Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Silver Rush Thoughts...

With my first ultra only days away, I thought I'd jot down some of my thoughts lest I forget my pre-race state of mind after the event. Overall, I'm feeling great and excited to get this party started. I've had my best summer of running simply by being on trails and getting out and exploring new places. The journey in preparing to run Silver Rush has been amazing.

I would love to have an elaborate plan for this race, but until I get an ultra under my belt, I'm going to have "finishing strong" be my goal. If that is 8.5 hours...awesome! If that's 10 hours...I'll be equally satisfied. I'll have the Steamboat 50 in September to take what I've learned and improve.

So here's a quick four on what I feel I have going for me and four of my concerns.


1. Training - my weekly mileage on trails has gone to levels I have not experienced before. My low weeks were in the 50’s and my high weeks in the 70’s. Through it all, my body has adapted, grown stronger, and I’ve stayed injury-free.

2. Long training runs - ideally, I would have liked to get in one run in the 30 mile range, but it wasn’t in the cards. Since May, I did get in 7 trail runs of 20+ miles. Three of them were in the 25-26 range. My trip up/down Pikes was a real confidence booster as I felt like I could have kept running.

3. Fueling - In previous races, I’ve never fueled with anything but sports drink. I feel good about my plan of using water/s-caps/gels as my main fueling strategy. I will take some solid food at the aid stations, but it will be moderate and whatever looks good to me at the time.

4. Altitude - many of my long runs have been at altitude. I feel confident in my ability to keep a solid pace below 11,000’ without getting dizzy or feeling other effects of oxygen deprivation. Silver Rush climbs to just under 12K four times, so I think I’ll be okay. I’m sure it will be something else that gets me before the altitude does.


1. Pacing - I’m still not sure what my correct 50 mile pace is. Ideally, I’ll start slow and keep the heart rate down. I think the first 25 will come relatively pain-free for me. The big question is the next 25! I’ve never run anything beyond 26, so those miles in the 30’s and 40’s will be an unknown until I encounter them. If I start too fast, I could be looking at a long survival shuffle to the finish. Hopefully not.

2. Weather - absolutely nothing I can do about it, but even 70 degrees feels quite hot at over 10K feet. The forecast is currently partly cloudy and high of 72. Since most of my training runs have been in the early mornings, I’m not that prepared for running under the hot sun, and it looks like the course is exposed. Last year, runner’s dealt with a few hours of hail. I hope we avoid afternoon storms as dodging lightning around treeline is not what I’m looking forward to.

3. Food/Fuel - While I have a good fuel plan, I’m concerned again about those final 25 miles. Can I still take in gels? Will they make me gag at that point? We’ll find out soon!

4. Tripping - I’ve noticed that when my legs start getting tired, I don’t pick my feet up enough. That has resulted in one major fall and several other close calls. I need to stay sharp mentally to navigate the trails/ jeep roads when they turn rocky. While a fall isn’t the end of the world, it can deflate things a bit. If it happens, then I need to be ready to get back up and keep going.

There's nothing left now other than to toe the start line and then keep moving forward for 50 miles. I'll post a race report sometime next week.


  1. Good luck! I too just did my first ultra this summer (San Juan Solstice). My fuel plan was a gel every 30 minutes. Stuck w/ it the whole time...never had any problems. And, I kept telling can do more and tolerate more than you think you can... Enjoy the ride! Hope to see you in Steamboat.

  2. Wow Jim, I can't believe you ran SJS for your first ultra! I have always thought of that race as something I needed to "graduate" into. I'm seriously considering it for next year. Well done. You've caused me to re-evaluate my gel plan and I think I may shorten the time between taking them. Typically, I went 45-60 minute intervals. I'm thinking shorter might be better for the long haul. I like the mantra you used. I haven't thought of one for Silver Rush yet, so I may steal yours. I'm really looking forward to Steamboat. It's fun to know others who are in too!

  3. Good Luck! Did my first Ultra last year at Steamboat and had an amazing experience. Sounds like your training plan went very similarly to mine and my race went really smoothly. Finished faster than I expected and felt REALLY good throughout - actually ran the 2nd half 1 hour faster. If the course is suited for it, I would definitely shoot to run a negative split. Go way slowly at the start (I walked nearly the entire 1st climb to the top of Steamboat and then ran the remaining 40-45 miles). I hate gels, so I stuck with my tried and true granola bars, bananas, salty chips and diluted gatorade. I'd warn against eating anything too different from what you're used to - you never know how your body might react 35 miles into the run. Good luck!

  4. Actually, I ran the Moab Red Hot 50K in February as my "first" ultra (and my qualifier for SJS50).

    I was driving through Leadville on Sunday and saw from the highway what must have been the race finish. I couldn't convince the rest of the family to stop and watch.

    Hope the race went well.

  5. Jim - what time were you driving by? I finished at 3:13pm. Good call on not subjecting your family to unnecessary race events. You need to save that for when you're running! Moab is on my calendar, but I'm trying to talk my wife into the 33K!

    George - glad to hear of your success at Steamboat. I may employ your strategy of starting slow and shooting for a negative split. Well, I didn't try anything new to eat at Silver Rush, but still ran into problems. Let's just say I'll never touch an Ensure again!

  6. I was driving by around 1 p.m. or so. Heard a lot of applause as a lone runner was coming in. I wondered if it was the winner... I'd like to run the Moab 50K again...this time w/o the snow and mud of this past February!