|Happy to be finishing!|
The Grand Ridge Trail Run is put on by Evergreen Trail Runs. The 50k course consists of two loops with a double lollipop and an out-and-back to cover the distance. One aid station near the start of the out-and-back provided four stops while on course plus aid (and drop) at the halfway point (and finish).
From a "race" perspective I feel like I'm starting to nail down my plans headed into a long run like this - with what and how much to fuel, what gear to wear and carry, and how to pace early and late in the race. I was not at all nervous going into the race - after two marathons, one 50k and a four week training cycle in the nine previous weeks I knew I could cover the distance and was strong and ready for the run.
I had the following goals in the following order:
- Finish (iow "be safe")
- Finish under 7:00 (iow "have a fun race")
- Finish under 6:25:29 (checkout White River to know why I chose this time)
- Finish sub 6:00 (run really, really well for 30 miles)
Gear - I chose my Inov-8 212s + Inov-8 Debris Gaiter 32s + Injinji Outdoor Toe Socks. This was the only tough decision I made as I'd not put a really long run in on the 212s and they are approaching minimalist shoes. But they are super comfortable and have great traction so I decided to start with them. I dropped my other shoes and extra socks at the halfway point but didn't need them during the race.
I did spend some time pulling up my socks during the run so I need to look into that with the socks. But overall I had no feet problems especially compared to Grey Rock where I had blisters on every toe and the outside of my heels - nary a hot spot with this gear.
Fuel - stuck with Hammer Perpetuem for fluid and Clif Roks for solid fuel. Brought some Sport Beans. Took some light aid on course which mainly consisted of Clif Bloks. I carried one bottle which was slightly risky but this worked out great. I had extra perpetuem to refill on the 2nd & 4th trips through the aid station. Swapped out bottles at the halfway point rather than having to refill manually. Also had my fuel for the 2nd half ready to go so I could just grab and stash.
The only problem (my own fault) was that I thought there was aid at the turnaround point which was not the case. First time through the out-and-back I was about 2/3 through my fluid so I had to be mindful and conserve on the way back. Not coincidentally this was probably the worst part of the run for me. I was able to plan better the second time through and made sure I drank water at the aid (v. just refilling) and topped off my bottle.
Training - going into Grey Rock I had run only about 15 miles of what I would consider trails. I was also coming off a good marathon effort just two weeks before and I had some tired legs. I did about 45 miles of trail running before Grand Ridge (which just about doubled the total amount of trails I've run!) and with help from Coach PRS started throwing in back-to-back long runs and great core work. So, I was stronger, better rested, and had done far more skill training than for my previous race.
Scouting - I cannot overstate how much difference this made. Sure, by the four loop we all know the lower loop of Grand Ridge like the back of our hands but having run out here several times I knew how the course would run. There was a bit of confusion about the route for some people but this was not an issue for me so I could focus on running versus having to worry about missing a turn. I also knew how rough the climb back up to the ridge on the out-and-back was so knew not to bust a move on the way out. VERY VALUABLE TO SCOUT THE ROUTES.
Pace - still working on this. I was a bit fast through aid #1 but held a really great pace on the out-and-back. Started to slow down coming into halfway and then was amazingly consistent through the second half. Overall I took what the trail and my legs gave me so I don't think I executed poorly but need to think about how to hold a consistent pace longer.
|Grand Ridge 50k Elevation Profile|
|Still feeling good at halfway!|
|The pack of runners at the start|
|THIS is what the end of a fun run looks like!|