My first ultra. That was weird.
I drove down to Guilford , CT and arrived an hour before gun time for the Bimbler’s Bash 50k, measured to be 31.9 miles by the RD. I only put in 3 weeks of training for this and only did 2 long runs (24miles and 20) leading up to it, so I knew that the goal of the day was simply to finish and get a time. I have a desire to do the Traprock 50k in April so I was using this event as a gauge to see what I needed to eat, where my body would break down, what parts are the weakest, and to learn pacing.
After registering I headed to my car and just sat and listened to music while I went through all the things that were going to be needed to be out running 31+ miles. I’ve found the absolute best pair of shorts in the world for chafing and distance running are the Pearl Izumi Ultra Shorts and I decided on the ones that have the compression liner, along with the PI PRO shirt. I used Hammer Perpetuem on both the longs runs I did so I stuck with that, water, and Endurolyte tablets. (Other than some Mountain Dew and two very small pieces of potato at the aid stations, I didn’t consume anything else) Laced up the shoes, did a couple mins of jogging to warm up the muscles and make sure my pack was strapped on with the right tension, then lined up at the start.
I’m not going to go mile by mile and give a report. Here’s the skinny of it: I was in 5th through 14. I took 2 very hard falls between 14 and 16, both times catching a toe, trying to stop the momentum, and ending up on the ground. Both times sending pain to my lower back. My back seized up and I spent a lot of time not running but rather stretching it out, though it wasn’t helping at all. I was losing a lot of time and a lot of places from 16 to the 21.4 mile aid station. I also had already run an additional 1.5 miles by the time I reached 21.4 due to being off course a number of times, some I’ll definitely take the blame for, and others where I felt like the marking was poor. At the 21.4 mile aid station, I saw a buddy who I had run into a few times already during the race dropped out, he said he reached that station in 2 less miles than he should have, and knew he way off course and has no idea how much of the course he cut. He said rather than trying to figure out what he missed, he just chalked it up to a frustrating training run. I walked a bit after 21.4, my back was really tight, it was sending pain into my hips, I was frustrated with having lost the trail so many times. (I’ve never once gone off course, but being off course so many times in this race really started to mess with me. I’d go about 100 feet, not see a marking, and stop dead and question whether or not I was still on the right track, often turning around and running back until I saw another runner either confirming I was on the right trail or headed the wrong way) Finally I hit some very runnable trail and just decided to keep moving, running at a decent pace and picking back up some spots. Then the trail went back into single track and I went off trail badly 3 times in a matter of a mile, including a clear trail junction that wasn’t marked whatsoever. My knee was really bothering me at this point, and I looked down at my watch to see that I was at 32.1 miles at 5hours and 30 minutes. My 50k ended 1.1 miles ago and I wasn’t even at the last aid station yet. I ended up having about 3.2 miles left, which took me an hour because I walked about 90% of it. My back hurt, my knee was in very bad shape and I was very worried about the damage I was doing to it (it’s the day after as I’m writing this and I’m very worried I re-injured my IT band, there’s too much pain in that area right now to tell) and I was just so frustrated with the amount of extra miles I had done.
Finally, I walked/limped across the finish in 6:30 in 32nd place. I’m very disappointed, because I felt like I ran a good first 14 miles, had trouble in the second half which was to be expected, but honestly expected to cross the line in 5:30, which sure enough was when I hit 32.1 miles on my Garmin. I did find my weak spots (back, hips, knees) and noticed I held a much faster pace than others on the smooth stuff, but was losing time on the technical spots. I wasn’t brave, the trail was completely covered in leaves so you couldn’t see the rocks underneath, and I was so worried about going off trail in the technical singletrack that I never really could get a good forward progress. So, assuming my legs come around, I have a couple short races coming up and come December I plan on really upping my miles and my strength and training for the Traprock.
Finally: A quick work on the actual race. The RD puts on a super event. First, the bad part just to get it out of the way… I heard from many runners that they were very disappointed in the trail marking. The course may be much easier to navigate if the trails were clear, but with the amount of leaves on the ground it because a nightmare. I got passed by the same runners numerous times, and passed runners numerous times all due to going off trail. To mark 31.9 miles of trail can’t be easy, but I feel like there needed to be almost 3x the amount of flagging. That said, this is a fantastic race. The volunteers are amazing, the aid stations were so well stocked and the volunteers were so helpful and positive. The shirt was excellent, the bibs had your first name on them, the food at the end was overwhelming! The course was beautiful, and the price? Cheap for such a good event. Great job to everyone involved.