Friday, May 9, 2014

Cimarron 50K Endurance Run

Well the past few weeks have been a bit of whirlwind. For starters, we just found out that we are moving to Grand Junction (in like, 2 days!). Exciting, but it means we are super busy packing, packing, and more packing! Which is why, I almost thought about not doing the Cimarron 50K this past weekend. I signed up back in January with an Early Bird discount, so it wouldn't have been a huge financial loss if I didn't go...but at the same time, it was nearby, and I knew the views would be great, so I decided I might as well give it a shot.

And I'm glad I did. It was a beautiful course and a very well put on event, especially considering it was a first year event. The views were spectacular (as are all the views in the San Juans). It was definitely a tougher course than I was expecting. I knew it was on the dirt roads going into the Cimarrons (which Scott and I drove last year when we went camping at Silverjack Reservoir), but I didn't remember how hilly it was! I figured it would be gradual up for the first half, and then back down for the second half. Boy was I wrong! Never again will I forget to look at the elevation profile before doing a race! It was "rolling hills" the entire time. Yeah, that got tiring.

But enough of me summarizing, here is my race report:

After barely surving the never ending mud fest of Desert RATS two weeks ago, I was extremely relieved to see the forecast looked awesome! So awesome that I was actually worried about the heat - the forecast called for sun and 70's for a high. That meant the morning would be perfect, but could definitely get hot in the afternoon. I decided to wear a tank top with my arm warmers and a skirt.

I got to the start pretty early, right after 6:00 and was the first person there (even beat the race director). I honestly didn't remember how close the start was to our house (soon to be old house). It didn't even take 20 minutes to get there. I made Scott drive me and pick me up since he had the day off, so we sat in the car for awhile while I tried to make sure I had everything. Since this wasn't laps like my first Ultra, I wanted to make sure I didn't forget anything important.

Sunrise as I waited for the start

Slowly everyone else started arriving. As I mentioned above, this was a first year event, so the crowd was a bit small, but it was kind if fun that way. We ended up with 7 total runners.

At 7:00, the seven of us were off! We immediately split into two groups - the three fast runners, and the rest of us. The four of us that weren't the "fast" ones - myself, Jen (from Delta), Geir, and Beth all stayed together for the first mile or so, then Jen sped up a bit, and not too long after that, me and Geir lost Beth. Geir and I were going at about the same pace so we ended up running together for about 20 miles. It was nice to have the company!

Right after the start - you can see the immediate split between the fast runners and the rest of us (Photo by Lori Lambeth)

Geir, Beth and Myself (Photo by Jen Stagner - looking down from one of the many hills)

Overall the entire course was "rolling hills", but the first 6 were the most uphill out of all of them. I can't remember the exact mileage, but several miles in, the Cimarron Range came into view. SO PRETTY. My pictures do not do it justice. Shortly after mile 5 was the first aid station. There was water, Gatorade, and a good selection of gels. From the very get-go my plan had been to be really good about fueling. My last couple of long runs, I haven't had a lot of energy towards the end, so I told myself I had to take something at every single aid station (which would work out to about every 5 miles) if not more than that (this definitely didn't go as planned!!). So I grabbed a Razz Clif Shot and some water and continued on. At around 6 1/2 miles, the course started descending a lot. This was nice in that it was fun to run downhill while I still had fresh legs, but I knew I would be hating going back up this 23 miles into the course!

The beautiful Cimarrons (which are way bigger than they look in this picture).

Geir and I (Photo by Charles Johnston - the RD)
At about 9 1/2 miles or so, we turned off of P77 road and onto Cimarron Road. There was a port-a-potty right about at this intersection which worked out perfectly - access to a bathroom every 10 miles! About a mile or so later, we hit the second aid station. I grabbed another gel and some water and continued on. There were more and more rolling hills. A little after mile 12, the leader, Duncan passed us on his way back (turn-around was at 15.5 miles, so he was about 6 miles ahead of us)! He was speedy! It's pretty cool to watch some of the faster runners do what they do! Very amazing to us amateurs! Another mile or so and the second place guy passed us, and then the first place women shortly after that (who I found out after the fact, is pregnant! Amazing!).

My favorite picture that I took on the course!
This is another favorite!
Not much green on the trees yet!

And then we reached the turn-around point! I was still feeling pretty good at this point except it was A.) starting to get HOT, and B.) I had some chaffing on my underarms from my tank top. I wasn't too worried because I had a mini Body Glide in my hydration pack. Unfortunately when I went to put it on, the glide popped out of the case and landed in the dirt. Awesome. However, desperate times call for desperate measures, and I was desperate enough to grab it out of the dirt and still use it. I'm just that cool (the good news is that it did work - they didn't bother me the rest of the race).

I stayed at the aid station for a bit and had some coke and half of a banana, then grabbed a quarter of a PB&J, and a couple chips to go and ate them as I started heading back. The first couple miles back were okay. I was still with Geir, and we passed Beth about 2 miles out from the aid station. Around mile 20, we passed Jen, who had slowed down due to some asthma trouble. I was starting to get tired by this point. And then somewhere along the way, I am honestly not sure what the cause was, but my stomach just started feeling off. I just didn't want to eat anything. This was going to put a damper in my "make sure to fuel every 5 miles" plan. I decided to have a little bit of Gatorade at the mile 21 aid station, but no gel, in a hopes that I would be feeling better to have one later (I also had one in my pack in case I wanted one before the next aid station). We continued on some more, and then shortly after the junction of P77 and Cimarron Road, Geir told me to go ahead without him.

I look like a dork in this, but I like that it shows the scenery behind us! In a month or so all those trees will be blooming! (Photo by Jen Stagner)

I continued on. Definitely slower than I was earlier, but still moving. My stomach was still not feeling any better. I got a pack of Honey Stinger chews out of my pack, but couldn't bring myself to open them. The thought of anything just made me nauseous. Especially something fruity (which pretty much meant any gels and Gatorade). So I mostly just sipped on my water.

The only green trees I saw! Too early I guess.
I was walking a lot more than I wanted at this point. I was kind of bummed about the walking (and blaming it on my fueling, or lack there of), as I had been going at a great pace earlier in the day and really thought I had a good shot at not only beating my time from my first 50K, but maybe even getting close to the 6 hour mark (my previous 50K was 6:30:00). Unfortunately as the afternoon wore on, the slower I got and I could definitely see that time slipping away. I kept telling myself, if I could at least get to the last aid station, and then it would be mostly downhill from there.

I did make it to the 26 mile aid station (marathon!). I wasn't sure how much water I had left in my pack, so I decided to fill it up since it was the only thing my stomach could stand at this point. I'm glad I did, the water was cold and it tasted so much better than the warm stuff that had been in my pack all day. I continued on. I was really tired and ready to be done by now. It didn't feel nearly as downhill as I remembered! I tried focusing on just one mile at a time. Just finish 1 mile. And then once I made it to that mile, I focused on the next mile. Getting to 3 miles was a relief. I had remembered hitting 3 that morning (and thinking 1, 5K down, only 9 to go!). I kept at it. Run, walk, run, walk, etc. I tried my hardest to run all the downhills and flats. My mile pace had slipped dramatically though. Earlier in the day I had been doing 10-12 minute miles depending on elevation, and now I was doing 13-17. At least I was moving though! I definitely knew I couldn't beat my time by this point. I would have to do the last 3 miles in under a half hour. Possible on roads. Even possible on trails, if I hadn't been 28 miles into an ultra, without any fuel in over 10 miles.

The weather had also changed dramatically. The wind had picked up a lot, so I was definitely no longer hot. Luckily since the temperature was still pretty warm, I didn't get too cold, but some of the gusts of wind were fierce. I had to take my visor off because I kept getting swept off my head.

Finally, after what felt like forever, I was 1 mile out from the finish! I passed Charles, the race director, who was in his car. It helped to know I was close! I kept moving, and then I could FINALLY see the finish line! So happy! I kept running, albeit, very slowly and finished in 6:37:23! Scott and Argie were there to great me!

Overall, despite the last 10 miles feeling really mentally tough for me, I did enjoy this race. The views of the Cimarrons were awesome (I really need to hike Uncompahgre Peak by the way - I kept thinking that as I looked up at it during the race). This did feel harder than my first 50K I did in March - not sure if it was the difference in type of course (laps), terrain (more gradual up hill I think), less people, or just my fueling, but I felt beat by the end. The last few miles I kept thinking to myself, "I really don't think I'm cut out for Ultra's." Now that it's over and done with, I'm not sure how to feel about that statement. I don't want to give them up altogether or anything, but I think I need to not take them so lightly. Going over 20 miles is hard work, and I think I really need to get my fueling down if I'm going to keep doing Ultra's.

So... other than the great course, the race director did a really good job considering it was his first race. The 5 and 10 mile aid stations were unmanned, but there was plenty of food and drink (although I think I could've gone for some soda at the 26 mile mark when nothing else sounded good). The 15.5 mile aid station / turn around was great. TONS of food (although part of me is wondering if maybe I ate too much here and that is what cause my stomach issues?), and Lori (volunteer) was awesome! The course was very well marked, despite being pretty straight forward (which I like - gives me peace of mind to see the course markings every 1/2 mile or so). The race shirts and finishers medals were awesome (in fact, Charles posted a picture of the finishers medals a few days before the race, and I think that's pretty much what got me through the last 10 miles - knowing I would get some awesome bling). Oh yeah, and I got second place female! So I also got a cool little plaque! Overall, I definitely recommend Ever Run Racing! He didn't skimp on anything, which was a surprise considering the size of the event (a very good surprise). I will definitely consider doing some of his other events in the future (although some of them are feeling a bit unattainable at the moment (100K, 100 mile) - but you never know!

Date: May 4, 2014
Weather: 50's in the morning up to 60's or 70's with wind in the afternoon
Distance: 50K (Garmin clocked it at 31.37)
Bib Number: 1! (apparently I was the first person to sign up)
Official Time: 6:37:23
Garmin Moving Time: 6:25:37
Average Pace: 12:40 min/mile (12:18 moving pace)
Elevation Gain: 2,797
Overall Rank: 4 / 7
Gender Rank: 2 / 4 (although had Jen not been having asthma issues, she definitely would've beat me! And, just to put my time into perspective the 1st place female - Michelle Yates, finished 2 hours ahead and me AND was pregnant!)
Division Rank (Females 20-29): 1 of 1 (woot - I've been doing awesome in this category lately - seriously where are all the 20 something ladies!?)
Miles 1-8: 12:43, 11:56, 11:58, 12:25, 11:25, 13:35, 10:34, 10:02
Miles 9-16: 11:49, 12:01, 12:21, 10:43, 11:23, 11:27, 11:05, 17:49 (turn around aid station)
Miles 17-24: 10:46, 13:03, 11:00, 13:00, 16:04, 13:29, 13:34, 13:57
Miles 25-31: 14:56, 11:10, 15:46, 13:09, 13:49, 13:27, 13:19, 9:58 (last .37)

Elevation Profile - look how hilly this is! It was literally NEVER flat.

All finished! With my finishers medal and award!

All the cool stuff I got at this race (and shirts are super nice!)

What worked:
-Shoes: decided on my trusty Brooks Ravenna 4 road shoes, since my Cascadia's are looking a little beat up after all the mud at Desert RATS and I didn't trust my Saucony Peregrine's for 31 miles. They ended up working great.
-Sunscreen! Got some tan lines, but no sun burn :)
-Squeeky Cheeks - put this all over my feet before putting my socks on, and NO BLISTERS! After 31 miles?? What!?

What didn't work:
-My tank top: chaffing on my underarms. Definitely need to remember body glide next time I wear a tank for a run longer than 2 hours.
-The mini to-go body glides - I think I'll just bring my regular sized one next time so I don't have to go rummaging through the dirt
-Something with my fueling (Hard to know what, but I think maybe eating too much at once at the half way point??)

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