Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bryce 50 mile, talk about scenery overload

Prologue -

Last Saturday I ran my second ultra in as many weeks.  The previous week it was the Kettle Moraine 100K.  I did reasonably well at that one and was just looking to finish Bryce before dark and have some fun hanging out with fellow HUMR's, along with my wife and sister-in-law, for the weekend.  I was going to run the race last year, but a bout of surgery left me on the sidelines crewing and just hanging around.

Race -

RD Matt got us all started right on time at 6am.  The first 1-2 miles were on some dirt road.  This allowed the field to spread out before we got to the single track.
So, my stated goal for this race was to just go out and have a good time, enjoy the scenery, and finish in a reasonable time.  I was still a bit tired from the 100K a week before.  Secretly I had a time goal of somewhere around 12 hours.  I figured that if I felt good, I should be able to finish in that amount of time.
See all the runners?  Yeah, neither can I
Once we got on the single track, the scenery really started to unfold.  Around every corner was a Kodak moment waiting to be had.  The first several miles had us winding our way thru forest, twisty and turny single track, stunning views, etc.  I hung with Curtis and Steve for quite awhile, but eventually they pulled ahead and left me to run alone.  We ran across ridges, amongst hoodoos, saw amazing rock formations, and long range views across the valley below.  Eventually we descended to the base of those same cliffs and got to the first aid station (10 miles).  I was feeling pretty good, drinking plenty, eating a bit here and there.  I grabbed some coke and headed out for the next section.  Now we were going thru some forest and meadows that were equally as scenic.  I don't remember a lot of specifics about this section other than it was stunning.  As I ran down a small canyon along a creek bed, I could hear the next aid station coming up.  HUMR canopy up and some familiar faces to get me stuff.  Debbie came in just after I did and I told her that she'd better catch me.
I knew that Lane, Pam, Madi, and Gage would be there for the HUMR's and as I rolled in, there was a big cheer.  It was awesome to see the
The next section was another long stretch of nine miles.  This section had us doing some serious climbing.  A couple of short steeper sections, but nothing huge.
Happy to see my peeps
Just long gradual climbs, winding thru small canyons and drainages, eventually coming out on top of a ridge and running right along the edge of a cliff.  Very cool.  The aid station at 27 miles (Blubber Creek) was manned by the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers, so once again a bunch of familiar faces were seen.  I asked about a few runners ahead of me and got the scoop on how they were doing.  I hung out for a bit here.  I figured that since I was taking my time, why not visit, eat, drink and enjoy the scenery.  The aid station was right on the edge of the cliff.
Time wise, I was doing fine and well on my target of a 12 hour finish.  When I left Blubber Creek, I felt the competitive side of me start to kick in a bit.  I've never won a race, or even come close, but I still like to try and run my best time given the conditions.  I felt good, the legs were doing fine.  I knew that I still had teh hardest part of the course coming up, but at least I was over half way done. So I picked it up a bit, tried to do more running on the uphills.
The next section from 27-35 miles seemed like a lot of dirt road and a fair amount of climbing.  At the time I was playing tag with a few other runners.  I'd pass, then they'd pass.  Stuff like that kind of bugs me, I don't know why.  I figure if you're going to pass, stay ahead, but on the other hand, I was unable to stay ahead when I would pass.
I ran into the aid station at 35 miles (Kanab Creek) still feeling pretty good.  This aid station was also on the edge of a cliff and had stunning views to enjoy.  I didn't spend a lot of time here, just a couple of minutes.  I knew that in another five miles, I would again see the HUMR crew.

About a mile or so out of the next aid station at 40 miles (Straight Canyon) I met up with a guy (Zach) from Alabama running his first 100.  We had a nice chat and about half a mile out of the aid station we saw Hal Koerner coming up the road.  Well, the guy I was running with had to get a photo with his running idol.  We chatted with Hal for a couple of minutes.  Turns out his wife was running and he was waiting for her.  He actually knew who I was once I introducd myself.  Kind of surprising actually.  Anyway, as we ran into the aid station, I told Zach to grab a beer from the HUMR people. He had never heard of drinking a beer during a race.  I assured him that it was like drinking the nectar of the gods.  Anyway, Lane got me half a PBR, got Zach half a PBR and I grabbed some stuff to eat from the aid station table and left.  I knew the longest climb would happen over the next five miles and I wanted to get it out of the way as quickly as possible.  The first mile out of that aid station was a gradual climb on some single track along a creek.  Meadows, trees, sunshine, great trail, just all around awesomeness.  Zac Marion, was charging down the road and stopped to chat with me for a minute and give me a hug.  He looked great and was stoked to be running in first place.  A few minutes later, Leslie Howlett came running by.  She was looking strong as well.
See those white canyons in the distance?  Zion National Park
After that, it was about 3.5 miles of dirt road that just kept going up and up.  Nothing steep, but on tired legs, I couldn't run it.  I did manage to catch a few others along this stretch.  I'm not sure if they were 50 or 100 mile runners, but I still wanted to catch them.  Along this stretch I saw the first male and female runners for the 100 mile making the return journey.  One of the coolest runners I know,
A few minutes later I made it to the last aid station before the finish.  This aid station was on the highest point of the course and from 9500', I could see 30-40 miles south into Zion National Park.  As I was eating and drinking, a lady that ran with me across the Grand Canyon several years ago came in.  I hadn't seen Olga since that run almost six years earlier. 
Saw this good looking lady on the trail.  Olga King
We left the aid station together and had a nice chat for the next few miles.  Eventually I ran on ahead as I was looking to get this thing done.  The last five miles were pretty much all downhill and most of it was dirt road, but a couple of miles from the finish we were again directed on to some single track.  Zach, the guy from alabama caught up to me along here and thanked me for the beer back at 40 miles.  He said it hit the spot.  This part took us along the base of the pink cliffs, and they were indeed pink.  Along here I managed to put some distance between me and a couple of other runners that I had traded places with over the course of the day.  I also saw plenty of 100 mile runners out making the return trip, several that I knew.  I was glad I wasn't going to make that trip.  My legs were pretty well shot from two races in two weeks.  I managed to run strong the last 1/4 mile or so and crossed the finish line in 12:31.  Karen and her sister Kate were there waiting for me.  A bunch of the faster HUMR's were still hanging out as well. 
Aftermath -

So, overall, I had a pretty good race.  I did better than I thought I would.  I felt good the entire day, no stomach issues, no foot or leg issues.  Just a good time.
The race?  The course was incredible, phenomenal scenery at every turn.  The aid stations were well stocked and very helpful.  They had anything I needed.
Shoes - I ran in my old Altra Lone Peaks.  I think this is going to be my go-to shoe.  No foot issues at all.  No blisters, no trashed toenails.  I wish they had a bit more cush.  I need to get me a new pair though.
Drink - I think I drank about two gallons of water.  Although the day was kind of cool (upper 60's), it was breezy, very dry, and very sunny. 
Food - I didn't take my usual baby food for this race.  I figured that since it was only 50 miles, I could get my with stuff from the aid stations.  Nutella wraps are awesome, as is pickle juice.  A fair amount of Coke was consumed, one beer, and some Trader Joe's trail mix left over from the Buffalo Run.
Time - 12:33:01, 36th out of 109 finishers.  Good enough for 4th in my age group.  So, not too bad.
Here's some more random pics form the race and in the park the next day.
If you get a chance, go run this race.  Well organized, great, well stocked aid stations, well marked course, phenomenal scenery, tough course, but not overly so.  I think I'll be running this one again next year.
The pink cliffs near the finish

In the park with Karen and her sister Kate the next day

Random scenery pic

Added bonus, short restaurant review

We ate most of our meals at the Bryce Canyon Pines restaurant.  This place had great homemade food.  Seriously, I think virtually everything on the menu was homemade.  The bread was baked in house.  All of the pies were baked on site.  For my meals, I had the hot open faced turkey sandwich twice because it was so good.  Homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, all on homemade sourdough.  The pie?  Very tasty.  I had the lemon cream pie while Karen had the blueberry cream pie.  So, if you go down to Bryce, check this place out.  I think it has way better food than Ruby's, and it's cheaper as well.

Miscellaneous info -

UA Bryce50miProfile

UA Bryce50-100Map
Here's my Garmin info before the battery ran out.

Distance 45.3mi
Elapsed Time 11:21:40
Pace 15:03/mi
Elevation Gain 8,210ft
Mile Pace  Elev (ft)
1 10:54 77
2 10:43 173
3 11:20 3
4 10:19 -10
5 11:37 151
6 11:39 51
7 11:10 -161
8 11:17 -376
9 10:50 -259
10 11:38 35
11 14:32 -58
12 11:43 -26
13 13:31 101
14 12:41 65
15 13:00 -35
16 18:13 459
17 17:59 132
18 12:36 -357
19 18:45 192
20 15:31 394
21 15:23 238
22 14:08 -197
23 12:23 -484
24 18:53 340
25 20:03 310
26 17:01 187
27 19:18 170
28 28:03:00 170
29 16:43 71
30 11:10 -165
31 14:01 102
32 13:28 -166
33 16:23 101
34 15:33 8
35 14:56 -52
36 21:13 1
37 14:59 3
38 16:50 -306
39 11:36 -159
40 12:03 -137
41 19:58 -11
42 14:38 159
43 14:54 138
44 18:14 387
45 20:48 306
0.3 29:25:00 5

1 comment:

  1. Good On You!! I have wanted to tackle this beast. Thanx for sharing the photos. Cheers