So this race was another local 50k that I had run previously. It was run on some trails in Cedar Falls Iowa about 60 miles from where I live. This was the second running of the race with last year being the inaugural edition. Some changes had been made to the course so it was really like running a totally different race. In the previous year there was a 25K and a 50K option consisting of one or two 15.5 mile loops. This year the options had changed to 10 mile, 20 mile or 50K options. I was running the 50K. I knew the course would be fast and not very technical based on my previous years experience so I was hoping to perform well and possibly set a personal record. My previous fastest 50K had been run in 2011 at the Trail Mix 50K in Rochester Mn.
As seems to be the case on all my runs I worked late the night prior and finally got into bed about 4.5 hours prior to when I needed to leave to make packet pickup. As luck would have it one of our dogs decided to be a shit head and jump on the bed and off the bed while alternately whining and scratching the door. Never did find out what his deal was but he effectively kept me up all night. Thanks Joe. I rolled out of bed with the alarm bleary eyed and none to happy with my chances to PR. I stopped for the traditional Hunny Bun and Gatorade and made my way to Cedar Falls. When I arrived for packet pickup it was still dark and not too many people where in the running store that was sponsoring the race. I gave them my name, picked up my packet and parked my car by the starting line. I made contact with my other friends running the race, Ross S, Ross K and Kelly, and we chatted and milled about until race start. Mostly bitching about how cold it was. Eventually we all lined up behind some cones waiting for the start.
The RD gave some last minute instruction and off we went. By my count there were about 31 individuals running the 50K. We had a controlled start as we were required to follow the RD riding a mountain bike until after about half a mile he pulled off and the race was on. The fast runners took off and I fell into pace that I hoped would gain me that PR. The race now consisted of three 10 ish mile laps of mountain bike trails and single track.The first lap would be exploratory. I just kept a constant pace as I went up and down the rolling hills and through the winding single track. Some of the course was one way and some was two way traffic. I saw some good views as well as seeing the leaders coming back at me at some point. I decided that if I was ahead of the race plan I would use the second lap to take pictures of some of the views. I mean seeing the scenery is a big reason I like running ultramarathons in the first place. I was able to to speak briefly to both Ross and Kelly during this lap, they were both running ahead of me and running hard. Ross looked to being contention for the lead.
As I headed back to the turnaround at the end of the first lap I could see that the 20 mile race had started. I saw those racers heading toward me in the opposite direction. I finished that first lap in 1:42 hours. As I had intended I pulled out my phone and prepared to take some pictures on the second lap. I found that it was necessary to carry the phone in my hand to do this efficiently. I also found out I needed to be careful if I didn't want to take a tumble. However I continued ticking off the miles at a good clip. I passed the 25k mark in 2:30 hours. It really helped my pacing to know where I was on the course due to the previous lap. I once again saw Kelly and Ross on this lap. Kelly looked to be somewhere in the top 5 females and Ross appeared to be running in 2nd place. It was hard to tell, as by now there was a mixture of 50K, 20 Mile and 10 Mile runners on the course. By the time I started the third lap my phone was dead. So I was sans photos and sans music.
The third lap was a copy of the prior two, however I was starting to drop off the pace a bit. I estimated I was slowing down about 30 seconds per mile. It was also during this lap where I actually felt like I was racing. I had been being trailed for about 4 miles by another runner who was making steady progress in closing the gap. I entertained myself by imagining I was holding him off at Western States and we were running in the lead pack. I managed to hold him off for about 6 of the 10 mile loop but eventually he did pass me and he then finished about 2 minutes ahead of me. Once I hit the last aid station I saw another racer that I thought had outpaced me long ago. Ultras being ultras I had caught him through relentless forward progress. The race was on again as I tried to put as much distance between him and I as I could. I ran hard thinking he was behind me, I kept sneaking looks over my shoulder at the turns to see if I could spot him. I never saw him but I put that down to the foliage and the winding course. Once I emerged from the woodline and hit the last 1.5 miles of running trail to the finish I didn't look back but just focused on the finish. I crossed the line in 5:07:02 a PR by almost 18 minutes!!!! I turned and looked back down the course to see I had been racing a ghost. The runner I thought was behind me was nowhere in sight and actually he finished 5 minutes behind me.
It was a great race and a good time. I PR'ed and won my age group. For the first time I also ran the entire race. This was the first ultra where I had not walked one step. Ross came in 2nd overall and accomplished a PR as well. Kelly PR'ed and also won her age group. I am looking forward to my next race.