Wow, what a race! Dave has already posted a video of the race, which you can see here: Angel’s Staircase 60k Ultramarathon video.
So my report will be pretty brief – more photos than words, other than the photo captions. Basically, our run went quite well… one of my first races that I actually have done some race-appropriate training for! I have had more than my fair share of injuries the last two years, which have interfered with my training. I have also recently found out that I have a dairy sensitivity, which definitely causes muscle fatigue and affects my energy – and which leaves me wondering if it perhaps has something to do with my injured ligaments, tendons, and nerves (all basically caused by inflammation, perhaps by certain foods…?) too.
Anyway, my most recent injury is metatarsalgia, an inflammation of the nerves between the metatarsal bones, at the front of the foot – which started on the flight home after our Guadeloupe ultra, last April. It hurts! When it’s bad, I can’t even walk – only on my heels. This last month, once I eliminated dairy from my diet, my energy increased and my metatarsalgia finally started to mellow out. I could run again – and even do some hilly training runs! I am still figuring things out in that department.
I really needed to do those hilly runs… because Angel’s Staircase is a 60k ultra with a total of 10,000′ / 3,000 m of elevation gain and loss. And its lowest point is 2,000′ / 600 m (going up as high as 8,000 / 2450 m) so altitude is a factor, too.
Dave and I ran it together. The first cut-off was 17 km in, 4:30 hrs after the race start (11:30am) at the first and highest peak at the top of Angel’s Staircase. That doesn’t sound hard – you just need to average 3.8 km/h – sounds easy, right? But when I looked at the next two cut-offs, if you cut the first one fine, you would need to average >6 km/h to make the next two (when you are already up at around 2400 m, and still pacing yourself for the second half of the race). I knew that I could have trouble making those cut-offs, so I told Dave I was setting myself a personal first cut-off of 4 hrs, rather than 4:30, and I would aim for making it in 3:30. If I didn’t make it to the top in 4 hrs or less, I didn’t have a hope in making the later cut-offs – and I would turn around and just do the 35k out-and-back route.
Well, check out my little chart here:
We made the first cut-off pretty much on track with my goal-time, in 3:35 – so with 55 minutes to spare. But, as I figured we would, we lost time to each of the subsequent cut-offs… finally finishing the race in 11:42, with only 18 minutes to spare before the 12 hour deadline! There was actually one guy behind us through most of the race – and just knowing he was there, behind us, and that we weren’t last, really motivated me to keep going, to stay ahead of him. (And thank goodness I was motivated… maybe we wouldn’t have made all the cut-offs otherwise!)
Anyway, my foot with metatarsalgia held up really well. I had to use a different shoe/insole configuration (sturdier and more protective shoe, and thicker more cushiony insole) in order to keep my foot feeling well. That combo ended up resulting in some big blisters on both heels… but that’s OK, they are minor compared to aggravating my metatarsalgia and they will heal. I am OK with that.
So, all in all, we are very pleased. We finished… as usual, not fast, but in good shape, and we are recovering well as we get ready for our two races coming up in Whistler (my 10k trail run on Saturday the 24th, and Dave’s Ironman triathlon on Sunday the 25th). OK, hope you enjoy the pix!
OK, and now we get to the part with really no pictures at all. The never-ending uphill, another 2000′ climb, with thunder thundering above us (luckily it never did actually rain). That uphill toook a few more hours. And then there was still another steep switchbacky downhill to the final aid station.
I had a crazy fall on the downhill after that aid station – was extremely lucky to get thrown a bit sideways into a bunch of bushes which broke my fall, rather than skidding straight down the rocks. And then…
This was an absolutely fantastic event. The course was nothing short of spectacular, and the organizers are on it and experienced (great aid stations, too, with wonderful volunteers, always appreciated when you are pushing your limits like this). You can find the Angel’s Staircase ultramarathon website here – I highly recommend this event!