I ran the BHS 50k on May 18th. This was basically intended to be a confidence builder. I expected that I would either do ok or have problems. I figured the outcome would be the same either way: either I'd have the confidence to start running 50k workouts on weekends (if I did ok) or I'd feel the need to do 50k workouts on weekends (if I didn't). This is how it worked out.
I drove up Friday morning and checked in at the Millpond campground, site of the race start and where I was camping out that night. Then I hung around Bishop until the pre-race dinner. The couple in the adjacent campsite (Matt and Karen) was also there for the race - Matt was competing (got 2nd in the 50 mile) and Karen was going to ride her mtn bike and pace a bit. My cardiologist told me I should acclimate before the race. I thought hanging out at 4000' was adequate. It was very windy in the evening when I was setting up the tent but not that bad the rest of the time. At about sunset, I went for a walk out the back of the campground to check out thee start of the racecourse. I was reminded that it was pretty sandy (I've run the 50 mile 3 times in the past-Bishop was my first ultra).
On race morning, I ate my oatmeal, got ready and went to the start line. I didn't recognize a lot of people. I figured I'd go with a DFL start to avoid going out too fast. So I started out at a reasonable pace. I wearing some Moeben sleeves but had already warmed up by the time I past my car that I took them off. My friend Flaco was fiddling with his knee wrap when I got done dropping them off. I started back in running an easy pace. In this first part of the course, I eventually recognized a guy who had run my race - Rafael. We were running a similar pace so we were talking a bit. After a ways into the race, the long climb starts that is the trademark of the BHS ultras. No more conversation at that point. So this also means that I was climbing in elevation. Just before the 10 mile point, I saw my friend Tracy and stopped and chatted for about 20 seconds. Just after that, the altitude started to affect me. I think I walked from about 11 miles to the turnaround at 17 miles. We were at 8000' at that point but for some reason, I got acclimated at that point. I was able to run easily at this point. Pretty soon I was pulling away from the pair I had been chatting with. I caught up to another guy and ran with him for a little while. Then on a downhill into the next aid station, I started pulling away strongly. The long downhill to the finish starts at that point and I found I could run it pretty strongly. So I started hauling and running right over any rocks. I passed at least 10 people in the last 16 miles of the 33 mile 50k :-). I saw some pictures from the race at 30 miles and I had a smile on my face. I finished in 7:21 something, 4th in my age group. Nothing earthshaking but certainly a confidence builder.
Post race, I've had some good workouts but 2 1/2 weeks later, I still have yet to get back in the swing of things. So the lessons learned are these.
1) My workouts are adequate to run a 50k and possibly a 50 mile in spite of not running a long run.
2) I won't name names but I notice that I'm not the only one dealing with problems. Certainly there are people out there with greater difficulties than mine.
3) It's taking me a while to recover from the race. This mitigates against entering a lot of races - certainly ultras.
4) I need better acclimation to altitude next time.
5) I really enjoyed getting back out on a race course.