Race Recap of the 2014 Ruth Anderson Ultra 50 Miler – Part II

This is Part II, if you missed Part I, click the link

There was an orange flag 0.65 miles past the finish line that I had passed 11 times already.  It was mostly uphill to get to that point, and it wasn’t an easy hill to climb (over 40 feet in under half a mile) , though it did have a bit of a down hill for the last ¼ mile to the turn around.  But every single time I saw that orange flag, I would say out loud, “Crap, I got run up here when I am done?” On this, my 12th time to that flag, I didn’t stop at the aid station, but was doing run walk to the top of the hill (I would run about 0.15 miles/250 meters and then walk that same distance). At the top of the hill, I ran to the turn around point, and tried to run back up to the hill I just crested.  I couldn’t do it.  I walked the last 0.15 miles up the hill, reached the apex, and hauled butt down the hill.  The last mile was at an average pace of 9:16, despite walking for 2:30.  I wanted to be done so bad, and I was going to have a solid cushion on a sub-9 hour 50 mile run.  I was finished, I couldn’t believe it.  I had just run 50 miles.  It was time to fall down.

I just ran 50 miles in under 9 hours. Time to collapse

I just ran 50 miles in under 9 hours. Time to collapse

I had finished.  I got a finishers coaster, which I hung from my medal rack with the shoe laces I cut off my Hokas, and a black binder clip.

My finishers coaster

My finishers coaster

It wasn’t 15 minutes after I finished that Endorphin Dude came running through at his mile 44.  He was looking good and was off again on his final loop.  Over the next hour, I watched the first 100k finisher come in (9:15), chatted with other finishers, had a beer, some chocolate milk, and a veggie burger.  Then I looked over, and here comes Endorphin Dude again.  He did that loop in under an hour. He asked if he needed to do the 100k for the team, and when he heard that the 50 mile was fine, he dropped his running water back and took off to finish that last 1.3 miles and “Get a huge PR!”  He came flying back down the hill about 13 minutes later to finish under 10:20, over an hour improvement on his AR50 time just 2 weeks prior.  

Endorphin Dude's Epic finish and 64 minute PR.

Endorphin Dude’s Epic finish and 64 minute PR.

He also had none of the issues he had after AR50, no throwing up, no whining, and no beat down look that he had after AR50. Dude looked impressive that day, especially with how many race miles he had.  Remember he ran a marathon the week before.  He raced 126.2 miles in 15 days in less than 27 hours. And the crazy guy has another marathon this Saturday. Not bad for a former diabetic couch potato.

Enough about E-Dude, lets get back to this race. If I am honest, I didn’t like it.  I realized this around mile 16 or so.  Now, let me say that the Ruth Anderson Ultra was well organized, well stocked (though I would have loved some food made from meat), and I liked my schwag. 

No T-shirt, but we got a Ruth Anderson Ultra Mug

No T-shirt, but we got a Ruth Anderson Ultra Mug

I didn’t really mind the 11 loops. It was a comfort in a way to know that I only had 0.6 miles to go to the start/finish area when I crossed the street at the west end of Lake Merced, or that there was only 1.05 miles to the aid station from the stop light at the top of the hill (and that 0.8 of that distance was downhill). I will make this argument.  The course description says that the course is “mostly flat” WRONG!!!!!! Maybe compared to most trail ultras it is “mostly flat” but there was a lot of ups and downs for a “flat” race.

Even the race conditions and the after effects are okay. The weather was fine, and I didn’t have many of my usual ailments around mile 20 like I usually do (my calves like to start spasming around that point.  I thought about it while I drove the two hours home after the race; I kinda felt okay. I thought about it while I ate leftover mac and cheese and drank a beer while I took an ice bath; I actually felt better than I did after my 50k.

Post race meal during an ice bath.  Sam Adams for Boston Strong.

Post race meal during an ice bath. Sam Adams for Boston Strong.

Even two days later, as I write this and take stock of my post run soreness and injuries, I am not doing that bad.  I have a couple blisters on my toes, and some chafing on my…. well…. down there, but overall, nothing bad.  Sure, my legs are sore, and I walk funny after sitting for any period of time, but I can fake a normal walk after about 10 steps or so.  I even managed a 25 minute 5k about 50 hours after finishing the race and it didn’t hurt that bad.

Even throwing up didn’t bother me. I just didn’t enjoy the race. Heck, none of my electronics failed me.  I had music and GPS for 9 hours.  Also, I didn’t get sunburned (I wore my Block Island Organics SPF 40 sunscreen and never reapplied). My feet didn’t hurt, which I chalk up to my Hoka Stinsons.

Here are some of the factors as to why I didn’t enjoy it.  I was exhausted from lack of sleep.  With some contract work I had been doing, family emergencies, and a baby with an ear infection, I don’t think I had gotten more than 7 hours of sleep for over a week, and only about 10 hours in the two nights before the race. I also didn’t train properly.  I didn’t up my weekly mileage at all since the 50k ten weeks prior.  Also, while the 50 mile distance is fairly daunting, it was the time running that was a big downer. At the start of the race, I was pretty sure I would finish in less than 10 hours, and thought that if I ran well, I could probably finish close to 8 hours.  But 8 hours running just didn’t sound good.  I think it really hit me after I ran the first 13.1 miles and thought, “I am going to have to do this pretty much three more times, and this is going to last way more than 6 more hours.”  Even at the marathon mark, I was whining that I had barely passed the half way point. It was mentally daunting. Actually a lot of the other runners made a point of saying that this was a really tough 50 mile race.

Despite my lack of enjoyment, despite the pain, despite throwing up, I never thought that I wouldn’t make it to the 50 mile mark. Several times during the race, I told myself that even if I walked (and maintained a 15 minute pace) I would finish in 10 hours, then 9:45, and then 9:30.  “Just run down this hill to make up time spent at the aid station and the bathroom. If you run a little bit up this hill, you can finish under 9:15, double your 50k time.” Those little increments is how I got through it.

But I realized that I am not ready for the 24 hour race in June that I was going to do.  As Endorphin Dude told me, if it isn’t fun, I shouldn’t do it.  I also don’t have the time to put in the 50 to 70 miles a week of training that I need to do. I might attempt AR50 next year, but we shall see.  For now I will stick to distances under 51k, only because at some point I want to run the Roswell 51k ultra marathon.  I also need to rest up for a half marathon this upcoming weekend.  My fourth running of the American River Parkway.

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