2017 MST 50k

Last year was my 1st time running this race, and I really didn’t like the course — not enough big hills to power hike!  I.e. I thought it was too runnable.  But this year I knew what was in store and mentally I did not get down as much, grinding out a lot more running than I’m used to.

My goals going in were to break 5 hours, crack the top 10, and finish before Kelly and Heather could finish the 12 miler (which started an hour later), shuttle back to the car, and drive to my finish.  Of course, beating last year’s time would have been nice, but I knew this year would be much hotter by the end.  I checked and last year my Garmin showed 60F at the finish and this year it was 77F.  That’s Garmin temp and not actual outdoor temp, but I think it isn’t that far off.  Maybe 72 or 73F this year the last hour.

I won’t write a lot…  There’s not much to say.  I jumped out with the top 10-15 runners… I was surprised there were 4 ladies in front of me, but they seemed solid.  After a while I decided to slow down — I definitely prefer to run by myself and not in a group where I got sucked into their speeds vs. my own.

I ran comfortably, and was a bit surprised at my GPS pace — it was a slower than I had hoped.  But I knew if I sped up, it would be a difficult second half, so I just stayed within myself.  I had two hopes:  1) that my GPS was tracking short and 2) there would be carnage up ahead.  🙂  I don’t know this course that well so I wasn’t sure on the GPS, and even at the turn, I couldn’t recall if it was was exactly at the half way point, so I really didn’t know if my GPS pace was right.

At some point on the 1st half I passed three of the four ladies, but didn’t pass anyone else the rest of the 1st half.  I hit the turn and didn’t ask for an update on placing.   After the lollipop it was a bit crowded for a while with both 12 milers and 50k runners still coming in to the turn.  I saw Kelly and a few minutes later saw Heather, and she told me I was in 12th and that there were several “catchable” runners in front.  That was good motivation, but I opted not to run any harder, just to stay strong and steady.  I eventually passed four more runners to move into 8th overall.

I don’t like the look at miles 25 – 31 on the race analysis, but then if you look at the GPS track it definitely started misfiring as it had me in the water, missing the bridge, etc.  And the race stats show I slowed down some on the return, but not to terribly much.  About 7 minutes whereas most others in the top 10 dropped 20 or more minutes.  I guess the heat did get to most everyone.

Food was 3 or 4 vFuels and 3 coconut date rolls.  Other than that I just topped off on water at the aid stations.   I used MAPs the entire race and a few Endurolytes in the 2nd half.

In hindsight, the “C race” marathon 3 weeks prior, in which I ran within 90 seconds of an all time marathon PR, was not quite C race enough.  Recovery from that was hampered by a bit of a L cuboid issue, and the runs I did have all felt sluggish until the final few days before the 50k.  But I’ll take the BQ and the top 10 finish at MST.

I think I’ve come to terms with two things:

  1. Even though I have the Bryce 100 DNF monkey on my back, I am just not feeling the call to go back this year.  I’ve certainly thought I would do that all year, but wanted to hold off on registering until after the 50k.  But right now, the call is not strong enough… And you can’t run a 100 unless there’s a strong call.  At least I can’t.
  2. I seem to much better suited to the 50k-50 mile distance vs. the 100s, at least at this point in my running carrier.  I would probably do well at 100k, too.  The 24 hour times races I’ve run have often been quite strong into the 60’s and even 70’s, but beyond that, I’ve slowed and struggled.  I’ve been consistently running since 2009/2010, after several years post knee surgery where it was quite difficult to run more than 30 minutes a couple times a week.  But that consistency has been a slow progression from 15-20 mpw, to last year’s 32 mpw.  That’s not nearly enough to “run” 100’s well.  I’m not sure what the future holds for 100’s, but at least for right now I want to work on being more consistent with 40-50 mpw weeks and see how that treats me.   As a person with a history of niggles that slow me down quite often, it may be difficult, but I think it’s the right thing to do.

(The strava chart here shows mileage over time, and I do think that some runs in 2013 are missing — that long flat line in April and May can’t be right as I was training for Leadvillle.  I think the migration of runs from DailyMile and Garmin just didn’t take fully!  But either way I know the distance reached that year was certainly not at 2016 or 2015 levels!)

2017 ATT Marathon

I added the ATT Marathon to my race calendar pretty late – about a month before the race itself.  I added it as a “training race” (or a ‘C’ race) to prepare for the MST 50k three weeks out.  I’ve been mostly doing single track hilly/mountainous ultras for a while and feel like I’ve lost some speed at a more road like run, and figured I’d be doing a long training run that weekend anyway, so why not?

I met Sarah and David at Lowes in PBO at 5:30, and Sarah’s husband drove us over.   The race states to arrive by 5:30 even if you have a parking pass to guarantee a spot, but we arrived closer to 6.  There were still no issues parking.   It was a bit chilly (42F?) but I opted to leave the vest behind and just run with arm warmers, gloves, and a 200 weight icebreaker tee.  I also had a buff over my ears.  While it was a bit chilly walking to the start and checking in my post race bag, once in the starting corral it wasn’t bad — lots of heat with all the bodies!

My plan was to run out with Mark Manz who was to lead the 3:40 pace group for a mile or two or three, and then speed up and shoot for roughly an 8:00/mile pace avg.   But I didn’t see Mark there so I thought I’d jump in with the 3:35 group.  David was up ahead in the 3:30 group.  About 2 miles in, the 3:35 group was only 10s behind the 3:30 group, so I felt like the pacing was off.  I had come up on David and ran with him for a few.  Once we turned on to the ATT, it’s a slight downhill, and I knew it was time to pick it up.  I passed the 3:35 group and quickly decided to pass the 3:30 group too — I didn’t like being behind a group.

So then I was in no man’s land… I watched the 3:25 group up ahead, but didn’t really close the gap much at all.  Looking at my watch, I figured they were more in the 3:22-3:23 range and was content to just run my race.  There’s not a lot to write about for the middle portion of the race.  It’s like a T, so you go north and turn around, then south and turn around, and then back to the “trunk” of the T and back to the start/finish.  The two turn arounds let me see the various pace groups and other runners a couple times.

I held steady until the south turn around and was really feeling good.  But I recalled from the 2014 race that I imploded from mile 23-25 or so, with the every so slight 1-2% grade really wearing me down.  This time I thought if I could just get over that climb averaging under 8:00 for each of those miles, I’d be pretty happy.  I ended up doing 7:40 or so and it didn’t feel hard at all.

At that point I really picked it up a notch, and finally felt like I was working.  But with just a couple miles to go, now was the time, C race or not.  I knew I’d be under 3:20, and thought briefly I could even go for a PR (3:17).  But alas I had waited too long to have a shot at that!   I finished very strong in 3:18:44 on my watch and had a BQ by 6+ minutes.  I was very pleased with that!

Here’s the pace chart…  So much for 3:40 (8:25) to start!  But it never felt hard.

And the splits for the markers on the course…  Love the negative split and passing 40 runners in the last 10k!

Strava race analysis:

And final results:

Post race photos:

(David ran a 3:31 and was 2nd in the 60-64 age group!)

I’ll update here if I get any other photos from the race photographer…



Barcelona Day 4:  Montserrat (and back to reality)

Kelly and I got up early and took the subway to the Montserrat train, which was about an hour out of the city.  We had a bit of confusion on the “combined” ticket we had purchased back in town and which stop to get off, and what kind of ride we’d get up the last bit, but we eventually made our way up and down.  I would like to be on top of the mountain when there are less people, as it was a bit crowded, but it was still beautiful.  When we eventually made it back to town, I had to quickly rush off to the conference I’m here for!  Kelly flies home in the morning while I need to stay in town and work a couple of days.

Barcelona Day 3:  Old City Gothic and Gaudi

On the recommendation of my co-worker Larry, we booked a private tour through Runner Bean Tours.  We ended up with the same tour guide he and his family had, Jessi, an ex-pat from Australia.  She was fantastic and gave us a tremendous amount of history as we toured the old city concentrating on the Gothic the 1st half, and Gaudi the 2nd.  Later in the day we were also able to meet our niece Jessi to hangout for a bit as well as have dinner.  She’s in Bracelona this summer on a study-abroad opportunity.  

Barcelona Day 2 

We slept in a bit and then I got out for a quick run along the beach. We then purchased a day pass for the hop on hop off bus.  Our first stop was for the Cementiri Est de Poblenou, and then lunch. 
TBC – these are in reverse order but I’ll fix later. 

After lunch we walked along the board walk back to the bus, then jumped on it to the Sagrada Familia – I’ll do that in it’s own blog post!  From there we went to Park Guell, walked up and up and saw some amazing views.  Then we had a bit of an aventure getting to Tibidabo.  The phone said it was a 28 minute walk, which would have been faster than going back to our bus stop to get to the next stop, so we started walking.  We realized it looked to be much further so we jumped in a taxi which took us a long long ways.  There really wasn’t much to do a Tibidabo so we took a bus — a super crowded bus down the mountain.  From there it was a “subway tram” ride down to a normal sub way station, and from there a few trains toget to our bus.  The bus ride in was quite long and we were the only two on the bus, sitting up top in the front from to try to stay warm.  We grabbed some food at a Mediterranean place on La Rumbla, then some dessert, and finally got back to the hotel. 

Barcelona Day 1, part I & II

We arrived on the red-eye (neither of us slept much if at all) and then at the hotel around 8:30 a.m. after an easy taxi ride.  Unfortunately our room wasn’t ready, so instead of a nap, we headed out to breakfast and then over to the Picasso museum.  After that we also walked in and around The Cathedral of Barcelona.   We went back to the hotel around 12:30 but still no room, so we went back out.  But now it was raining pretty hard, so we just grabbed a coffee/tea in a small shop to wait a bit longer.  We finally got a call around 1:30 that the room was ready so we headed back over and got a couple of hours of sleep.  Now we should be able to handle a 9 or 10 p.m. dinner like the locals!  🙂


After the nap we went out and had a snack, then explored the area on foot, before eating dinner at Los Caracoles, a place my boss Jon recommended…