that I could float like that, and that’s what I felt like. My legs were motoring away in a cartoon circle while the rest of me was completely still. I realized that I was floating along; I was Mario. I felt good. I felt happy. I wanted to run again.

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Then the choice became clear: Which would I regret more, running a mediocre / bad race, or not racing at all? There are several races that I regret not doing, and I didn’t want this to be another. I decided that I would rather race and whatever happens, happens. But not racing? Well, that’s when you know there’s a problem. And not the good kind of problem.

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When I got online today, I looked at who was registered. Of all the people I knew, only one person chose the 50K, everyone else chose the 50M. At the Lighthouse race, I chose the 20M instead of the 50K, and I regretted that. My choice was made for me by indirect peer pressure: I signed up for  the 50M. Like I had originally planned all along.

From what I’ve heard, the course is not technically challenging and there is not much change in elevation. It’s six 7.8 mile loops with a 3.2 mile loop. So it should be relatively “easy.” The only goal I have for this race is to channel my inner Mario and enjoy the race.

 

 

 

If You’re Even THINKING About It…

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I ran with a few of the Rockhoppers today at Government Canyon. Stefan, Cara, and Elizabeth. I talked to them about some of the races they’ve done. It seemed like they’d all done numerous “real” ultras, which made me feel a little out of my league running with them. I was envious of their accomplishments, but inspired to make my own.

“The Nueces 50K.” That’s what I told them I was training for. “My plan is to do a few 50K’s and get some experience under my belt. Then try and tackle a 50M.” Or that was the plan anyway.

About halfway through the run, Elizabeth had to turn around and head back. She was nursing a knee injury and had a half marathon the next day, so she wanted to take it easy. So the rest of the run was with Stefan and Cara. Stefan lead the whole way, with Cara following him and then me. He kept a brisk pace. There were times I couldn’t see him and I crossed my fingers I was following the same trail. I had no idea where I was so getting lost would have been super sucky.

Somewhere along the way, we ran into a runner who was kind of lost. He asked about directions and struck up a brief conversation about Bandera, Rocky, and Nueces. He said he’d just run Bandera and planned to do Nueces. We began to go in the opposite direction, and then Stefan said, “We’ll see you at Nueces!” a minute later, I heard Cara say, “You should do the 50 Miler.”

I was watching the ground, so I didn’t know who she was talking to. Was she talking to me? No, she was talking to Stefan. But then I started to think about that. What if she had been talking to me?

Stefan kept up the pace and if anything, got quicker. We were running well. The hills were cake, the rocks endless, and the temps perfect. I kept up just fine, but Cara started to slow down a bit, so she let me take over the second spot. I did my best to shadow Stefan, I wanted to show that I could run with the big kids. They noticed and gave me credit for keeping up.

We ran into Miguel from the R-U-N group. We stopped and (they) chatted. He asked how far along we were. Neither Stefan or Cara was wearing a GPS, and I’d been having trouble with mine -somehow the display had switched. Instead of showing the usual distance/ elapsed time/ pace, it was showing calories/ something else/ something else. I felt really dumb because I’m pretty sure Miguel noticed I was wearing a Garmin, I think the same as his, in fact, but he didn’t say anything. I put my arms behind my back.  That was a lesson for the day: learn how to operate my watch.

We stopped at a crossroad. I asked Stefan how much harder it would be to do a 50M vs a 50K. He said, “If you’re even thinking about it, you should do it.” That was just the sort of crazy positive advice I wanted to hear. Despite the fact that he doesn’t know me or my capabilities (other than the run we were on), he suggested to just do it. I like this guy.

Later, I asked Cara the same question and I think I got pretty much the same response. So my brain started percolating crazy ideas… We eventually finished our run. My watch showed only 13.7 miles in 2:23 for a pace of 10.25. They guesstimated 15 or 16 miles. I had problems with the starting and stopping, so I know my data was short. Ugh! Nothing worse than being outsmarted by technology.

On the drive home, I thought to myself, I should do the 50 miler. Normally, I would take a more cautious approach. Like I said before, do few 50K’s and build up some confidence. But I already feel pretty confident about my ability to do 31 miles. What will doing another prove? Why not do a 50M? Are you afraid to fail? Maybe?

Well if I’m going to consider doing this, I need to commit myself to the idea of actually doing a 50 mile run. OK. And that’s when I decided, Fuck it! Why mess around with another 50K? I know I can do that. Nothing to it. Let’s bump it up and do what we came here to do. Let’s run the big stuff. Let’s start with a 50 miler!

I AM GOING TO DO THE 50 MILER.

I got goosebumps. Straight up gooses bumps, and not just once, it was a wave of them. Part of it was fear, part of it was excitement, but all of it was joy.

So that’s what happened today: I made a big decision. And it feels good. Now I need to sign up and start to figure out training…