Elkhorn Crest 50 Miler - CRASH & BURN! {53 miler in the Oregon Backcountry - didn't go as expected}

The Elkhorn Crest 50 Miler, August 19, 2017

So I finally had my first REALLY HORRIBLE RACE…I think I have been quite lucky with my races, the few ones that I have done.

I have felt happy, prepared and have really raced well and enjoyed my time out there on the course. So gearing up for this beautiful 50 miler in Sumpter Oregon, I was in high spirits.

Just a few weeks prior I ran the Elk valley Ultra 50k in Fernie BC (see that video and post here) and felt like I was getting stronger and was ready to finally give it my all in this 50… little did I know this was not the day for me. 

We made a video during the race so i don't want to repeat what we cover in that, so here is my attempt to fill in the blanks for you guys.

Crux Ridge Running put on the race and it was really a cool set up! All the racers got to camp for free right at the start/finish at the local fair-grounds in Sumpter, which made for one of the most fun pre-post run experiences we have had. We actually had time to spend time with other racers and hang out together because we were all right there together, there is no Hotels in the area which is rad because if forces everyone to camp, which basically equals out to be only cool people show up! hahaha..

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So I went in feeling good, my mental talk was strong and I was excited to push hard and see what my body could do.

I felt ready, strong, and capable of finishing top 5 females…

I was in it. Gwen on the other hand was not so ready for this, and he was going to drop and just rest his knee because it had been bugging him for a few weeks now. However he decided to make the most of his race entry and just take it really easy and basically hike with poles and see how far he could get before the cut off got him. It is such a shame to drive all the way to these beautiful mountains, pay a bunch of money and then not even enjoy the course.. so he decided to just go easy. 

We started the race thinking that we may see each other on the out-and-backs, but thinking that I would not see Gwen until hours after I finished because I was going to run and he was going to walk/jog. 

The start of the race was shocking, it started on dirt service road and was going up pretty steep! Gwen did not rush off at the run, instead he took videos of the start and slowly made his way off after everyone had started. I was off with the gun and I was quickly shocked at the speed at which a few of the ladies were going, blazing by me at what must have been at least 8 minute/mile pace up this big climb!!! I did not let that get to me, i was focused on running my race and even if ladies passed me going fast, if I did not feel ready to do that, I was not going to. 

 at the top of the first climb, before the out and back! Pretty colors!

at the top of the first climb, before the out and back! Pretty colors!

So I found myself in 3rd place at the top of the 1st climb, knowing that the 2 ahead of me were probably way ahead, and that was ok.

I was pushing hard but felt like it was sustainable for the 53 mile distance.. I had in fact ran a sub 8 hour 50 last year, so I knew what the pace/effort felt like.. but that race was on a pretty flat course, nothing like this one with over 9,000 ft of climbing and even more descent! When you are running a course like this, pace and speed go out the window and the only way to gauge and manage the body is with perceived effort.

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By mile 18 I was feeling good but then we have a big down hill, and that is when I think I went wrong.

Now that I have had time to think about it and process what happened, I think I took that fist out-and-back down hill way too fast, given my hip-flexor injury and weakness.. it is the steep stuff that gets me. And little did I know that this course was really all steep stuff, all of the elevation was crammed into short out and back descents and then steep climbs back to the ridge. Running on the ridge was basically flat, so it was really a compact way to get the elevation change, exactly what I should have been avoiding at the time.

So on that climb out of the out-and-back I knew something was not right, my energy was being drained as my body was trying to compensate and protect my hip.. but it was too late, it was fatigued and the steepness got to it.

After another 4 miles or so of attempting to just run, I was passed by my new friend Danielle, i was now in 4th position and fading quickly. I was just unable to keep running because my hip flexor was throbbing, in and out of pain. My energy levels were low, and nothing made sense to me at the time. 

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So like you see in the video, I called it at about mile 26 and dropped for the fist time. 

I am glad I made this choice because it allowed me to avoid doing more damage to my hip! 

Gwen ended up feeling really good and never even got knee pain, so he picked up his power hike and ran much of the course!!! He still look it really easy, hiking the ups and running when he could, chatting to hikers and enjoying the beautiful mountains and wonderful volunteers at the aid stations. 

One thing I must say is that the NUTRITION provided during this race was the BEST I have ever seen!!

They had Skout Backcountry Organic Energy Bars which are our new favorite bar, they had Skout date based gels, they had liquid calories, fruit, peanut butter pretzels, chips, candy, at every aid station! It was so easy to fuel up without packing all sorts of stuff in the pack.

A word about Skout Backcountry Energy Bars, they are made with the BEST ingredients ever, Organic Dates and Pumpkin Seeds make up the super-food base of the bars, and then just a few other things to flavor and sustain like Oregon blueberries, Peruvian chocolate, peanut butter etc. They have no more than 6 ingredients per bar (and many just 4-5 ingredients), they are 150 calories per bar, making them perfect size to eat while running.

They digest so easily on the go, and taste incredible! We were looking for a new nutrition bar for our adventures, and thanks to this race, we found them! They also make these really freaking good flavored pumpkin seeds grown locally in Oregon! We are in love!

This race was really humbling for me, I learned so much about my body.. I am so new to running and I just want to learn and to the best I can. I am not perfect, I do not know anything really except for that I have experienced and seen in my short 1.5 years as a trial runner. 

So there you have it, please do not hesitate to ask questions about the race, the course, the food (which was amazing, so many healthy plant-based options), etc, in the comments below.. we would love to answer them for you!

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