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Yankee Springs 50k Trail Run - RunUltra Marathon

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Middleville, Michigan
United States
35F / 2C
Total Time = 4h 21m 45s
Overall Rank = 5/29
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Warning sign, warning sign
I hear it but I pay no mind
Hear my voice, hear my voice
It’s saying something and it’s not very nice
Pay attention, pay attention
I’m talking to you and I hope you’re concentrating

-Talking Heads

Damn you, David Byrne, why don't I ever listen to your advice?

On my drive the morning of the race, I stopped off at a gas station in Battle Creek to hit the head. Wasn’t thinking about locale, so I was surprised to see the clerk encased in a wall of bulletproof glass and the restrooms locked, requiring a key on a dirty stick.

When I came out, these two huge hombres were arguing loudly with the clerk about not getting the right change, but when they saw me in my revealing lycra tights, they stopped, looked me up and down, and simultaneously went, “PFFFFFT!” at me before getting back to their argument. I promptly hid behind the antacids aisle and studied the active ingredients of Tums until they left and I could return the key. Damn warning signs.

Back on the road, I missed a crucial turn and ended up in a town, no joke, called Podunk. I was lost in Podunk, MI. So I phoned Alaina, no answer, then called my dad for directions. Dude, I need some GPS. He seemed to find the Podunk situation funnier than I did, but he also got me to the race start. Dad’s advice: pay attention, son. Thanks, Dad.
Event warmup:

Got my packet and met up with super-fast BTer, rymac (Ryan), who was doing the half-marathon, and chatted about upcoming races and the surprisingly solid trail conditions despite recent 50 degree temps.

Warmed up, stretched out, and we were into the pre-race meeting. One loop of the 5 mile course, then 2 loops of the 13.1 mile loops. EZ enough, right? Follow the blue flags the first loop, then the orange flags the rest of the way.
  • 4h 21m 45s
  • 31.07 miles
  • 08m 25s  min/mile

I had a plan. Really, I did. Run my own race, forget what others were doing, and just have fun on some new single track trails. I ran 88 miles per week each of the last two weeks before race week because this race was supposed to be a hard training run on 5 days taper. Leadville 100 trail run is the big race this year, and everything until then is a learning experience toward that goal.

But when a group of five fast young guys were gunning right from the start, that plan went out the window. I wanted to see if I could hang with them, if I had the huevos to climb and descend as fearlessly as they did. I was so dumb. So so dumb. But I was having a great time running in a pack at the front of the race, feeling like I was actually good at something. We finished the first 5-mile loop together doing 7:24/mi pace average. Dumb. I should’ve been doing 8:00/mi at best.

Halfway through the first 13.1 mile loop, a guy right behind me in a Brooks-Hansons singlet bombed down this rocky/rooty/technical descent and was gone. Then the guy behind him took off after Brooks guy up the next hill. Whoa. I’m barely hanging on here, and these guys could see it. I need to train harder, better, smarter to make that kind of move. So it was me and this guy in a Playmakers jersey realizing that we couldn’t reel them in this early, so we settled back a bit, and admittedly, stopped paying attention. That’s when we missed the turn.

I now know what happened because I took the correct way the second 13.1 loop. But on the first loop, I wasn’t concentrating on the small orange flag markers and I followed Playmakers guy straight on the trail, whereas the flags jumped left through a non-trail section that connected to the next part of the course. We should’ve seen the warning signs along our mistake; there weren’t any flags. On the upside, we ran through a section called "The Pines", which was actually the most gorgeous section of single track of the whole course. Chatting with other racers afterward, a bunch of other runners made the same mistake, and some even made it twice.

When we merged back with the proper trail and saw all these marathon-racers that we passed MILES ago, the reality was clear. We’d added over a full mile to the course, which at our pace was just about 8:00 of extra time. The real kicker was we lost at least 2 OA places right there. Bummer. But it did allow me to re-focus on my original plan to have fun and enjoy the woods more. I dropped Playmakers guy because he wasn’t descending well, passed the first place female, and held onto that spot the rest of the way. I didn’t see anyone but aid station volunteers the whole 2nd loop, but I’m used to running alone in the woods, so it was kinda like home.

I saw Ryan back at the start as I changed water bottles and heard that he finished 3rd OA at the half-marathon. AWESOME! That gave me a great boost up the first climb, though it was also the last time I’d feel really good until the last 2 miles of the race. Starting the final 13.1 mile loop, I’d gone 19+ miles and my legs and lungs/heart were starting to suffer already, as I’d averaged 7:50/mi on that last 13.1 mile loop. So essentially I’d done 19 miles at 7:45/mi pace average. WAY TOO FAST for this hilly trail.

Realizing I had to focus on finishing and forget my time, I kept my turnover easy, light, and smooth. I power hiked the steep hills to stretch out my legs, beasted the downhills because my quads felt awesome, and stayed steady on the flats. Also took in a ton more fluids, for I knew by an elevated HR and breathing, I was short on fluids. I should’ve paid attention to all this for the first 25 miles, so that I could have a super strong final 10k, but I blew that out the barn. It’s all an experiment of one, right?

Finally I reached the last two miles and felt strong, like I could do another 10 miles at this effort if I REALLY needed to, which is a damn good feeling at the end of a race. I gave a Judd Nelson-worthy fist pump at the finish when I saw 4:21 on the clock and felt awesome.

We got these cool snow globes that you can put a picture inside rather than a medal, which is a great idea. We also got a long sleeve tech tee, a pair of wicking socks, and hot chili served inside of a warm cabin with a fire in the fireplace. What a great way to end my first 50k trail race.
What would you do differently?:

Follow MY plan and pay attention to the course

As a training run I ran 32.2 miles at an 8:08/mi pace
As a race course, I officially ran 31.07 miles at 8:25/mi pace

The course was accurate. The result is my fault.
Post race
Warm down:

Takeaways from the race:

- I am the zen master of peeing while running. Uphill, downhill, over rocks and roots, wherever! And not a drop on myself. They need awards for this kind of thing. Can you imagine the medal? I'm thinking a gold fire hose.

- My hill running skills are improving, but I need more hill endurance. I'm made of bird bones, and I'm going to learn to FLY uphill.

- I received the best accidental compliment I’ve ever gotten when I was chatting with the top finishers in the cabin after the race. The Playmakers guy, Grant, asked me who I ran for in college. I think my jaw dropped and my eyeballs displayed binary code as I gave the universal ‘does not compute’ facial response. I told him I’d started running to lose weight a few years ago. But he actually thought I was a real runner -- that’s so cool!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Racing at the front for OA placing is a whole different game than going for a PR or to finish, and my skillz at that game are WEAK.

Event comments:

Definitely back next year, hopefully in some deep snow. :D

Profile Album

Last updated: 2011-12-21 12:00 AM
04:21:45 | 31.07 miles | 08m 25s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 5/29
Performance: Average
Course: Three loops. One 5 mile loop, then two 13.1 mile loops
Keeping cool Good Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2012-01-09 8:48 PM

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Ann Arbor, MI
Subject: Yankee Springs 50k Trail Run

2012-01-10 6:05 AM
in reply to: #3980988

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San Antone, Texas
Subject: RE: Yankee Springs 50k Trail Run
Really nice run dude! I can't wait to read your Leadville report
2012-01-10 8:50 AM
in reply to: #3980988

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Subject: RE: Yankee Springs 50k Trail Run

A.) Congrats on finishing your first official UltraMarathon

B.) The peeing while running thing is just bizarre. 

C.) You missed the turn!?!?

D.)  Strangest thing.  WTC just announced their newest half is going to be Podunk 70.3 

E. Pfffffttt... :p  

2012-01-10 7:12 PM
in reply to: #3980988

No excuses!
Subject: RE: Yankee Springs 50k Trail Run
Great job Yeats, and great race report. Those trails are amazing to run on!
2012-01-10 10:08 PM
in reply to: #3980988

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Extreme Veteran
Denver CO
Subject: RE: Yankee Springs 50k Trail Run
I love that each race you do is a learning experience. Really enjoyed reading this report. Congrats on "fooling" someone that you're a real runner, haha. An impressive race, too, even if you didn't follow your plan exactly.
2012-01-11 5:48 AM
in reply to: #3980988

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Subject: RE: Yankee Springs 50k Trail Run
You are hilarious and... a navigational nightmare!  But you are a good strong runner - you should have said you run for Podunk!!  Congrats on a good strong finish!  Thanks for sharing!

2012-01-11 10:05 AM
in reply to: #3980988

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Norton Shores, MI
Subject: RE: Yankee Springs 50k Trail Run
Awesome report Ryan.  That is a crazy fast pace for that distance on a course that tough!  By my calculation, you would have finished 1st OA in the marathon and 4th in the half marathon at the pace you were running at...crazy considering you were running at 50K pace!  The fast dudes definitely came out to play for the 50K.  You can explain that peeing while running thing another time .  Excellent Job!
2012-01-11 11:36 AM
in reply to: #3980988

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Ann Arbor, MI
Subject: RE: Yankee Springs 50k Trail Run
You are supa-fast- please slow down so I can pace you for Leadville

So proud of you! You ARE a real runner!!!
2012-01-13 9:48 AM
in reply to: #3980988

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Subject: RE: Yankee Springs 50k Trail Run
awesome work. wow.

I need more on peeing on the run, I never have even thought to try. What is the technique?
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