I had a blast running the North Face 50K at Bear Mountain State Park in New York last Saturday. I had done my research so I knew the course was going to be extremely difficult. Looking at previous years' results, I expected to run the race in about 7 hours. I had done a lot of technical hill climbs and descents in the weeks leading up to the race and I felt well prepared.
The weekend long event includes a fifty miler, a fifty kilometer, a marathon, a marathon relay, a half marathon, a ten kilometer, and a five kilometer. With over two thousand runners competing in seven different events, one might think things would be chaotic and complicated. This was not the case at all. The longer distances were run on Saturday and the start times were staggered 2 hours apart. My race started at 7AM and went off without a hitch. The various courses were well marked with color coded ribbons at frequent intervals. I had no problem staying on course. I only ran into three fifty mile runners running together in the middle of my race and several marathoners heading the opposite direction near the finish. Otherwise it felt as if the 50k was the only event taking place.
I knew the 50K had 4854 feet of elevation gain over incredibly rocky technical terrain. I started in the middle of the pack, wanting to go out slow. Shortly after we started running we had to climb a hill on loose rolling stones. I thought I was breathing too hard for so early in the race and slowed down. I found myself moving slowly toward the back of the pack. I thought to myself, "so this is how much my running has declined over the past few years. This might be my first DFL." I should have had more confidence. It didn't take many miles before runners settled down into more reasonable paces and I moved back up through the pack without having to change my pace or effort.
There was almost no conversation between the runners, we were all working too hard! We ran four miles uphill to the first aid station. Kevin was there and told me he'd see me at the other crew stations as well. This was a nice surprise because I thought Kevin was going to spend the day mountain biking. The next segment had some single track then a short stretch of pavement and then a good climb followed by a tricky, rocky, steep descent. I was feeling it in my legs already! But it was a good feeling because I knew my legs could take it. This was followed by fire roads and a nice stretch of rough trail over a ridge. There was a long section of very ungroomed, overgrown single track with a lot of blow downs to climb over. I actually passed quite a few runners in this section. I'm a good log hopper!
All the way back to the last crew point at about twenty miles I was feeling good and enjoying myself. I saw Kevin for the last time before the finish and he said, "you're on the home stretch and can break seven hours!" I ran hard for the next 5 miles then really pushed for the 2.5 mile stretch over Timp Pass. I passed several runners, including three women! Yay, I was finishing strong! Unfortunately, this was followed by a three mile stretch to the finish of easier gentler trail and almost everyone I had just passed zipped past me. That was OK, I was still moving along well.
The minute I crossed the finish line and stopped running, my quads suddenly started hurting...bad. I told Kevin I needed to keep moving so we walked around the park for a while. Then I got in line for food and decided i couldn't stomach it at that moment so we went to the beer tent instead. Back at the hotel we made arrangements to meet Kevin's sister, brother-in-law and niece for dinner. We had a very enjoyable evening and I only had to jump out of my chair with muscle cramps once.
It was a good race and I'd like to do it again next year. I think I'll try the fifty miler next time, (we're talking 12 hours or more)! I finished thirteenth female over all and third woman over forty in 6:51. I'll take it. results