I ran the American River 50M two years ago and IIRC, it was my 2nd 50miler ever. First one was Lake Sonoma the year before that. Feels like I’ve come a long way in the last couple of years getting comfortable (well, as comfortable as one can get) with these distances. Another great run, though felt much warmer than the last time around. Also with pollen season in full swing, I was definitely feeling it out there. Here’s my Strava activity from the run:
American River 50M – The First Half
Went to bed @ 8pm, woke up once at 11:00pm, then again at 1:30am with sneeze fits. By the time I showed up at the finish line to take the bus back to the start, I was pretty groggy and grumpy. Huddled up in a friendly’s car with a few other runners to stay warm before the start. The usual anxiety about ‘how many miles am I running again?’ sets in and then off we leave at 6:00am.
The early miles were nice and easy, the weather cool with a magnificent sunrise over Folsom Lake. Found a comfortable pace (mostly by feel as to how heavy I was breathing) with no particular goal in mind, other than to finish happy. A single PB&J at the aid stations seemed to be sufficient in the early miles with an occasional VFuel. The American River was gushing by our sides and swollen with all of the snow melt.
As we looped around the Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park, noticed that we were running in front of Lake Natoma Inn, where I was staying. Have to admit, a small part of me wanted to crawl back in bed 🙂 Briefly scanning over the entrants, I didn’t recognize anyone. Other than a couple of chatty runners, everyone seemed to be in a trance, me included. I was playing my own mind-trick again where I would lap my Ambit3 at every aid station and only be seeing how far to the next aid station. No pace, no sense of how much time has elapsed.
American River 50M – The Second Half
Made it to Beal’s Point AS (mile ~25) in 3:55, 10 minutes slower than the last time around. I had left myself a note in the drop bag for things like ‘apply eye-drops‘, ‘apply body glide‘, ‘reload gels‘, etc. and I followed it to the tee. I recently bought myself a Tifosi Crit Fototec sunglasses just so I wouldn’t have to squint the last 5 hours over exposed trails. Came in very handy! It was starting to get warm now. Doused myself in ice water, soaked up the scruff around the neck and headed out after ~4ish minutes. The volunteers were super awesome in helping me with the drop bags.
The ~5 miles to Granite Bay was mostly a blur. There were some low-grade, long climbs + the rollers. Somehow the Alabama Song by Doors got stuck in my head (I’ve never listened to music when I run) and it seemed to be the perfect song to match my cadence! Show … me … the … way … to … the … next … Whiskey … Bar. Sure why not, at least for a while. It was definitely getting warm, but no cramps so far. Periodic intake of salt pills, splashes of water to the face, douse the scruff around the neck. 5 hours in, I was holding up. Did I mention it was getting warm? And now for the meat grinder.
I really don’t remember much about the meat-grinder, other than it was slow. One. Step. In. Front. Of. The. Other. There were a million butterflies along the single track and wild flowers and pollen. I swear, some of them were mocking me. They would hang out by me and flutter off reminding how slow I was going. It seemed that so many folks passed me, it sure felt that I was DFL (Dead F$&#ing Last) Couple of force-fed VFuel’s just to keep the sugar level up. And careful rationing of water based on how far I was along the 8.6 mile leg to Horseshoe Bar. More Doors. Please, someone unstick that song from my head!
I was in a trance through Rattlesnake Bar & Dowdin’s Post. Somewhere along the way I saw Stuart Taylor, but took me a full 10 seconds of brain-fart before I would holler at him. Down to the essentials. Douse, drink, shuffle. Just. Keep. Running. Coke & potato chips to the rescue. Didn’t feel like eating anything else. Pulled into Last Gasp in 9:30 and I had 2.4 miles to the finish. Last time around I ran a big chunk of this. I had no desire now. Was pretty depleted. Just wanted to finish. Started walking up the 1,000ft climb and Jessica Shambora passes me working up to her sub-10:00. She’s like, “c’mon on”. So we start jogging together, nudging each other. I kept up with her until a little past the 1-mile marker and had to back off. Tried sprinting to get close, then walk, sprint again. She would go on to finish in 9:58:36 which is awesome! I managed to crawl up on all fours and crossed the finish line in 10h:20s.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the day turned out. Once again, with 20-30 miles/week of happy running, I got what I put in. No cramps, bonks, no GI issues, no trips, no falls and no injuries. And in case you are wondering how many steps one takes in a 50-mile run, here you go. Apparently, the Ambit3 tracks the steps which I didn’t know before. It took me 101,000 steps to run 50 miles. 🙂 and as I’m writing this blog, saw that the AR50 results were posted. 123 DNF’s out of the 533 starters. Dang! 1/5th didn’t make it to the finish line.
That run was definitely a morale booster for the double San Francisco Marathon I’m running in July. Though the tricky part would be 52.4 miles of asphalt and unlike the American River 50M, there will be no dirt trails along the the city streets I can recover from. YOLO.
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