Skip to content

MillCreek 50k – Another strong start and dissappointing finish!

July 19, 2011

This year the guys from MRC, coordinated another great run up MillCreek canyon. Approximately, 40 or so runners came out at 9pm to ‘run’ up Grandeur Peak, along the Pipeline, up Baker Pass to Desolation Lake and down the Little Water Trail. If you have never run the route, it should be stated it is a challenging one at that. Additionally, it goes through the night and the many psychological factors. This was the second year in a row that I did not finish.

Last year, I began respectably. It was a down canyon year and at mile 18 or so I began to the lesson of the necessity of electrolytes. I will spare many of you the details of this past experience, but needless to say I have learned a valuable lesson, which shall not be repeated. If you need some resources for this, or would simply like to avoid, as best you can, this. read some helpful texts on included here and here. Also, a great book for getting a basic understanding of these hydration needs is a book by Byron Powell, entitled Relentless Forward Progress.

I have made significant strides to address the physiological difficulties from last years race. In addition, I was feeling physically and mentally stronger for this years 50k. Although I hadn’t had as many 30 to 50 mile runs as anticipated in my training calendar, I was excited to see how I did on the up canyon year. An up canyon year involves much more climbing and typically means about an hour more of running. Despite that, I knew that I would be in the top ten of the finishers.

As the run began, we all jogged happily and casually to the base of Grandeur Peak. This is challenging and exhausting climb for most humans, although Jared Campbell and many others can summit this in 40 to 50 minutes with ease. I tried to stay with Christian Johnson and Roch Horton for most of the ascent and summitted in 58 minutes. Slightly surprised I made it up so quickly, I kept telling myself to slow down and keep a steady pace. When I caught up with Christian and Roch, I knew I had to taper things and started easing my stride for the sometimes technical downhill from Grandeur and mostly flat stroll along Pipeline. In an effort to slow down and think of the bigger picture, I took a bit longer at the aid station at Elbow Fork. I had arrived there in 2:15 and was on pace for 7 hours. I got to catch up with another runner who helped pace me up Terraces and to the Baker Pass. When I finally attained Baker Pass, I began to notice the diminishing energy levels. Originally, I was on pace for getting to the pass in 4 hours, but did not arrive until 4:30. Slightly disappointed with the noticeable decrease in pace, I tried to pick it back up on the 4 miles to Dog Lake. This is where I began to learn a second major lesson of Ultra running. The mind is a strange thing!

At 1:30am and at 9,000 ft, I began to struggle perhaps physically, but more so mentally. Those 4 miles were some of the longest I have gone in many years. I began questioning myself, probing into the reasons and rationales for doing these ‘wild’ things. I don’t necessarily think I ever was scared, or thought I was really putting myself in any danger of any sort, but I just started asking really difficult questions and couldn’t come up with any answers. As I type, I want to tell myself these are the reasons perhaps I all push ourselves beyond our limits to see who we really are and what really is worth fighting for. But at 2am, I wasn’t convinced it was this. I started to lose my spirit, or drive, for the race. Yes, I was tired, but not nearly enough to walk up the next morning and run another 5 miles.

What I was really dealing with was the mental game and finding my reason to run. I still haven’t determined these and can’t adequately know where I am in answering this. However, I do know I love running, especially trail running. But I do believe that before I will every be able to finish this 50k, let alone the Wasatch 100, I will need to answer these questions that have begun to plague me on the ridge to Dog Lake.
If you have any thoughts, or want to describe the reasons why you run, comment below.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: