Running 50 miles

If you somehow found this, thinking it would be a blog post on how to run 50 miles, I’m sorry. I’m trying to figure that out myself. Instead, this is my post about my thoughts and goals for running my first 50-miler in Antelope Canyon this Saturday.

The furthest I’ve run is a 50k (~31+ miles). That was in Bandera in 2018. I signed up for Antelope Canyon on June 7th. I’d also signed up for the Mt. Hood Marathon, which happened on June 27th. I sprained my ankle on a rim-to-rim-to-rim adventure in the Grand Canyon on May 18th, so I had to drop out of the marathon. My goal at Mt. Hood was to run a Boston-qualifying marathon. I’d also signed up for the Houston Marathon on January 19th. My goal at Houston was to run a sub-3-hour marathon.

So I spent the back half of the summer rehabilitating my ankle. Fall rolled around and I PR’d at the Run for the Water 10-miler. And then I captained the Coast Busters in the Capital to Coast 223-mile relay for the last time. And then I dropped into training for Houston.

I hit my A goal and ran 2:56 at Houston. My only focus throughout the Fall was Houston. I never thought about Antelope Canyon. I told myself I could think about Antelope Canyon on January 20th. So, on January 20th, with a boost in confidence after having run a sub-3 marathon, I started thinking about how I’d train myself to run 50 miles in less than two months.

Exactly one week after the Houston Marathon it was my birthday. So Elise and I went out and ran part of the Austin Marathon course. Well, she rode her bike. I ran 21 miles. And then I jumped into marathon training again. I signed up for the Austin Marathon on February 16th. I figured if I ran two marathons within 4 weeks, that’d keep me fit.

My goal for Austin was to run a 3:15. That would be Boston-qualifier. I wound up running a 3:11 and had a blast. And I came away healthy and happy.

After the Austin Marathon, I just kind of jumped back into marathon training again, except I knew I had to turn it up to 11. I now had around 3 weeks to eek in some training for a 50-mile ultra trail race.

The week after the Austin Marathon I kind of took it easy, but run a 12-miler on Saturday and a 16-miler on Sunday.

The following week I ran some miles during the week. On Saturday I ran 10 hard miles of hill repeats, and then Abiram, Shawn and I ran the 26-mile Goodwater Trail that circumnavigates Lake Georgetown.

Now we’re just 6 days away from jumping on a plane and heading west so I can run the Antelope Canyon 50-miler. I feel really strong and confident fitness-wise. I’ve run three marathons in 6 weeks. I’ve kept a really strong base. I’ve run some strong and fast back-to-backs. I haven’t run much long, slow distance runs, but I’m confident that the hard and fast running will compensate. Honestly, what I’ve been stressing most about is my drop bag. I have no idea what to pack in a drop bag. I’m trying to imagine what I’ll want at mile 20-something, and then again at mile 30-something. And then possibly at mile 40-something. At this point, it’s just an exercise in learning. I’ve packed some Pringles, a few beef sticks, some salt tabs, some Spring Energy gels, a towel, some wet wipes, some anti-chafe goop, band-aids, a fresh shirt. I guess I’ll be okay. I was really stressed about my drop bag yesterday. I don’t know why. I guess it’s because I didn’t know where to start. I finally decided that less is more. If I try to bring everything that might save me, I’m opening up more opportunities to fail.

Fifty miles is a new distance for me. So, because of that, I don’t really have “goals” for this race. Instead I have plans. And those plans are based on experience from my one ultramarathon thus far. I think my plans can turn into goals along the way. So, here’s the plan:

  • Line up at the front. I don’t want to get stuck midpack amidst a bunch of selfie sticks and bloggers. I want to get to the slot canyons first and early so I can experience them without a crowd.
  • Make it to the next aid station.
  • Stay steady. I’ll slow down once I’m through the slot canyons but maintain an even clip. Walk when I have to, run when I need to. Drink and eat. Drink and eat.
  • 20 miles I’ll get my drop bag. Eat and check-in with myself.
  • Make it to the next aid station.
  • Steady and strong. Drink and eat.
  • 38 miles I’ll get my drop bag. Eat and check-in with myself.
  • Grind.
  • First in my age division.
  • Top 10
  • Top 5
  • Podium
  • Kiss Elise & the girls, Navajo taco and a beer.