Race Review – Pemberton Trail 50k

As we were scheduling our marathon training, my running buddy, Jen, and I were making plans for our last long run – a 29 miler.  That’s when Jen noticed that the Pemberton Trail 50k happened to take place around that same time as we were looking at.  We weighed the pros and cons and decided the benefit of having aid stations and moral support along the way outweighed the fact that it was 2 extra miles and on trail.

On the morning of Feb. 9th, 2013 I was suppose to wake up at 4am and be out of the house by 4:45 … I jumped out of bed in a panic when I looked over and saw on the clock that it was 4:49am!  Luckily I had everything packed the night before so I threw on my clothes, filled my water bottles, grabbed my bag and was out the door by 5am … I think my body knew I needed the extra sleep and would be able to make it! :)
Goodie Bag
Upon arrival at McDowell Regional Park, I paid my $6 entrance fee and was directed towards the back of the park to the Pemberton Trailhead.  They had park rangers out directing traffic and made it very easy to find! I parked and walked over to the check-in table where I received my bib and goodie bag … Thanks Hammer Nutrition!
A cold front had just moved in and we received rain overnight but luckily it wasn’t too much and it stopped before we arrived.  It was, however, pretty chilly! They had a fire in the fire pit which was a nice way to warm up after registration.  I then dropped the unnecessary stuff off at the truck, took my race gear and met up with Jen.  We sat in her car as long as we could to stay warm – making final race plans.  
At 6:45am they hosted a race briefing, showed us where to place our drop bags and talked about the course.  We then lined up and were ready to go.
This was my first trail event (I know, crazy to start with a 50k!) – it was fun to see how much more laid back they are than road races!  There were no chips or timing mats – they had a foam ‘start’ line and when it was time, someone yelled, ‘start!’
And, like that, we were off! Jen and I agreed we were running this like our normal long runs which meant we would run 4 minutes and walk 30 seconds (we are using a Galloway training program).  The goal was to keep the pace over 10 min/mile.  We stayed together, stuck to our plan and it felt great!   
I must admit – the first 3 miles went slow and I had my doubts about the decision to run this 50k … but, next thing I knew we were at mile 9 and then we were done with our first lap (mile 15.5) and ready to take on lap 2. 
Gear Bag Drop Zone

This was a 2-loop course and we both agreed that we liked that.  They allowed us to leave bags near the start/finish line and access them in between laps.  They had no requirements for the bags – we could put whatever we needed there.  We both left half of our nutrition and replenished our stock when we stopped.

This was also a chance for us to use the restroom and change or drop/add any clothing.  This was nice – it was chilly when we left in the morning and I didn’t want to give up my gloves at the start … I also knew I wouldn’t need them the whole time so I planned to drop them at the halfway point which worked well!
As expected, the second lap went slower than the first … the uphills felt a little steeper and the downhills no longer felt like they were headed down.  This was where it was so nice having a running buddy – luckily we hit our low points and high points at different times so we were always able to stay strong and help one another.  Plus, the constant conversation kept time moving and kept us away from the dreaded negative self-talk!
There were three aid stations on course – one around mile 5.5, another around mile 11 and one at the start/finish.   They were all stocked with water, HEED, Hammer Gels, Hammer Bars, Endurolytes, oranges, bananas, cookies, cola, m&ms and one of them had cooked red potatoes.
They seemed to have anything we’d need and everyone was so friendly – they would take our bottles and fill them for us while we devoured the buffet! Definitely impressed with the support on this course!

Approaching the last aid station … we just hit marathon
mileage! This was now going to become our longest run ever!  

Around mile 25, when we needed it the most, a friend and her dog were waiting for us – they ran the whole way in with us and it was great having the company and encouragement!!!

The last few miles were tough for me – I was very grateful for the walk breaks and would look forward to each one … telling myself I could make it through another 4 minutes … and, I did!

Aid station around mile 27 – last stop and only 4 miles to go!
Notice the Race Ready shorts from Hammer … LOVE them!!!
There’s plenty of room for my Perpetuem Solids, Hammer Gel
and Anti-Fatigue Caps … and I don’t have to wear a fuel belt!

We made it and it felt great!!!  I couldn’t
have asked for a better running buddy!!!

As we hit the last two miles, I was fading – Jen was running strong and kept the pace going! We knew we would be close to 5:30 but it was looking good for us to break it if we kept pushing.  Jen offered a few encouraging words and we hit the last mile strong, skipping our final walk break.  I was so happy when we turned the corner and could see the ramadas … then the finish line … we made it!

What an amazing feeling!  Now time to eat!  Apparently, it is tradition for the race director’s mom to make homemade chili … and lots of it! There were quite a few crockpots and some had meat, others were vegetarian … and it was delicious!!!  They also had chips, sandwiches, drinks …   YUM!

It did take a little bit for my stomach to settle enough to enjoy the meal … but, once it did, I was hungry and the food was good!!!

Our friend, Terra, also ran this 50k and did very well – she broke 5 hours! Way to go, Terra!!!  Here’s a picture of the 3 new ultra-marathoners!  Thankfully it was a very positive experience for all of us and we are looking forward to finding more races like this to do … and we will probably be back here next year!

No finishers’ medals – but we all received these glasses as we crossed the finish line.  While it is nice to have someone put a medal around your neck – this is probably a more usable/practical memento of this event!  If you finish first overall or in your age group, you get a growler of beer to go in it!

As mentioned earlier, I would definitely come back to this event! It was very well run, had great support and is a fun course.  Plus – this is a great time of year to be out on the trails in Arizona!!!

Now, for my nutrition plan.  In any sort of endurance events, it is important to have a plan and be consistent in your training and racing.  We have been using Hammer Nutrition products for a few years and I have had great experiences with them … so, that’s what I stick with:

  • If I have a few hours before an event I will start my morning with an Ensure (or the Costco version of it) … I woke up a little later than I wanted to, but I knew I would be using a lot of calories so I drank that as soon as I got up.
  • From that point until close to race time I had a bottle of water with Endurolyte Fizz in it (grape is my favorite flavor!)
  • 1 hour prior to the start I took 2 Anti-Fatigue Caps.  I then took one of these with an Endurolyte capsule every hour during the event.
  • About 10-15 minutes before the start I had a Hammer Gel and then had a handful more during the race – Jen was good about keeping us on schedule; having our gels about every 45 minutes.   
  • During the race I also ate Perpetuem Solids – I prefer these to the drink version but some people struggle with the texture and initial powderiness.  With events longer than 2 hours, I always bring these along to get some protein in me.
  • At the aid stations I drank HEED, grabbed another gel or two and would always top off my water bottle – because it was always getting topped off, I’m not sure how much water I consumed but I felt good so I must have done alright.  At one station I had a little cola because it sounded (and tasted) so good! I don’t think I had anything else, I really try not to add anything new into my diet during an event.
  • I was very grateful to have Hammer products on course – it’s nice when the race uses the same products you train with!!
  • After the race I was missing my Recoverite – I drink that after every training session (I like to make smoothies out of it with fresh or frozen fruit if I can) and with my late morning, that was forgotten :( … luckily there was a good amount of food to help replenish my calories!

Well, the last long run is complete … next up … Phoenix Marathon in hopes of getting to Boston!


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