Saturday, May 14, 2016

Paiute Meadows 50k - 4th place

Susanville Ranch Park at the Start
Christine Birch recently moved back to Boise after several years in Susanville, CA and invited me to join her at a 50k that was held literally in her back yard.  The Paiute Meadows 50k starting line was just a few houses down from where she used to live.

This small local race has been going on for over 20 years but was just a 4.5 mile fun run at the base of Susanville Ranch Park that has a wonderful trail system.  This year they added a trail half marathon and a 50k.  We drove down from Boise Friday after work, which was a pretty long day but the race didn't start until 7am so we still got a decent night of sleep.

On the way down there I was looking at the map and aid station chart trying to get a feel for where the difficult parts were.  I was also trying to see how much fuel/water I needed depending on how far apart they were.  Since Christine had run everything many times I asked her if I was super motivated could I run the entire thing.  She said it would be possible if I paced myself appropriately.  It does have some pretty stout uphill sections in the second half but I just planned to put it in low gear and grind up the hills.

Great shot from the beginning of the course
PC: DeeAnn Kirk Goudie
At the start we were debating taking a jacket or keeping a long sleeve.  I ditched my jacket but kept my long sleeve and gloves.  The course returns to the start at around mile 14 so I figured I could ditch them then.  We took off across the meadow and meandered through the pine bed forest that is actually quite similar to Idaho with the ponderosa trees and wispy grass.  Christine and I stayed together for about a mile and then we spread out.  I was running near her friend Robert for the first 5 or 6 miles.  I was ahead and we chatted briefly and then he jumped in front and said he was going to lead for a bit which sounded good to me. He was out of sight within a few minutes and I stuck to my 'go all day-don't go out too fast' pace which has taken some time to dial in.

Between mile 10 and mile 19 we were blending in with the half marathon and 4.5 mile runners which was nice. It had essentially been a solo run to this point so it was nice to see people.  It was also a nice place to feel strong because the terrain was fairly easy and I was cruising past the shorter distance runners. There are a few spots through there where the 50k runners do side shoots that the shorter distances don't so I ended up passing the same group of people 3 or 4 times which was funny. Nice to see you again!

After going through the start/finish aid station we headed up the meadow and then towards a section the locals have dubbed Heart Attack Hill.  When I was looking at the map I thought I would hike this to conserve energy and when I got to what I thought was Heart Attack I hiked...for about 50 yards, until I realized it wasn't that hard.  What I didn't realize was I wasn't there yet! I was on the easy section before it.  After my short hike break I decided I was going to run every step from there to the end outside of the aid stations.  Once I did get to Heart Attack Hill it WAS a good climb but nothing I haven't trained on around here.

The half marathon runners turn back to the finish around mile 19 in the 50k so after that point it was a true solo to the end.  I only saw one other runner and that was Robert around mile 23 when I passed him.  The upper trails are contoured and banked for mountain bikes which was really fun. They often come close but don't overlap so I thought I saw him around mile 20 and was sure he would be right around the next corner but it was just one of those places where we were close even though I was at least a mile behind.

Mile 26.5 aid station
The race has a real nice 5 mile downhill cruise to the finish which I was looking forward to.  I thought I was done with the last climb when I was at 24.5 miles and a volunteer reminded me that I had one more to go before the final descent started just after mile 26.  I was kind of bummed because I was shooting for a 5 hour finish and in my head I knew I would have to absolutely blow the doors off to even have a chance.  So, my mantra from there to the end was, you'll never know if you don't try!  

The funniest moment of the day was at the mile 26.5 aid station. The 3rd place guy was way ahead so the aid station was excited to see someone. This lady is cheering and ringing a cowbell (which was awesome) but the guy behind the table couldn't hear me when I asked if he had S-Caps....what?!? You want Ass-Caps? Not sure we have those, what is it? (He probably thought I was going to poop my pants) SALT! Oh, right here...most people dip a potato and.... While he is saying this just grabbed a bunch with my hand and stuffed it in my mouth. As I'm leaving I heard him say, OR you can do it like that. I thanked them and was out with a smile.

I covered the last 4 miles or so at roughly an 8:30 pace which isn't blazing fast but blazing fast for me at that stage of any race that has over 4,000 feet of climbing and tons of technical rocky sections.  I ran the last 8/10 of a mile at 7:35 pace which was my fastest split of the day.  It felt really good to nail the early pace that allowed me to have fun all day and run hard at the end.  I finished in 4th place in a time of 5:07.  Robert was the next finisher after me and Christine was the women's winner with a time of 5:36.

We had fun catching up on the day at the finish and tasting some of the finest local brew from Lassen Ale Works.  Overall the course was beautiful, interesting, rocky, and well marked. It felt like the perfect combination of fun and difficult.

I used Vespa and Tailwind Nutrition the whole way and only supplemented my 600 calories of Tailwind with several potato chips and a half of a cup of Heed.  I felt solid all day.  I wore the Pearl iZumi Trail N2 shoe and the Fly Endurance short that has the perfect pockets to hold the gel flasks for my Tailwind powder.  Thank you Tailwind and Pearl iZumi for supporting my craziness!

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