Monday, February 4, 2008

Steve Stowers' Jed Smith 50 Mile - 5:39:45

Steve Stowers, who ran a fantastic 50 mile race this weekend at Jedediah Smith 50 Mile, sent a brief email about his effort out to a group of friends. He was kind enough to allow me to include it here:

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty special race for me so I decided to write up a race report and share it. Initially, my goal for the flat, fast Jed Smith 50 Mile was 6 hours (which I failed to achieve five years ago in my first 50 mile race). Then a couple weeks ago Jasper [Halekas] mentioned to me that the qualifying standard for POSSIBLE selection to the US Men’s 100km team was 5:40 for a 50 mile race. Although I thought my chances of a 5:40 were slim, my training had been going really well and if the weather cooperated (it did, overcast and showery, 40s) and I had a perfect race, I convinced myself my chances were not completely zero. So I made myself a 5:40 50 mile pace chart for what my splits needed to be at the start/finish for each of the 15 laps of the 3.3 mile certified loop.

As always in an ultra, I felt great at the beginning, and through the first 30 miles I was three minutes ahead of schedule (marathon split approx. 2:55). At around 30 miles, though, my energy level began to drop and, with it, my heart rate and my speed. By 40 miles I was two minutes behind schedule and had all but resigned myself to my secondary goal of 6 hours. However, my energy was returning, most likely due to my switching from Accelerade to good old-fashioned Coke. With three laps to go (10 miles) I had 65 minutes to make 5:40. Grim as the situation seemed, I was feeling increasingly better. If I really pushed it, I found I was once again able to run close to the needed 6:30 pace.

As I started the bell lap, the clock told me I would have to run my fastest lap of the race, 21:15 (~6:20 pace). During the final lap, for inspiration I thought about all the pre-dawn runs and solo cold, rainy interval workouts that I had done, as well as how long this race would haunt me if I missed [my goal] by only a few seconds. When I hit the pavement (the course was half pavement, half dirt/mud road) for the final time, with about a mile to go, I unleashed everything I had left (a quick glance at the heart rate monitor at one point told me I was in sub-6:00 territory). Finally, I got close enough to the finish clock to read the numbers and I realized I would make it. John Cougar Mellencamp’s ‘Hurts So Good’ comes to mind. Final time 5:39:45. Perhaps my storyon this day can inspire someone on this list to keep hope alive in a future race even when the situation looks grim.

I should also mention that there was no less drama on the last lap of Jasper’s race (50k) than there was in mine. Going into the last lap Jasper was in third place with the two people ahead of him fading. He smelled blood and posted around a 20 minute (6:00 pace) final lap to take the victory.

The Jed Smith 50 mile course record is 5:32, so no I didn’t get it. The 50 mi race is nearly 30 years old and used to be competitive in its early days. My time will rank 6th on the all time list.



Michael Kanning said...

I wondered who that guy was! I ran in 2nd the entire 50 miles and never once entertained the hope of catching him, he was so fast! I hope Steve is selected for the national team.


Jasper said...

Steve is the man. It was pretty awesome watching him coming around the corner and realizing he was going to make it (in doubt until the last minute!). 5:40 is nasty fast. Watch out for Steve at AR... maybe we'll even convince him to tackle a 100 if he qualifies.


Jean Pommier said...

Hey, I missed this one, you seem to have had a lot of fun out there. And so much speed!

A different story for me in the jungle of Costa Rica and on the steep slopes of the volcanoes. Pouring rain the first two days, then getting into a oven as we were approaching the Pacific and Nicaragua border in the North. See my photo album, you'll see it's quite different from where you were this weekend! I highly recommend this raid to visit Costa Rica.

See you all at WTC next month,


Anonymous said...

I still stand by my prediction of a highly likely top 3 spot at AR for Steve. Carpooling is going to be an increasingly difficult challenge at this point considering his speed. I just did 3-1200 intervals today at 6:05ish pace and it nearly gave me a heart attack... I can't fathom near that pace for 50 miles. Truly awesome. I'll be sure to get an hour head start at the Chabot runs this spring.