Dec 7th will be my 3rd running of The North Face 50 Mile race, a race that typically draws a very deep group of Elite runners. For me this race has been somewhat of a challenging experience, having to dig deep just to finish with a time I was not necessarily happy with. Maybe it is caused by the pounds of food I eat at Thanksgiving or the lax fall training pattern I typically fall into as the end of the season approaches. While I believe I will be prepared this year, I can’t help be question if my endurance is where it needs to be to compete.
The first year I ran TNF50 was in 2011, my second Ultra (and second 50 miler) ever ran. The day had perfect weather and I remember running out to the McKenna Gulch turn around as I watched all of the elite runners I aspired to be like run past me, most notable was Mike Wolfe with blood pouring out of his neck. I was running much faster than my fitness had to offer and by mile 31 I was toast. It took me 15 miles to regain composure and finish the last 4 strong. It was my first Ultra learning lesson on pace, nutrition, hydration, and what not to do. The second year in 2012, there was a wild storm that ran through the bay area right before the race which forced the RD to change the course. The result was a very wet and muddy double loop course. My pacing was aggressive but within control, but struggled to keep it up after a rough fall on the second pass of Pirates Cove that seemed to shake me up more mentally than physically. The result was 7:10 46 miler, roughly the time I was hoping to get in 50.
I am really looking forward to a 3rd attempt at a strong race and hopefully running the full course. Just in case we don’t, I will be running the middle section (best section) this weekend for a nice last long training run on my favorite trails in the headlands.
Last weekend I raced a 50K as a check in on my endurance and speed. I came through the finish in 3 hours and 24 minutes with 3,500 feet of climbing; what I would call a very flat course. I also set a course record. I later learned that three of us took a little shortcut 2 miles into the race that resulted in running the course 1 mile short of 31 miles, so the RD added 8 minutes to my finishing time rather than DQ’ing me. I still have the CR and i’m confident I could have stuck out an additional mile at my sub 7 min pace, but I can’t help but put a personal asterisk on my CR. Still, I was very thankful for this decision given the effort I had put to get my 50K PR.