April 25th, 2010
I'm new to the world of ultrarunning so each race I've done so far has been somewhat of an adventure into the unknown. Going into the Capitol Peak 50 Mile my biggest day was 12 Summits back in mid-February so I wasn't sure how I would respond to the additional mileage and faster pace the race would bring. I was confident in my training over the past several months (thanks, Matt!) and had been feeling good during the two weeks leading up to race day highlighted by a solid 40 mile/10,000 foot weekend and a long day trip up Eldorado Peak the following Sunday. Just run smart and I'd be okay. My goal was to run at a pace that would allow me to enjoy the overall experience finishing strong and feeling relatively good - if I could do it around 10 hours, all the better.
Most of Saturday was spent relaxing and preparing for the next day. I recruited my fiance, Niki, and my mom to crew for me during the race so I stocked my truck with all the necessities, triple-checked everything to make sure nothing important was left out and ate an early dinner. We decided we were going to just make the drive down the morning of the race so I was in bed by 8pm feeling surprisingly calm with the alarm set for 2:30am.
Early the next morning we made it to the Mima Campground start area and got checked in with plenty of time to spare before the 6am start. I reviewed the course map again, hoped for the best and waited for the pre-race briefing.
It was getting light by the time we got started and I settled into the middle of the pack as we started to funnel down to the first section of singletrack. The pace was slow thru the first couple of miles and would sometimes become a walk when we would come to the muddy sections of trail or inclines. I intended to be very conservative during the first half of the run so I felt content just moving with the group and hanging out right where I was until we got to A1 (5 miles). As we crossed over the forest road I jumped ahead of a few people and settled back into a comfortable pace. The group had thinned out quite a bit by this point and I found myself running with two other guys thru to A2 (8.5 miles). I grabbed a handful of M & M's and was on my way and feeling good.
The next few miles went by quick and easy and I came thru A3 (12.9 miles) sooner then expected. I found Niki and my mom waiting for me with the back of my truck open and all my stuff ready to go. I refilled on nuun and Gu, grabbed my iPod and eased back into it as I head off down the road toward the next section of trail.
I was still feeling really good and got into a good rhythm as I made my way toward and eventually up Capitol Peak. This was definitely a hiking section for me with the Captiol Peak website boosting this as 1,000 ft of gain over less than a mile. I was able to pass several people as I moved at a relatively quick pace up the rocky trail before cresting the top and making my way down a gravel road into A4 (16.8 miles). I stopped here long enough to chug a bottle of nuun and restock on more Gu. On my way out I grabbed a granola bar and quickly ate it as I walked toward the trail.
As I picked up the pace to a run again I got in behind another guy, followed his lead and enjoyed an easy ride into A5 (21.5 miles). I refilled on nuun again and head off onto the 4 mile loop made up of singletrack and forest road that would bring me back around to A5 before beginning the remainder of the run back to the Mima campgrounds. I continued to feel good both mentally and physically as I finished off the loop and made another quick stop at A5 (now 25.5 miles) for a Snickers and began to walk up the trail out of the aid-station. At this point I was just around the 4:30ish mark making me worry that I may have been running too fast thru the first half of the course.
It was between here and the next aid-station that I probably had my roughest patch of the day.
There was nothing in particular that was bothering me but I was feeling my energy fade pretty quickly and wanted to walk more than I had at any other point up to there. I gave myself a chance to slow the pace on the uphills and focused on hydrating more. Before long I was feeling my strength come back and was talking with a guy I caught up to about his experience at Leadville as we rolled into A6 (30.1 miles). I chugged another bottle of nuun here and started back up toward the top of Capitol Peak.
The route from the top of Capitol Peak was different then the one we had come up early in the day but did intersect that trail at one point on the way down. This area was clearly marked with paint and signs so I was confident as I continued thru the intersection and on my way that I was headed in the right direction. I was feeling really good again and moving at a quick pace down the soft trail when I realized I hadn't seen one of the now familiar red and white ribbons for a while. As I continued to run I started to convince myself that I had misread the directions earlier since I'd just cruised by without slowing much and was now off course. I actually considered turning around a couple times before stopping to consult my map. From what I could tell I had gone the right way and decided that if I was off course I was going to go for a while and really convince myself of it before turning around and running back uphill. Fortunately, I spotted a ribbon down the trail soon after and sped up in relief that I was I was on the right track. In hindsight, I think I was just getting tired at this point and was letting my mind wander and obsess over not having seen a ribbon for probably no more than a lousy 10 or 15 minutes. Obviously, this is something that I will need to improve upon for longer and more self-sufficient races but also reminds me to be intentional about my decision-making even during obvious or safe situations.
I came into A7 (37.2 miles) still feeling really good and confident that I was going to get thru the rest of the run. I restocked on Gu again and took off from here thinking incorrectly that I was at A8 and less than 9 miles from the finish. With that distance remaining in mind, I ran the next section way harder than I would have had I realized where I actually was on the course. In the long run I don't think it hurt me much and I realized my mistake just before I came into the real A8 (41.6 miles) where Niki and my mom were waiting for me again. We laughed because I'd left the last aid-station saying, 'See ya at the finish!' which they realized was a mistake soon after I left. I chugged another bottle of nuun and took off feeling great and knowing that I really only had 8.5 miles left to go this time.
I moved at a steady pace waiting to see the water jugs waiting at A9 (45.1 miles) that I had seen several hours earlier in the day and marking the 5 mile mark from the finish. I started to pass several people during this time but given the early start and 55K race on the same course wasn't really sure how much progress I was making. I finally popped out on to the road at the last aid-station and passed some people stopping to refill. From here to the finish was awesome. I slowed a couple times to alleviate some minor cramping but mostly just enjoyed how well the day had gone and that it was just matter of time before I would finish my first 50 miler. I finally crossed the finish line in final time of 8:30:38 good for 15th overall and well ahead of what I expected to run.
Niki and my mom were waiting for me again like they had been all day and had my Ultragen and a Ginger Ale ready for me!
During the course of the day I ate 2-3 Gu's per hour (Chocolate and Vanilla), 1 granola bar at mile 16.8 and a Snickers at mile 25.5. In between that I drank Orange-Ginger nuun for what seemed like non-stop during the day but probably should have been even more. Overall, this race felt like another solid step in the right direction in developing my fitness and strategy as I work toward Cascade Crest 100 at the end of August. Can't wait for summer to get here!