Sunday, June 24, 2012

Silver City Ultras Race Report

Mile 23.5 - Photo Courtesy of Michael Lebowitz

I like being surprised! And sometimes, the best surprises are when you least expect them. The Silver City 50K was a race packed full of surprises…

The fact that I showed up for the Silver City 50K was a surprise. I’ve been racing every 2-3 weeks for the past several months and the last thing I needed was another race. Earlier in the week I visited Dr. Troy Gorman, the MRC team orthopedic specialist, for an achy right Achilles that has been bothering me for several months. Achilles tendonopthy was the diagnosis with rest, eccentric exercises, and nitro glycerin patches being the suggested treatment.  As I debated whether to race or not, I convinced myself that a good fast 50K with 7000 feet vertical climb might be just what I and my Achilles needed, before beginning the recommended therapy on Monday. I packed the car…

Arriving in Silver City began a series of surprises. First, what a beautiful place!  At an elevation of 6200 Silver City is a pleasant alpine surprise popping out of the high desert in Southwestern Idaho. Second, a roaring fire welcomed me as I arrived at the race start/camping area. I enjoyed meeting a number of Boise area runners and was able to put faces to names that I had seen on registration lists and race results. And, third, as I went to go to sleep in the back of my car, I discovered that I had forgotten a sleeping bag. Fortunately, the combination of emergency blanket, sweatshirt, towel and Ambien resulted in a reasonably good sleep.

The Silver City 100K racers were off at 5:00 am. I woke from my drug-induced sleep to the words "five, four, three, two, go!" on the PA system. For a brief moment I panicked, thinking that I had missed the start of my race.  I slept for another hour before enjoying a leisurely morning before the civilized 50K start time of 7:00 am.

My objective for this race was to have a brisk 50K training run in preparation for Leadville. I wanted to work on tempo, running strong uphill, and maintaining an even pace over the distance – the Silver City course appeared to be a good proxy for Leadville. But, as soon as the race started my tempered plans evaporated. The first two miles of the course are downhill and flat. For some reason I found myself running a 6 minute pace. I consciously knew it was silly and dumb – but I reveled in the fact that I could do it and get away with it. I couldn’t restrain the giggles at behaving so irrationally and wondering what the people behind me were thinking . At some level I realized today would be more about playing, than training…

Mile 12.5
Photo Courtesy of Michael Lebowitz
The climb to the top of Hayden Peak at 8400 feet did not disappoint. The trail from Silver City meandered through pine forests peppered with old mine ruins. There were several stream crossings. Once above the tree line the vistas were superb. I ran every step! The last bit of the climb to the top was an out-and-back and I was able to determine that I was approximately 9 minutes ahead of the second runner at 9 miles. I felt good, and was confident that baring any gross mistakes I could have a shot at winning.

For the next couple of hours I worked on tempo – running sub 8-minute miles on the flats – trying to stay under 11 or 12-minute miles on the climbs - pushing hard on the descents.  And, I daydreamed. This was perfect playful Leadville training.

Then, surprise! After reaching the Jordan Creek AS at mile 24, the trail quite literally, went straight up - 1500 vertical feet in about a mile.  I laughed as realized I should have paid more attention to the altitude profile map, and, that there was no running up this for me!  Though the climb was SLOW – it felt good to put it in 4-low and power hike. Then if that wasn’t enough, there were two additional 500-foot steep climbs over the last 8 miles. So much for my plan to run all the hills and finish under 5 hours.

I crossed the finish line of the 33-mile course in 5:19 having remained in first position all day. I was pleased with my time given the challenges of the course (the course was more difficult than I anticipated). It had been a perfect training run. And surprisingly, my Achilles felt just fine.

RD Davina Jackson
Photo Courtesy of Michael Lebowitz
At the finish I shared with co-RDs Emily Berriochoa and Davina Jackson how pleasantly surprised I was with the entire day - how scenic the course was, how well the course was marked, the quality of the aid stations and volunteers, how well the entire race was organized, AND, having cold chocolate milk at the finish! Kudos to Emily, Davina, and all the volunteers on a great race. And thanks to Michael Lebowitz at Long Run Picture Company for taking some great race photos.

Top 50K Finishers were:



Consider one of the Silver City Ultras (100K, 50K, 30K) for your 2013 race calendar -  and experience the Silver City surprise yourself!


Lynette said...

You are amazing! I was bummed helping and watching all of the starters as I had to sit this one out so that my feet could heal.
I am so glad you made the decision to come on over and run in our southern ID hills. ;)
Great job!

Mike said...

Congrats on the win! Do you feel the nitro G patches are working?

Jay said...

Haven't tried the patches yet. First want to see if a week of the eccentric exercises helps. Reports from other runners with similar symptoms is that the exercises often do the trick. Actually, I want to test my theory that the exercises when done while drinking a good malbec and listening to Jimmy Buffet can also cure the early onset dementia I have been experiencing as of late. If I can remember to bring my sleeping bag to the next race I'll know I'm on to something...

Dennis said...

Great meeting you out there finally. We have been to three races together already this year but you have hit the showers long before I finish. I'm secretly glad to hear that even you were unable to run up the infamous Tennessee Hill. Many lessor runners hurled obscene invectives at that climb and I am glad I knew what was coming having previewed the 50K course last year. Best of luck at Leadville and the rest of the season.

Ryan said...

It was good to meet you Friday night Jay. Congrats on a great race! Will we see you for the 100k version next year?

Missy B. said...

Lengthy but informative article:

My Achilles tendonosis (currently) is trending towards insertional. Although I opted for heel wedges and eccentric exercises, I have only really done the wedges. I need to stretch my calves more. I did the Old Gabe 50k with 11,000 vertical, and my heel doesn't feel any worse, so that's something.

Best of luck in feeling better.

Missy B. said...

another Swedish study stating that eccentric exercises work:

I guess I'd better get after it.