Bear Mountain 50k: I’m doing this!

For a few years now I’ve had my eye on Rainshadow Running’s Gorge Waterfalls 50k in Oregon as a race that I really want to run as my first 50k. I entered the lottery for the spring 2017 race but didn’t get picked. Now the spring 2018 race has, sadly, been canceled due to the terrible fire this summer. But I’m in a spot right now where I feel like I have the time and energy to train for a 50k. So? Plan B: the North Face Endurance Challenge Series 50k on Bear Mountain, New York, May 5, 2018. I’ve registered and this is my first week of training.

Logistics: This will (duh) be my first race longer than a marathon. 50k = approximately 31 miles, so around 5 miles longer if all goes as planned. The elevation gain will likely be around 4,500 feet across the 31 miles. To put that in context, the Breakneck Point half marathon I ran this spring had about 4,500 feet of elevation gain across 13 miles. I’m not saying Bear Mountain won’t be hard, but the climbing won’t be as fricking insane as it was at Breakneck. Race start time is 7 a.m. and a ten-hour cutoff means I’ll need to finish by 5 p.m. All during daylight; no headlamp needed. I would love to average 12- or 13-minute miles, but even 15-minute miles on average would keep me well under the cutoff.

Training: For a training plan, I’m using the “first 50k” plan from Krissy Moehl’s Running Your First Ultra. The book itself is a little sparse and could’ve used some editorial work, but the plan seems very solid, built on four-week cycles of three weeks of increasing workload then one week of recovery, with weekly totals that aren’t daunting except for two or three weeks near the end. It’s a 24-week plan so it will be the longest I’ve ever trained for a specific event. I’m going to include as much strength work as I can and also focus on quality daily nutrition (vegetarian always, vegan when possible) and getting tons of sleep. I’m lucky that there are trails right here in Prospect Park that I can use for mid-week runs and speed/hillwork. I’m hoping to get out of town most weekends, by train or bus, to run on Bear Mountain itself or around the Cold Spring/Beacon area.

I don’t really want to post a weekly training log but maybe I’ll post one for every four-week cycle. And hopefully I’ll post about some of the trails I get out to run on, outside the city. Plus general ramblings about gear, nutrition, and general preparation. Here I go!

Portland Marathon race report

Ready to run! This picture makes me so happy.

Here’s my attempt at a quick (and very delayed) summary of the Portland Marathon. It was a fun race, and I’m glad I did it. My final time was 4:47:44. That’s about a 7-minute PR. I’m happy to have beat my last marathon time, but I was really hoping to keep a more steady pace toward the end and finish in 4:30:00 or faster. Didn’t happen. Training was solid, but I think nutrition during the race didn’t go so well. I was too amped up and didn’t take enough calories in. Adrenaline does not get you through 26 miles. Ever.

The race was well organized, despite a lot of uncertainty in the months before the race about permits, and the weather was good. My dad, my husband, and a friend were all running it as their first marathon. The out-and-back course (with a bonus mini out-and-back in mile 3) meant we saw each other a few times and passed around some high fives. My entire family came to cheer, unexpectedly (I’d assume between twin nephews and an hour drive into Portland that wouldn’t work out). Grandma, Mom, two sisters, and toddlers holding signs in their double stroller right before mile 26? Best cheer section you could ask for.

I kept a solid pace of 10:15s for the first 16 miles or so. I should have kept these closer to 10:30s, but I was having so much fun! There was music along the course, and a lot of spectators considering it’s a smaller race. But then around mile 17 I started…slowing…down. I ran the whole thing, no walk breaks, but I was pushing into the 13:00/mile zone by the final miles and really hurting. I’m bummed about that. I need to be smarter about taking in calories during the ENTIRE race. I’m thinking Tailwind might be a good idea – it worked great at the Breakneck Point half which was a shorter distance but almost the same amount of time on my feet, and I didn’t feel crashed at all then. Also I think road running is just a LOT harder on my body.

Anyway, it’s done. I got sick right after and took a solid 3 weeks off to recover. I’ll run NYC next year, either pacing Frans or pushing for a new PR … we’ll see.