2016 was a year of milage building for me. To finish off this build up I ran my first ultra on Saturday November 19th. The race was the Grand Ridge Trail 50k. I came in 13th overall with a time of 6:21:32.
The Grand Ridge race was organized by Evergreen Trail Runs who did an excellent job with the event. In addition to the 50k distance there was also a 5 mile, half marathon, and marathon. The 31 mile course included just under 6,000 ft of elevation gain. Besides the physical demands of running 31 miles the looping course was also mentally demanding. The course starts and ends at the same spot and includes 13.1 mile out and backs and a 5 mile loop. This means you come back to the finish line a total of 3 times. When your already tired knowing you have to turn back around and do another loop was mentally draining.
I’m very proud and happy that I was able to finish. But I know I can do better. Maybe I started too fast (low 7 min pace until we turned to climb). But the biggest problem was following other runnings as they pressed the downhills harder than I was ready for. I think running the downhills that hard blew out my quads early. Making the last half really painful when descending. Even though I know I can do better I’m still very happy with my first ultra. I learned a lot and I’m looking forward to another ultra my future.
My Strava data for the race is here. You can find the official results here.
On Sunday October 4th I ran the Burien Brat Trot. I ran it last year also and I wanted to see how much I’ve improved. Overall, I was really happy with my pace year. According to my Garmin my average pace was a 6:12 min/mile. Last year I got 20th place and this year I got 7th. Unfortunately this year the leader missed a turn causing the lead pack to miss a little over a quarter mile of the race.
My GPS watch shows we only ran 2.75 miles instead of the full 3.1 miles. Also I must have started my Garmin a little early or stopped it a little late because my watch time was 17:03 vs 16:52 for my chip time. If I use the distance from my watch and the time from the race I get a 6:08 min/mile pace. Which is the pace I was hoping for. Anyway enough artificial pace adjustment.
This race I learned I need to work on my pacing more. At the start I went too hard on the down hill. Going out too hard caused me to be sucking wind and hurt more at the end of the race. My mile splits were 6:07, 6:17, and 6:11 (pace for the .75 mile). If your interested you can see my Strava data for the race here.
I wish I would have been able to run the full course and really compare the times. All I can do is try to extrapolate my pace from this year. Last year my chip time was 21:18 a 6:52 min/mile pace. If I go by my average pace from my watch (6:12 pace) I would have run a 19:15 5k. Even being a short course I’m really happy and proud of that 2 minute improvement in a year. I’m planning to run another 5k in November and get a true 5k time for the year.
Last week my long run started out as an easy 20 miler. But, when I felt good around the half marathon point I changed my plan and figured I would do my first marathon. A few wrong turns and running the completely wrong way quickly turned my marathon into a 31 mile run.
Since I planned on doing an easy long run my pace was very comfortable. Even at an easy pace adding 11 miles to my furthest distance to date wasn’t something my body was ready for. Around mile 22 my energy level started to tank and my pace went from low 9 min to high 10 min. I started walking up hills to save my energy so I could make it back home. I don’t think my nutrition was the problem I think my body just wasn’t ready for that distance. During the run I had an GU Energy Gel every 3 miles and consumed plenty of water from my 2-Liter Nathan HPL #020. I even topped off the hydration pack twice during the run.
As I laid in my backyard after the run I had a huge sense of accomplishment and pride. The next day my muscles felt ok but my achilles tendonitis flared up in my right heel causing me to take 4 days completely off. Overall, I’m very proud I was able to complete the 50k. Next time I will train and plan for that distance.
Take way lessons from my 50k.
- Don’t increase your longest run distance too quickly.
- Changing your run plan mid flight isn’t always a good idea.
- Getting lost can increase your mileage quickly.
- Even at a slower pace the wall is real and it comes quickly!
- Chafing can happen in very uncomfortable locations.
- Respect the distances.
- People will question your sanity.