Way too Cool 50k

I ran the Way too Cool 50k on Saturday. Just as the name implies, the run was very cool. 95% trail run in the forest near the confluence of the American River near the town of Cool, CA. The day started out great. I was planning on starting out with 9 minute miles and then probably slowing to 10 or 11 minute miles, with an average pace around 10 minutes or slightly under. That was the plan anyway. The course has an 8 mile loop followed by a 23 mile loop. There are timing mats at 8 miles and at 21 miles and at the finish of 31 miles. At 8 miles I was ranked 169th coming in at 1:12:57 for a pace of 9:07. Right on pace and I felt great. The race at this point becomes absolutely beautiful. The first 8 miles are through a park that is lightly wooded and has lots of deep river crossings and very deep mud that when not deep was as slick as snot. It was fun, but not nearly as picturesque as the next 13 miles which were along the American River and then along some of the tributaries in some heavily wooded areas. I felt great as I approached the 21 mile mark aid station, but going down the hill into that aid station, I twisted my right foot and ankle. I stopped at the aid station and then got some food and water and then headed out to finish the last 10 miles of the race. I could not run a step. Interestingly, walking did not hurt, but if I tried to run it was shooting pain in my right foot just below the ankle. At the mile 21 timing mat I arrived as the 188th best runner for the 13 mile section. My time was 2:15 and a total of 3:28, and I averaged 10:27 for the section. Still going right on my planned pace. Perhaps a bit slower than my plan, but the course was far more difficult than my planned time, and stopping to cross creeks was not in my plan (shows my lack of experience in ultra-running). Anyhow, since I could not run I decided to just walk and see if it got better. Walking was very frustrating especially since I knew I had 10 miles to go. The next aid station was 5 miles ahead, and I seriously thought about just dropping out at the aid station. I began to walk faster, and eventually figured out I could sort of race-walk my way down the course. It was not fast, nor pretty, but I was getting on toward the finish. I arrived at the final aid station and decided that I would finish the race even though it was not fast. I continued my fast walking and shuffle running down the course. I finished in 5:59:57. I beat the 6 hour mark!!! My final 10 miles took 2:31 for a 16:40 pace and I was ranked 439 out of 560 runners for that section. I finished 290th overall. If I had continued on my original pace with the 170-200th place runners I would have finished in about 5:10-5:30, so my injury cost me 30-50 minutes…I’d say probably 45 minutes. The nice thing is that my legs feel great after the run. They are not sore at all, but my foot/ankle feels sore. I don’t believe it is anything serious, and I should be back to running next weekend. 5-6 days off is probably going to be enough to let it heal. I’ll find out next weekend. I have a lot of work to do in order to get prepared for the American River 50 mile race next month. I’ve been told that while the run will take longer to complete, it is about equally taxing on your body because the terrain is so much easier. The AR50 is almost perfectly flat instead of the 4000+ feet of climbing that was involved in the W2C50k.

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