On 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.