It did not take me long to sign up for my second 50 mile race. Shortly after the White River 50M in late July I decided that I wanted to take on a second 50 mile race before the end of the year. Having already signed up for the Portland Marathon and the Defiance 50K in October a late November or December race was pretty much a requirement. It turns out there aren't a whole lot of 50 mile races in the Pacific Northwest in the fall and winter due to our weather degenerating into complete garbage. Thankfully work decided to send me to San Francisco the week after Thanksgiving which put me in prime position to run The North Face Endurance Challenge in the Marin Headlands this coming Saturday, December 3rd.
This course is going to be a bit of a beast. No incredibly long climbs like in white river (Which only has two...both around 4K feet of gain) but the course is pretty much always going either up or down a hill. With upwards of 11,000 feet of total gain this will be the most I've ever taken on in a single day. I'm optimistic though as these hills are more in line with what I'm used to training on, 1-3 miles of uphill followed by 1-3 miles of downhill. That coupled with my vast experience at this distance (one whole race) should equate to me shattering my 50M PR....or perhaps shattering my will to endure...or maybe a knee. I'm sure something will get shattered on Saturday...the most likely being my stomach.
As far as competition goes I don't really compete with people at these events. I'm slow...a perennial mid-packer that doesn't have the time or the stomach to up my game enough to compete with the top half of the field. I have aspirations to move up into the top 20% someday, and in the 50K and Marthon distances I'm pretty much there...but for 50 mile events December 3rd will probably not be that day. I haven't nailed a race of this distance yet and am still in the process of figuring out how to prevent nausea, cramping, dehydration and all of the other issues that pop up in Ultra races. I think I've finally figured out 50K races...but these are significantly shorter than 50 milers.
As for those that will be competing, there are a TON of elites running this race. The winning time will most likely be sub 7 hours, which roughly equates to an 8 minute per mile pace for 50 miles with a bunch of climbing in it. I'll be lucky if I can pull 12 minute miles over the course of the event. I'm looking forward to seeing Geoff Roes, Mike Wardian, Dakota Jones, Ricky Gates and a whole smorgasbord of Ultra Elites at the starting line...for about 5 seconds...then they will pull away and I probably won't see them for the rest of the race.
My training leading up to this thing has been pretty solid. I put in some solid weeks in August and September in preparation for my Portland Marathon/Defiance 50K races which occured on succesive weekends. I topped out with a 77 mile week and strung togther a 4 week period where I topped out at 258 miles with 24,000 feet of elevation gain. Not a crazy amount but it was a really solid month with a decent amount of climbing. Ideally I would've like to have strung together 4-5 70+ mile weeks...but alas 2 seemed to be my limit this year. The two October races served as some good long distance race/training efforts. I could probably spend a few thousand words analyzing my recent training but suffice it to say it was less than ideal, but far exceeded what I would I would've considered the minimum to run this event. My stomach hasn't been "trained" nearly as much as it should...but that is more an issue with my style of training. I do not eat or drink much during my training runs much to the dismay of most of my running buddies. The plus side of this is that I'm fairly used to bonking now and have progressed past the panic that usually occurs when your heart rate and breathing skyrocket. The minus of course is that consuming even a small amount of calories on the run can result in some pretty significant nausea. I managed to tame that beast during my 50K in october...but I have no idea how things will pan out by adding an addition 19.2 miles. I guess I'll just need to eat more oreos....