Wednesday, December 7, 2011

10 Glorious Hours

I'm not quite sure most people would use those three words together to describe a run. After looking at it a few times I'm starting to think I understand why my wife and several other people think I'm a little crazy. (But not nearly as crazy as many other ultrarunners) This past Saturday I started and finished The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile race in the Marin Headlands. It was fantastic. It was Awesome. I ran about as well as I could've over the course and ended up finishing in the top half of the field. (Probably just in the top half though...) At no moment did I experience a real low point. I managed to stay pretty well hydrated, kept up on my food intake and also on my electrolytes. Given that this was my second 50 miler ever I was actually completely shocked that this occurred. I was expecting to be a cramped mess throughout the race...but the cramps never came. Sure there was pain...but it was a welcome pain. It was manageable. Suffice it to say this was probably the most fun I've had on a run...ever. I look forward to replicating this many times over in the decades ahead. (Yes Decades...I plan to be running when I'm in my 80's)

I won't delve too much into the play by play. Instead I'll just provide a few stats on the race...provide a list of some highlights and then wrap it up for the year.

Course Statistics
Where: Marin Headlands
Max Elevation: 1800 Feet
Minimum Elevation: 0 Feet
Total Elevation Gain: 10,059 Feet
Total Mileage: 51.2 Miles
My Finishing Time: 10:15:35
My Average Pace:  12:01 min/mile
Winning Time: 6:19:00
Winning Pace:  7:24

Still smiling...40+ miles in
You are not reading that wrong...Mike Wolfe ran this freaking thing in 6 hours and 19 minutes, absolutely crushing the course and just about every other elite running it. He and Dakota Jones (A 21 year old phenom) battled it out all the way to the last climb where Wolfe finally pulled away for good. These guys are incredible. I'm not intentionally trying to belittle myself here but what they do makes my accomplishment of just finishing pale in comparison. The elites prove that running 50 miles is not as crazy as people would think. If a pro athlete can go out and run a marathon in 2:03 then an average Joe ought to be able to run one in 3:00 given dedication, will and training. That's how I look at these now....with more training I should be able to run 50 miles in under 9 hours. One of next year's goal has been lets see if I can follow through on it.

Race Highlights:
  • Seeing a train of runners headlamps snaking up the initial ascent at 5:00 AM.
  • Sunrise over the golden gate and San Francisco. I wish I had a camera on me but I doubt I would've been able to capture how awesome this was.
  • Sharing the coastal trail (and all the trails for that matter) with 300 other like minded individuals.
  • Making it to the top of the first big climb and thinking "Wait is that it?" Honestly...for some reason I expected that first big climb to be a killer...I pretty much just waltzed up it. (Slowly)
  • Bombing down the Dipsea Trail...then stuffing my face full of food and powerhiking/running back up it.
  • Passing all the hikers while I was bombing downhill to Muir Woods. I was 34 miles into a race and felt fantastic. 
  • Absolutely nailing my race day nutrition. I basically ate solid food at each aid station, sticking mainly with PBJ, Oranges, Bananas and a few cookies while supplementing with a gel or two in between stations. I also took an electrolyte tablet every hour and 20 minutes. The chicken broth I drank at a couple stations probably helped too. 
  • Finishing up with an average pace of 7:50 over the last 3 miles.
Hopefully I'll be running this again in May
I liked this race so much that I threw my name in the hat for the Miwok 100K (62 miles) in May. Not sure if I'll get in but if I do it should be another fantastic run out in the headlands. If not than I'm sure I'll find something else to run. Next year's season is looking like it'll be pretty spectacular. It starts pretty soon too...first race is February 4th so I don't really get a whole lot of downtime here. That's fine though...I'm already itching to get out on the trails.

First I should brew a batch of beer though...I still haven't gotten around to writing that first beer entry...
Here are a few pictures we took the monday after the Race. I wanted to show Brandi the headlands so we drove out and retraced some of the race. 

Heading out to Muir beach, thankfully this sand was not part of the race

Me recreating the race atmosphere for Brandi

Somehow I figured out how to levitate

Looking down the coast...rad views

Playing around with the panorama mode

I was still hungry so I decided to eat a jelly fish

Recovery Beer


  1. Outstanding stuff, John.
    Got here via your comment on AJW's blog.

    I'm running my first 50k and 50m in 2012, yet we share the same view of life: Beer and running into our 80s.

    Cheers to a solid 2012.

  2. Thanks Matt. Good luck with your upcoming Races in 2012. The distances are definitely a lot of fun...the internet wouldn't be full of blogs like this if they weren't!