Friday, May 25, 2012

Sage Burner 50K Pre-Race Thoughts

Monday will be the third time that I've run the Sage Burner 50K in Gunnison, CO. It's one of the smaller races I run (in terms of number of participants), but I've always been glad I've run it. It's the first time I break the 30 mile barrier in my training each year.

On the Marathon/Silver Rush course in Evans Gulch

I talked about last year's race in an earlier post. Suffice it to say that I did not have the race I wanted in '11 or in '10. In '11 I was suffering from a terrible cold and in '10 I bonked-- hard-- and ended up hiking pretty much all of the last 6 miles.

With luck, '12 is going to be different!

Of all the races that I've run before, Sage Burner's course is the most like CPTR's. There's not too much elevation gain given the distance (by Colorado standards) and the course is fairly runnable.

Sage Burner 50K vs. CPTR 25 (4:34)

  • SB is 6 miles longer.
  • SB is at approximately the same elevation.
  • SB only has 1,000 ft more elevation gain.
  • But it's probably going to be hot (by Leadville standards).

So, just 6 miles longer-- no problem, right? I should be able to run it 5:40! Ah... classic 50K wishful thinking. Instead, my slightly more realistic goal is to try to run it in 6:00. That's still a huge improvement-- 57 minutes!-- over my previous PR. Is a 15% improvement really possible? Well, I'm hoping it is, given how poorly I've run it previously and how well my training has been going this year. Basically, I think my PR is relatively soft. We'll see... 6:00 definitely seems ambitious to me.

The thing that scares me the most about the race is the potential heat. There is barely any shade on the course, which loops around a large, sage-filled mesa. There's nothing to stop the sun or the wind. And, as chance would have it, pretty much all of my recent weekend long runs have been in cloudy, chilly weather. Quad Rock was 45F and in the clouds (WTF?!), and my 25 mile run last Saturday along the Colorado Trail took place amid snow flurries. So... I think it's safe to say that I'm not exactly acclimated to running in 75F temperatures yet. I'm not sure what I can really do except drink lots of water (I'm going to try for 28 oz/hour) and pay attention to my electrolyte intake. Hot weather generally makes it harder to eat, too, so I'll have to stay vigilant.

On the Colorado Trail below Mt. Massive

I've never been able to run more than 7 hours without some kind of stomach issue, so Sage Burner is just about at the limit for me. Each year I learn new tricks, become a little more experienced, and I'm able to fight off nausea a little bit better. Still, I consider my stomach to be the major factor limiting my performance at ultra distances. It's always a balance between pace and adequate nutrition.

Cruising around Turquoise Lake in preparation for the half marathon.
Given the odd timing of the Sage Burner (it's on a Monday), I'm taking it relatively easy this week. I've run 50+ miles and 7,000+ ft of vertical each week for the past 3 weeks, so it's probably time for a little recovery. And the Sage Burner 50K isn't the only race I'm planning to run next week! There's also the Turquoise Lake Half Marathon on 6/2 and the Fish Hatchery 5K on 6/3. Stretching back to CPTR on 4/28 that'll make it 5 races in 6 weeks! And the summer is just beginning...

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