The Mindfuck 50 Miler

Those of us who are new to running ultra marathons often struggle with picking our races based on what we think our bodies and minds can handle. We are still in the process of discovering our potential. Most of the time its the distance we worry about. Should I do a marathon or a 50k? A 50k or a 50 miler?  I feel lucky (and somewhat surprised by my casual confidence at this point) that I'm certain I will be attempting a 50 miler soon (at least within the next year or so.) Its not a matter of "if" I should do it. I'm gonna do it. Its more a matter of "where" I'm gonna do it.

So if I'm gonna pop my 50 miler ultra cherry I want it to be special. Yeah. I'm like that. Decisions are rough sometimes. This one especially.

I decided that although the American River 50 Miler is a good race for the 50 miler newbie, I don't want to run in my own backyard. I play here all the time. And like I said, I want it to be special. I want it to be different. Have I mentioned I hate leftovers and never watch the same movie twice?

Looking at Ultra SignUp there are 5 races listed that are relatively local. I guess "local" is considered ALL of California. At first I was checking out the Leona Divide. It happens to be in So Cal and seemed like a pretty decent race, but after posting my dilemma to facebook some of my ultra running friends chimed in.

There's the Avalon 50 miler on Catalina Island in January of 2013. This could be the perfect place to lose my ultra ultra-running virginity. I know I've done a couple 50ks (which are considered ultras) but I guess I just feel like I haven't earned the title "ultra-runner" just yet. Right now, I guess I would consider myself an endurance runner of sorts. And I don't know if I would even consider myself of the ultra-runner ilk even if I completed a 50 miler. It just seems strangely surreal to mean. Especially considering its been only two years since I started running for reals again. Its a bit silly. I know. To be honest, I don't care much about labels anyway. I am who I am.

So The Leona Divide is out. I've heard its not that spectacular. But Across the Years is in and its a big contender. And THAT's insanity. Literally.

Its not the kind of insanity like I'm running Leadville or Grand Mesa. I won't be doing over 20,000 feet of elevation gain, fiording rivers and having to climb out of vertical canyons on belay. Nope. Its FLAT. Completely flat. And a LOOP. A ONE MILE mind-numbing convolution of continuous torture. Around baseball fields. For a trail runner like myself, this race is completely FUCKED UP.

So why would I even consider this for my first 50 miler? Yeah. I've asked myself this over and over. Its like deciding to lose my virginity to Rush Limbaugh and being happy about it. Yeah. Trust me. I don't like that picture either.

Let me just put this out there. The fact that I would even REMOTELY consider a looped race is just insane. I'll admit I'm just a fledgling stupid-miles runner and I don't have a lot of experience running ultras of various formats but I run point to point races for a reason. And I run trails for similar reasons. I'm a big fan of variety. Its a mental mindfuck for me to see the same tree over and over. Don't get me wrong. I love trees. I think they're beautiful. I just don't want to burn a hole in my brain looking at the same fucking tree mile after mile. Unless I go all internal (trust me, you don't want to see that) I will probably quit after the eighth or ninth lap, but chances are no one will ever know how many laps I completed because my brain will shut the math down after two laps. Yeah. I'm challenged with counting laps for just one mile around a track. Its probably the pharmaceutical effects on my brain from the whole loop absurdity.

Across The Years is not until the end of 2012 (and fits into our family calendar nicely). Its a timed race. You pick a date and time to start and you complete as many miles as you want within that time frame. There's a 72 hour, 48 hour and 24 hour option. The race runs through the end of the year and celebrates the new year coming in. Its kind of a big running New Year's Eve party. 

Apparently its a well run and well loved race and some serious hard-core ultra runners do it every year. I'm thinking it would be nice to run free of a hydration pack, have an aid station and a loo every half-mile and see PEOPLE. Most of my races are pretty lonely which is why it was really nice to run with Shelly at the Rodeo Valley 50k. Even if people are lapping me, I might still get to see and talk to some of them. And if my husband comes he can see me at virtually every mile or even run with me for parts if he wants to. And there's plenty of opportunity for games in a race like this. Like one mile trivia, one mile charades or one mile poker. I'm sure we can just make shit up. It just sounds FUN. That's what I'm talking about.

So as much as I want my first time running stupid, STUPID miles to be beautiful and meaningful (like sex on the beach of a beautiful island - except I can't help being distracted by how much sand hurts getting into the wrong places if you know what I mean) I would much rather my first fifty miler be fun. And considering the whole loop, flat thing, I believe this WILL be challenging. In fact, I think I will rename this race (strictly for my own entertainment) to "The Mindfuck 50 Miler" (yeah... I might just have to make a tshirt.) But, there's a ton of fun potential in a race like this. I've already met and know some of the people who will be there which is why this race could turn out to be the best race I will race in the coming new year.

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  1. I have my eye on a beauty teehee I know my hubs would want to vacation. Good luck with the mind fuck.

    1. Nice barefootrose! Which one are you thinking of running?

  2. I couldn't contemplate a 50mile race, not even a 50km race, not even a 30km.... well maybe 30km I could contemplate.
    Hey Zap have you got any of the Merrell pace gloves? a friend of mine is interested in them but I have no idea what they are like to run in.


    1. Neil - That's all I run in for trails. I bought mine a little over a year ago but I loved them to death. Now they are worn and slippery. Luckily I ran into a Merrell rep at Rodeo Valley and he got me a new pair! They actually fit my feet too. I settled for some that were too small for all the hill running I do. I love the pace gloves. I've been really happy with them.

  3. Would the be ok for road as well. I would think the Vibram sole would be pretty hard wearing. How many miles did you get out of them? They (marketing departments probably) say that standard runners need changing every 500 miles but that due to all the rubbish about cushioning. As for sizing, did you get a size bigger than your standard shoe size? Lots of questions.


    1. Neil, I also have the Dash Gloves which are the road equivalent shoe. My Pace Gloves lasted me about a year, but I used them for heavy sprinting on asphalt too so they probably wouldn't have worn as quickly (I'm guessing here) if I used them strictly for trails. Unfortunately my first pair were my EXACT size (size 6) and I should have gotten them with a little spare room for the downhills but they still worked out great. I wore them mostly without socks though. My most recent pair I got are a 6.5 which I think will be a better fit for running trail and downhills.


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