“It gives your life focus and purpose on a daily basis and it’s really that context of living with intention that I find the most fulfilling and rewarding. If I didn’t have that burning desire to be doing something all the time, like, life would just seem sort of dull and even keel.” – Anton Krupicka in this video.
Watching Anton smile through a grueling and self-supported triathlon to the top of Longs Peak, successful in his goal to set the FKT (Fastest Known Time) for the route, was truly inspiring and relatable. I can’t imagine a life without movement.
Unfortunately, my legs weren’t keen on moving last weekend. They felt heavy, which I suppose I should’ve expected having done a harder-than-planned hill workout with Rufus two days prior. While it’s never fun to run on non-responsive legs, it simulated what it might feel like to run a lot of miles on tired legs. I set 3 goals for this race:
- Run 32 miles as a long training run for Avalon 50 and finish feeling like I could run 18 more miles.
- Practice running with my hydration backpack and experiment more with fueling.
- Suffer through a loop course. I’m not a masochist, but I believe that the mental training is just as important as the physical training.
I ran the Paramount Ranch Trail Runs half marathon last year, so I knew that it would be a fun morning. I left at about 4:45am, stopped for my standard 7-11 coffee and Quest bar, and arrived early enough to score an excellent parking spot (= shorter distance to walk post-race). The race goodie bag included a Trail Runner magazine, which I read while relaxing in my car with the heater going full blast. It was sub-30 degrees! After a bathroom visit, I began the race preparation process and checking: 2 long sleeve shirts, gloves, deodorant, hydration backpack, snacks, phone with podcast ready to go, chapstick, and a hat stowed away in the pack. The sun was up and I was ready to run!
We started at 7:00am and I tried to settle into my run, but the course was much more up and down than I remembered. The inclines and declines are short and sweet, but relentless. Loop #1 didn’t feel great, especially with semi-frozen hands and face, but I figured I would warm up into 2 and 3. I came through the start/finish line after the first 2 rounds questioning whether or not the 50K was a good idea. Thankfully, I started talking to Grant during the third loop and it served as a nice distraction. He was running the “marathon” in his bid to complete 41 marathons before his 41st birthday! We ran through the start/finish line together absorbed in conversation and I felt better, but still heavy and not settled. We separated somewhere during our fourth loop and I noticed that there were definitely less people on the race course.
One element of the course that I did enjoy was that it doubles back often, which means passing by other runners at multiple points. It was fun to see the same people on each of the loops and enjoy many opportunities to encourage and be encouraged. However, it was hard to gauge which loops other runners were on since our bibs were the same color. I saw Rachel a few times and wondered whether she was running the “half marathon” or 30K. She was running hard and strong and placed first for the women and second overall for the 50K!
Thoughts of dropping to the 40K “marathon” formed after the third time of passing through the finish line. Each time I passed the emptying parking lot, I thought about the dry clothing and face wipes which were waiting for my in my car. I was feeling tired and slightly bored, but I knew that I would be really disappointed with myself if I chopped 10K off of my race. Plus, once I started loop #5, there would be no turning back. Double plus, I felt semi-decent for having run 40K on lead legs. I was intimately familiar with the course profile by this point and just moved through each of my designated “sections.” There was a woman sitting in a chair and a man in a Christmas sweater, both of which we passed twice at two different intersections. I just focused on each of those 4 passings, knowing that the 2nd time by Christmas sweater-guy was close to the finish line. I felt very strong coming into the finish and crossed the line in 4:46:26.
Standard post-50K fatigue set in, but I felt really good. I didn’t walk or stop at all during this 50K, but I predict there will be walk breaks during the 50 miler, especially since there will be more sustained climbing. In regards to my 3 pre-race goals:
- Run 32 miles as a long training run for Avalon 50 and finish feeling like I could run 18 more miles: I feel more confident that I will finish the 50 miler intact, but it will be painful. I recovered very quickly from this 50K.
- Practice running with my hydration backpack and further experiment with fueling: I still don’t like it, but I can do it. For this race, I had one Honey Stinger gel, one Warrior bar, and one green tea Kit Kat. My stomach didn’t get upset and my energy levels were good, but the Warrior bar was tough to eat while running.
- Suffer through a loop course. I’m not a masochist, but I believe that the mental training is just as important as the physical training: I’m still not a fan of loop courses, especially since it makes it much easier to drop, but I got it done. I can’t imagine running a 1-mile loop course for 50+ miles!
I can’t leave the always-important race swag review out. Kierra, the race director, does a seriously fantastic job choosing and designing her event shirts. Last year’s Paramount Ranch Trail Runs shirt and her Griffith Park Trail Runs top are items that I wear often. Not only are the designs tasteful, but they fit well. Her events are just all-around high quality and worth running.