Add to Technorati Favorites "Going the Distance!": Sylamore Trail 50K

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sylamore Trail 50K

50K (31 Miles), 5:47:20, 11:12 Pace
As you can probably tell from the last few entries I was having a case of mental burnout with running, I think this event has renewed my spirit! Andrew Karandjeff (fellow SLUG) and I headed down to Mountain View Friday afternoon for the Saturday morning run. He hasn't been getting in as much mileage as usual lately so he was running the 25K race. Friday night was relatively uneventful and we got to bed about 10:30 pm to get a good night's rest for the 7:00 am start time. I changed my routine a bit and slept later than I usually do on race days. I skipped my normal pre-race shower (what's the point, right?) and opted for a Clif Bar vs. my usual pre-race Optimum Power Cereal Breakfast. We arrived at the race start around 6:30 am and stayed in the car until the last possible minute. At 6:55 am I left Andrew and the warmth of the car (25K started at 7:30 am) and headed to the start line. Temps were in the low 30's with a 15 mph wind (gusting to 25 mph) so we were all anxious to get started.

At the start I chatted with some fellow SLUGs (big turnout for this race with 16 SLUGs running) and left the start line with fellow SLUG Jerry Frost. As we headed up the hill Jerry and I talked a bit catching up on things as we haven't seen each other in a few months. This race is famous for it's creek crossing at mile 1.5 and 29.5 (it is an out and back). This year the creek was about hip high and the water was frigid! I quickly crossed (it's probably about 50 yards total) and passed many runners who stopped to change into dry shoes. The trail was beautiful as enormous icicles hung from the cliffs and the creek was amazing with colors of blue, green and aqua. The views were unreal from the clifs as I scurried my way along the narrow trail. The most dangerous part of this event was the black ice, you had to be very careful or you'd end up on your butt (which happened to me a few times)! Like the Tecumseh Marathon in December I decided to take it easy in the beginning and ended up running the first 10 miles with a group of 6 women, as they began to slow I continued my pace feeling rested and strong. Although I had some Clif Bloks and Hammer Gel's with me they just weren't sounding good so at each aid station I decided on M&M's and PB&J sandwiches to fuel my run, it worked and sustained my energy level the entire race. I reached the turn at 2H, 53M, filled my water bottle, took a handful of M&M's and headed out for the run back. I was ahead of my 6 hour goal pace but knew that anything could happen during the last half of the race.

As I passed the runners on the way back they shouted words of encouragement and yielded the right of way as I navigated the rocky trail. I continued to walk the up-hills, jog the flats and carefully run the downhills (very rocky, icy and slick) and ran alone for much of the way back. As I neared the creek crossing at mile 29.5 there was no one around in either direction. I entered the frigid water and actually fell into a hole. Up to my chest in the ice cold water I scrambled to get my footing and quickly recovered to get to the other side. My legs felt heavy and numb like ice blocks but I knew that I only had another mile and a half. I headed out on the road and up the last hill. As I reached the crest and turned onto the main road leading to the finish I knew I was almost there. I sprinted for the last half mile down the road and saw the finish line across the busy intersection. Waiting for the cars to clear (probably lost 30 seconds waiting) I crossed the road and was met by Andrew telling me what a great job I had done by beating my projected time. I crossed the finish at 5H, 47M (practically an even split) feeling good but cold and wet. We didn't hang around long after the race (left within 30 minutes) as thoughts of home and a hot shower were calling (even though I was still 300 miles away from home). The results aren't posted yet but I think I placed in at least the top 30 maybe even better. Andrew WON the 25K race even after getting lost for 15 minutes; he's a speed demon!

Originally I signed up for this race to get a preview of the 3 Days of Syllamo stage run next month. It is in the same area of Arkansas with the 1st day being this actual course (50K), the second day is a 50 Mile run with a 20K run on the last. The trick will be getting through that 2nd day when my legs are burnt and I'm mentally exhausted; thankfully Mindy will be there to support me through my quest to cover over 93 miles in a little more than 50 hours. In preparation for this I ended up running 12 miles yesterday to get used to running on tired legs; I'm really feeling it today!


Anonymous said...

I might do the 20k of 3 days, but I'm not running the whole 93. I'm too young to screw my legs up, haha. Sylamore was my first ultra, so I'm happy with it for now. I couldn't actually wait for the creek crossing at the end, it eased my pains!


Carey said...

Congrats Mark on finishing your first ultra! Conditions were ideal except for the wind. The creek crossing would have been great if it had been the end and we didn't have to run another mile and a half, I would have liked to stay there longer. Maybe I'll "run" into you at the Syllamo 20K next month!