I have officially signed up for the American River 50, which is a 50-mile ultra-marathon from Sacramento to Auburn, California. It is one of the most well-known 50-milers in the West. AR’s reputation is for being a great “first” and a feeder into the Western States 100, the holy grail of the 100. The race is April 4th, 6:00 a.m. start. I hope for a time of 10 hours and 30 minutes, but my running partner — who ran AR last year — thinks I can do it in 9:30.
I am simultaneously nervous and excited. I know I can do it, but I don’t know what I will go through either mentally or physically. And I am running without any partners, which adds another dimension to the race.
I decided to run AR50 just last week. I had considered it earlier in the year, but ended up focusing on 50K (31 mile) training instead. However, after more weeks of back-to-back long runs than I can count, a stellar 25.5 mile long run last weekend that was followed by a two hour hill run in the rain the following day – at the end of which I felt just fine – I decided I was ready to tackle the 50. I have a 50K next Saturday and then three more weeks of training, one taper weekend and then the race.
My family is going to come support me. I will see them at mile 27, get to change my shoes and shirt and get some hugs and kisses. It will be a huge boost. I have friends who I know will call me along the way and cheer me on. But really, it is all up to me. I will be out there alone, for a good 10+ hours. It will beautiful and hard and amazing. Right now I am thinking through race strategy, researching, and keeping up my training. I will let you know how it goes. If anyone has advice, or good links, please post in my comments.
Here are some things I am preparing for, as reprinted from the AR50 website.
Fluid, Electrolyte & Energy Plan for a 50-mile Run
By Karl King, President
SUCCEED! Sportsdrink, Inc.
A runner stands on the starting line in a state of high fitness. His/her body has stored water, electrolytes and fuel for running—about 20 miles’ worth. If you plan to make it the remaining 30 miles, you’ll need to take care of your body’s needs along the way.
Water: Your body can lose a quart of water per hour on a hot day. Most people can absorb one-half to one quart per hour, so many will finish the run slightly dehydrated even if they drink a half quart of water per hour along the way. Be sure to start the race well-hydrated, and keep drinking fluids at every opportunity.
Electrolytes: At some time you’ve probably noticed salt on your face after a long, hot run. It is normal for the body to lose electrolytes, primarily salt, during a long run. Your body stores some, but not enough for a 50-mile run, especially if the temperatures are warm. Signs of electrolyte depletion are: swelling of hands after a few hours, inability to absorb the fluids you drink (sloshing stomach) and inability to digest any food eaten (which sometimes leads to vomiting). Most sports drinks supply enough electrolytes for a marathon. In an ultra, you should take more. You can take electrolyte capsules or salt tablets (according to supplier’s recommendations) or be sure to eat some salty foods at the aid stations. If, after the run, you find yourself shivering in spite of temperatures that should be comfortable, eat something salty to relieve your electrolyte shortage.
Food: You’ll need about 1500 calories along the way to keep your muscles fueled. If you don’t consume sufficient calories, you’ll feel weak and light-headed after 30 miles or so. You can get those calories from sports drinks and/or food from the aid stations along the way. Remember: eat before hunger, drink before thirst. If you need some quick calories, the aid stations will have a wide array of carbohydrate foods for you to choose from (soda, sports drinks, potatoes, cookies and fruit). If you tend to get a queasy stomach in an ultra, be sure to get some electrolytes and some food that has protein and fat in it. Good aid station choices are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or soup.
Course Profile…Why it’s a good first 50: it’s pretty flat.
Course Photos … I ran Way Too Cool 50K last year and expect similar views over the second half.
Personal Blogs on the AR50…if you know of others, please send me the links. I am reading everything I can.