The McKenzie River 50K, my first ultra, is rapidly approaching. I've built mileage through marathon training, but I've waited until the summer to start focusing on trails. Trail running is a lot different than road racing. The motion isn't as repetitive, putting a greater strain on the ankles and hips. The eyes need to be focused on the path for obstacles and there's less "mind-drifting" allowed. It feels better, though, more like play than actual running. I've only run a few trail races and paced a friend in the Wasatch 100. From my limited experience, I've thoroughly enjoyed trail running. I know that I'll need to figure out a different hydration and fueling strategy, along with testing shoes and gear that will get me to the finish.
This week was an "easy" 11 miles along the Bonneville Shoreline trails. It really wasn't as simple as it looked. I haven't been training for altitude and the little rises had me winded. We took 2.5 hours, although I'm sure I could run it faster now that I know where to go and the hills aren't indefinite. It was a mental run this time. This was my first run on the Bonneville Shoreline, and I was surprised by the trails. I was expecting wide fire roads, but was happy to see lots of single track. We did an out-and-back, starting on the Aqueduct trail, merged with Ghost Falls Trail, and turned around at the point near Flight Park Trail. We started early and the cloud cover stayed until we finished. I was hot, though and went through 30 ounces of water. I tried Nuun in my camelbak, which helped me drink more. The hose was irritating my arm motion, so I need to figure out how to rig the pack so I don't have chaffing under my arm. The next day, the only areas that were sore were my shoulders, so I need to push it further next week.
We were in Tahoe for the first week of July. The weather was a welcome relief to Salt Lake's 104°. We ran a fast 15 miler on a mix of trail and road in South Tahoe. I was able to keep a 10 minute pace on the trail, which will be perfect for the 50K, even a little fast for my goal finish time. My target is 6 hours 12 minutes, or a 12 minute pace. As long as it stays under 60°, I should be able to do it. I seem to melt in the heat and really slow down. The camelbak rubbed against metal rungs on the back straps of my favorite sports bra, which left some nice raw skin. I'll have to find a better combination for the future. GUs worked just fine for the distance, although I was craving peanut butter when we got back to the condo.
So far, no injuries this year, and running has been great. I'm looking forward to the race along the river, lower elevation, and great scenery.