In short, I’m not quite sure what to think about my race yesterday.
Just like 3 years ago, I finished last. But, only 9 of 18 starters finished the run, and some of the runners who didn't finish are much better runners than I am. One of the runners had a great excuse to drop though - a compound fracture of a finger after a fall.
It’s a tough course and it was a moderately warm day. Navigation is difficult if you don’t know the course well. I ran the second half of the race solo, after the 4 people I was running with all dropped – 2 of them at mile 13 and the other 2 at mile 16. None of them really planned on going the whole way, so I wasn’t surprised to run solo for the second half. I was surprised that Sherpa John, one of my 4 trail companions, showed up at all, after running 100 miles last weekend. Craig Wilson was another of the 4. He's usually way faster than I am, but he's been fighting some injuries and 16 miles was his longest run in quite a while.
I also had some problems with cramping at mile 18 or so, and I had to get some extra fluids and electrolytes into my body before I was able to resume a full effort.
Three years ago, I ran (and I use that term loosely here) the course in 10:07. This year, my time was 8:54. So, I was significantly faster. Of course, I was still very slow. And, for the second time in two trail races this year, I finished last. But, neither of those races saw a finishing percentage above 50%.
In February, I ran a marathon in 4:06 and felt strong. Last week, I ran 20 miles in 3:17 and it felt easy. So, why is it taking me 9 hours to do 50K? Mainly, I think it’s a lack of trail running. The two 50Ks are the only trail runs I’ve done this year.
Just like three weeks ago, my endurance and strength were good. That is very encouraging. I ran the last mile yesterday in 9:36 and it felt easy. I’m just not adapted to trails yet.
So, I got in another great training run. I am way ahead of where I was 3 years ago, the last time I ran Western States. It’s just obvious that I need more trail miles. The trails where I live are still covered by snow and mud though, although the recent weather has been warm and dry. It’s supposed to stay that way this coming week, so the trails should be getting better.
So, after Saturday runs of 31, 20, 20, and 31 the last 4 weekends, I’m going to skip a long run next weekend. After that, I’ve got 4 consecutive tough weekends planned:
5/3: Repeats on the Mount Mansfield Toll Road, a 4.5 mile gravel road that climbs about 2600’ over its length. I will do at least 2 repeats, maybe 3, and probably 2.5.
5/11: GAC 6-hour run – This will be the weekend before pacing at MMT, so I’m planning to run for 2 hours and then power-hike the last 4 hours
5/17-18: Pacing at MMT – 50 miles or so of hiking on tough terrain
5/25: Pineland Farms 50K in Maine – a relatively mild trail run
And, as soon as possible, I’ll start doing more of my other runs on trails. I think that a few weeks of dedicated trail running will see me running much faster on tougher terrain.