Saturday, I ran the Bishop 50 mile for the 3rd year in a row. It was a super last minute decision as I decided to run the race last Sunday since my 50k the day before ended up going well. However, since I only decided to run only a week before, I unfortunately could not find anyone to go up with. Mark would be running the Grand Canyon only a few days before and would be too trashed to do another long drive and run (and we normally don’t do the crewing/pacing thing for each other) so he was out. All my running friends were either out of town or couldn’t get off work and my Mom was also out of town. So, I decided to be a big girl and have an adventure and make the 5 hour drive up to Bishop, camp and run the race al by myself.
So Friday morning after coaching a few Crossfit classes, I packed my Jeep with all my running and camping gear as well as 18 tubs of Vitargo that Genr8 graciously donated to the 1-3 male/female winners of the 50k, 50mi and 100k events. The whole back of my Jeep was packed full (its amazing/kind of ridiculous how much stuff is needed just to run!). I left a little before 11 and then made the drive up the 395, getting up to Bishop in great time. Now don’t laugh, but the part of this who solo trip that I was stressed the most about was not the drive and not the run, but actually being able to put up a tent all by myself. I don’t camp all that often so haven’t had that much practice. I ended up getting the tent up all by myself, however it was the cover that gave me issues. I probably spent like 20-30 minutes trying to figure out which direction that damn cover fit over the tent. Im sure all my camp mates found it quite amusing.
After I settled in to my campsite, I ate dinner (which I forgot a fork for so had to resort to fingers, which again I’m sure people thought was either amusing or were probably disgusted by). Then I headed down into town for the pre race dinner meeting (I don’t do pasta so I just ate on my own). While there I saw several friends, including my friend Meredith, who I met at last years race and we pretty much laughed non stop through the whole dinner. It was a good time! Then it was back up to camp and off to bed. Btw, I’m pretty sure the worst thing about the camping/racing combo is trying to hydrate enough for the race but then having to wake up in the middle of the night and have to walk ALL THE WAY in the cold to the bathrooms. UGH.
The race started at 6am the following morning and I made it to the start line just in for the “3, 2, 1 Go!” At the start I felt really good about the day I had ahead of me, even though I knew that I would probably get my ass kicked by this course just like the other two times. I had ice cold Vitargo laying in each one of my drop bags, waiting for me at all the major aid stations, plus my magic powder at mile 32. I knew the first half would be tough, but if I could just through it, then I would be able to pick up the pace and hopefully make up some time on the second half.
The race starts out around 7,000ft and the first 17 miles are a very slow, steady climb, in soft sand. I was able to run the first 5-6 miles or so but then had to start alternating walking and running. I always have such a hard time moving in sandy terrain and throw in altitude and uphill and then I really can’t move. The only really good thing about this section in my opinion is the views that you get of the High Sierras. Its breathtaking.
I reached the 17ish mile aid station in a little over 3.5 hours, which is pretty slow. This is the aid station where the 50k runners get to turn around and honestly, I kind of felt like turning around as well. My legs just weren’t feeling as good as I hoped they would. However, I grabbed my bottle of Vitargo from my drop bag and forged on, hoping that they would feel better in the later miles.
So after already having gone uphill for 17 or so miles, we now got to do some more climbing for another 2-3 miles to where the race peaks out at 9,400ft. This was mostly a hike for me. The altitude was making me feel a bit weird. I couldn’t even run for minute at a time on the sections that flattened out a little. Although the scenery was probably the best out of the whole race once we hit the top, I was very relieved to be able to then head back down into the previous aid station.
I refueled with some more Vitargo back at the aid station and then headed back out for another 13 mile out and back deal and guess what.. we had more climbing!!! This next section we ran, definitely was not my favorite part of the race, but I knew that once I got done with the “out” part, the way back would be primarily downhill for the rest of the race.
I continued to move at a pretty slow pace. It was now getting to be pretty warm and my legs just did not want to climb at all anymore. However, even though my legs didn’t feel all that great, I was still having a really good time. Mentally I was strong and knew that I would come out of the low my body was feeling and so I kept moving the best I could. And actually the instant that I hit the turn around point, about 6.5 miles later, I instantly got a little more spring in my step knowing that I would now be on my way back to the finish line, with “only” 20 more miles to go!
3 miles later, I hit another aid station and was so excited because here I had a drop bag containing a bottle of Vitargo and my “magic powder.” As soon as I drank my special formula I perked up even more and was running pretty strong. I finished the out and back and came into that main aid station right at 8 hours and now only had 15 miles left in the race. From there, I had about 2.5 miles of some rolling hills, which I power walked the ups and ran the flats and downs and then it was pretty much all downhill from then on. I hauled ass for another 4-5 miles, thinking that when I reached the next aid station I would have only 8 miles or less to go. If I could get there in under the 9 hr mark, I MAYBE could have a chance at beating my time from last year (10:29). Unfortunately, even with pushing really hard, I got there a little past the 9 hour mark and it was about 9 miles to go instead of 8. I still kept pushing the pace after I left the aid station, but forgot about some rolling hills that were after that and I slowed down a bit. My foot also started to not like all the soft sand and was bugging a bit and so decided to slow it down a bit since it didn’t seem like I would beat my time or catch up to anyone of the women in front of me.
I hit the second to last aid station with 3.6 miles left in the race, right after the 10 hour mark. I barely had any water left and was feeling pretty overheated and like my back side was getting majorly sunburned, however once I got there I was asked if I wanted a popsicle! Um, duh!!!! Popsicles are my favorite thing ever during hot races. So I ate my popsicle while jogging the last few miles of the race in at a comfortable 10 minute pace and ended up finishing the race in 10:38.
It definitely was not my best race on that course (my PR out there is 9:59) but nevertheless, despite my legs feeling pretty beaten up all day, I really had a good time. I also didn’t have any stomach issues which I was majorly happy about! The past two years I felt like vomiting the last 10 miles, which was a pretty horrible feeling! My time was also good enough for an age group win and 5th female overall, so not as bad as I thought that I did. I guess I also can’t be too upset or expect really great results when I really didn’t train for this race at all. I did one 50k (a week ago) and other than that, just have been trying to get back in shape after surgery. So all in all it was a good, not great, day, but well worth the trip, especially since this was also the last year the RD, Marie Boyd, will be putting on the race. Hopefully the race will be continued in the hands of someone else because even though very challenging, it is a spectacular race.