On May 9th I ran in the Glacier Ridge 50k. This event has 3 races, a 50 miler, 50k and a 30k. I did the 50k in preparation for Mohican 100 in June. This event is typically held during April but due to many complaints of very muddy sloppy conditions they moved the event 3 weeks later.
This course is mostly rolling but very runable, my watch stopped at mile 29 but I logged 4026 feet of gain. It is mostly an out and back with a loop in the middle. It was very dry but I could see that if it had rained or in early spring this would be a mud fest. I have no issues with the race, the organization was great, aid stations were pretty good, and the volunteers were awesome! Post race food was great and plenty to eat and drink (water and gatorade). I will run the 50 miler here next year.
On race day the temperature was supposed to get up to an unseasonably hot 86 degrees with high humidity. Thankfully a lot of the leaves had opened during the week so we had some cover from the sun. The 50k started at 7:30 AM, the temps were high 60's and comfortable at that time but it would not last long. Pre race I took 2 Hammer Endurolytes, 2 Hammer Anti-Fatigue caps, then filled one hand held with water and the other with Hammer Perpetuem.
I had a goal of sub six hours for this 50k, my previous PR for this distance was 6:42 at the HAT 50k in March of this year (forgot to blog). With the training I had been doing heading towards Mohican 100 I had no doubt I had the ability to meet this goal. Pre race was laid back, just chatting with friends new and old ( the more of the ultras I run I find you make less new friends as the community is not really that big in relation to road running), but a lot of people were concerned about the coming temps. I really didnt have much of a concern because I thought I had a solid plan and would be done before the hottest part of the day. My Plan was keep between 10 and 12 min average pace, take 2 Endurolytes an hour, 2 gels an hour, at half way take 2 more Anti Fatigue Caps and I packed 1 more serving of Perpetuem for the later stage of the race.
At 7:30 the horn went off and we were on our way. the first 2 miles or so were on a crushed gravel bike trail that turned into a black top bike trail. The pace of the group I ended up in was a bit faster than I planned but I went with it till the trail head. As we entered the trail it was great to see how dry the trail was, we could easily see the parts that had been really wet not long ago. I settled in with a group of 4 runners that were at about the pace I wanted to be. For a bit everyone chatted a little and the day was going great. As we started doing a few of the climbs our group started to spread out to the point that it was myself and another pulling away. I was moving well and felt great, my pace at this point was a bit fast but I felt great and I wanted to hit my goal. at about the 5 or 6 mile point I tweaked my left ankle a bit on a decent, no big deal just took a few steps to gather myself and get back my cadence.
At 10 miles we came to the first full aid station (at mile 5 we had an water stop) Things were still feeling great, Filled my water bottles and grabbed some fruit and a cookie and off I went. It was getting hot at this point and I felt great then about mile 14-18 is were things started to fall apart. the cover was not as thick in this area known as Jennings center, it is basically a loop off the main trail. I got to mile 15 aid station and ate more fruit filled my bottles and off I went, I should have drank a bottle while I was there and refilled... lesson learned. By mile 16 I was feeling the heat and my pace slowed but I was at 2:53 and was pretty sure I could still hit my goal. As I finished the loop at Jennings Center I had seen my friend Scott McCray heading into the loop, he said he had to go much slower than he already was, the heat was taking its toll on us already. I had passed a few folks on the way back to the 528 aid station and this is where I would meet Jon Cray. I filled one bottle with water and the other was mixed with Perpetuem, the fruit was gone so I had another gel and a PB&J sandwich then hiked the long hill away from the aid station. Jon and I spent a good bit of the last 10 miles together, he and I were in about the same condition at this point and it was not good. From the 528 aid station to the water only aid station was only about 5.3 miles but it felt like much more.
At this point I was hiking all hills and mentally helping Jon get up them, he kept stopping and I would say lets take a break at the top. So thats what we did, most of the bigger hill climbs anyhow. I ran out of water about 2 miles from the aid station which made a bad situation worse, Jon was about out as well. From that point on my goal was make it to the small pond because you kind of loop the pond and hit the road with the water point on the far side. I have gotten to a low on this day that I have never felt on a run and I have run injured, sick, in snow, rain, hot etc. but this was by far the lowest mentally I have been. I am sure that added to why I found it so hard to run at this point, well that and being very dehydrated. After what seemed like all day we finally got to the pond and in minutes we hit the water point. I drank at least one full bottle then refilled and got back on the trail for the last 5ish miles ( last 2 of which were the bike trail) I started to feel the energy come back and ran a bit seemed like 2 miles but it was only like a half mile and I was zapped reduced to a very slow trot. After a bit Jon was feeling better and he took off, later I found out he only felt great for a mile or so and slowed way down again. I past 2 more people just before the bike path, once on the bike path I felt happy because I was almost done BUT at that point my stride did not resemble a run much, I can only imagination what the folks riding by on bikes thought, but I was pretty sure anyone else they passed before me had to look about the same.
The bike path is kind of rolling for the first mile and a half or so and I was at the point of walking any hill but when I got up the last little incline I knew I was about done. As I ran the last of the bike path I went by the field we parked in and the folks were saying just a couple hundred yards and you got this etc. it really didnt energize me but when I turned left and seen the finish line I perked up . As I crossed I had seen the lake in front of me, since I could not eat due to stomach cramping I went to the car and got a towel walked to the lake where a couple other runners were hanging out and sat in the cool water for about 20 min. It was great! I finished at 7:07, I was bummed at first but when I realized the suffering that was taking place that day I felt better. I ended 19th over all and found out the next day only 39 of the 75 starters finished due to heat, the 50 miler finish rate was about the same.
At the end of the day I learned several things: drink more at aid stations, try to not let emotion direct the body ( I could have ran more and hiked less the last 5 miles) and goals are great but every race is not apples to apples.. things such as temps, trail conditions and other factors out of my control will dictate the day, just take it in stride and have a good strong run and most important is have fun and enjoy the trails.
Race Ready shorts
Race Ready singlet
2 20 0z Amphipods
Montrail Mountain Masochist shoes
Suunto Ambit 2R watch
Dirty Girl Gaiters