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The North Face Endurance Challenge - 50 km - RunUltra Marathon

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Marin City, California
United States
35F / 2C
Total Time = 7h 25m 31s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

This race I was really apprehensive. The race distance was basically my weekly mileage, which basically means I'm not prepared properly. In fact 3 weeks out I told DC that I think I should take the store credit and run a later race. His response? "You're running this race."

So hell I ran this race. The night before I was really nervous. It took me over an hour to pack my bag and I had to use the bathroom TWICE. Normally onset of nervousness doesn't kick in until the morning of, but this race I was very concerned about my training level.

Finally I made it to DC's house, where we had the traditional pasta dinner. His wife was still at work so we ate like savages in the kitchen... we were famished.

The morning of, I got up before my alarm. For once I had a really tough time sleeping. I ate a couple pieces of toast with jam and loaded up with fluids. DC's race started two hours earlier than mine so we got up at 3am so we could head over and make his 5am start time. Wow.
Event warmup:

My race started at 7am so I hung out in the car with DC's wife. Fancy car had seat warmers. Nice. The temp was dang cold, 35F, and I was trying to decide how much clothes to wear.

I got my timing chip then started stretching, mostly my ITB and quads. I forgot to stretch my calves properly and I paid for it later. I didn't run around much except to use the bathroom AGAIN. The porta-potty was on a slope so it felt like it was rocking. And no light inside which made it tough to figure out when I was supposed to be done wiping... now I know how Helen Keller feels.

DC's wife was snapping pictures and generally cheering me on for the start. Its nice to have a cheering section.
  • 7h 25m 31s
  • 32.8 miles
  • 13m 35s  min/mile

Normally the start of a race I'm brimming with confidence and I'm anxious to start. Not this race, I was worried and apprehensive and trying to focus on the race.

This was my first 50k so my goal originally was to start slow and get the first 20 miles under my belt. But pre-race adrenaline kicked in and I started faster than planned... about 8:30 pace. The initial few hills I powered through them, which again wasn't my race plan, and I started feeling muscle fatigue by 10 miles. By 12 miles my right quad teardrop started slightly cramping. By 13, slight twitching on my left side as well.

At the 13-14 mile aid station I thought about quitting. I was already cramping and still had 20 miles to go -- my worst nightmare realized. DC always said, "You can always finish, its just a matter of how much pain it will be." But 20 miles?!?! At the aid station I ate up on potato/salt, Accelerade, and PBJ sandwich. And I walked around a bit, thinking. And at this moment of reckoning something inside turned on and said, HTFU... H is harden, TFU you can figure out on your own. So I sucked it up and decided to make it no matter if I had to walk 20 miles.

Instead of focusing on the bad things, I focused on how I could make the best of it. I started humming, talking to other racers and enjoying the scenic views. I was still sore and cramping of course but the difference was attitude.

I remember from TI oly tri that if I breathe deeply and in rhythm that my cramps would subside a bit. Well not really, but seemed like the potato/salt and fluids helped. I found a Chinese dude to pace with... walk when he walked then run when he did. This lasted for a few miles then I decided to try running more so I left him.

I found another pacer, a gal from Colorado. She kept a good pace and I enjoyed having the company. But then she was taking too long at an aid station so I left her too. I didn't want to lose time hanging out at aid stations, I was losing enough time walking with cramps.

By 27 miles both quads were cramping, while running downhill and even while *walking* uphill. 10k more, crap. I stopped a few times to rub my quads and stretch out. I found some haole dude who did a few 50k's before and he said this was by far the toughest one. Great. He was power hiking up the hill and I couldn't keep up. But I did eventually pass him again later.

Around 31 miles a hiker stepped off the trail to let me pass. He says, "Hey buddy, there's two guys right on your tail." I look back and see the haole dude I just passed, and another guy who is coming hard. I told myself, hey I just did 31 miles, there's no way in hell I'm gonna give up even one position. So I started booking it for the last 1.8 miles. The race ended with a little incline and my quads started cramping hard again. I wanted to stop and rub them, but no way I was showing any weakness and embolden this dude. I finished 13 seconds ahead of him.

This was the worst race of my life by far. Never doing another 50k I vowed. I vowed this at least 10-20 times during the race.
What would you do differently?:

Next time I would start slower as planned and just click off the early miles. Hopefully that would avoid the fast start and flaming blow-out.
Post race
Warm down:

After getting the chip cut off and my medal, I grabbed a water bottle then dropped to the ground and stretched my quads. It was still cold at the finish so I cooled off quickly and tightened up. But I did my best to stretch everything out... a couple of times. I was really sore.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

cramping, general lack of shape.

Event comments:

I was very negative at the beginning of the race. Cramping early in the race didn't help either. My attitude didn't improve until the point when I decided that I was not quitting. Then the switch turned on and I lit up. I was still cramping but I was in a better mood.

After the race while I was eating, the MC dude was announcing the age group top-3 placements. I wasn't paying attention since I don't know anyone and I was tired, cold and eating. I thought I heard my name, but nah can't be... kept eating.

Later I checked the results and wow I placed 3rd in my age group. I waited a bit to make sure there were more than 3 guys in my AG, and yep there were 10. Cool. I went to pick up my package which included a 3rd place medal and a NF shirt. As it turned out it was good that I pushed it at the end. The guy I beat out by 13 seconds was in my age group! It would've sucked if I finished 4th haha.

At the end of the race, I thought my race time stunk. I was disappointed but at the same time I was just happy to have finished. So sitting down looking at my medal, reflecting on what a miserable day I had, it all hit me. What I thought was my worst race ever turned out to be my best (I had never placed before).

I learned something about life this race.... When you think you're in a crappy situation, should you quit? Should you feel like you have to suffer for the next 20 miles of your life? Or do you smile and make the best of it? The difference between a miserable life and placing just might be your attitude.

P.S. I'm doing this race again next year. And next time I'll be the one doing the axx kicking!

Last updated: 2007-12-02 12:00 AM
07:25:31 | 32.8 miles | 13m 35s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Below average
Course: The course was a serious bitch. I didn't see the elevation map until I picked up my packet the Thursday prior to the race... 6900 ft with some serious climbs. Wow, if I had known how tough this race was, I wouldn't have signed up. But too late. The course was very scenic, but some of the hills were straight up, no switchbacks. There were some sections of the course that weren't well marked, with long expanses before seeing another blue ribbon. Groups of us were wondering if we were on the right trail. Another road section I actually stopped and waited a few minutes for the next runner so I could confirm the right direction.
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? Ok
Course challenge Too hard
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2007-12-10 5:59 PM

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SF Bay Area, CA
Subject: The North Face Endurance Challenge - 50 km

2007-12-10 9:12 PM
in reply to: #1093537

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Waller County, TX
Subject: RE: The North Face Endurance Challenge - 50 km
Great job hanging in there and gettin' it done. On top of that, you scored hardware.

Nothing better than to reflect back on a race and know that you gave it all you had.

Next year, you'll rock!
2007-12-11 11:26 PM
in reply to: #1093537

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Subject: RE: The North Face Endurance Challenge - 50 km

Way to stick it out and scoring some hardware. 


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