Going into this run my idea was to see just how well I could execute an ultra at altitude (6000-7000 ft) as a prelude to Waldo in August. Knowing that Waldo is at similar elevation along with plenty of climbing has me pretty worried. How can this flat-lander handle thin air? I remember Flagstaff really kicking my butt so I went into S.O.B. knowing I'd have to pay very close attention to my exertion in an effort to avoid red-lining myself early in the run and crashing miserably.
Well, details to follow, but I have to say, this was the BEST 50K I have ever run. It wasn't the fastest, but it was the very best executed run at this distance I have ever managed. I finished feeling very strong and was almost exactly evenly paced throughout the whole run. From the halfway point out and back I ran nearly the identical splits.
I did the early start and this made for comfortable temps (55-75 degrees for the day). I was determined to be very disciplined from the beginning. My friend Jerry started off with me and at 100 yards I could tell I couldn't keep up with him so I waved goodbye and saw him at the finish line later. I kept a pace such that my heart rate stayed in the 130-160 range. Although it was initially frustrating to have to walk some fairly tame uphills, the thin air did not allow me to be as aggressive as I would have been able to at sea level. I packed my ego in my bag and just kept track of my pulse. I ran when I could and I walked when I had to. I let people pass and didn't get sucked into running faster than I could, just to keep up with them.
Every aid station came long before I expected it. I ate well and drank well the whole time and never had much of a loss of appetite issue. I never had a low point and felt relaxed and happy the whole way. I enjoyed the spectacular alpine views above tree line, although the peaks we would normally have had in view were obscured by forest fire smoke from numerous blazes in the area (nothing dangerous near by). There were some wonderful long, long downhill stretches that reminded me of the canyons at WS, and then there were the accompanying uphill hikes, too. It was all enjoyable. I never fell and I only stumbled a few times. I ran the last mile hard just for the fun of the final kick, but not enough to hurt myself. My finish time was 7:13.
Finishing as strong as I did is a huge confidence boost for the next two runs. I think I have developed enough discipline to hopefully execute things well again for the 50 mile and 100K. Although I still have some healthy respect for Waldo and don't take for granted that I actually can finish that one within the time cut offs, I believe that I have a good shot at it if I run smart.