Race Review: Silver Rush 50 Run, Part One

This is the story of my first 50 miler.

It was a snowy day in February, the middle of training for my first marathon in May, and after a few glasses of wine I decided it was an excellent idea to sign up for this race. I had been masochistically looking at ultras for a little while so it was a decision made with at least a few minutes of non-alcohol tinged thought. Afterward I was so focused on the marathon that I didn’t give it too much thought for the next few months.

Colorado Marathon 2015
At the finish of the Colorado Marathon 2015

In May I ran my marathon. While I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and happiness at having finished, I didn’t really LOVE it. It was boring and at the end I thought my legs were going to seize up and stop working and I really disliked that feeling. And there were a lot of people (even for a small race), and I didn’t like all the jostling for the first few miles.

Side note: I trained for a marathon a few years ago and got an overuse injury weeks before the race and withdrew, so the fact that I trained for and completed this race without injuries made me happy. Especially because I ran it in under 4 hours, the arbitrary goal I set for myself.

Once the marathon was over it was like OH GOD I SPENT >$100 ON A RACE WHAT HAVE I DONE??

With the marathon I was following some semblance of a training plan. I couldn’t find a good free one for a 50 miler that didn’t include trading my soul for running all the time. No thanks. I didn’t want to get hurt because the snow-free hiking season in the Rockies would commence right after the race AND I don’t like running enough/am not fast enough to do it  for >50 miles a week.

So really, my “training” peaked at 52 miles a week about 4 weeks before the race and my longest trail run was 20 miles, which I did three times over the course of my training. I had high hopes of doing a 25 to 30 mile training run at some point but generally speaking I can’t bring myself to wake up super early for long runs on my days off. So if I started at 7:00 by the time I was hitting 20 miles it was HOT. Wah! I know, but it was good enough for me. I tried to run as much on trails which was WAY more fun than marathon training on roads. I would do a medium run of 8-10 miles during the week and 5-7 miles a few days to get up to 40-50 miles for the week.

For long training runs I would try to eat 100-150 calories of something every 45 minutes or so and drink to thirst with my non-ultra backpack. It gets great reviews and for short runs it works. Having said that, I don’t like this backpack. I would eventually like to get something with front pockets and maybe a front-accessible water bottle.

Back to the eating: it was usually homemade no-bake things consisting of dates like any of these, or if I felt like a big spender gel shots, blocks, Honey Stingers, and Cliff Bars for the longest runs. My dentist said that she sees more cavities in people training for long distance events – wait, pure sugar gels AREN’T GOOD FOR YOUR TEETH??

Also it may be a placebo thing but I like Nuun and would drink it during and after runs.

So race day. I felt really nervous the day before. The marathon I KNEW I could do after having done a few 20-22 mile training runs. It may not have been pretty but I knew I could go for 26 miles. I really didn’t know if I could go for 50 miles without dying. I’m only partially kidding because I have spent enough time googling “death and ultra running” to know it can happen. If you’re a semi hypochondriac like me you know googling medical things is the fastest way to a panic attack. So all these thoughts were swirling in my head the day and night before so I got about 3-4 hours of fitful sleep. It probably wasn’t helped by the fact that my cheapskate-ness decided to sleep in my car the night before, in the woods of Leadville, by myself. But adrenaline was pumping when I woke up in a cold sweat at 3:45 AM so I just went with it. I ate the oatmeal breakfast with coffee that I had eaten before every long run. I had nervous-stomach so I only ate about half (which never happens). I tried to force water down without much luck.

Silver Rush 50
View at the start

I showed up at 5:15 AM and lots of people were already going through the porta-potty routine. I think the whole “keep getting in line for the porta-potty” was a good piece of advice I had read a while back. Go to the bathroom, get back in line (because you’ll have to wait another 10 minutes), repeat until start time.

Start
Start line at the Dutch Henry Hill

It was cold, in July. In the 40s. I was wearing a t-shirt, a long sleeve, gloves, shorts, and sweat pants (to drop before the start). While in the Porta potty line, I put my sunscreen on, ate a little more food, got everything ready in my backpack, etc. Then the race organizers started to corral people to the start. IT WAS HAPPENING.

Part two to follow.

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