I closed out May with a run of the South Mountain Mayapple 50km trail ultra-marathon in Millburn NJ. In what has become my usual approach to trail events, I signed up 1 week before hand and did little to no training. Paid the price but got through it. Here are my notes, mostly for my own benefit as I plan to run next year and will need something to refer back to.
The South Mountain 50km followed 2 10mile loops, East and West. We ran East twice. The race started at 6AM, just slightly after sun-rise.
Overall I found the course pretty run-able if I’d been in better shape but a bunch of things went wrong. Right off the bat my allergies were kicking in and screwing with my breathing. I foolishly kept pace with a fast-ish group and ran the first (East) 10 miles at about 10minute pace, way too fast for me considering the distance. By the 2nd aid station I had been sweating a tonne and not drinking enough. I was border-line dizzy. I ate some food, drank a bit and headed out on the 2nd loop. In hindsight I should have drank and ate a tonne at this point to recoup my losses.
Another big problem: I didn’t know the course. I had no idea what was ahead or behind and this left me lost as far as pacing goes. It’s also so much harder to pound away when you don’t know where you’re at. First loop I foolishly ran a lot of the “ups”. This is just a bad idea when you don’t know the course.
The 2nd loop I crashed and hit a run/walk/run/walk style. It was really hot and I was totally depleted. I’d also drank (beer) two days before the race so was not properly hydrated. On the West Loop I got lost. The course was mapped out with 2 color ribbons – pink and orange. The idea was to follow the orange on the way out and then hit an aid station mid-way through the loop at this point the ribbons change to pink denoting the way back. I crossed an open meadow and headed back into the woods not realizing I was going “in” on a “pink” ribbon trail. I followed this trail for about a mile and then realized I’d gone the wrong direction. Backtracking was a kick in the nuts.
Heading back out on the last loop I regrouped and got my “party-on” attitude back. Legs started to feel better but after the last aid station I felt a bunch of weakness in my left ankle. I couldn’t maintain a mid-foot strike and ended up landing on my heel a bunch. I turned it a few times and by the last 3 miles it was throbbing. The course ends with a long down over really jagged rocks which killed it.
Beautiful course, wonderful weather. Next year I’ll run faster. This year, I was glad to hit the finish. I finished middle of the pack, 16th out of 29. Lessons-learned? Eat, drink. Slow down. Drink. Don’t get lost. Drink. Breath In. Breath Out. Life is Good.