And now for something completely different… the last two days of the Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race (a 5-day, 160 km ultramarathon) were on pavement! Our route for Day 4 was a half-marathon distance, starting with a 425 m / 1400′ descent via steep switchbacks down to the Ladoma River, then about 6 km of flats along the river, then up the other side: a relentless climb of 500 m / 1600′ through steep forested switchbacks.
I had entered this event with no time goals at all – my only goals were to finish all stages, and to appreciate where I was. But of course, by the end of the first day you start paying attention to your times, and setting secret goals – even if you don’t intend to. I had done really well on the first three
days – I had never pushed too hard or gone too fast, my legs and body felt great, and I had been eating and sleeping well. I had started aiming to finish the whole thing in under 30 hours… and figured that if I could run today’s half-marathon in under 3 hours, I would be well on track for that. (I know that sounds slow for a half – but remember, I’ve just covered over 100 km of mountainous trail in the last three days, and that today’s course had substantial elevation on it, too. And that I still have to have some juice left for tomorrows 27 km / 17 mile hilly route).
So, when the gun went off, I set off at a pretty good run. I knew I had trained well for running downhill (you can get injured very easily on long downhills like this if you haven’t), so I went for it… full day’s race report is on SleepMonsters, or you can get the summary from my pictures here:
In the end, I finished in 2:20 – a result that I was thrilled with, given that I was running on tired legs and that the second half of the run was an endless climb! With my cumulative time somewhere around 26 hours, I had bought myself enough time to, barring any accident or injury, make my time goal. As long as I could run tomorrow’s 27 km /17 mile route in under 4 hours (it also started with a big 600 m climb), I would make my goal time of 30 hours.