I just did some quick research and found that today is three years since my first ultra. Time flies… I didn’t need to look up the fact that this year was my third Old Goats 50 mile run. I wouldn’t keep going back if it weren’t a great event on fun (technical) trails.
I stayed with family before and after the race as has been the tradition for this race since it saves me quite a bit of drive time on both ends. After a good pre-race strategy call with coach Jimmy it was time to get some sleep around 10:30pm Friday. 4am came quickly. Time to get up.
Around 6am I was parked at Lower Bluejay Campground, stuck the Adventure Pass for parking in the windshield and headed for the registration. Pin the race number to the shorts, dump the race schwag back in the car, say hello to Chris, Robert W, Deb, and a few others.
0-21 Candy Store Loop
RD Steve Harvey counted down and sent us on our way. First would be the Candy Store loop. A 21 mile lollypop loop that put us back to the start finish before heading out on a different set of trails for the rest of the day. I started conservatively and felt good. Around eight miles in I saw Pedro and Chris standing at a turn in the trail taking pictures and cheering runners as they went by. That was a pretty cool unexpected sight as I think we were miles from the next aid station. The rest of the loop was pretty uneventful and went smooth. I made sure not to push and was still a bit ahead of where I thought I would be in terms of time.
21-29 to Holy Jim…the canyon
After a quick stop at the car to load up my bottles with HEED and grab some shot bloks I headed out for the next section. There is a good climb before the huge drop into Holy Jim. Everything was still feeling good and I went back and forth with Andy, Catra, and a couple others which helped me keep a comfortable but honest pace. I was also sure to concentrate on form and not blow up on the down hills as Jimmy told me to make sure I had something left to run all of the downs after Santiago.
29-37 canyon to Santiago Peak
This section is the big climb. It goes on, and on, and on. It’s nasty because in the seven or so miles you gain somewhere around 4000 feet. What that means is lots of it is very runnable, but if you’re not super fit you need to be careful to avoid getting lured into burning up on it and trashing yourself for the last 13 miles, a lot of which is downhill. I saw Deb volunteering on the way up which was pretty cool as it is the same point in the race that I met her two years ago when we were both running.
This time much of the climb was with my new friend Sheryl who said this race is harder than the many Ironman triathlons she had competed in. Yikes! It was cool to see little remnants of snow on the way to the peak, but nothing like the slush and fog that were there last year. Unfortunately, later in the climb my stomach started to rebel a bit and was not as eager to accept calories. Up to that point I had kept a good schedule with caloric and electrolyte intake as well as water…but that was changing. Water was still easy, but the rest was a chore.
37-45 to Horsethief trail
The views continued to be incredible and my stomach continued to be angry with me on the way down from the peak. I needed to make sure to keep as smooth as possible and sneak in whatever calories I could, probably 80-110 calories an hour. I also had to resort to biting open the electrolyte capsules and washing it down with water since I could no longer swallow them without gagging them back up. I was in full on maintenance mode, but still running, mentally clear, and well within the cutoff so finishing was not a concern. Since I didn’t know how long the last miles would take I grabbed my headlamp from the drop at Bear Springs and my windshirt as it was getting a little chilly even with the sun still out.
45-50 the final push
It was at this point I saw that if I pushed hard I should be able to pull off a PR for the course. The last five miles were easily my fastest of the day and I crossed the line with a new PR just under 12:18. Afterwards I chatted a bit and bundled up as it was getting chilly and dark. I also ran into Dom and Katie as they were leaving and got some good nutrition tips. Then, I had the pleasure of talking recovery and other adventures with Tatu Joe who recently finished up an insane trip deep in Florida wilderness. A great day indeed.
I know I’m capable of a faster 50 miler, but felt good about how that day on that course panned out. I learned more nutrition lessons, covering the miles was very manageable, no injuries. Yesterday I ran a few flat miles with the Coyotes and felt good. In another week I’ll pick up the training for the Leona Divide 50M which takes place April 28th. It will be Stitch’s first 50M and I’m excited to run with him again.
Here is the super condensed version of this post: “I ran Old Goats over the weekend. Went pretty well. PR’d. I’m recovering well and running Leona next month.”