Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sun Mountain 50 Mile Run 

I ran a beautiful race on Sun Mountain May 19, 2013, organized by Rainhadow Running.  It was a rewarding 50-mile run with rolling hills, smooth trails and tons of beautiful flowers.  I carried my camera so I would remember to enjoy the journey and not push myself to the destination too quickly.  I haven’t been running as much distance as the last couple years, felt like kind of a slacker and didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment.  I have ran this race the last 2 years and had reasonably good times with 2011 being my first 50 mile event.  I definitely enjoyed the journey and took about 40 pictures of the beautiful course and friends that I saw along the way. 
Patterson Lake
It started out great, I ran the several miles with Linh Shark, we took our time cruising along the rolling hills as we headed toward our first of three substantial climbs. 

Linh Shark
 The first climb came at about mile 15, but wasn’t incredibly steep or long, 1500 feet over 2 miles. 
First climb, Linh is coming up the hill

This brought us up to a beautiful pasture of wild flowers and cows looking at us curiously.  I’m sure they wondered why everyone was in a hurry on such a beautiful day.  
Beautiful flowers were abundant
 It was here that I came upon an awesome ultra running friend, Angel Rossi-Mathis, she had been suffering from a cold turned respiratory infection, but decided to give the run a try anyway and see how she felt.  That is the only reason I was able to catch her, as she is one fast and furious Ultra Runner. 
Angel Rossi-Mathis
We had a great time catching up with each other as we climbed one of the hills.   I also caught up with Ultrapedestrian Ras who a week earlier had just completed a R2R2R triple ~170 miles and was out to run Sun Mountain 50 miler as part of his deemed "Sunpig Mountain Tails Challenge 250 miler."  Today he was living true to his motto “An ultramarathon is like a mullet: business up front, party in the back” It was great having him party with us.
Ras climbing the hill, I can't see it, but I'm sure he is smiling

Jonathan Shark is the little speck climbing up the mountain in white

The run was great through here with fabulous, soft, single-track trails and lots of friendly runners to chat with and pass the time.  I felt good, had a great pace and the miles were flying by until about mile 20 when it started to heat up and we started our next climb. 
Beautiful, soft, single-track trails
  I have been trying to use less salt pills to avoid the massive “bloat” post race and the need/desire to consume copious amounts of water.  In the past, almost automatically, I would take one an hour to avoid problems with electrolyte imbalance.  It got pretty hot; I was sweating like crazy and feeling lots of fatigue in my hamstrings and calves, to which I immediately attributed to my docile life as of late.  Rookie move: I failed to listen to my body telling me I needed more salt until I got a twinge of the “slosh” in my stomach, an alert that I need more salt, and this time I listened.  The great thing about running an ultra is, you are out there long enough that when you make a mistake there is time to correct it and if you keep moving forward it always gets better. 

Sun Mountain Lodge
I was starting to feel a bit better as I began the climb to Sun Mntn Lodge; it’s a 3.5 mile loop up to the top and about 2000 ft overall climb.  At the beginning of the loop you come upon a very charming volunteer every year, she assures you "I will be waiting for you to get back and that will make it all worth it." The climb seemed to go much faster than last year, maybe it was because Tim Mathis jumped out of the woods and scared me just before I started the loop.  He had already finished his loop and was on his way down the mountain.
Tim Mathis patiently let me take a photo
Upon completion of the hot, 3.5 mile loop, I was very happy to see the smiling volunteer directing me down the hill.   
Beautiful mountains surrounded us at all times
I met a new friend, Lourdes Gutierrez-Kellam, we chatted a bit as we ran down the hill toward our final climb.   The course changed from the previous 2 years, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect or how tough it would be.  Lourdes and I set out together to conquer the hill in good spirits.  We had a great time chatting along the way and seemed to reach the top pretty quickly, with more ease than I remember the last couple years.  It was so much fun watching the other runners that had reached the apex flying back down toward us.
On top of our last summit
We summited, took a few photos and headed down to the finish line.  It was then that I realized I could still finish at about the same time as last year.  I used my poles to “fly” down the hill and felt like an Eagle taking flight. 
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama
Monica Bloom was headed to the peak with a gal (running her first 50k) who had tried to give up along the way.  Monica told her she wasn’t done; together they fed off each other’s energy for a successful 50k and crossed the finish line together.

I crossed the finish line 2 minutes slower than last year, but with the photos I stopped to take and the casual attitude I had during the run, I was elated with my journey.  Success was mine.

A few things I figured out during the race:
I can run 50 miles on substantially fewer calories and less solid food than I thought.  I used Gu, Gu Chomps, Gu electrolyte drink , one luna bar, oranges, bananas and ½ jelly sandwich (no peanut butter). 
Sometimes taking my time is a more rewarding journey than hurrying and I have lots of great photos.
And, most importantly…….listen to my body.

1 comment:

  1. I'm excited for this race this weekend! It's hard to believe a year has passed. I'm glad to be able to read this to remember what that day was like. :)