Last Saturday I ran my second ultra in as many weeks. The previous week it was the Kettle Moraine 100K. I did reasonably well at that one and was just looking to finish Bryce before dark and have some fun hanging out with fellow HUMR's, along with my wife and sister-in-law, for the weekend. I was going to run the race last year, but a bout of surgery left me on the sidelines crewing and just hanging around.
RD Matt got us all started right on time at 6am. The first 1-2 miles were on some dirt road. This allowed the field to spread out before we got to the single track.
So, my stated goal for this race was to just go out and have a good time, enjoy the scenery, and finish in a reasonable time. I was still a bit tired from the 100K a week before. Secretly I had a time goal of somewhere around 12 hours. I figured that if I felt good, I should be able to finish in that amount of time.
|See all the runners? Yeah, neither can I|
The next section was another long stretch of nine miles. This section had us doing some serious climbing. A couple of short steeper sections, but nothing huge.
|Happy to see my peeps|
Time wise, I was doing fine and well on my target of a 12 hour finish. When I left Blubber Creek, I felt the competitive side of me start to kick in a bit. I've never won a race, or even come close, but I still like to try and run my best time given the conditions. I felt good, the legs were doing fine. I knew that I still had teh hardest part of the course coming up, but at least I was over half way done. So I picked it up a bit, tried to do more running on the uphills.
The next section from 27-35 miles seemed like a lot of dirt road and a fair amount of climbing. At the time I was playing tag with a few other runners. I'd pass, then they'd pass. Stuff like that kind of bugs me, I don't know why. I figure if you're going to pass, stay ahead, but on the other hand, I was unable to stay ahead when I would pass.
I ran into the aid station at 35 miles (Kanab Creek) still feeling pretty good. This aid station was also on the edge of a cliff and had stunning views to enjoy. I didn't spend a lot of time here, just a couple of minutes. I knew that in another five miles, I would again see the HUMR crew.
Hal Koerner coming up the road. Well, the guy I was running with had to get a photo with his running idol. We chatted with Hal for a couple of minutes. Turns out his wife was running and he was waiting for her. He actually knew who I was once I introducd myself. Kind of surprising actually. Anyway, as we ran into the aid station, I told Zach to grab a beer from the HUMR people. He had never heard of drinking a beer during a race. I assured him that it was like drinking the nectar of the gods. Anyway, Lane got me half a PBR, got Zach half a PBR and I grabbed some stuff to eat from the aid station table and left. I knew the longest climb would happen over the next five miles and I wanted to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. The first mile out of that aid station was a gradual climb on some single track along a creek. Meadows, trees, sunshine, great trail, just all around awesomeness. Zac Marion, was charging down the road and stopped to chat with me for a minute and give me a hug. He looked great and was stoked to be running in first place. A few minutes later, Leslie Howlett came running by. She was looking strong as well.
|See those white canyons in the distance? Zion National Park|
A few minutes later I made it to the last aid station before the finish. This aid station was on the highest point of the course and from 9500', I could see 30-40 miles south into Zion National Park. As I was eating and drinking, a lady that ran with me across the Grand Canyon several years ago came in. I hadn't seen Olga since that run almost six years earlier.
|Saw this good looking lady on the trail. Olga King|
So, overall, I had a pretty good race. I did better than I thought I would. I felt good the entire day, no stomach issues, no foot or leg issues. Just a good time.
The race? The course was incredible, phenomenal scenery at every turn. The aid stations were well stocked and very helpful. They had anything I needed.
Shoes - I ran in my old Altra Lone Peaks. I think this is going to be my go-to shoe. No foot issues at all. No blisters, no trashed toenails. I wish they had a bit more cush. I need to get me a new pair though.
Drink - I think I drank about two gallons of water. Although the day was kind of cool (upper 60's), it was breezy, very dry, and very sunny.
Food - I didn't take my usual baby food for this race. I figured that since it was only 50 miles, I could get my with stuff from the aid stations. Nutella wraps are awesome, as is pickle juice. A fair amount of Coke was consumed, one beer, and some Trader Joe's trail mix left over from the Buffalo Run.
Time - 12:33:01, 36th out of 109 finishers. Good enough for 4th in my age group. So, not too bad.
Here's some more random pics form the race and in the park the next day.
If you get a chance, go run this race. Well organized, great, well stocked aid stations, well marked course, phenomenal scenery, tough course, but not overly so. I think I'll be running this one again next year.
|The pink cliffs near the finish|
|In the park with Karen and her sister Kate the next day|
|Random scenery pic|
Added bonus, short restaurant review
We ate most of our meals at the Bryce Canyon Pines restaurant. This place had great homemade food. Seriously, I think virtually everything on the menu was homemade. The bread was baked in house. All of the pies were baked on site. For my meals, I had the hot open faced turkey sandwich twice because it was so good. Homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, all on homemade sourdough. The pie? Very tasty. I had the lemon cream pie while Karen had the blueberry cream pie. So, if you go down to Bryce, check this place out. I think it has way better food than Ruby's, and it's cheaper as well.
Miscellaneous info -
Here's my Garmin info before the battery ran out.