Roland Blais ran: If you would have tol...

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  • 50 miles
  • 11:38 time
  • 13:51 pace
  • 5958 calories
  • 7964 ft climb
  • 0 max hr
  • 0 avg hr
    • Currently 5/5 Effort.
    effort 5/5
great American River 50 Mile Endurance Run 50.4 mi 11:38 13:51 pace

If you would have told me 2 years and 2 months ago that I would be running, and completing a 50 mile endurance run, I'd have said "You're Crazy. I'm just training for a 10k, then maybe a half marathon." Much has happened between then and now.

A lot of training had gone into preparing for this race, but because I hadn't been keeping up with my midweek runs, I had a lot of anxiety in the weeks leading up to race day. I was receiving lots of advice, encouragement, and support from my friends and family, and Saturday morning, I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

I'd been fortunate enough to stay with friends in Auburn the night before, and since two of them were running as well, I even had a ride to the start. But even better, was the company that Rachel and Rick afforded. While I knew I wouldn't be running the race with them (they're planned pace was a bit more aggressive than mine), it was a comfort hanging out with them before the start. 6am arrived quickly, and we were off.

I'd kept up with Rachel and Rick for about 1/2 mile, but they went out of sight soon as I dropped my pace down. I quickly caught up to Patrick, who was doing a run/walk. We chatted for a few, and since I was just running steadily, I headed on. A few miles up I managed to catch up with a group of Fellow RRF runners, Ivy, Laurie, Lynn, Michael, and Rusty. It was nice seeing familiar faces again, and I had a great couple of miles running with them, but lost them at mile 8 when I had to go stand in line for biological needs.

Upon exiting the aid station at mile 8, I ran into Patrick again, and joined him in his run/walk strategy. It worked *great*. The rest of the run to Beals point was very enjoyable. Good company, nice scenery along the river, and with the exception of the many cyclists expressing their douchbaggery to the fullest, I had a great run. I only felt a bit tired around mile 11, but that seemed to be a common theme the last few races. I just kept going, ate at mile 15, and was soon feeling better. Shortly before hitting Beals Point we caught up with Laurie, who was struggling a bit, but still moving forward with intention.

Coming into Beals Point, after passing the Marathon Mark, was a small relief. I arrived feeling pretty good; a little tired, but still strong. I credit a lot of that to Patrick's strategy, and my diligence with hydration, salt, and nutrition. I stuck to my plan of gel & salt every 5 miles, salt and food at the aid stations, and perpetuem every other 10 miles. So far so good! I changed shoes, thanked my crew (my wife Laura), picked up my pacer Liani, and we set off for the second half, into uncharted territory.

The first few miles were great. The path soon turned to single track trail, and we were having a good time chatting and running. I had lost Patrick at Beals Point, but I did see him up ahead in the distance. We also caught up with Michael and Tod, who was pacing him. Michael was walking at the time but looked strong. I made a game of trying to catch up with Patrick, because trying my own run/walk timing was proving difficult - I needed his clocking skills back. No matter, I ran when I felt like it, and walked when I didn't, and soon we were caught back up and running with Patrick and his pacer, Myles. The run run/walk wasn't working anymore anyway, because the timing never coincided with the grade.

After hitting the 50k mark, I knew I'd probably be able to finish, and even finish before the cutoff, but in the back of my mind there was still this worry... that's probably why I was handling the downhills fairly aggressively. Liani even remarked that I was setting a good pace and didn't need to worry about finishing in time, but I was having fun on the descents and didn't feel like cutting back, so we soon pulled away from Patrick and Myles.

At Buzzard's Cove, I was greeted with a nice surprise. Ice Cream! Brandon had told me to make sure and have some, so I did. I didn't eat the cone, though, because I didn't want to divert from the meal plan too much. PB&J, madelines, some salt & a water refill, and we were off.

The next mini goal was to hit the 40 mile mark. We did, and I felt the biggest wave of relieve all day. I knew that even if we walked the rest of the day, I'd finish before the cut off. I was going to get my jacket. I didn't walk though the rest of the way though; we were still hitting the descents rather aggressively except when it got too technical.

At Rattlesnake Bar, near the 41 mile mark, I heard my wife whistling as we approached. At the bottom of the hill we stopped and greeting out support crew, and refilled out bottles and bellies. We also joined up with Ivy and Rusty on the way out of the aid station, and ran with them the rest of the way. Out of Rattlesnake I knew that we had 7 miles of running, and 7 miles of "Bullshit!" to quote another runner. The 7 miles went rather well, except I gradually became less and less quick on the descents, and got tired of actually having to "run" when we weren't climbing a hill.

Hitting the hill at mile 47 was interesting. I knew from the elevation chart that the last 3 miles were going to be steep, but Ivy told me that the first half mile was rough, and then "it becomes like McCarran". That was uplifting because I could handle that - McCarran blvd has its steeps, but they're manageable. That first half mile *was* a bear - longest half mile ever. But then, just as Ivy said, it leveled out for a bit, and then started again with a less hellish incline. I told Liani I had no interest in running any of the flats, or run/walking up, and she was cool with that. About midway up the hill I heard a distant shout of "Roland!" I turned and saw Patrick quite a ways away. I waved "hi", and he waved "keep going", so I did. A short time later Patrick came up and tapped me on the shoulder! What a show off. It was actually quite good to see him, and he was looking strong. He kept on going as I walked at a slower pace. That was ok, every step past mile 31 was a PR anyway. The strapping young men refilling our water bottles at mile 49 were quite impressive, running back and forth from the walkers, to the aid station, and back with a freshly filled bottle in hand - they must have been clocking 6 minute miles. It made me laugh, but in a good way, and their encouragement and good spirits got me ready for the last mile. The loud metal music blaring from a parked car helped too. Rusty and I wondered if the Jesus like figure that running with the bottle carriers was Anton Krupika, but even while bearing a more than slight resemblance to both Anton and Jesus, I decided he wasn't either of them. Asking for a pic in either case would have been awkward, anyway.

Right before the entrance to the park, less than a quarter of a mile to the finish, Liani nudged me and said to run the rest in. I didn't want to - we were still on a hill (Ok, it was a small one, but it was still an incline...) We started running again, and it felt good to turn onto the grass from the street. Right before the finish you step back onto pavement before you run under the finish line, and it was right there I almost took a nose dive - I actually heard the crowd breath a collective "WHOAH" as I stumbled. But it was only for a moment, and I quickly recovered and Liani and I crossed the finish line still smiling.

50 miles done. I'd have never have thunk it.

My crewchief Laura gave me some water, congratulated me, then pointed me towards the food. Afterwards it was time for a quick massage by "Monsters of Massage", and then a beer or 3. I quickly downed my first Epic IPA, then had a Rogue Bacon Maple Ale, courtesy of Tod. Thanks Tod! I then got to hang out and wait for a couple of other friends to come in, while I talked and mingled with friends, old and new, who'd either been running, pacing, crewing, or being supportive.

Not too long after Michael, Laurie and Tod came in, and after some more catching up and swapping stories, it was time to go. A few hours later I had been fed twice more, arrived home, and fell asleep within seconds of my head hitting the pillow. I don't usually remember my dreams, but I remembered a vague dream from that night. I was having a good run, on a trail, in the mountains. Go figure.

As I said before, when I started running I had no desire to run beyond a half marathon, but I was fortunate enough to discover a great group of runners and friends, who have always been there when I needed advice, a run, a gel, encouragement, or a beer. There are many, many people to thank. Too many to list here. But among them are - My wife Laura, for being encouraging at every step, and tolerant of every long run. Lynn & Michael, for having such a great running group, and teaching me to "Enjoy the miles". Liani, for being a wonderful running companion and agreeing to pace me when I asked you so late in the game. Becky - for being a great running parter and just generally Epic, and Jason for being a great crewchief on our long runs, and an expert provider of fermented beverages. Alane, my first pacer, for encouraging me to start, and Meghan, for encouraging me to do 20 miles. Patrick, for being there at the beginning of the 10k session and then later convincing me to skip the 1/2 training and go into the marathon group, and to continuously keep going further, never looking back. Rick and Bonnie - for the wonderful hospitality. And to everyone else I've run with since I started 2 years ago, thank you - and I hope we run again soon.