Well, first things first. After recovering from Ironman (or what I considered recovery) I started running like crazy. More than usual, that's for sure. I also asked Mr. EK to make me faster... and well, he kicks my a$$, but boy, am I getting faster. I signed up for the Bear Chase 50K. Seemed easy enough that I would be able to do well. What's easy about a 50K? Not much, except that ultra marathons tend to be in hard trails, with LOTS of hills and they're mainly self-supported.
The Bear Chase, on the other hand, had an aid station at roughly every 3-4 miles, the trails were not technical, it was close to home, and the total elevation gain wasn't as bad as some others. That said, the only challenge was to actually run 31 miles.
Race day came by, and I wasn't 100% sure I was ready. I guess I was busy doing other stuff and the fact that I was running 31 miles didn't sink in until 2 days before. I was busy the day before the race with family in town, friends wanting to have lunch and ended up going to bed early-ish.
Sunday morning, I got up at 4:15am, showered, got ready and left the house at 4:45. Arrived at the parking area at 5:30, caught the shuttle to the start area and picked up my race packet. Although race organizers said we should get there early, I was all set at 5:50... even though the race didn't start til 6:50am. There were other events going on. The 50 mile, the half marathon and the 10k. The 50 mile people were starting at 6:30. I was surprised to see how many there were... Made me feel at ease that I wouldn't be feeling lonely towards the end of the race. Most 50-miler people would probably still be out there when I finished.
I met up with Ryan, Kevin and Courtney and we lined up at the start line at roughly 6:45. Courtney was running with Kevin, and his goal was to run an average 12 min/mile. Ryan wanted to go a tad faster and said he'd stick to my pace, which was 11:30. The 50K race was a 3 loop run. The first would be the 10K loop, then you'd have to complete two 12.4 mile loops.
When the gun went off, I started jogging and was stuck in the middle of the pack as we hit the single track. I was content with the pace which was around 10 min/mile. Ryan was ahead of me and Kevin behind. Ryan seemed to be at sight for a while and eventually Kevin and Courtney passed me, but I decided to focus on my own thing and stick to my pace, which up until now, was still faster than I wanted it to be.
|Settling into a comfortable pace|
As soon as I hit the top, I was able to start jogging and it was a super fun downhill run. After that, it gets flat, then it rolls for a bit... but then, you have to cross one creek (with no bridge), then another, and then a third. Fun times.
I got to the Start/Finish... and had to do it all over again. One more loop. I knew the way out was uphill, and I felt ok. Then I started going back... nice and steady downhill, but I noticed I was getting close to hitting a wall. I caught up to Kevin and Courtney and said hi... Kevin was not feeling so great (knee problems), we reached the aid station that was right next to a lake where I desperately wanted to jump in the water... I kept going. I was not feeling great... mentally, but kept talking myself into putting one foot in front of the other.
|Focused at around mile 23|
"What's wrong? You have less than 2 miles to go! You can do this!!!" Half way down the hill I started jogging, but picked up the pace when I saw the big sign that said: "One mile to go". Then, before I knew it, I was running downhill... I could hear the finish... wait... I can SEE the finish!
|Crossing the Finish Line: Sense of relief|
Turns out, that somewhere along the course, I had also passed Ryan. I have no idea where... but I was the first of our group to finish. I felt good. I got my medal and left... but I didn't go home. I went straight to Denver, to the Mile High Stadium, to see my dear Broncos defeat the Raiders. It was an amazing game. Needless to say, I got home quite tired, quite hungry and quite sore. It was good times.
|There's always time for some football!!!|