How do you run 50km of trail - with 6331ft of elevation gain - on a skeleton/ base training/ "Ironman recovery program" plan?

The answer is kind of like the joke about fitting elephants into a Mini Cooper - one leg - or at least one foot - at a time.

Last Saturday, I ran the North Face 50km Endurance Challenge trail race in the Marin Headlands just outside San Francisco. The whole trip was a pretext to visit SFO and hang out with my trail friends, eating a lot of pasta and drinking red wine.

The goals (in order of most importance):

*To finish

*To have a splendid holiday mooching around San Francisco with my super trail running buddies.

*To be still running - at least the flats and downhills - at the end of the 50km.

*To not throw up on any part of the course; and preferably not afterwards either.

I can now confirm to your delectation that all of these goals were achieved (although my not-Iron gut had to take a long gel hiatus mid-race to achieve the last).

The summary: Hike up; run down; hike up, run down, hike up... (aid station at 13 miles was called Cardiac) get the picture

Glorious, glorious sunshine, Pacific ocean and on a clear day, I could see forever.

Finishing time: 6:40 (better than my estimated time of 7 hours; and also better than the average time of 7:01 for the race); 50th out of 150 women and in top half of finishers. Probably about as much as I deserved given my low mileage training regime and lack of trail miles.

The picture above is of me (spot the Dublin marathon jersey); post race in the icing tent at the finish; wincing at the very very cold water. You may note I have only one leg in the water; that's because I am not really 'ard; my friends Kurt, Valeria and Pam (pictured with me) all ran 50 miles and all finished under ten hours (and with over 11 thousand feet of elevation). Now THAT's hard.

Oh, and by the way - I'm an ultramarathoner. Just about.


12 years 7 months ago

Congrats on your latest achievement and on getting all your race goals ticked, sounds like an adventure of a race to say the least!