Monday, November 16, 2009

One Hill at a Time 50K

The three 50K finishers The Race Directors, Volunteers and Frosty!
Saturday, November 14 was the One Hill at a Time 50K on the country roads near Concordia, KS. This was my second year in a row to run the 50K there. Again as last year, my friend Jesse Penna joined me for the run to help crew. You don't really need a crew for a 50K but it's nice and certainly helps. Besides, there was a six-mile loop that I kept running out of water with and I would've been much more dehydrated if Jesse weren't there to fill me up with water and heed. A little over half way through the run I realized that breaking the five hour mark was possible so I went and head and went for it, never stopping again for anything, not even for a second at an aid-station. So thanks to Jesse I finished in 4 hours 57 minutes and 35 seconds.

The One Hill at a Time course is on country roads that are completely un-Kansas-like. Every mile section has several hills, some are very, very steep. I joked that at least two of the hills are white capped with snow and go above timberline. I tried to run 75% or more of all the hills, just walking the steepest parts, but slowly and steadily to the top, and then would fly down the back side making up for any lost time. Leaving the aid station at the 25K mark I was at exactly 2 hours and 30 minutes. I was feeling fine but doubting my ability to run an even or negative split for an ultra. I've run a negative splits for marathons a few times but never in an ultra. I've tended to fade a bit near the end of 50K's or 50 milers, which is understandable? But this time with a decent taper since the Run for Missions 100 miler a few weeks ago and lots of miles under my legs in the summer and fall, I was able to pick up the pace. The last 6 miles I ran just about 9 minute miles and the last 2 were faster than that with the last mile sub 8, I believe.

It was a beautiful day in Kansas with a light cool breeze from the north but plenty of sunshine. Once again, the race directors and volunteers were an absolute blast and a great joy! From an inflatable Frosty the Snowman to the friendliest and most-encouraging and supportive aid station volunteers, the race is just a blast! When it was all over, after catching my breath, I felt like I really didn't want to leave! We waited for the other runners to come in, finishing the 50k and stood around talking and sharing stories. The run grew from last year by what appeared to be about two-fold. Likewise, the 50K field while small, was twice as big as last year, though one runner had to drop at mile 25 due to a foot problem. The second-place runner finished about 30 min or so behind me and the next runner only about 20 min or so behind him. There were also options for 5K, 10K, 15K, and 25K including a 10K relay. I highly recommend the run for 2010 to everybody!