2010 Lake City 50 – San Juan Solstice 50 Miler
i got what i came for.
the san juan solstice 50 miler (formerly lake city 50) takes place in the same mtns and terrain as the venerable hardrock 100. i aspired to be accepted to this race one day (so far 0 for 3 attempts). the sjs50 is widely considered a “mini-hardrock” at just 1/2 the distance. the race is 50 miles of san juan mountains with 13,000 feet of vertical gain. it features an amazing(ly hard!) extended portion on the continental divide, above13,000 ft. i’ve never run that high before.
this race was on the calendar as a training race, a C race. leaving my belongings in storage in salt lake city i headed to moab where i stayed with montrail’s wonderkid dakota jones(pictured below). we quickly realized we were doing the same trip which included the san juan solstice 50 miler and some fun in colorado on our way to denver. from denver we were both flying to pace/crew at the western states 100 miler. i’ll have to write another blog on the colorado eurovan adventure with young money. it’s been a blast, but for now i’ll stick to the san juan solstice 50 race report.
since arriving in the colorado mountains i’d been suffering from fatigue. i was tired all the time. i took this as a sign that i was acclimatizing. “we were now at real altitude” i thought, and my body just needs time to get used to it. the research shows that you get stronger every day you are at altitude. that is contrary to the belief that you can show up the day of the race and “trick your body” into running well. i’m aware of no reasearch to back this notion up (please provide if you are). either way i had 3 days to get situated, and it was clear that wouldn’t be enough time. my body has never spent any time this high. lake city, colorado is at 8,700 ft and i was more tired and asthmatic than normal.
5am the gun goes off and we run up mill creek from the park in lake city. it’s kinda dark. i’m in the front pack with darcy africa (who won the women’s race), dakota, scott jamie and ryan burch are right in front of us with gary grellin pulling off the front.
the race features two 4,000 foot climbs right off the bat. the first climb sucked. i mean i have never felt this weak, this bad. i could not breath. i was being passed by everyone and their cousins. i counted two women and likely 30 other people in front of me at the 1st aid station about 1hr and 3,000ft into the first 4,000ft climb. my spirits were low. i thought about dropping out for a moment. then snapped out of it. that was ego talking. i thought, “i’ll come back tomorrow and finish the portion of the race i didn’t do today”. but that was one of the stupidest thoughts i’ve ever had in a race. i was here, afterall, to train. if i just kept running i’d have the best, supported training run of my life.. with full aid stations! the ass kicking i was getting was exactly why i signed up. it’s just sometimes hard to embrace that. once at the saddle, the views were amazing. that was all i needed to turn the attitude around. i started to just enjoy being out there, knowing it would be my hardest training session of the year thus far.
on the way down i passed almost all the runners that had passed me on the climb. i was probably in 6th place now and feeling much better. the second climb started up a dirt road and i ran that with dave phillips, who had won the race the year before. my climbing ability was non existent, so as it started up the second 4,000ft climb he slowly pulled away. two more runners caught me on that climb. by the time we had reached the continental divide at 13,300ft i had caught back up to having them all in sight. the four of us then had fun race and passing and pushing each other on the continental divide.
from there i raced pretty well, conservative, or ah… scared really, until i could smell the finishline. i was pleasantly surprised with my downhill ability. charging down into slumgullion aid station i passed a couple more of the guys i had been battling with. in the end i accomplished my goal of finishing under 10 hours and it was hands down the best training session i’ve had since returning from injury. almost immediately after i finished my lungs became inflamed and i had a lot of trouble breathing. hard effort in the high country will do that i suppose.
darcy africa ran a great race and won the women’s race in 10hr 13min. the real highlight of the race however was young money running 14mins off (the altitude mutant) matt carpenter’s record of 7hr 59min. this kid has some serious talent… amazing run dakota! congrats.