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Black Canyon 100K 2021 Race Recap

Net down­hill” is some­what syn­ony­mous with “fast”. In road run­ning, there are reg­u­la­tions in place that lim­it how much drop a point-­to-­point course can have be­fore it be­comes in­valid for record pur­pos­es. Boston, a gen­er­al­ly fast marathon—­most­ly due to its qual­i­fi­ca­tion pur­pos­es—is aid­ed in its rel­a­tive speed due to a –447’ net el­e­va­tion. It’s too down­hill for records pur­pos­es. When Ge­of­frey Mu­tai ran 2:03:02 in 2011 it was the fastest marathon at the time, but not a world record.

Trail run­ning is a dif­fer­ent sto­ry all to­geth­er. While trails vary wide­ly, they gen­er­al­ly fa­vor the up­hill. Black Canyon 100K is not like that.

I un­der­es­ti­mat­ed it. Don’t make that same mis­take.

The Black Canyon 100K—and its 60K vari­ant which took place the fol­low­ing day— start at the north­ern end of the Black Canyon Trail and head south to­ward Phoenix near­ly to the end (the trail con­tin­ues on a few miles longer). It of­fers 5,190’ of gain with 7,050’ of loss—or that fa­mous phrase, “net down­hill”. Of course it’s ac­cu­rate, but it’s de­cep­tive.

As Jim Walm­s­ley said to Bri­an Whit­field, who left the Black Canyon City aid sta­tion in the lead but would re­turn to it short­ly af­ter to drop from the race, “that course does­n’t run like it looks on pa­per.”

This is a long post that gets deep in­to the race and what hap­pened. I wrote it so I don’t make the same mis­take next time, and maybe it’ll help you in the same way.

un­du­late verb


Def­i­ni­tion of un­du­late

in­tran­si­tive verb

  1. to form or move in waves : FLUC­­TU­ATE

  2. to rise and fall in vol­ume, pitch, or ca­­dence

  3. to present a wavy ap­­pear­ance

tran­si­tive verb

to cause to move in a wavy, sin­u­ous, or flow­ing man­ner

On Paper

Take a look at the Cal­Topo map­ping da­ta for the course, es­pe­cial­ly the el­e­va­tion pro­file. The de­fault sam­pling in­ter­val for this map dis­plays da­ta points ev­ery 1,092’, and it looks like the fol­low­ing. It’s what you see on the race web­site.


It’s net down­hill and has those two climbs at the end that you need to save your­self for—y­ou’ve maybe read or heard that a mil­lion times. A lot of the start, es­pe­cial­ly through mile 15, looks down and some­what smooth. Even that part from about 12–15 looks fair­ly flat. It’s not.

Turn the sam­pling in­ter­val up, which us­es more da­ta points to draw the graph. The small­est in­ter­val this par­tic­u­lar map sup­ports is 50’ sam­ples.


Looks a lit­tle dif­fer­en­t, right? Un­du­lat­ing.

If you down­load the CSVs of those two pro­files, you can see that the top graph is made from 300 da­ta points, 116 of which are up­hill from one point to the nex­t. In 1,092’ seg­ments, you spend about 60% of the time go­ing down (rel­a­tive to the last 1,092’ seg­men­t), and 40% go­ing up. Look­ing at that top im­age, yeah, that makes sense. How­ev­er, if you’ve run this race, you know that a lot hap­pens in about fifth of a mile.

Draw­ing that graph from 6,553 da­ta points tells an­oth­er sto­ry. Per­cent­age-­wise the course looks a lit­tle more down­hill in 50’ seg­ments, at about 70% down and 30% up, but I don’t think the per­cent­age re­al­ly tells the best sto­ry. There are 1,879 times where one 50’ seg­ment is more up­hill than the last. That’s the fuzz you see in the sec­ond im­age.

Be­cause the to­tal gain is rel­a­tive­ly small com­pared to a lot of oth­er trail 100Ks at just over 5,000’, that’s a lot of lit­tle up­s! This de­stroyed me.

I end­ed up drop­ping at the Ta­ble Mesa aid sta­tion (mile 50.9) af­ter a painful slog from Black Canyon City (mile 37.4).


Where I live, near the foothills of the Rocky Moun­tain­s, there aren’t a lot of trails that fit the 83 feet/mile av­er­age gain of Black Canyon’s 5,190’ spread across 62.2 miles. A lot of my train­ing takes place on pro­files at or above 225 feet/mile, where a climb might gain 1,000’ in two miles—a lot more sus­tained up­’s and down’s. To get ready for what I ini­tial­ly in­ter­pret­ed as a flat­ter and faster race, I found a stretch of trail that put me clos­er to 100 feet/mile and made that my new home.

In a sense, this was still the right move, and I’ll prob­a­bly spend a lot of time there train­ing for my next shot at this race. I did some VO2­max and thresh­old work­outs ear­ly on in train­ing, and clos­er to the race I spent a lot of time do­ing longer ef­forts in­clud­ing tem­po runs on this ~100 ft/­mi trail. As you can prob­a­bly guess from the im­ages above and my re­sult, the flat­ter lit­tle city park trail missed one key el­e­men­t: be­ing un­du­lat­ing.

Be­cause of the rel­a­tive lack of climb­ing, I did­n’t spend time fo­cus­ing it. I was av­er­ag­ing a bit more than the course pro­file in week­ly mileage any­way, and the to­tal of those fi­nal climbs was­n’t out­side of what I would get by go­ing to my usu­al spots once a week or so. I would­n’t fo­cus on climb­ing for next time ei­ther, but I do need to fo­cus on how to with­stand the un­du­la­tion. For me, that prob­a­bly means more work on my hips and glutes. I can run up­hill all day, but the pound­ing is a lot of what killed me.

Hydration & Nutrition

I am a very salty sweater, and with train­ing for this race most­ly tak­ing place in cold Col­orado, I was a bit wor­ried how that might work out. I forced my­self to drink a bit more wa­ter on long runs dur­ing train­ing even though I did­n’t “feel” like I was sweat­ing as much due to the cold. I’m nor­mal­ly pret­ty good with wa­ter so it was­n’t some­thing I fo­cused on much, and thank­ful­ly even though it’d be warmer in Phoenix than in Col­orado, be­ing in the low 60’s is­n’t too bad.

I like GU prod­ucts so I stuck with them. GU Chews in the Salt­ed Lime fla­vor taste great and work well for me, and I trained a bit with their new Liq­uid En­er­gy gels in or­der to pro­vide some vari­a­tion if on race day some­thing was­n’t work­ing. I do one serv­ing of Chews (4 of them) ev­ery 30 min­utes, or one Liq­uid En­er­gy. I al­so like the Roc­tane drink and usu­al­ly have a bot­tle of it dur­ing warmer times, but I drink it enough that I was com­fort­able just tak­ing it as-need­ed from aid sta­tion­s.

I planned on wear­ing a Nathan Va­porKrar waist­pack and us­ing two Nathan soft hand­held­s, which worked well for me at pre­vi­ous races, and I did well at Way Too Cool 50K with that set­up so I stuck with what I knew. Frankly I think this was a mis­take, as this did­n’t al­low me to ad­just for the weath­er or ad­just with my goal­s. I re­al­ly should have worn one of my vests so I could pack a wind­break­er (be­cause I knew wind could be a fac­tor) and gen­er­al­ly be more pre­pared to be out there lat­er.

Goal Setting

I was way of­f. Or maybe I was right on and just trained ex­treme­ly poor­ly for it. You could prob­a­bly go ei­ther way, but for this race I’m tak­ing the for­mer route. If the same thing hap­pens next time it’s the lat­ter.

My A goal was to fin­ish in un­der 10 hours. I was run­ning my long runs on what I thought was a com­pa­ra­ble pro­file at an av­er­age pace around 8:50–9:00 usu­al­ly for four hours, with sev­er­al back­-­to-back week­end­s, and on most of them I was hold­ing back.

That was par­tial­ly on pur­pose as this was my first race back from in­jury0, so I did­n’t want to re-in­jure my­self. And in fac­t, I spent what should have been my sec­ond to last big week­end wear­ing a plas­tic boot be­cause I thought I broke my foot again. X-Rays and an ex­am by my or­tho doc showed noth­ing was wrong, so I took a few easy days and got right back in­to it. The ta­per looks a bit weird, but it was fine enough. I had a sol­id block of con­sis­ten­cy head­ing in­to that so one down week would­n’t throw too much of­f.

My B goal was to fin­ish in un­der 11 hours. Be­yond that, I just want­ed to fin­ish.

See­ing some­one I know fin­ish in 10:01 makes me re­al­ize that was prob­a­bly a stretch. I think un­der 11 hours was prob­a­bly more rea­son­able for a good day, with 12 a safer bet. A guy I ran a lot of the race and who made it to 50.9 just be­fore me end­ed up fin­ish­ing in 12:28. He al­so ran 5 ex­tra miles be­cause he missed the turn at Black Canyon City.

One thing that re­al­ly killed my chances of the back­up goal of “just fin­ish” is that I was so bought in­to the A and B goals that I was­n’t even pre­pared for any­thing else. I ran this in a thin sin­glet with hand­helds and a waist­pack like I was some su­per fast guy. Start­ing at 8:15a and fin­ish­ing in say 14 hours—which would have been the case if I con­tin­ued on from where I dropped—­would have had me run­ning 4 hours af­ter sun­set. I did have a head­lamp at Ta­ble Mesa, but giv­en how I slowed down and how cold and windy it was, it was go­ing to be a harsh time even if my legs worked.

I was ba­si­cal­ly set­up to fin­ish as the sun was set­ting, or not at al­l. This was dum­b.

The Race

Rather than a big mass start, the race was bro­ken up in­to sev­er­al waves that start­ed ev­ery 15 min­utes. I end­ed up in Wave 6, which start­ed at 8:15a. Ar­a­vaipa ran a very safe and well or­ga­nized even­t, so get­ting in and start­ed was su­per easy. I took off at 8:15a on the dot with about 30 oth­er run­ners spaced out in the cor­ral­s, and then we were off on­to the trail to spread out even fur­ther.

Start to Antelope Mesa (0–7.7)

This stretch does have some le­git­i­mate­ly smooth part­s! You go around the track, down the street, on some nice packed dirt for a while, and then even­tu­al­ly hit trail­s. I hit this aid sta­tion about 12 min­utes up on the sub­-10 goal.

In my head, I jus­ti­fied the pace as I bare­ly felt that sec­tion. It was smooth, I felt right at home in this pace, and I was ready to spend all day there.

Do­ing this over again, I’d prob­a­bly back off here but on­ly slight­ly. I ran this sec­tion at 8:01/mi, but I think if I do this clos­er to 8:30/­mi I’m al­right. No need to go out too hard as it’s a long day ahead, but it’s a com­par­i­tive­ly easy sec­tion so I think it’s rea­son­able to move through here a lit­tle faster.

I did­n’t stop at An­te­lope Mesa. It’s on­ly 5.2 to the next aid from there, and I hit the aid sta­tion in al­most ex­act­ly an hour so it co­in­cid­ed with tak­ing my own GUs that I al­ready had on me.

To Hidden Treasure (7.7–12.9)

There’s a lot of that down­hill in here, pos­si­bly the most of any sec­tion, but al­so a lot of those tiny up­hill­s! I ran this sec­tion just a hair slow­er at 8:04/­mi and was still feel­ing re­al­ly good, and still main­tain­ing a pace that would put me un­der my goal. I even had a lit­tle card that showed the nec­es­sary elapsed time at each aid sta­tion to main­tain the A and B goal­s.

I made a 1:07 stop at Hid­den Trea­sure to fill up both bot­tles and then I was of­f.

Next time I’d back off con­sid­er­ably here, prob­a­bly a minute per mile. I was let­ting my car­dio­vas­cu­lar ef­fort dic­tate keep­ing up the pace (I don’t do heart rate, but this felt ok from an RPE per­spec­tive), but the wear and tear from con­stant ups and downs de­served more rep­sec­t. Plus, as I would find out, they were not end­ing any time soon.

To Bumble Bee (12.9–19.4)

This is where I start­ed to back off a bit. Com­ing out of Hid­den Trea­sure is a rel­a­tive­ly flat spot that I prob­a­bly stayed on the gas through ~8:00/mi, which then leads to a good stretch of un­du­lat­ing sin­gle­track. It’s al­so—­to use a word from my wife—ser­pen­tine.

This sec­tion snakes around a lot to where you’re not run­ning straight for very long. Lots of tight curves amongst these lit­tle up and down dip­s. I ran this sec­tion at 8:56/mi, which I’d di­al back maybe slight­ly over­al­l. The first half of it is de­cent­ly runnable, but I should have slowed down a bit through those dips and swoop­s.

Head­ing in­to Bum­ble Bee is a nice smooth down­hill on a packed dirt road, so you can ease back on it a lit­tle bit there, but don’t try to make up any time there. It’s ear­ly.

I fumbled my watch here and I see a 27 second lap (I usually hit lap when entering and lap when exiting), but I got both bottles filled up here. This was probably a ~60 second stop.

BONUS: My wife was watch­ing the live stream and saw me come in­to the aid sta­tion. She said I looked strong!

To Gloriana Mine (19.4–24.0)

This was a tough sec­tion for me. Com­ing out of Bum­ble Bee brings you to the first sus­tained climb. It al­so brought you to the wind. It al­so re­al­ly re­in­forced un­du­lat­ing.

That climb com­ing out of aid gains maybe 350–400’, and with my hips start­ing to feel the wear from all of the un­du­la­tion, I hiked this one. That just lead to more un­du­lat­ing. Once you’re up top, there’s a big val­ley off to the right and you’re carv­ing the in­side of this moun­tain, just go­ing up and down and up and down, in and out of slot­s, and then up and down.

I took this stretch around 10:36/mi, for a 47:32 trip to Glo­ri­ana. Once there, I stopped for 2:06 to re­fill bot­tles and grab a cup of GU Roc­tane.

At this point my hips and glutes were re­al­ly feel­ing it. I’ve had some TFL/g­lute medius im­bal­ance is­sues on my right side for a few years now, which leads to a me­di­al knee col­lapse, but my knees felt com­par­i­tive­ly fine. My hips were start­ing to get trashed.

To Soap Creek (24.0–31.2)

This stretch sucked. It starts off with some flat-ish part­s, and then there’s a long down­hill stretch. A lot of that down­hill is on some harsh rock for­ma­tion. Not want­ing to burn my quads out and al­so not hav­ing a great hip sit­u­a­tion, I took this a bit easy. It was frus­trat­ing to not be tak­ing ad­van­tage of this part, but I al­so did­n’t feel re­al­ly con­fi­dent on that rock. This rock al­so ripped off the back of my left shoe. Damn this rock.

Then you hit the bot­tom, tool around in cir­cles for a while, then come back up to­ward Soap Creek.

In or­der to hit my sub­-10 hour goal I need­ed to hit Soap Creek in 4:57 elapsed. I sort of knew that was out the win­dow based on the last ten miles, but I was still close. I don’t know what dis­tance my watch thought I was at ex­act­ly when I hit aid, but it claims I made a 50K PR at 5:05, so some­where around there.

I stayed here for 4:04, re­fill­ing bot­tles, grab­bing Roc­tane, eat­ing some wa­ter­mel­on, and just tak­ing a sec­ond to breathe and re-frame my­self.


Run­ning near Soap Creek the day be­fore the race

To Black Canyon City (31.2–37.4)

I came here the day be­fore the race to run with Bry­den and we went about 2.5 miles out and then back, just to get some ac­tion on the course and stretch out af­ter a 14 hour drive.

That first 2.5 miles went fair­ly fine. It’s not too un­du­lat­ing, but does have some sec­tions of soft­ball sized rock that I just want­ed to make sure I did­n’t break my an­kles on. Even­tu­al­ly you get to some smooth rolling dirt road, though it’s pret­ty ag­gres­sive­ly rolling. It’s not like a hill in your neigh­bor­hood, but at least it was smooth.

Some­where in here it be­came hard to run. My hips were de­stroyed and it was hard to do much more than hike or shuf­fle, which start­ed to get de­mor­al­iz­ing. Ev­ery­thing else, though, felt pret­ty good! Di­ges­tion was good, en­er­gy was good, and my over­all mood and con­fi­dence were chang­ing but in­tac­t. I just had to keep on mov­ing and I’d be al­right.

I even­tu­al­ly hit the aid sta­tion 1:22 lat­er, slow­ing down to a 12:58/­mi pace through this stretch. It got pret­ty dark head­ing in­to BCC and I briefly thought about drop­ping.

I end­ed up stay­ing in Black Canyon City for 9 min­utes (!), where I had my first drop bag. I re­stocked on my GU Chews, put on more Squir­rel’s Nut But­ter, and read a bunch of notes from my wife. I cried a lit­tle bit be­cause she’s so amaz­ing, and al­so be­cause one of the notes was a list of names we would have to give our (not yet con­ceived) ba­by if I drop any­where af­ter this point. They were all bad names that I don’t want our ba­by to have, so I had to keep go­ing.

I al­so bor­rowed a vol­un­teer’s phone to text her to bring more clothes to Ta­ble Mesa, where I’d get to see her. Know­ing where I was at pace-­wise, I was go­ing to be go­ing on much longer than I ini­tial­ly planned for, and this tiny tank top was not go­ing to cut it as it got cold­er and windi­er. Thank you to this per­son! Nor­mal­ly peo­ple just pre­pare for this, but I was not that per­son. See the Goal Set­ting sec­tion above.

I had al­ready ac­cept­ed the fact that the A and prob­a­bly B goals were gone, was firm­ly plant­ed in em­brac­ing the suck of the up­com­ing stretch, and was ad­dress­ing it by fo­cus­ing on keep­ing what was work­ing well, work­ing well. Let’s go, on to Cot­ton­wood.

To Cottonwood (37.4–46.2)

I felt bet­ter com­ing out of the aid sta­tion, but still not re­al­ly in a runnable state. What­ev­er, let’s just pow­er through and get there, right?

[Nar­ra­tor’s voice] That is not what hap­pened.

Well, I made it be­yond this, so I guess it sort of hap­pened, but this was a bru­tal stretch. I left BCC in the vicin­i­ty of a wom­an I ran slight­ly ahead of since Soap Creek at mile 31.2. I nev­er saw her again. Short­ly af­ter two peo­ple passed me around prob­a­bly mile 39, I would not see an­oth­er per­son be­hind me—as this sec­tion ser­pen­tines around this canyon—un­til prob­a­bly mile 45. I spent those 6 miles slow­ly watch­ing these two guys pull ahead, dis­ap­pear, reap­pear fur­ther away, and ul­ti­mate­ly nev­er see them again.

All the while it’s cloudy and the sun is go­ing down, and no one is any­where be­hind me. In re­al­i­ty they were prob­a­bly there, just dis­ap­pear­ing around the curves just like the guys in front of me were. It was this, cou­pled with my di­min­ish­ing in­abil­i­ty to run more than a few step­s, that caused me to start pan­ick­ing a bit.

It would take me 2:10 to get the 8.8 miles to the Cot­ton­wood aid sta­tion, and dur­ing that time I made up my mind that I had to be done. All my “ac­cep­t, em­brace, ad­dress” stuff was not work­ing. I start­ed to wor­ry that if I keep go­ing this slow the rains that I knew were com­ing and the cold winds that were al­ready blow­ing as the sun was prac­ti­cal­ly down (rather, be­hind what ap­peared to be two hours worth of cloud­s) were go­ing to leave me cold and wet and out in the mid­dle of nowhere un­able to help my­self. Un­re­al­is­tic? Yeah, prob­a­bly, but that’s what think­ing you’re the last per­son out there will do to you.

The oth­er thing I start­ed think­ing was that when I get to Cot­ton­wood, can I even drop there? I’m nor­mal­ly good with spa­tial aware­ness and hav­ing a ref­er­ence of where I’m at, but I was to­tal­ly clue­less. I had­n’t seen an ac­tu­al road in two hours. Noth­ing ahead looks like it’s head­ing to­wards a road, and those jeeps I could hear off in the dis­tance are the kind you drive up rock wall­s. They’re not pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles; they’re out here be­cause they’re built to be. They’re built for the un­du­la­tion.

Thanks to my nifty card, I knew that if I could­n’t drop at Cot­ton­wood, it’s on­ly 4.7 miles to Ta­ble Mesa, where my wife was wait­ing to send me off to the fin­ish (prob­a­bly for two hours, since I was way be­hind). Plus, if I could drop there I would­n’t just be chauf­fered to wher­ev­er I’d like to go (Table Mesa), and where my wife was (Table Mesa) does not have good cell re­cep­tion any­way. We were there the day be­fore so she’d know where to go1. I had to get my­self to Ta­ble Mesa.

Prob­a­bly a mile from Cot­ton­wood, two guys pass me. I hit the aid sta­tion af­ter drop­ping to a 14:38/­mi pace through­out the near­ly 9 mile stretch, and then two peo­ple come in a minute be­hind me. Where the hell were these peo­ple for two hours? Hid­ing?

I grabbed some wa­ter and gin­ger ale for a 3:52 stop with the fine folks at Cot­ton­wood and head­ed on my way. I did­n’t even both­er ask­ing about drop­ping. It was go­ing to be a has­sle and I just had to pro­pel my­self. I was still feel­ing good in all oth­er ways ex­cept my legs, so maybe just get­ting there would do the trick. Plus, that’d get me over 50 miles, so at least I’d have that.

To Table Mesa (46.2–50.9)

This sec­tion had some rel­a­tive­ly flat parts that I could shuf­fle-jog with­out a lot of pain, and with the sun set­ting I tried to do that as much as I could. Be­cause I had made peace with this be­ing the fi­nal stretch, it was ac­tu­al­ly kind of fun. Slow, but fun.

At prob­a­bly mile 48 I saw a fa­mil­iar or­ange shirt be­hind me, and about a minute lat­er he caught up. We start­ed in the same wave and ran a lot of the first half to­geth­er, and I moved aside to wave him on since I was just walk­ing at that point. He stopped briefly to catch up and see how I was do­ing since it had been a while, and he’s the one who ran an ex­tra ~5 miles due to miss­ing the Black Canyon City out­-and-back. We chat­ted briefly about how our days were go­ing, then hiked a bit to­geth­er up a lit­tle climb.

It turns out we live near each oth­er and he’s some­one I no­ticed in my wave as­sign­ment that I thought, “he­h, I won­der if I’ll end up run­ning with that guy.” It was­n’t un­til the very end that we ac­tu­al­ly talked to each oth­er, but I let him get on with it and run ahead as I was still most­ly walk­ing. I’d see him leav­ing Ta­ble Mesa and told him to go on and get that buck­le, which he did in 12:28, rough­ly 2:30 af­ter leav­ing the aid sta­tion.

Af­ter that I was fair­ly close and the sun was set­ting, so I picked up the pace a lit­tle bit as I heard the com­mo­tion of the aid sta­tion. As I en­tered, who was stand­ing there all alone ready to help me out? My wife. It was­n’t even like she was stand­ing with a group of peo­ple cheer­ing on run­ners as they came in, she was just stand­ing out in the mid­dle of nowhere, prob­a­bly for a very long time.

I gave her a hug and just broke down. That was it. She was ready to get me go­ing for the next seg­ment but I could­n’t. Thank­ful­ly she brought some ex­tra stuff based on the text I sent from Black Canyon City, but I was still not pre­pared enough to do it and I wor­ried that I’d be out fin­ish­ing those fi­nal 12 miles stum­bling around in the dark for 5 hours. Should I have pre­pared bet­ter in or­der to get that done? Ab­so­lute­ly. But I failed even the ba­sic prepa­ra­tion to make sure I could do last pos­si­ble thing to get my­self across the line. It re­al­ly suck­s.

From there we sat in the car for a bit warm­ing up and telling her about the day, then went to the fin­ish line to grab my bag. Then we ate some cal­zones, tried to get some rest, then drove an­oth­er 14 hours home.

For Next Time

Attainable Goals and Supporting Them

This seems pret­ty ob­vi­ous, but I al­so thought I had pre­pared well enough that I was do­ing the right thing. I know what paces I should fall back to in cer­tain sec­tion­s, and I think my over­all time goals are not too far off of what I’m ca­pa­ble of. I might go slight­ly more con­ser­va­tive but still want it to be a true chal­lenge.

Just fin­ish” will be the back­up goal, and putting to­geth­er the nec­es­sary gear to sup­port that is go­ing to be a sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er pri­or­i­ty next time. It was ba­si­cal­ly an af­ter-thought this time, which means it re­al­ly was­n’t a goal if I was­n’t re­al­ly work­ing to­wards it and pre­par­ing for it.

Wear a Vest

In sup­port­ing the goal­s, hav­ing what I need on the course is some­thing that will need to im­prove. Even some of the ac­tu­al­ly fast guys who just do hand­helds ac­tu­al­ly start­ed this race with a vest and dropped it at some point.

50K is prob­a­bly my new lim­it for get­ting away with no vest.

Strength Work

The way to get bet­ter and faster at run­ning is to run more, not lift weight­s, but the sus­tain­abil­i­ty prob­lem I had was less with be­ing able to hold the pace but more with the im­pact that the ter­rain had on me. Car­dio­vas­cu­lar­ly I felt re­al­ly good through­out this, so I’m do­ing some­thing right there. Slow­ing down would help slight­ly, but ul­ti­mate­ly that makes for more steps and more time which makes for a lot more im­pact to be tak­en.

Build­ing up the pos­te­ri­or chain, es­pe­cial­ly with the known im­bal­ance that I have, is go­ing to be key to build­ing a body that can keep up with the paces that the rest of my body can put down. Hip thrust­s, good morn­ings, RDL­s, squat­s, etc. are on the menu. Band­ed ex­er­cis­es like clamshells to build up the ad­duc­tors are some­thing I’ve done in the past that need to come back. Prob­a­bly some an­kle strength­en­ing stuff as well.

Hard days should be hard, so I’ll start mix­ing some of this in af­ter work­out­s.

Keep the Mental Game Up

Matt Fitzger­ald’s “The Come­back Quo­tient” is a pret­ty good read about be­ing an “ul­tra­real­ist” and how to “ac­cep­t, em­brace, and ad­dress” things that come up in en­durance events. Af­ter hav­ing too many rough runs dur­ing my post-in­jury come­back where I was just a men­tal wreck, I had to do some­thing about it. I’m al­most done with it, but it’s prob­a­bly worth a re­vis­it be­fore races as it’s a fair­ly quick read and a good boost.

Ad­die Bra­cy, who got fifth at this race, has a book com­ing out in a few months called “Men­tal Train­ing for Ul­tra­run­ning” that I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing.

The End


I fin­ished Way Too Cool 50K in March 2020 just sec­onds un­der my 4:30 goal, and ap­par­ent­ly did so with a bro­ken foot. I felt it a lit­tle bit while run­ning but thought it was just a mi­nor tweak and noth­ing sig­nif­i­can­t. A few hours af­ter the race it was ex­treme­ly painful, and end­ed up be­ing a stress frac­ture of my sec­ond metatarsal. I spent prob­a­bly two months in a plas­tic air­cast and then about a month of reg­u­lar shoes but no run­ning, then eased back in­to train­ing around Ju­ly.


I mapped where to go and then drove there, and guess who was wrong? Me. She was like “do you think it’s that big tent over there?” (it was) and I said some­thing like “this is what the web­site says” as I drove to this emp­ty dirt road hav­ing none of the fea­tures I de­scribed.