I started a great trend in 2014: run a great race, never get around to writing a race report. I ran CanLake 50 last October and never got around to writing anything up. This won’t be a very long report, but wanted to post something. Better late than never, right?
I ran my first 50 miler (Beast of Burden Winter 50) back in January of 2014. It was definitely hard, but very satisfying. Enjoyable, in fact, and… I was hooked. So I signed up for CanLake50 not too long after that and had been looking forward to it as an enjoyable late fall race to close out the season. And, being in my birth month of October, I basically approached it as a birthday run.
I pushed myself hard through races last year, but didn’t put too much pressure on myself for CanLake50. I wanted to take it easy, enjoy the experience, and just see what I could learn about myself. Because of this I decided to not use a pacer or drop bags. Just head on out with a handheld and tackle a 50 miler to see how it would go. I knew that with the races I have on my radar the next few years, I simply have to get to a place where 50 miles “ain’t no thang.” Which, I realize, is as absurd as it sounds. I figured that if I was in the right place with training and conditioning then things would go well. And they did!
Beautiful weather (perfect, cool, crisp, sunny, autumn weather). Beautiful course (50 miles around Canandaigua Lake – one of the beautiful Finger Lakes in upstate NY), incredible volunteers, fall foliage in full effect. Plus, CanLake is a really well-run, user-friendly event.
My goal was to go under 10 hours. It was really an arbitrary goal based on my Beast of Burden finish of 11:09. I figured that since it was a road race (and I race almost exclusively on trails), it might be easier. But I had no gauge for that because I rarely run on roads anymore. It was a very hilly course by road standards (+/-6500(ish) feet of elevation change), but by mountain racing standards this was fairly flat. “Rolling hills.”
I planned on holding a 9-10 minute/mile pace as long as comfortable and then just playing it by ear from there. Listen to my body. Not stop. Keep moving no matter what. I got through the front 30k comfortably at around the three hour mark, right on pace. I started feeling like crap at around the 20 mile mark, but… that’s kind of par for the course in an ultra. Tell your body to shut up. Just keep moving. That wall is going to happen and it’s just a matter of continuing to push until you’ve passed through it. I felt better around the 25 mile mark and hit hour 7 of the race right at a 12 minute/mile average pace (35 miles), which would still get me in around that 10 hour goal. I slowed down from there, finishing in 10:47. Not too bad. Speed walked the big hills. Ran almost everything else. Definitely felt tired by the end with the hard road surface beating me up a bit by the finish line (although the Altra Torin I was running definitely took the edge off!), but all-in-all I felt really good throughout!
This was a great, low-key, fun race to finish 2014 with. If you’re looking for a great first ultra you’d be hard pressed to find a better race.