Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Movin' On Up... To the Midpack

I still have a race report to come in the near future for the Bartlett Park Ultra 50K I ran on September 22. A completely impulsive trip after a little texting and looking at race calendars with my friend Suann, we came up  with and decided to drive 7.5 hours on a Friday night to run an ultra the next day in Memphis. We both knew what the world might say. I had just run my first 50 mile race only 2 weeks before. I've seen people take months to mentally and physically recover from that wear and tear. And Suann had just raced, and placed 2nd overall female, in a tough trail marathon the weekend before. All conventional wisdom said that we were foolish. We left for the race Friday at 5:30 pm.

A midnight stop at Forrest City to sleep at the hotel for 4 1/2 hours, back on the road for an hour to roll into Bartlett, a suburb of Memphis, to pick up our race packets and make final preparations laying out our gear for the looped race course.
Long drive!

Even though it was hot and humid, it turned out to be a really great race day for me. My Personal Record going into this race was an 8:22 at Rocky Raccoon 50K last November. I kept a very consistent pace and just held on tight. In the end, an hour and 4 minute improvement on my PR with a finish of 7:18:11.

A 24 oz Polar water bottle for all entrants, and
a finisher medal when we were done!

But what really struck me was how different a race like this felt with finishing 1 hr faster. Typically I'm one of the last 5 on the course... by like a LOT of time. This time I was 6th overall female (6th out of 15 females) and 42/61 in overall race placement!!

Back of the Pack:

  • I spend most of the race never seeing a soul except for the aid station volunteers.
  • It's pretty quiet most of the race and any rustle I hear is an animal.
  • It can be awfully hot out there by the mid-afternoon for races with 7 am starts.
  • You feel like your day is spent based on the time when you cross the finish line.

And now Back of the Midpack:

  • At this race in twisty-turny single track, in loops 3 and 4, I could often see someone ahead or behind me. I could occasionally hear conversation among several runners traveling in two's.
  • A rustling sound in the woods was about 50/50 other runners vs animals.
  • Passing runners is motivating. With  ven race splits and people slowing down in the heat, I slowly tracked down runners through the trees and RAN them down to pass. A lot of the runners I would find were women so I tried to use that to improve my placing, not realizing I was placing myself in the top 10 even.
  • While it was mid 80s when I finished, I felt way less drained than another hour in those high temps.
  • When I finished, we were happy that we had plenty of time for a sit down lunch and then still get on the road and be home at midnight!

Even before I knew my standings the next day after the race, I said to Suann based on these mid-race observations, "I think that PR improvement just moved me from back of the pack to back of the MIDPACK!!"

And that's pretty fun. I loved running ultras before, and if other days find me back of the pack, that's cool; I'm comfortable there. However, it's kinda nice to know in the future maybe I won't spend most of the race alone and worried about cutoffs (a problem that has plagued me this year) and maybe enjoy a little more company while out in the middle of nature. Regardless, HAPPY RUNNING!


  1. You are amazing!!!!! I was so happy to see the magic happen at that finish line!!! Congratulations. You ran a smart and fast race!

  2. That's one hell of a PR - congrats!!

  3. I seriously love that you are just impromptu running a 50k with 2 days notice and blowing away your PR. I hope you know how much you rock! :)

  4. that's amazing!! one day I hope to just run a 50K on a whim, and then have a kick ass PR. You're my hero!