When I left you at the end of Part 2, I had just crossed the Finish Line. There was a reasonably nice spread of Finish Line goodies: water, sherbet pops, Subway sandwiches…and probably a few other items. Unfortunately, after 4 miles on over-crowded trails, I was having trouble handling the crush of people at the food tables (mostly 13K finishers). I grabbed a water and sherbet pop of some brightly colored, but mostly just “sweet” flavor, that I would never even consider eating in real life (ultras apparently mess with your brain), then spent a few minutes chatting with one of my clients, who ran the 25K. Finally, I escaped to a quiet(er) patch of grass, and tried to call KMN.
He told me that he’d just arrived and was watching the Finish Line – he must have missed me by just a minute or two! I made my way over to where he was (a quiet spot!!!!), and we spent about half an hour watching more runners coming into the finish. The deluge of 13K runners had ebbed by this point, and the slow stream of finishers were a mixture of 25, 50, and 100K runners. We watched, cheered, chatted, and ate watermelon.
[*Awesome husband (def.): He ran to the 31K Aid Station to cheer for me, then ran home (14 mile workout for him), then cut up watermelon, packed it on ice, and hauled watermelon + two changes of clothes down to the finish line for me.]And then…it was time to stand up. This went more smoothly than expected, actually. After a few shakes, my clicky ankle loosened up (this is normal for me), and although I was pretty stiff, my knee was my only really sore part. I rinsed my shoes at some outdoor taps – the early morning rainstorm and subsequent puddle sloshing, combined with my ripped sneakers, resulted in a LOT of debris in my shoes and socks. Having returned most of the park back to the park, it was time to head home. I suggested we splurge for the bus (“only a mile” seemed a lot shorter before I ran 30 miles!).
In Singapore, it’s a common water-saving measure for us to turn off the shower while lathering/soaping/shaving. But on this particular day, I let the water run. As I said to KMN afterward, “Some days, you NEED that running water to get all the grime off!” The chafing was moderate, but not awful: My capris got me on the backs of my knees and at the waistband, my hydration pack rubbed my shoulders a bit, and of course, there was the requisite crotch chafing – all I’ll say is that I need some kind of new solution to deal with that situation.
We got some lunch (I can’t even remember where – I’m not usually that into food immediately following a super long workout), I did some stretching/rolling, and took a nap. My biggest accomplishment for the remainder of the day? I joined some friends at a BBQ, and we stayed out until at least 11 PM! [By which time I was threatening to crawl onto the chaise and sleep, but whatever.]
Of course, the next day revealed more sore spots:
Hamstrings (weird for me)
Back (need to add some supermans to my plank routine, I suppose!)
One spot on my abdomen (I momentarily panicked it was my appendix, but realized race-soreness was more likely), and – strangest of all –
Both my brachialis muscles (A little muscle in the upper arm – below the deltoid, and between the bicep and tricep). I have no idea what I was doing with my arms during the race that caused this strange soreness. But now I need to go figure out how to strengthen them, so they don’t cause me any future problems!
My knee was sore for a few days, but feeling much better by mid-week. I didn’t do much running this past week, though – we’ll see what happens in the coming week. But I’m hoping it was just a weird pull/positioning/tweak, and will sort itself out for good very soon.
By Wednesday, I was feeling back to normal for “every day life”, and even took an RPM spin class. I know my muscles still need time for deeper recovery, but overall, I am thrilled with how easily I’ve recovered and gotten back to feeling normal. Although trail running may include more elevation change, and definitely includes obstacles like chain fences and mud pits, I am certain that covering most of the distance on softer ground was less taxing than on pavement, and most definitely resulted in a faster recovery.
Personal Race Reflections
For my first 50K, I’m pleased. [Final time 5:22:03, ranked 6/134 women in the 50K.] There is very little I would change about my execution of the race: I probably would have only stopped once to refill my hydration pack (but better safe than sorry), and I wish I had kicked myself through the “low points” a bit sooner/better. Other than that, the race really was a good one for me. In addition, we were blessed with a terrific day: The weather was agreeable, and the rain and clouds helped keep the temperature manageable. The mud was awesome, and caters to the kind of running I love to do! Thanks, McRitchie!
Final Race Review
Overall, The North Face crew did a great job, even when the weather took a turn for the worse. The rain started right after the 50K flagged off, meaning that the volunteers had to handle stormy conditions for the subsequent 25K and 13K flag-offs.
With just one – one – exception, the course was marked beautifully. This is no small feat (signs have been stolen and moved along the course in previous years). When I came through, all Aid Stations were well-stocked with whatever supplies had been promised for that station. I heard a few murmurs that one or two stations ran out of nutrition supplies later in the race; but the race organizers made it quite clear that this was a “self-supported” race (although electrolyte beverages, bananas, and Gu were provided at select Aid Stations), and I consider anything more than plain water to be a bonus when something is described as “self-supported”. The fact that the crew managed to get and keep the water cold was welcome, and amazing.
The route was challenging, but fun – and almost exclusively on trails (maybe 3-4 miles on pavement/road), which is quite an accomplishment in Singapore. The volunteers were generally helpful and polite, and a few even cheered. Extra thanks to the non-volunteers, who simply came out to cheer, support, and offer random bits of food (potatoes, candy, etc.) along the way. You guys rocks!
My biggest complaint is definitely the way that the 50K merged with the middle/back of the 13K. I believe that the weather resulted in a slight delay in the start of the 13K. I’m not convinced that the route would have been significantly clearer if the 13K had started on time (about 15 minutes earlier), but it’s possible. Managing a race with staggered starts and overlapping routes makes traffic flow a challenge – but it would certainly do the 25K, 50K, and 100K folks a favor to run the 13K as far away (spatially and temporally) as possible.
Along similar lines, I think that the Perth Marathon spoiled me with its separate marathon finisher’s tent. I definitely would have appreciated a separate line/tent for 50K & 100K post-race refreshments. Pushing through the 13K folks just to get a bottle of water at the Finish Line was simply no fun – and I felt even worse for the 100K finishers! But, this is a small matter. The on-course execution was solid, in my opinion.
I’ve heard some complaints about the price point for the race: $96 SGD ($77 USD). This certainly isn’t cheap (and I know that some aspects don’t scale proportionately), but considering that I’m willing to pay $30 SGD for a 5K (you don’t find them much cheaper than that in Singapore), I did some math:
$30/5K = $6/kilometer
$96/49K = $1.96/kilometer
A 50K starts to look like a bargain! And, as I’ve noted in the past, I am wiling to pay for high quality race execution.
So that’s about it, guys. After a week of rest, I’m formulating my new running plans and goals. But for the next few weeks, look out for lots of RPM, a bit more BodyPump, and maybe some non-yin yoga. Stay tuned. 🙂
Anyone wear boy shorts under their chafing compression gear?
[I don’t love boy shorts, but am thinking of giving this a shot to help with the chafing situation.]
50K: Is there anything else you are thinking about/wondering/want to ask, about mine specifically, or about the distance/training/preparation in general?