Friday, May 17, 2013

Into Thin Air

It's a truth that writing a blog is easier when you have something positive to talk about, hence the two week delay in writing about my Collegiate 50 miler experience!

Saturday May 3rd was my first race above sea level in the US. In fact the first time I'd even been above 2000m, let alone run there. It was supposed to be my Western States qualifier; the Collegiate Peaks 50 miler, but in the end it only qualified me for a portion of humble pie. I underestimated the effect of 2400-3000m running, and got my butt kicked. I quit, I bailed, I DNF'ed, whatever you want to call it. It was a two laper, therefore not difficult to stop after a lap (as did half the field, either pre-determined or spur of the moment choice). even easier when you feel like a kitten.

Finish of the Collegiate 50 miler in Buena Vista
I'd set out from Portland full of confidence, with some great mileage, good racing results and looking forward to the slower pace and less hectic racing of a 50 miler. I'd thought that arriving the day before the race wouldn't give my body a chance to work out what was going on, and I'd be able to run well.

Road tripping to Buena Vista
But within a couple of miles and the first gentle climbs I was gasping for breathe and my legs were burning. It was near freezing at the start and stupidly i didn't think about hydration very much, so I'm sure that also played a factor. After an hour I was mentally shot and physically stretched. I struggled through the desert landscape, stumbled over the few technical sections, and walked pretty much any incline. Knowing that it was a two 25 mile lap course gave me an out. I took it, with about 5 seconds hesitation. Of the first 45 runner, 35 stopped at 25 miles either pre-planned or like me, because we'd had enough.

I'm not proud of my decision, but I also know that finishing would have given me very little satisfaction, sore legs for a week and not much else.

So I now have to re-evaluate my goals for this year to take into account races at altitude and anything longer than 50km. I love the 50km distance, and pretty much anything shorter, as they feel like 'races'. Apart from the elite once you are at 50 miles, your pace is 5 minutes a km or much. much slower. That's just not for me right now. I find it harder than running quicker and the focus on body management more than racing doesn't inspire me.

The best view in Portland!
I'm also enjoying racing short and fast, beating 10 year old PB's (the 10k one from 2001 went last weekend with a 36,04) and mixing it at the front of admittedly weak races in Oregon. I'm also enjoying trail running in the amazing Washington and Forest Parks more than I could have imagined. I thought Cape Town had good trails, but here I'm 1km from 100km of trails without doing anything more than lacing up my shoes at my Hi-Tec/Magnum desk. THAT is inspiring.

Just part of the amazing Forest Park, Portland
Next up is the last 38 miles of the Western States 100 miler with friend David Ross, then the Speedgoat 50k in Snowbird, Utah. Before that, plenty of days in the forest just enjoying being able to run.

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