FOURmidable 50K 2019

In Running, Race

The Summary

  1. Mud. Lots of mud.
  2. Water. Lots of water. Calf-deep pools water. Knee-deep pools of water. Ankle-deep stream crossings. One waist-deep, fast-moving river crossing requiring rope!

    On one occasion, I stepped into a pool of water that I didn’t realize was some three-feet deep… Felt like I had stepped into the shallow end of a swimming pool.

  3. Did I mention mud? There was at least 20 miles of mud, mud, mud. 10 miles of that was mud deep enough to swallow my shoe, and would’ve if I stood still. Some mud was so sticky I thought a shoe might come off.
  4. And of course, the climbs. I had some anterior calf muscle issues on the Hill 1 (of 4, as the race name describes!). Hills 2 and 3 were fine. Hill 4 killed me.

    Because of these climbs and how different people handled the mud and water, there was a lot of yo-yo-ing that happened. Overall, I’d pass people on the downhills, they pass me on the uphills. But even on the flats, some runners seemed to handle the mud better than I did (I might’ve been too timid?)

    I was almost never alone (unusual for a long trail race); there was almost always someone I can see ahead of me, there was almost always someone I could see or hear behind me.
  5. My goal today was 5 hours. Around mile 21, I thought I could have a chance with some 80-ish minutes left, though that’d require a very demanding 8-min trail pace with another hill left.

    But by mile 27, I was feeling gassed, despite all the fuel I had consumed. And at mile 28, I couldn’t tell if my legs were barely moving because I was bonking or because I was on the final hill.Even worse, I was starting to feel a minor “crick” (not sure how else to describe it) in my left hip flexor. I was pretty sure it wasn’t a cramp. But moving my left hip up became uncomfortable enough that I knew that even I could use cardio to make a final push, it’d be for naught if my leg wouldn’t follow.Anyway, I finished with my second-worst, non-DNF 50K time today. But given today’s conditions… eh. I’ll take it.

Next ultra? At this time, Skyline 50K all the way in August! But next trail race? Probably the Tilden Tough Ten in May! Might have to find something in April.

And Some Photos

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I ended up not using this map during the race. But having it was still cool.
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Even for a “big” trail race, I still loved the festive, “small-race” atmosphere.
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Almost time.
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Around Mile 7. On Cardiac Hill, between Miles 3 and 3.8, there was about 800 feet of climb. At the top of this hill, a race volunteer said to me: ONE-midable down, THREE-midable to go!
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Mile 8.0 (though I’d see this bridge again at 28.4). I don’t see bridges all that often, especially bridges over waterfalls.
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At Mile 9.0. The approach to No Hands A/S was wet and slippery. But the crashing river, cloudy skies, and pelting rain combined to create an interestingly dramatic experience.
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Mile 9.3 — on No Hands Bridge toward aid station #2. At this point, I hadn’t actually crossed any streams deeper than my ankle yet. My shoes were muddy but weren’t thoroughly wet. So I ran through this bridge doing high knees. A volunteer remarked that I was the first runner to do that all day! Hahah.

Also, I thought the bridge was pretty flooded during this first pass — it was even more flooded on my second pass at Mile 26.9!
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K2, aka Training Hill. There was about 1000 feet of vertical gain between Miles 9.4 and 10.7.
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On each hill, I was invariably passed.
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Around Mile 16, in the midst of climbing Knickerbocker Hill.
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Unlike Cardiac and Training Hills, which mostly went straight up, the trail up Knickerbocker Hill had a few more turns. Apparently this was near the Old Auburn Dam Site?
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I had some hope that I could finish under 5 hours at Mile 28 and even by Mile 29. But I know that there was one last hill, Overlook Hill, that stood in my way. The final hill, between the Mile 30 and the end 31.1, involved about 560 feet of ascent…
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It was hard.
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It was also beautiful.
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I could not have been more relieved to finish when I did. I didn’t have much left — just the way I like to finish races.
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Unfortunately, I was too slow to catch the Men’s awards ceremony. But I did get to see the Women’s ceremony!
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There was a brief period of intense hail about an hour I finished. But as the afternoon stretched into the evening, the weather cleared.
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I wonder if I’ll see this finish line again in the future!

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