14 May 2013

Quad Rock 50 (My first 50 miler!)

“It's the climbing that makes the man. Getting to the top is an extra reward.”
-Robert Lipsyte
Distance: ~52 miles 
Elevation: ~11,000 ft
Time: 13:24

I don't know where to begin to write about the incredible day of trail running I had in The Fort. This was the toughest run I've had that didn't involve bonking or puking (a la R2R2R). Somehow, I managed my effort, fueling and hydration well enough to beat each of the cutoffs by about a half-hour. As I mentioned previously, fear of a DNF is a powerful motivator for me. 

I had reason to be concerned about the cutoffs. Only 111 out of 172 finished the 50 miler (65%). I ran like a scared rabbit to be included in that number. 
Six times, I did
The 25 mile loop begins at Lory State Park and continues through Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. Those of us doing the 50 miler ran the same course in reverse. This year, due to the recent fire damage at Lory, there were trail re-routes that added some additional mileage. At the turnaround point, GPS devices were reading between 25.5 - 26 miles. Out east they have Horty miles, but here we have Clarky miles... Booyah!
With Sheila at the start line
Photo: Erin Bibeau
While I was stressing about the cutoffs, I made a conscious effort to look up and enjoy the incredible views. There was so much beauty on the trail and beyond that it kept me in a happy place as I managed the climbs. The only thing that distracted me was the chatty 25-milers having long conversations. It's impossible for me to focus on the task at hand and tune that out. Around mile 18, I had a dude behind me who was whining about how hard everything was and I wanted to tell him to buck up and shut up. With 5,500 ft of climb on each loop (he was doing only one), we all have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. But I digress...
Photo: Erin Bibeau
As I got closer to the turnaround point, I began to see some familiar nano-celebs as they were working their way around loop #2. I cheered loud for CR holder and local boy, Ryan Burch as he came flying by followed by JT, Katie Robinson, Aaron Marks and my R2R2R buddy, Steve Pero. They were smiling and looking good which put a little pep in my step as I soldiered on.

When I came to the turnaround at around 6 hrs, 10 min, I felt great and ready to take on the second half. Coming in 35 minutes ahead of the cutoff, I needed to apply more effort to keep from slowing down too much. To add to the fun, we had a little bit of everything weather-wise -- mostly sun, lots of mud and periodic thunder with little rain and a little hail. Good times.
Tammy also ran her first 50 miler & did awesome!
I'm happy to report that my knee wasn't giving me problems and my toenails didn't take a bruising this time, thanks to my WildcatsMy quads must be getting seasoned too as I was able to run all the descents.  
High fives as I finished
I rolled into the finish 35 min ahead of the cutoff, a very happy lady. Enjoyed a local brew and quick chat with Burch, Katie and Nick before Sheila came in, having recovered from stomach issues during her second loop. As we were walking away, I suddenly felt nauseous from throwing a beer into a GI system that needed to reset after 13 hours of exertion. I started getting the hot flashes that preclude spewing so I laid down on my back in the grass. After a few minutes, I was able to recover. Disaster averted.

I was so wiped after the race, it took until the next morning to begin to really feel the satisfaction of what I accomplished on Saturday. I didn't mean to pick a super tough 50 miler as my first, so I'm grateful to have finished and to feel good about how it went. I told Nick that while it was a great race, I'm never doing it again. He just laughed. I suspect he knows that I will be back, since hard climbs and gnarly trails make for a more gratifying finish.

My reward for finishing was prancing around in my new shirt:
I pinched these additional on course snaps from Steve Pero:
Lots of this...
...followed by lots of this.

We were warned
JT's all smiles
Horsetooth Reservoir
Nick and Pete put on a fantastic event which is well organized. They provide a lot of pre-race info via the website and kept us informed as to any course changes as the race date approached. Aid stations and volunteers were awesome and their work in keeping us rolling along all day was appreciated.

Shout out to Sheila's husband John, who crewed for both of us at all the accessible aid stations. He was a huge help and I was very grateful for his assistance.

With four ultras done, I now start my summer of pacing Sheila through the Rocky Mountain Slam. Stay tuned, Bighorn is next!

Happy Trails,



  1. You did great, Shelby! Best of luck getting Shiela through the Slam!...and most importantly, be sure to have fun!

  2. BOOYAH! 50k, check. 50mile, check. 100mile, ?. Have fun on the slam courses.

    1. Jeremy, yes in fact, I think a hundo is in my not-to-distant future. Stay tuned!