On October 20, 2018, I ran the new PDTR 50 mile course. This is the first year to incorporate some new trails and they did not disappoint. I ran the 50K in 2016 so I knew that the new trails were going to add a new level of difficulty. For my first 50 mile run, I wanted to stay local because I know so many of the volunteers and other runners. It was so helpful to be hugged and encouraged by so many friends who knew the doubts I had before the race.
The old course for the 50 mile race repeated figure 8 loops 5 times. The new course is 3 25K loops plus an added on section to the first loop to make 50 miles. Our area had much needed rain in the two weeks leading up to the race and many of the trails flooded. It took a lot of man power and volunteers to clean up debris, repair bridges and get water off the trails. Hat’s off to the Race Directors for getting it done!! There was too much water in the lower section of the 50 mile add on loop they had to change the course for us. We repeated the small section and looped back to the start/finish and then did the 25K loop 3 times. A little more challenging as far as technicality goes, but you need to be flexible when you run ultras.
Race day the weather was predicted to start in the low 40’s and have a high of around 70 degrees which was pretty much what it was – just about perfect weather!! Not too cold and it certainly did not get as hot as the last few years, thank God! The 50 milers had a 15 minute head start because of the course change. We were going to start with the 50K, but since we were making a little loop back to the start finish, they needed us to be through there before the 25K started.
There were 27 50 milers. I placed myself near the back and the runners started to separate quickly on the single track. I was with a group of 6 other runners and we chatted and found out this was the first 50 mile race for all of us. Being very dark, we helped each other out by calling out “water” or “flag” so we knew what was ahead. As we neared the spot where we turned to go back to the start/finish a few people had taken a wrong turn. I knew right where we were, so I led us back to the start/finish so we could begin our first of three 25K loops. It was fun to run back through because all the 25K runners were ready for their start so we had 400+ people cheering for us! I didn’t need my headlight anymore, so I took it off and got my hat out of my drop bag, slathered on some sunscreen and took off.
Soon the fast 25K runners caught up to me and I saw some friends that were running it. I took my time, got some high fives at the first aid station and started the climb of Comanche Trail. I had run this trail a few times in my training and new I would be power hiking (aka walking) parts of it. The sun started to come out and I stopped to take a few pictures. Palo Duro Canyon is such a beautiful place! I realized I didn’t grab my sunglasses and would have to wait another 10 miles before I hit my drop bag again, but at least I had my hat.
I was fueling with Honey Stinger gels and Untapped Coffee Maple Syrup, Coke at aid stations and just the water in my hydration pack. We had a slight breeze in the morning so it didn’t feel too hot as the sun heated up the canyon. I made it back to the start/finish right at 4 hours, which is where I thought I would be, grabbed my sunglasses, repacked my vest with more gels and had some boiled salted potatoes at the aid station and took off for lap #2. I settled in with 3 other runners for the climb of Comanche again and we all talked about the course, running back ground, where we lived, family, etc. Funny how easy it is to talk to strangers when you are all running! I love that part of it. I figured the second loop would be the hardest mentally, because the third loop would just be all heart, plus I knew my son was going to pace me for part of the last loop.
I ran into more friends at the aid station and we hugged and chatted some, but I knew I needed to keep going, as I was slowing down a bit more than I wanted. I ran the back half of the 2nd loop better and made it back into the aid station close to where I wanted to be. My family was waiting for me and that was awesome!! By now I was really feeling the effects of 35 miles and my knee was getting very cranky. My stomach was a little queasy, but my coach had told me when that happens you aren’t eating enough. So I sucked down another gel even though I didn’t want to. I hobbled out of there with my son Aaron and we did fine until that final Comanche climb! I walked way more than I wanted to. Aaron was helpful in taking my mind off the run and the pain. We got to Rock Garden aid station and my husband was going to run 3 miles with me to Capitol Peak aid station. I was not feeling great and was getting worried about the time cutoff. I knew if I kept slowing down I wouldn’t make the 12 1/2 hour time limit so I would take a deep breath and run. Derreck decided to run the 3 mile Capital Peak Trail with me, since I was going so slow and needed that push. Thanks to another 50 mile runner, I took an aspirin and wow, when that kicked in I could run again, really run! I couldn’t believe the difference it made and now I know to pack that too!! Aaron met me at Lighthouse aid station and was going to run the last 3.5 miles in. Now I was actually running, plus this is a really runnable section, and he pushed me down to my fastest miles! HA! I felt great!!
I saw the finish line flags and was so happy! The crowd had dwindled way down by now so there were not too many people there to cheer, but it didn’t matter -my family was there! My boss (co-race director) also gave me a big hug and that meant so much to me. I really look up to her as a runner. It’s still kind of surreal that I completed 50 miles. I am so thrilled that my body held up, I did not go into a lupus flare afterwards, and yes, I was sore for 2-3 days, but after that I felt great. I finally stopped eating so much! I was very hungry for several days afterwards. I am looking forward to the next big running adventure!
27 started, 12 were women and only 7 women finished. I was 4th female in a time of 11:38:44. Top female finished in 9:32:14!! Top male finished in 7:50:38!! Amazing.
I ran in Hoka Torrent shoes, wore Injinji socks with Zensah socks over, and used Nathan Vapor Airess hydration pack. I had 2 small blisters in my normal spot on my feet and no chaffing or any other problems.
My training plan and coach: Stephanie Howe Violett and the Train Like A Mother Club from Another Mother Runner. The program was amazing, the plan was perfect for me, the encouragement and advice from the others in the program was awesome. Highly recommend this group for your first Ultra.