Saturday, April 21, 2012

Learning at the Hyner 50k

Some hang-gliders launching off of Hyner View

This is going to be a very short Race Report.  I ran my first official race since completing the Barkley 3 short weeks ago.  I drove the 50 minutes up to Hyner, PA and took part in the first annual 50k race.  The Hyner View Challenge has been going on for years, but has always been limited to a 25k.  This year they added an extra loop that splits off of the 25k course at around mile 7.  The loop is about 15 miles, and then comes back into the 25k course and finishes the same.  This course is notorious for having some tough climbs.  To give you an idea, here is the elevation profile for the 25k
4225' of gain over the 25k course.  The 50k had about 6500'

So first the good news:
I actually faired pretty well.  I decided to indeed stay registered for the 50k (I could have dropped down to the 25k), despite still be a bit tired and sore from the Barkley.  Result:  I crossed the finish line just over 6 hours and in 11th place (10th men).  The overall winner finished in 5 hours, a full hour ahead of me.  The course was tough, feisty, and taxing.  Some of the hills really were Barkley-grade.  Some even have Barkley-sounding names like "Humble Hill" and "S.O.B. Hill"(which was actually a climb up a gas-line cut!).  My right foot was a little sore during the race, and I did have a some trouble with my stomach and with my calf muscles cramping.  The stomach did finally settle about mile 20, and I took a few extra s-caps to calm my cramping down.  It seemed to do the trick.

S.O.B. Hill.  Now that's what I'm talkin' about.

The race was very quick-paced and had some incredible vistas.  The first lookout at "Hyner View" was spectacular.  I had to stop to enjoy it for a little while; it was truly stunning.   I started with the "lead pack", and felt strong on the uphills.  Where I lost some time was actually on the downhills.  I had to brake a bit on the downs as my foot was hurting, and I didn't want to risk injury.  I passed people all morning on the climbs, but many of them would re-pass me on the downs.  The add-on section was actually a bit easier than the traditional 25k portion of the course and featured a lot grassy service roads, so I was able to run most of those 15 miles.  In the end, I fell into a very comfortable spot and finished without any other 50k runner in sight either in front or behind me.  I honestly can't complain at all with my result.  I probably could have shaved 5-10 minutes off my time by running on a few easy hills that I chose to walk.  Also, had I been able to outright run the downs, I might have saved another 5-10.  Considering my 50k PR is 5:54, and that this course was WAY more challenging, I actually feel that I ran my best 50k.  With all this said, however.....

The bad news, aka: the realization:
I came to realize today, that the 50k just not my distance.  Quite honestly, it is just a very awkward distance for me.  With a 50 or 100-miler, I know to be conservative.  I have a solid game plan on how to attack the race.  But with 50k, it's short enough (to me), that I get lured by the temptation to push it harder than I normally would, thinking, "'s only a 50k! Let's smoke it!".   Well, 50 kilometers is still an ultra and still a long way...especially if you are completely burned out.  What I discovered is that I just push too hard and end up being miserable for the last 10 miles.  Truly miserable.  I had this exact same experience last year at the Laurel Highlands 50k.  I loved the course and the race, but felt AWFUL during it.

I don't run ultras to feel awful.  I run ultras for the challenge, to enjoy the outdoors, and to look inside myself (as cliche' as that sounds).  I want to be smiling during an ultra.  Not cursing.  Sure there will always be rough patches during races, but I don't think that I should ever be continuously miserable...unless of course I'm injured or sick.  SO...I came to realize today somewhere around mile 22, when I was feeling particularly crappy, that I just don't think I want to run anymore 50k races.  They are just not for me.  If I need a 25-30 training run, I would much rather spend a day playing in Rothrock State Forest at my own pace, and not be racing like a mad man.

So thank you Hyner View for the beautiful course, the spectacular views, the ridiculous post-race food and festivities, and the gathering of good running friends.  I was very glad to be there today, just not happy with my race strategy and how it made me feel in the end.

hike on everyone...


Oh, and as a side note.  Today was John Muir's birthday.  All those times when people ask that question,  "If you could sit down and talk with one person alive or dead...who would it be?" Mr. Muir is definitely at the top of my list.

"When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty." - John Muir

1 comment:

Chris Reed said...

Hey John, congratulations on your finish at the Hyner and double, triple, quadruple congrats on your finish at the barkley this year! I am in awe of you guys! Nice race report. I am kinda the same way about 50k's - they just plain hurt (especially the last 10). Hope to get to run with you sometime and hear about your barkley adventure.