Great weekend at Lake Sonoma! No race report per say, but had some thoughts rattling around in my head that i wanted to get down for posterity. In short, i was really pleased with how the race unfolded, and in particular, how i felt in my third 50 miler race. Unlike my first two 50 mile races (North Face 50mi San Francisco in 2011 and 2012), i felt much more in control of the variables that go into a successful performance. I knew cracking the top 10 with this competitive field was going to be really tough, and I managed to finish in 8th place in 6h:42m.
Some other thoughts:
Competition: I was really proud to be able to compete with such a talented group of athletes near the front end of the field (4th through 8th place was separated by only a few minutes at the end). For the first time in a 50 miler, I really felt the thrill of competition… not just trying to finish. This is what makes racing exciting for me, and it was awesome to finally feel feel it in an ultra. I felt a tremendous sense of both pride and humility as I finished this race; proud of my performance and yet humbled by the course, the distance, and the awesome runners who finished ahead of me. Stoked to see my good pal Dave Mackey crush it for 5th place (1st Master and father of two!).
Finishing: One of the main things i would love to go back and improve upon is my finish. I felt like a champ through 38 miles and got as high as 5th place after passing Dave and Chris Vargo. But then I hit a rough patch where i couldn’t seem to stay ahead of my calories/electrolytes, and both guys passed me soon after. I managed to recover, but not in time to rally back. In retrospect I should have crammed more calories in, and dug a little deeper mentally to push through and hang with those guys during the rough patch.
Taper: The complexities of the pre-race taper continue to elude me, but i tried something completely different this time around that seemed to work. I got a debilitating stomach flu only 2 weeks out from the race that caused me to not be able to run for nearly a full week. At that point, i decided i would either withdrawal from the race, or spend the next week running normal volume to get my strength and confidence back up. I chose the latter. It took a few days to get my strength back, but by Thursday/Friday I felt a spring in my step again, despite having just run 50 miles in the previous 5 days. I showed up to the start line feeling relaxed, confident, and strong. The reverse taper worked!
Long run: Basically, I used my training for Way Too Cool as a springboard for this race. As such, 50km was my longest run, and most of them were quite a bit shorter (generally 20-25 miles). Occasionally i did back to back 18-20 milers. Curious what others do for their long runs leading up to a 50 miler?
The Course: The course was beautiful! Way more enjoyable than expected, with incredible views of the lake throughout, high quality single track, stream crossings and rolling meadows. You know it’s a good course if you don’t mind coming back the same way.
Fueling: I managed to stay ahead of my calorie balance for most of the race, averaging 2 gels per hour for the first 4 hours and increasing to 3 gels per hour for the last 2.5 hours (by necessity). I also slammed Coke at every aid station in the second half and took 3 salt tabs in total. Hydration was the main concern out there on such a warm day. I ran out of water before nearly every aid station, and had to fill up at creek crossings a number of times. Probably should have spent more time in each aid station getting fluids down before topping up.
Gear: Brooks PureGrit from San Francisco Running Co and Injinji Performance 2.0 socks fit the bill on this course. With all the creek crossings and choppy up/down course, good footwear was key. No issues with blisters or any discomfort with this combo. Also love the new Patagonia Strider Pro shorts – so awesome for ultras.
Support: Having the support of my wife (and my 13 month daughter, even if unknowingly), not just during the race, but during the training that leads up to it, makes balancing running, family and work possible, and fun!
Strava: The dessert to every race is uploading to Strava and seeing how the numbers played out as the race unfolded.
Congratulations and thanks to all the competitors, crew and organizers that made this such a great event!