Mendon 50k

8 Nov

I registered for Mendon in a moment of “I’m-such-a-badass, training-for-Virgil-is-going-so-well, this-is-the-most-logical-thing-to-do-next” illogical moment.  It seemed like a great idea before Virgil–I was prepped better than I’d ever been–but recovery from Virgil took (is taking?) longer than I could have anticipated.  In my head, 6 weeks seemed like a perfectly normal amount of time between races–2 weeks for recovery, 2 weeks of training, 2 weeks of tapering.  In reality, I think I maybe trained for 1 week, and it was lack-luster at best.  I was tired, my legs were leaden, and I just didn’t feel like running.  Last week, I kept thinking about how if I could go back in time and do it over again, I’d have never registered for this race.  I considered dropping, but then figured I needed to finish what I started and also see what I was capable of.

So leading up to the race, I tried to muster up as much excitement as I could, but it was hard.  In my head, I kept thinking about how 50k is nothing compared to 50 miles.  But then I would really think about it and realize that 50k is a long ass way to go, particularly on tired/undertrained legs.  Even now, I keep wavering between being excited/proud of 50k and feeling like it is really not that big a deal–not sure how I got to the point where I could question whether 31 miles is a big deal or not…  I tried my best to keep visualizing feeling strong on the course, remembering how great I felt at Virgil, thinking about how strong I was that day and knowing that strength doesn’t just go away.  I knew I’d be faster than I was last year, so it was just a matter of how much faster.

On race morning, I got up, took a shower, ate half a peanut butter bagel and packed a cooler of tailwind, electrolyte tabs, skittles and fruit rollups.  Eric packed a tent, table and beer cooler.  Then we were on our way.  We got  to the race, set up the tent and organized my stuff, hung out with some people pre-race, and before I knew it, we were off.

Loop One:  Flying  ~1:08:00

I started pretty far in the back, and in my head I kept wondering how that was possible, because I felt like I was moving so fast.  I kept looking around me, thinking about whether all of these people were going to be able to hold this kind of pace for the remainder of the race.  In my head, I knew that they likely wouldn’t–this always happens in races, where people go out too hard.  I tried to keep an even pace and run my own race, and not even halfway through this loop, I started quickly passing people. I was feeling great and really pushing myself, and around the end of the loop, I knew I couldn’t maintain this pace for too long, but I also knew that I didn’t need to slow down TOO much.   I cruised into the aid station, switched out tailwind and grabbed a fruit roll up for the road.

Loop Two: You’re What the French Call “Les incompetent” ~1:10:00

I ended up hiking up the stupid grass hill to the woods, which pissed me off, but I knew I needed to be smarter this loop about my pace and run smart (and I hate that freaking hill).  I was already starting to get tired, and it was so early in the race for that nonsense.  As I started running, I spotted a red shirt in the distance and made it my goal to catch whoever that was.  My other goal for this loop was not to get caught by the 10k, 20k and 30k runners who were starting about 20 minutes after I left the aid station.

I caught the red shirt, who was with another red shirt and a blue one.  They were all together and I kept trying to understand what they were saying.  At first I thought I was losing my mind, then I realized they were chatting in French.  For some reason, I heard the line from Home Alone, when Kevin’s sister says, “Kevin, you’re what the French call les incompetent.”  I have no idea how to spell that or really even how to say it aloud, but it just kept going through my head the rest of the run, and I’ve included it here for your viewing pleasure.  I kept chuckling to myself about it.  I would catch the “Frenchies” on the downs or flats (limited haha) but they’d lose me on the uphills.  I decided I just needed to try to stay with them as best as I could, because we were all on pace for a sub 6 finish, which had been my A goal leading into the race (solely because I thought it would be cool to say I took an hour off my time–in my head I knew that running that fast was unlikely).  People started to pass me from the shorter races (they started at 9:30, an hour and a half after the 50k-ers) in the last mile…I was proud that I’d held them off for that long, and I knew I was going to start to get passed by people I knew, which would be cool.  There were also a TON of people on the course cheering, which was cool–seeing familiar faces is always a good feeling and it helped take my mind of what was happening to my body.

Loop 3:  Let the Death March Begin ~1:17

I was already slowing down, but still thought a sub-6 might be possible at the start of the loop.  But somewhere during this loop, I started feeling bad.  Really bad. Worse than ever before bad.  Everything was hurting me, screaming at me to stop.  I was getting cramps (non-running ones), my legs felt heavy, and my back was starting to hurt.  I toyed with quitting…not even finishing the loop but calling to ask for someone to come get me on the road.  The curse of knowing a course well is knowing where bail out points are, I guess.  I kept thinking about how this had been a stupid idea, how I had nothing to prove to anyone, so why keep running when it was sucking so much to run.  I got in my own head, which looking back pisses me off.  Had I been able to shake that off, I wonder if I’d have been ok.  I also think running solo made it really tough (I got on an island somewhere during the end of the first loop and aside from the Frenchies, stayed that way for most of the rest of the race).  Mid-loop 3, I passed the French guys, who seemed to be struggling pretty badly.  I was getting passed by some of our friends doing the shorter races at this point, so it was nice to see them and chat briefly as they blew by.  When Jen saw me, she commented about how well I was running and how fast I was going to finish and I told her then that I was going to run a 6:15.  I came into the aid station and did not stay long because I knew that I wanted to just sit down and quit, so I grabbed fresh bottles and a fruit roll up and cruised on out.

Loop 4:  Remember the Alamo??? ~1:2X:00??

At this point, I realized I had about 2:25ish to do my final 2 loops.  This was not enough time for a sub-6, but then I kept thinking of last year, when I thought a sub-7 was impossible, but then 2 miles into my final loop with Angie something clicked on inside my brain and we flew through the rest of the race to come in at 6:57 or something like that.  I started to hold onto that thought, and then “remember the Alamo” popped into my head, the Alamo, of course, being the last loop last year haha.  The things I think about while running long and alone are ridiculous I swear.  Anyway, the rest of the loop became “remember the Alamo” over and over again.  This loop, I was really alone for most of the time, which sucked.  A few people passed by me, including the eventual 50k winner.  I remember telling him I hated him because he was on his last loop already haha.  I tried to keep up a decent pace, but I felt so awful.  I have never had to dig so deep in a race to keep my body moving, and it sucked. Towards the end of the loop, I managed to trip over nothing–I rolled two full times before stopping.  This would be the beginning of many other near-falls, signaling to me that I was, in fact, really tired and pretty done with the focus that this race required.  I needed to just finish.

Loop 5:  Just Finish ~1:2X:00??

I pushed as hard as I could this loop, but I had nothing left.  My body was hurting, and I started feeling kind of pukey.  My asthma was acting up the whole race, and there were a couple of points in this loop that I got really nervous that I was going to have a full blown asthma attack.  But I love that in loop 5, you can say adios to all the shitty climbs–last year I remember telling myself after each one that I never had to do them again if I didn’t want to, and that was a liberating thought this year, too.  Kitty Litter Hill (Post-Meadow Speed Bump as some call it) can suck it.

I came into the aid station 3.5 miles into the loop and Welden was there.  I grabbed a cup of Mountain Dew, took a huge swig and…spit it all out.  It was not Dew…it was pickle juice.  I wanted to puke.  I grabbed some flattened coke and drank.  *shudder* I was thisclose to consuming pickle.  Nasty.  I kept going and eventually caught up to Miranda and her crew.  We chatted for a bit, then I kept going, wanting nothing more than to finish. I I kept looking at my watch and realizing that my prediction of 6:15 was going to be spot on.  That was pretty funny.  At first I was disappointed, but then I realized that it was still a huge PR and a great time on a not-so-easy course. I crossed the road, told the guy who had been there ALL day (the vollies were AWESOME, even that one who tried to kill me with pickle juice) that I was sure glad I didn’t have to see him anymore.  He gave me a high five, I high fived Dan, and then I ran down the hill and through the finishing chute to my #TrailsRoc family. Sure enough, I crossed the finish line in 6:15:21 (by my watch).

Final Thoughts on the 2015 Mendon 50K:

Someone please remind me next year when I start looking at this race that I don’t particularly like the course–the loops are tough mentally and it does not play well to my strengths as a runner.  I feel like you are always climbing, with just enough time between climbs to get a recovery flat or down before you go up again.

On the flip side, it’s a local home-grown race that is uber-cheap, well-run (great job, Brian!) and a nice challenge.

I am a little disappointed that my splits weren’t closer together.  I guess I ran a traditional Mendon 50k (I feel like most people slow way down toward the end of the race).  For a brief moment, I wondered if I just went out too hard, which I had a tendency to do in road races back in the day.  However, I think no matter how I ran the first two loops, I was going to be a mess for the last 3…so I’m glad I gave it everything and then was able to just hold on at the end.

I am also disappointed with the way I fell apart mentally in Loops 3 and 4 (and 5, too, I guess).  That being said, I’ve asked my body for a lot this year, so I can’t be too disappointed I suppose.  I would have loved to have been closer to 6 hours, but an almost 45 minute PR is huge.  I’ll take that all day, especially racing so close to Virgil and feeling like death for the entire second half of the run.  I have never had to dig that deep in any race, which is something I am very proud of.  I could have quit any number of times, and believe me I wanted to.  But I forced myself to see it through.

Last year I said never again.  I ran again this year.  This year I said never again.  We’ll see what next year brings.

Final Thoughts

Pinch me.  I can’t believe any of this is real, that this awesome, epic running has been happening to me Shme ran a 50 miler??? On mountains???? Shme ran Mendon in a 45 minute PR????  Starting this past spring/summer, I really worked pretty hard.  Definitely harder than I ever have before.   It’s nothing anyone else doesn’t/can’t do–it’s all just building mileage appropriately and then finishing what you started.  Ultra is way more mental than anything else–even when you are feeling bad, you can push yourself through to finish it up. I realize that now.  But if you’d have asked me last fall if I had what it takes to do this stuff, I’d have been wishy-washy at best.  After this fall, I’m not sure there’s anything running-wise that I couldn’t do if I didn’t decide I wanted to do it and buckle down to get ‘er done.  That’s exciting–not to be afraid of races or challenges.

I’ve spent the past few months being really hard on my body (and the months before that being hard on it in a medical way)–I have not necessarily been taking the best care of myself, which is weird to say since I’ve been training hard and running some great races.  Work is super stressful this year.  I’ve asked myself for a lot of really hard miles (80 miles of racing alone in 2 months…that’s no joke).  I’ve not been eating the best, and I’ve been drinking likely more than I really should.  So moving forward, I’m ready to “clean it up.”  We’ve been working very hard to eliminate stressful, toxic situations in our life.  I am trying to find ways to be less stressed about work.  This next month, I’m not following a training plan of any kind for the first time since March–run when I feel like it, no pressure to hit certain mileage or elevation.  Just running for fun and for recovery.  I want to ride my bike more, hike a ton, snowshoe when that time comes (sigh) and do more lifting.  The past couple of weeks, I’ve been much better about cooking and eating healthier, and I want to continue that, along with cutting back on the alcohol and drinking more water.  Ultimately, I want to take November and December to get back to a good place mentally and physically, so that I’m ready for 2016 and whatever new adventures it has in store.


One Response to “Mendon 50k”


  1. 2015 in review | shmeruns - December 31, 2015

    […] huge 45 minute PR at Mendon just a few weeks after the 50 miler.  In retrospect, I’d probably not sign up for ultras so […]

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