Normally I write with the intent to lure my reader deeper into the article before giving away the conclusion. This time is different—I did it! Yup, I accomplished a solid 50 mile finish in the 24 Hours of Boulder race this past weekend. Ok, now for more details…
Being new to ultra running this year I took the next logical step after my 50k run in April at the Greenland race and looked for another race. Nothing fit until I heard about the 24 Hours of Boulder race from Ultrathoner who ran in the 24 Hours of Laramie earlier this season. With a race day in hand I picked up my training with a 14 week 50k program which I modified to reflect training for 50 miles instead. I ended up doing my long runs at various open space or Colorado state parks near our home which was a joy both mentally and physically compared to my training for Greenland which was mostly on hard surfaces.
Race day arrived quickly and I found myself with a truck loaded with support gear—chair, clothing, food & fluids. After an early morning pancake carb loading breakfast I headed north. The day was clear and cool but promised to be rather warm for this time of year. At least there was no snow in the forecast!
I arrived early enough that I could park 20 feet from the start/finish line allowing me to leave all my support gear in the truck. Later I realized that it wasn’t that I was early there just weren’t that many running; unlike the almost 2400 people that were part of the Boulder marathon I ran last month from the same parking lot.
The schwag was pretty minimal with a bright red tech shirt being the best loot. The samples of Heed and Hammer gel will find their way into my food bag to be pawned off in the future; I just don’t care for either product. The support provided at the tents was great. Many of the volunteers were in their Halloween costumes.
Even though I’ve only run/paced a few races this year it’s a small enough community where I recognized runners from the other races. Besides the local/regional runners I also met folks from LA, Las Vegas as well as two guys who drove in from Phoenix right before the race. Uggh! Unlike many marathons where you are literally just a number the runners were so few that everyone was cheered on as they completed a lap.
The course layout wasn’t my favorite part. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. It was an out and back leg run along the perimeter of the reservoir, for slightly over 3.5 miles, to an aid station where you then ran back to the start. Seven laps equaled 50 miles. After a couple of loops the terrain was boring. Talking to other runners and cheering on the oncoming traffic helped as a distraction. I’m now rethinking the whole no music while running idea.
The first four laps fell without issue or whimper. On the backside of lap 5 my right knee started to cause intermittent pain that only receded by walking and stretching. So the rest of the run was pushing as far as I could before I had to walk. My average pace quickly slowed and I worried that I wouldn’t make my finish goal. Earlier thoughts of pushing on for two more laps to make it a 100k quickly faded. With other commitments in the near future I couldn’t risk any injuries. Lap 6 was spent figuring out how to keep moving forward at more than a walking pace. I ran a few tenths then would walk to reduce the knee pain (which felt like a vise squeezing my knee). So by the start of the final lap I knew I could tough it out to the finish.
It was afterwards while talking with some support crew folks that we figured it was an IT band issue. Hmmm…never had that happen before, then again I never ran that far before!
So what’s the next run? Still unknown but looking into it.
50 Miles / 9:35 Hours
11:30 min/mile avg pace
A Happy Halloween to all. Thanks for reading.
Get out and Explore the World!