Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bear Chase Trail Run 50K (Race Recap)

Lakewood, CO
Sunday, September 30
Ultra Marathon #4
Bear Chase #2
Weather - Sunny, Mild

If you will recall, I ran the Bear Chase last year. Only I ran 50 miles. This year, I had every intention of running the 50 mile again. Then I had all the stupid knee problems and obviously it was not feasible to try to run that distance. Especially since when I was in top form, I *barely* made the cutoffs. I quietly decided a few weeks ago to drop to the 50k instead.

Packet pick up was (mostly) a breeze. I had checked the website the night before and I still showed as being registered for the 50 mile. I mentioned this at pick up. She gave me a bib, filled out the transfer form. After collecting my shirt, I turned the bib over and noticed the bib was not mine. Same last name, but different first name. Oops. Collecting the right bib and we were done. 5 minutes, tops.

Race Day

This year the start was a bit different. Due to dry conditions, we weren't allowed to park at the start line due to fire risk from hot tail pipes. "Everyone" was supposed to park down the street and get shuttled in. L decided we were "spectators" (well, she WAS going to spectate when she was done with the 1/2) and we parked at the White Tail lot about a half mile from the start. We parked at about 6:00 and gathered our gear to walk over to the start. I had a start time of 6:50 (the 50 milers started at 6:30, and the 1/2 marathoners were starting at 7:10).

Good thing we got there a tad early. The bathroom lines were CRAZY. I'm guessing they had the same number of bathrooms as last year. Only last year, the race didn't sell out, and this year it did. 1,000 runners plus volunteers and spectators and maybe 15 bathrooms. Ouch. Luckily, a volunteer snagged a port-o-potty and let the 50 milers and 50k'ers sneak to the front of the line. I stood with L until 7 or 8 minutes until the start. Then I headed over. You know, to line up in back. I had worn my zombie sleeves, but they unfortunately sent the wrong size so I didn't end up racing in them :(

Can you see the full moon setting?
At the start a man came up and introduced himself. "Irv" from dailymile! He recognized my clothes :D We chatted for a few minutes, then I said hi to the other woman I knew at the 50k start, Jennifer. And then, we were off. I really enjoy the first part of the course. Nice and shaded and super packed trails. It was slow going the first mile or so because it's not that wide and everyone was still trying to get a good pace going. I took my coach's advice and was not listening to my iPod. Spoiler, I was asked to go the first 10 without using it, and I didn't put music on until maybe mile 17. Longest I've ever run without music (alone).

I had never run the 50k, so I hadn't run the first loop of the course before, which is the 10k course. A lot of it was the same as what I would run on the 12.5 mile for my last 2 loops. However, I did NOT have to run up Mt. Carbon. I was feeling pretty good, and knew that I needed to maintain a (slowish) steady pace so that I wouldn't burn out. Also, the knee was feeling fine, but I still didn't want to push it.

I think it was about mile 3 that I started getting passed by the faster half marathoners. They run on the trails faster than I would feel safe running on the treadmill. I got passed by the first place 10k female about 2 minutes before getting to the finish area. They started 30 minutes after us. Huh.

I stopped to use the bathroom at the start line and then headed out again. Not more than a mile later, I had to stop and use the bathroom AGAIN. At least the stops allowed me to end up running with Jennifer for the next couple miles. It was nice to chat with someone, I am really not used to running by myself. We ran together all the way to the first aid station of the 12.5 mile loop - Pelican Point. Grabbed some snacks and soda and was waiting for a minute, then decided she could catch up to me. It wasn't that hot yet and I was ready to tackle Mt. Carbon for the first time of the day.

Mt. Carbon, super tiny in the distance
The trail leading up to Mt. Carbon is completely exposed and I was getting HOT.

Mt. Carbon, up close and personal
I started the climb up and looked back and didn't see Jennifer that close. Wasn't sure what had happened to her, but I was feeling good so I kept going.

View on the climb up Mt. Carbon
I got stuck behind a guy walking slower than I wanted, but when we got to the crest, he moved to the side. I love running the single track on the east side of Mt. Carbon. I was running really well, then headed down towards the Fox Hollow golf course and the three rivers crossings. I'll admit I giggled when I saw people messing with their shoes after the first crossing. Two more left, why bother! The third (like last year) was the longest and deepest water. I was wearing my Mizuno Cabrakans again, and they didn't seem to expel the water as well as my Newton (non-trail) shoes did last year. Headed up along the bike path to the second aid station - Fox Hollow. I got more sunscreen, ate a 1/4 of a PB&J sandwich, and then headed out. The section between Fox Hollow and Cattail Creek is the most miserable. It is exposed, not that great to look at, and I'll argue - a gradual uphill that goes on and on and on forEVER.

L texted me to ask where I was, and when I told her I was arriving at the Cattail Creek aid station, she said she would wait to get food until I came across. In my mind, the hill behind the last aid station was the most challenging/demoralizing of the course (at least that is what I remembered from last year). On the "first" loop, it wasn't that bad. On the way up, I encountered a man that was limping very badly. I tried to convince him that if he was in that much pain that he should head back to the aid station, as it was close to 2 miles to go until the start/finish area. He said he wanted to keep going...

I *sailed* down the back of the hill that had given me so much trouble last year. The single track was still very grooved, but my shoes this year were much better suited for it. I was relieved that my knee was still doing good, and I was still doing good. I crossed the line, and there was L. A volunteer sprayed sunscreen on my face/neck/shoulders, and another filled my hydration vest. L walked with me while I drank some Dew and ate a pickle. It was pretty tasty. The parking lot where she had left the car was off the course, so she ran with me until there. I headed into loop 2. I was getting tired. My legs were starting to ache. Um, no kidding. I've hardly run at all the last 2 months, no wonder they were tired. I took a few more shots of the beginning part of the course:

I was pretty much alone the last loop. That's about the time that I put the headphones in. I passed the first timing mat of the loop and then headed into the last section of shade for the day (other than the rivers crossings). I got a text from my dad asking if I was done. Um. No. It was only about noon and I still had probably 7 or 8 miles to go. Turns out, he was actually on the course looking for me. He saw me right before the 2nd timing mat when I was heading out to Mt. Carbon.

Very sweaty, and I'm only at maybe mile 23
Mt. Carbon, while the most VISUALLY intimidating landmark of the course, is arguably NOT the most difficult. I am not sure how long the climb is, but I would guess less than a half mile. Again, when I got up to the top, I cruised along the back side. I was actually passing some of the slower half marathoners. Then came down the backside and headed towards the woods/rivers. I managed to trip and face plant (well, I literally caught myself INCHES before my face hit the dirt). Thankfully, no injury, but of COURSE someone had come up behind me just in time to see me fall.

Filled my hydration vest when I got to the Fox Hollow station. I think I had a fig newton (or something), then headed out for the couple of miles of misery until arriving at Cattail Creek for the last time. I really think they have the best volunteers at that station (which is what I remembered from last year as well). One of them offered me pizza (although I could NOT stomach while running), then I headed out for the last couple of miles to the finish.

I was really tired and my legs were shot. I knew there was a downhill finish, so I did a run walk for about a mile until I got to the downhill section. I was flying down the hill and saw L with the kids! They ran with me down the asphalt hill towards the finish. They took the shortcut, and I ran around by the dock through the parking lot to the finish. Even my dad was still there (hours later). I crossed the line, HAPPY. (See???)

Last year, I was so proud to have run 50 miles, but the last 20 miles of that race were SO exhausting because I was constantly worried about the time limits. This year, I didn't have ANY of those pressures. The only obstacle I was really working against was my knee. THANKFULLY, the physical therapy seems to have worked, as I had ZERO pain when I crossed the line. I still wasn't hungry, so I gave my dad and the kids the free pancakes, but I still made sure to have a beer. I got a chance to meet up with Irv again at the finish, which was nice.

Even though L had been done for hours, she had kept her race clothes on so we could do a matchy matchy finisher pictures:

And with the kids
Medal is the same size as the 50 miler I got last year!
Map and elevation chart (Measured 32.15 miles for me...)
Offical results
  • I am SO happy I was able to run this again. I know the 50 mile was CRAZY, and the 50K is too, but man. After having done the longer distance last year, this felt like a breeze, even though I know I was way under trained.
  • This is one of the best events I have run. Ever. I will 100% for sure be back next year. Maybe the 50 mile, maybe the 50k. The volunteers are AWESOME and the aid stations have everything that you could think of to eat (except bacon, apparently).
  • The shirt this year was REALLY nice (long sleeve, gender specific Mizuno) - and it is PURPLE.
  • Speaking of Mizuno. These trail shoes are FREAKING AWESOME. Only the third time I've ever worn them (longest distance) - no blisters, no pain, no "tired" feet. And that includes SIX water crossing.
  • I had an unspoken "goal" of finishing under 7.5 hours. I am ecstatic that I finished in 7:06. That includes the time I spent lolly gagging at the aid stations, and the few minutes I talked to my dad on the course.
  • This reinforces that I really enjoy the longer distances, especially if they are on trails. I know I will never be fast, but I enjoy the challenge. I can't wait for the next one.
  • I've only run one other 50k, and that was 1.5 years ago. I was in top form then and ran in 6:47 something. And if I recall, that course ran short, so this was a great effort.
  • I absolutely LOVE that Running Guru does the photography for this race. There were over 50 pictures taken of me on the course, here are some of my favorites:
Running on the east side of Mt. Carbon
On Mt. Carbon

Heading toward Pelican Point

River Crossing #3

Thank you to EVERYONE that has taken the time to participate in the "Run All the Races" Virtual Run that I am hosting. I am so happy to be raising money for the AFSP. If you have not yet had a chance to enter, here is the link. You still have almost two weeks to get in on the action and have a go at some of the awesome prizes I have available.


  1. You definitely have the ultra bug! :) Great pics and cute skirt!

  2. Amazing race!!! So glad your knee was cooperating. The pictures are awesome. You look so happy, I think you fell in love with trail running :)I'm considering trail running for next year. When do you think I should buy trail shoes?

  3. That course is so pretty. Curse the lack of oxygen.


  4. I love the pictures you include, they make your narratives come to life. Looks like a beautiful trail. I'm curious if you will be at the ING marathon in Miami this January, I would love to meet you!

  5. Congrats Becka! Another great accomplishment in the bag for you!

  6. Congrast! Love the sleeves, and awesome pics you included!

  7. Nice pics!! And speedy finish time, too, especially considering you thought you were under-trained?


I adore comments and I read every single one. Thanks for reading :)

Week in Review (July 3 - July 9)

Tuesday  (10,505 steps) - No barre class, the schedule was bleak for the 4th of July. I had been optimistic that we would have time to get t...