What’s It Like to Run 50 Miles?

by Phil

in Odds and Ends, Ultrarunning

NFEC Runner with GGB in the background

NFEC Runner with GGB in the background

Well, honestly, I don’t know yet.  But Edie over at the Trail Run Times has a great recap of last week’s 50-mile race during the North Face Endurance Challenge, which I wrote about earlier last week.

She has her date wrong (hey, if you had just run 50 miles you’d get your weeks mixed up as well), but does an amazing job of giving you the feeling of what it’s like to be running for more than 13 hours straight.

To give you an idea of how long that is, in the middle of December in San Francisco, that means you both start and finish while it’s dark outside. So far my longest run is the San Francisco Marathon coming in at a relatively brief 26.2 miles.  My next ultramarathon will be 50K (or 31 miles).   But someday I will run 50 miles!

Click the link at the bottom to read the whole story.

Is it easier to run 50 miles the second time? Maybe. But it’s still hard to run 50 miles. On Saturday, December [5] I lined up with my boyfriend Greg at the start of the North Face Endurable Challenge 50 Mile, more confident than I’d felt the prior two years. In 2007 we’d run the 50K, and in 2008 we’d ran the 50 Mile. This year my goals were to improve my time to between twelve and thirteen hours, and to be gracious to the volunteers and other runners. I’d joined The Endurables running club in 2008, and running with such fast runners (winners of races!) had been both humbling (wow, they are MUCH faster than me) and eye-opening. Eye-opening in that “the fast people” were so gracious to volunteers and their fellow runners. No one ever teased me about being slower (or if they did, they were way out of earshot when they did), and Brett especially seems to view a faster runner on the course not as a rival but as a potential training partner to recruit.

Our plan (analyzed to the nth degree) was simple. Walk the uphills, run the downhills and flats. The NFEC course is frontloaded with hills of the 8 “major” climbs, 5 of them were in the first 23 miles (Bobcat, Pirates Cove, Pan Toll and Matt Davis). If I could keep a good pace (but spare my legs), I hoped to cruise through the last parts of the course, picking off runners and making up time. This had worked well for us last year—we’d passed people starting at the Ridgecrest Blvd (mile 26) turnaround. I would eat a PowerBar GelBlast every 10 minutes and an S-Cap every half hour.

The weather all week had predicted a ~36 degree start, I felt very lucky it was a balmy 49. My coach, Jim Vernon and I had been talking about the revised course elevation. He found me at the start and strapped on his altimeter so he could get an accurate reading. He was rushing as he put it on at 4:58 AM—he hadn’t heard the announcement that the race was starting 15 minutes late. And then…we were off!

Click here to read the rest at Trail Run Times.com.

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