Okay, "Precap." It's definitely a word. It's what happens before a race, not after. Obviously.
You may be wondering why I'm posting this 3 days after my race. And my answer would be, "Because I didn't have Wifi at the Airbnb."
We could keep arguing, but let's not. I'm too happy from the race!
For those of you who don't know, I did a 50-mile running race this weekend. It was the Silver Rush 50 in Leadville, Colorado. I'm still processing emotions and thoughts from the race, so instead of posting about what happened during/after the race, I'll let you know what I was thinking before it.
Here are my pre-race thoughts ("precap," thank you very much) with minimal editing only for clarity. I had some hopes about how things would go on race day, and I've answered your burning question: "How did it go?" for each of those.
Stay tuned, though, for a full race recap with pictures coming soon!
Silver Rush 50 Precap
I’m going for a run tomorrow. It will be the longest run I’ve ever done, and it’ll be from 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level, on trails, here in Leadville, CO. I’m running 50 miles. I’m running the Silver Rush 50! It’s the night before race day and, of course, I’m not asleep. I’m too excited. I keep saying I have “nerves,” or I’m “antsy,” which makes it sound like I’m afraid of tomorrow. I don’t think I’m afraid, though there’s a level of fear baked into the uncertainty of doing something for the first time (just a lil’ sprinkle). But I think the main feeling is that want everything to be as much fun as possible. So I’m stressing out about that. About fun. It’s not helpful, so I’m trying to stop (welcome to my therapy, you can leave whenever you want). The best things for curbing the stress today were packing my drop bag and setting everything out for the morning and then driving up to see a section of the trail. I’m trying to remind myself of the things I can control (“How many pop tarts am I bringing?”) and embrace the reasons for being out here.
I’ve really missed being in the mountains. Why am I running 50 miles tomorrow? Why am I running 50 miles EVER?! Those are good questions, but they’ll have to wait. I do need to try to sleep. Instead of answering that question, or any question you’re asking right now because I can’t hear you and I don’t think I’ll post this tonight because the Airbnb doesn’t have wifi, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking about how tomorrow will go. I’ve broken my thoughts down into what I can rely on and what I have been developing. I am bringing some things with me from previous training, but I’ve had to work on some new skills for this race specifically.
Things to rely on:
I really like running - especially in the mountains, for multiple hours. I definitely get that runner’s high! I’m hoping the joy I get from running will carry me through the entire race.
I’ve run at altitude before - we lived in Colorado for 5 years, and even though I wasn’t out as much as some, I always felt pretty good at altitude.
I have high injury resistance - am I jinxing myself? NO. I’m telling the truth. Since working in physical therapy I’ve incorporated a lot of injury prevention into my running.
I love a good downhill - in fact, I don’t think there’s a bad downhill. Or I haven’t met it yet. This course has some sustained up and down, and I think I’ll save some time on the downs.
Things I’ve been practicing:
Running longer than 50k - I’ve done a few 50k races but never more, so I’ve been working on being able to run longer. Simple, right? Here's hoping.
Hiking less, running more - will I walk a lot tomorrow? NO. In trail running, walking is called “hiking.” It’s totally different. I will hike so much tomorrow, but I hope I run some of the uphills without too much regret and then go speedy on the flats.
Eating while I run - sounds silly, but this is a big deal. It can be difficult to convince yourself you need to eat when you’re moving! I’ll need to be eating A LOT tomorrow to make sure I have the energy to keep going.
That's where I cut it off. I needed to at least give sleep a shot. Alex, my wife, called at that moment and I really wanted to talk to her anyways. In closing, I'll tell you what I told her when she asked what my number one goal is for the next day. After thinking for a minute, because all I had really thought about was finishing the race and enjoying it, I had an answer. I said that I wanted to make choices that would maximize my physical and emotional joy throughout the day. Honestly, I'm not totally sure what physical joy is, maybe it's more like play, but either way that was my answer.
How did it go? A Preview of the Recap
Well, I guess I can answer that question before ending this post.
I Really Like Running
I was hoping to feel joy the whole race and I did! There were a bunch of times I had to make choices to support joy, but it was easy--probably in part because I wasn't racing anyone. I had so much fun running around the mountains and I know the fun factor boosted my speed and endurance.
I’ve Run At Altitude Before
The altitude got to me. Overall, I was fine. There were some pretty headache-y moments though, and I had to focus on breathing. I think I heard someone say we were at 12,400 ft at one point. The views were literally breathtaking. Ha.
I have high injury resistance
No injuries to report! I am so grateful to only have one tiny callous on a toe and sunburnt lips. I gave special attention to hip muscle activation, hamstring eccentric (lengthening) tolerance, and calf muscle endurance. I felt solid the entire run and didn't need to stop for any body aches or pains.
I love a good downhill
Thanks to practice and not being injured I was able to really fly on the downhills. The course was hardly ever flat, so I was either going up (slowly) or down (passing lots of people). It was just so fun I have yet to put more words to that feeling of flying down the mountain, splashing in the stream.
Running longer than 50k
To be clear, let's remember that I didn't run the entire race. Still, I was able to run a lot more of the last 10 miles than I expected (even some hills!). I did struggle with figuring out when and how hard to push the effort.
Hiking less, running more
I hiked a lot. I didn't really choose to run uphill until the second half, which was a smart move, but based on how I felt at the end I'm left wondering if I could have pushed a little more on those early uphills. I don't regret my choice, but it's something to consider for next time.
Eating while I run
I did better than I expected during the first half and worse in the second half. I think I had taken in at least 800 calories during the first 3 hours/15 miles. I don't have the exact numbers, but I was following a 45-minute timer for eating 200-300 calories and taking a SaltStick pill every hour. The second half found me drinking more fluids, running out of water, and therefore eating less but trying to take in more salt. I didn't have any stomach issues at the end of the race, but I did have two gastrointestinal "episodes" during the first half. I'll just say I'm glad I had toilet paper in my running vest and I will not be relying on Gu Roctane in the near future.
In the end, I truly felt like I experienced joy throughout the entire race--so my number one goal was met (despite the number two moments). I cried so much at the end, not because I was happy to be done, but just because I was so happy.
I'm really wanting to try and put words to the whole experience, I feel like "it was just awesome" and "runner's high" aren't easy to understand unless you've done a race like this before. Most of you might not even be runners, and I want to try to write it out in a way that helps you "get it."
Moreover, I want to understand the experience for myself. The run really was amazing and I've never had a bigger runner's high. Why is that? Do I need to run more long-distance races? Should I do more or different training to have that kind of experience in all of my races? Are these types of strong emotions exclusive to races?
Who knows? Maybe we can find out.