Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Miler

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Back in 2008 I was forced to DNF at mile 18 of the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 due to an ITB issue. 2011 has been a pretty good year in terms of training, so I thought maybe it was a good time to give it another shot. I knew going in that I wasn't really ready: I've been increasing my training load but prior to September 2, my longest training day of the year had been 17 miles with about 2000 ft of climbing, which I'd normally consider barely adequate for a 50K, but not for 50M, but after the PCTR Santa Cruz 50K was cancelled, I went looking for another event and there Firetrails 50 was on the schedule.

Still, I was pretty iffy, and my original plan was to see how I felt on my long run September 2 (19 miles, ~2500 ft of climb) but then when I went to see about registering on Saturday, I noticed that the race was already full. I emailed the RD to see about a cancellation, and (unsurprisingly) the scarcity effect kicked in and I went from being ambivalent to actually wanting to race, so when I heard there was now a slot, I signed up. However, after Sunday, my hamstrings, which had been gradually tightening up, got super tight and no amount of stretching seemed to help. Luckily, I was able to get a last minute appointment with Joy at SMI; she didn't fix me completely, but did manage to get my legs loose enough that I figured I had a reasonable shot, especially if I kept up with yoga and stretching.

The race itself went fairly smoothly. I went out very conservatively, at around 10 minutes a mile. [This pace is a little misleading; you run the flats and downhills and walk the uphills, so you're actually not running 10 minute miles; you run like 8:30 or so, but with the walking it averages out.] Of course, over an event this long there are always a few snags:

  • There was a bee hive somewhere around mile 10 and I and pretty much everyone else got stung.
  • Around mile 15 the tape on my nipples started to come off and I ended up with quite a bit of chafing. Luckily, I was able to score some band-aids and duct tape at an aid station (the duct tape because practically nothing sticks to wet skin) and this mostly solved the problem though I felt some discomfort the rest of the way.
  • Around mile 27 or so, something went wrong with my left heel and I spent the next mile or so wincing every time I landed wrong. Eventually it resolved itself, though, and I ran the rest of the way without incident.

Around mile 40 or so, I started to get pretty confident I would finish, but I stick with a conservative game plan until mile 45, at which point I started to press the pace a bit. Obviously, I was pretty tired, but with only 5 miles to go and feeling like I was at maybe mile 10 of an ordinary day, I figured I could afford to push it. I blew through the 45.5 aid station without stopping and decided I'd just run the rest of it. I didn't have a GPS and there aren't really mile markers, but I suspect I was running about 8:30 pace continuously, and I passed maybe 10 people over the next 5 miles, and did the last mile or so pretty hard (maybe 8:00 or 7:30 pace). My eventual finishing time was 10:10 and change. (I don't know exactly because the results are screwed up and have me inacurrately at 10:34, which is definitely wrong.) This is easily good enough to qualify me for Western States (the cutoff is 11 hours for a 50) so I'm pretty satisfied with this time. I'm not sure if I really feel like doing Western States, but it's nice to know I could sign up if I wanted to (there's a lottery to determine who actually gets in).


Nice work EKR!!

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