Greenland Trail 50k 2008

Adventures5 Comments

Distance 50 km (31.1 miles)
Time 06:13:38 (PR)
Pace 12:02
Rank 61 of 85
GPS Analysis Strava

My first ultramarathon — and I underestimated it. Mentally, I had this race pegged as a marathon plus another 5 miles. It was much more than that.

The race consisted of a 8M, 25k, and 50k. We all started at the same time, but lap by lap people finished and just left us that were in it for the long haul. We started promptly at 8 AM charging up a pseudo fire road. It was packed so you had people cutting through the grass on the sides trying to find a happy place to run. It settled down a mile or so in. I took the first lap easy, learning the terrain, enjoying the run, and preparing for the hours to come. Felt good. Here is a shot Kim took. I am not in the picture but big bad Pikes Peak is the snow covered mountain in the background. Should give you a sense of the terrain.

Greenland Trail 50k

On the start of the 2nd lap, the wind picked up. Its been windy here in Colorado for a month straight and I curse it everyday. Well, it must have heard me and came for me. This caused a nasty headwind on the outward part of the trail. I didn’t really need this.

As I hit the downhill section of lap 2, I was bounding down the hills when my stomach muscles decided to revolt. Cramps! It was hard to run downhill. They were just crunching and it wasn’t feeling good. I made it to the bottom and then proceeded to walk it off. Just keep moving. That lasted a few minutes before I got back into the swing of things. It felt like I lost a lot of gas on that one.

The end of lap 2 meant half way so that was a great feeling but as I set out on lap 3 that wind was getting stronger so I started doing run/walk alternates. When I hit a hill, I walked it. Running uphill in wind was bouncing me between 11-13 minute miles so why expend the energy. So I would walk it at 15-16 minute miles. This is painful because the pro walkers come flying by. How can someone walk a 13 minute mile? I don’t get it.

I hit the aid station at the 1/2 way on loop 3 and my stomach was queasy. Too much gel combined with no good food or something. Not sure. I used to snicker when you read the stories about it being hard to eat during these runs. No longer. I took a handful of M&Ms at the aid station (a common supply food) and about barfed them all over the trail. Proceeded to spit those out. Got some licorice down and moved on. I really really wanted an orange. That would have been perfect I think and I never eat those!

I expected to meet my family at the turnaround aid station at the end of lap 3. That was my motivation for getting this lap down. Unfortunately, when I arrived, none of the faces looked familiar. I waited for a minute or two and then had to travel on. Post race we figured out they missed me by 15 minutes because of traffic and generally not being able to get their butts out of the house.

Greenland Trail 50k

I set out on lap 4 with not too much motivation. The time was ticking away. The next aid station would be around mile 26 — a marathon into the race. I walked most of the way there with the wind and the uphills. My right heel was also getting sore so I was starting to limp to protect it. Each strike was hurting more and more. I got a few small runs in on the short downhills but it wasn’t a record pace. When I hit the aid station, I looked down and it was over 5 hours into the race. How can I run a marathon in less than 4 hours but out here be a whole hour over that? At this point I decided how I had underestimated the effect of the hills and the wind and running on dirt continually for so long. There is just this natural lack of friction that adds up over time.

I set out from that aid station knowing that I was headed toward the finish line now. I alternated running and walking with more of the latter as I kept my head down to the finish. When I got to the finish line, my kids were there and were excited to see me. Kim told me that only 2 minutes before this, they were cursing my existence and running because this was boring! Oh well. It wasn’t a party for me either.

I was mentally dissatisfied and miserable after my first marathon. I didn’t like the performance and didn’t feel like I did my best. Same here. However, I came back and had a super time at my most recent marathon in Napa. So I hope I can turn around the ultra mojo in the coming months/years.

The only thing I committed myself to in the middle of that last lap was to re-evaluate my participation in the Leadville 50 this summer. Its not 50k…its 50 miles! After this one, I think I need more time to prep for that. I am not there yet. I thought this 50k would be interesting and Leadville would wipe me out. Unfortunately, this race wiped me out so I think deferring is the right answer. Probably transfer and try the Leadville Marathon instead! Then I got into Pikes so I have that in August. No shortage of death marches on the schedule.

My neighbor who is a runner to gave me the perfect analogy. He was talking about how his brother-in-law was going to do his first marathon this year and said, “I figure its just like running 2 halfs, right?”. If you have run a marathon, you know how wrong that statement is. Well, I figured this was a marathon plus 5 miles — I was wrong too.

I always put my blog entries from races under the category Adventures because they are. Kim was telling me the other day how races wouldn’t be her thing and she doesn’t get it. However, I am the opposite. I find they are a way to test yourself in a structured fashion. Sort of like taking a test in school — how good can you do? How have you prepared? Can you meet the challenge? Here I feel like I got a C- on the race. But that means I have a lot of room for improvement and some new motivation to get there. However, the silver lining is that I am not sore and feel really good today. Training really helps your recovery.

Next race in 2 weeks — Back Home Again in Indiana!