Running with Eric

Menu Close

Category: 50k

Completing an ultra-marathon

On Saturday I completed the Can Lake 50k ultra-marathon for the third time, and the fact that I finished the race is pretty much the best thing that I can say about the run. I truly blew up towards the end and finished after 6:48 which is a good bit slower than I was the first two years I ran this course.

At the start of the race I went out quickly, initially finding myself solidly in fourth place, which was very much reminiscent of my start last year. After the out and back, I began getting passed by a few of the other runners, but my pace felt steady and the run was still going according to plan.

The weather had started rainy and later turned to sun, which is opposite of what I find ideal, but I had planed to change my shirt at the 12.5 mile mark anyhow. After the aid station I walked the hill, ran down to the lake, made it to Bare road without incident, and even passed someone going up Bare hill. At this point I was tired, but felt like I had more energy left than at the same point in the previous years so I wasn’t all that worried.

By mile 21 my legs were starting to hurt a bit, but I was still moving well, so I didn’t give it too much mind. My water had gotten low sooner than in years past so I refilled at the 23.5 mile aid station feeling that I was almost done. However a bit past the 24 mile mark is where disaster struck.

My left calf cramped up to the point where I couldn’t move it and I had to stop for a few seconds. When I got moving again, I found that I often had to slow to walk to prevent my leg from seizing (and my right calf got in on the action as well). By the time I was three miles out from the finish I was wholly incapable of running and (far too close to the finish to take a DNF) had to walk the rest of the way.

I really love the final two miles of this course as it winds its way downhill to the finishline, so it was heartbreaking to have to walk this whole section, and made my actual finish a bit anti-climatic.

My time was slower than the past two years, but given how poorly the final seven miles went I fully expected my time to well over seven hours. I don’t have any split times, but given that I managed to stay below seven hours with all that walking indicates to me that I had previously been on pace for a rather solid run.

My next race will be one-tenth of the distance, next week at the Brick City 5k.

CanLake 50k

On Saturday I finished the CanLake 50k for the second time. Last year I finished in 6:08, and this year (after running 31 miles) I improved upon my time by finishing in 6:07.

The start of the race almost went too well. Off the starting line I found myself in fifth place. I assumed that I just had a lucky start and would be passed by soon, but I then finished the first mile without anyone passing me. One girl passed me in the second mile, but by mile five I was still in sixth place and it was clear that this start was not a fluke.

I was feeling good, but was a bit concerned that I might have started to fast. Fortunately the next section of the course was an out and back, so I could see that while I was towards the front, the main field was only a tiny bit behind me.

Typically the finger lakes region is very pretty, but this year the landscape was marred by Trump signs. It was a bit disquieting having to run through such a concentration of hate.

At the Middlesex aid station (mile 12) I picked up my hydration pack and took on some solid food. This would be the last nutrition that I took during the race, in a strategy that was markedly different from last year.

Bare Hill is the most difficult part of the 50k course, and I feel that knowing what to expect I handled it much better than last year. I moved steadily up the hill, and had no difficulty breaking into a run after reaching the summit.

At mile 20 a horse ran out ahead of me and joined the race.

I knew all along the final ten miles were going to be the hardest part of the race, but I pushed on. Fortunately the final mile and a half of the race is all downhill so it is easy to finish the race strong.

The Battle at Bristol Mountain

02b25bb588ef1793915e7f862f716a08-cropOn Saturday I went down to the Bristol Mountain Ski Resort to run a 50k. Unfortunately the hills were quite a bit steeper than I was prepared for, and I had to drop out after 20 miles.

The course consisted of three laps around a 10 mile loop, with each loop consisting of 5 climbs up the mountain for a total of 4,000+ feet of elevation gain each lap.
From the very start of the race it was clear that this was going to be different from the 50k that I ran last year as my pace slowed down to a power walk on the first (and least steep) hill. Still I managed to stay with the pack, and actually had fun running down the first two hills. The third time up the mountain was the steepest hill, but the first time around it was still early enough in the race that I had the energy to get up. Next was the one part of the course that was level enough to actually run.

This was followed by a downhill that was both steep and overgrown, and resulted in me falling a dozen times during the decent. I don’t mind the stronger athletes going by me on the uphills, but seeing how many people passed me by on this downhill was the first sign that I was going to be in trouble. The final two climbs were long and difficult, but again I found myself really bleeding away time on the final two descents.
I finished the first lap in 3:23, and found that I had the trail to myself for the first two climbs of the second lap. Once I found myself walking on the second downhill on what had previously been a fun part of the course, I knew that I was probably not going to make it to a third lap. I struggled on the third uphill, but felt that the final two climbs were done at a steady pace. Again my biggest problem was the downhills, as I struggled to maintain any speed on the final three downhills.

I ended up finishing the two laps in 8:37 which is (by one minute) the longest that I have ever been on a race course. Fortunately my next trail race should be over in under an hour.

First Ultra-marathon complete

cropOn Saturday I ran my first 50k as part of the Can Lake 50, and finished with a time of 6 hours and 8 minutes. This was incredibly close to what I considered to be a best case scenario, and (somewhat inexplicably) an average faster pace than I had in the Rochester marathon. Overall, I placed 20th out of the relatively small field in the race.

My plan to carry water in the race worked out well. I picked up the backpack at 12.5 miles, and my two liters lasted me until mile 28 without stopping to refill. It didn’t really cause too much discomfort, although I found that I needed to pull it tighter as the water depleted. Also, while I don’t normally take food mid-race, for some reason I found myself going for the Fig Newtons.
I am incredibly happy with my time in what has been my last major race of 2015. As I approach the end of the race calendar, it might be time to start planning some races for 2016.