The good old Sycamore Canyon 50k. My last race, the Old Goat was nearly a month previous, and so this was more of a long training run than anything. There is always something to be learned in a race, today would be no exception. Sycamore was my first ultramarathon in 2009. I ran it again last year, and this would be my third go at it. I started the race after seeing a couple of familiar faces (Evan and Emil among others) and lots of eager runners.
I found out about 15 miles in that the people I was running with were 30k runners. It became obvious when they were charging three miles out for the next aid station, which for them was the finish line. I still felt good, but that meant I was probably too fast off the start. This point was highlighted when I got done with the first 30k and it had gotten quite hot out and I was caked with salt. I hadn’t been keeping up with my electrolytes and knew I would pay the price sooner than later. A nice surprise was that Nicole had finished running the 18k and set a PR by 5 min. then waited to see me at the aid station.
Muddy from a rare water crossing and mentally taxed, I knew it was going to get really uncomfortable at this point, but summoned up the will power to head back out for the final loop. After the flat fire road, it was a slow climb up the steep single track. Gradually I came back to life and felt decent. I didn’t see much of anyone on that last loop. I had to wonder if I was dead last because I could not understand how no one was passing me. Eventually I saw a few other people climbing up the Ray Miller trail as I headed down to what was my last aid station. I made it back out of the canyon and by the time I hit the last few miles of downhill I was able to stretch my legs a bit and move pretty well. It was a respectable enough finish given the amount of power hiking I was reduced to on the climbs (6:40ish?). Post race I commented to the race director Sarah that the last 20k was a character run. It was valuable in that the next time it gets rough, I know I can push through. As long as there is a next run, there is always a next time. As they say in ultras “it never always gets worse”. Breaking through to the other side is always a good feeling. After relaxing at the finish line and sipping on a recovery drink I made my way home and spend the rest of the day eating ridiculous amounts of food and relaxing. I also took an ice bath which I partially credit to my speedy recovery as I am feeling no ill effects from the race.
Perhaps all of this could have been summed up as follows. On Saturday I met some friends out for a run. It was a beautiful day in the mountains with a nice ocean breeze and views. The end.