1. A 50 mile trail race is NOT a long 50K. It is a short 100 miler. Plan accordingly.
2. Decide how to pace the run based on it being a short 100 mile race.
3. Design a fueling and hydration schedule for a short 100 miler and follow it.
So how should one not run a 50 mile race?
1. Consider it a long 50K and run at a 50K pace and figure you can bluff your way through the last 20 miles.
2. Run much faster than you had planned and forget about walking up the hills. Run up all hills and pass everyone you see ahead of you so you move up to about 30th position out of 213 starters by the third aid station. (I started in the third wave, six minutes after the lead group stared. The start was divided into three waves of about 70 runners starting 3 minutes apart.)
3. Fly through the aid stations. Grab a 1/2 sandwich and 1/2 a banana and refill the water bottle and head out. Don't mix you Perpetuem Drink, don't add any (Not One) NUUN tablet to your water. Just take an occasional salt tablet if you think about it. Don't eat any gu's the entire race. Oh yes, eat about two bites of the banana and the sandwich and throw the rest away.
4. Be sure to catch everyone in front of you at least for the first 15 miles. (Did I already say that?) This was part of the problem. I cannot stand to see another runner in front of me without trying to pass them. Of course, then you have to keep going a little faster so they don't catch you again. After passing about 100 runners, going a little faster each time, you are moving along pretty quickly!
This plan worked really well for the first half of the race. I started slowing about mile 25 or 26, but not too much. I was walking up a few of the steeper hills by then. At the Tower Aid Station at mile 28, I still felt great although my legs were starting to get tired but I was still running up most hills. About mile 33 things began to unravel. I started feeling really sick and my legs were zapped. I started walking more and by somewhere around mile 35 I was no longer able to run up hill and could not eat anything.
By the time I had covered another very slow mile, I could no longer could run at all. The last mile or mile and a half to the Fox Den Aid station at mile 37.5 was bad. Not only could I no longer run, I could barely walk and was actually not sure I would be able to reach the aid station without sitting down to recover for a while. About that time I called Marye Jo to meet me at Mollyhugger aid station (I thought that was the aid station I was almost to) and told her I could not go any further. (Mollyhugger Aid Station is at mile 42.4 but it took me so long to get to Fox Den I actually thought it was Mollyhugger.)
When I finally reached the aid station I realized it was not Mollyhugger and called her back to tell her I was at Fox Den. I more or less collapsed on the side of the road to wait. I must have looked pretty bad during the last mile on the trail. Several people actually asked me if I was all right. No one ever asked me if I was OK before. I don't think I ever felt that bad before! Saturday night I was totally wasted. I had more energy after finishing the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 than I did after running that 37.5 miles.
When we got back home I was so disgusted and irritated with myself for the ridiculous way I ran the race, I decided I have to redeem myself. I signed up for the Lookout Mountain 50 mile race in Chattanooga, Tn. in December. I still intend to run at a fairly quick pace (but no as fast as a 50K) but I will walk up every hill that qualifies as a hill. I will stop at every aid station and take the time to properly resupply and mix the supplies I need to stay fueled. I will finish if I have to crawl.
I need to remember Kin Chlauber's words on three signs leading up the back side of Hope Pass in the Leadville 100. "If you can't Run, Walk. - If you can't walk, crawl. - Just Keep Moving."