American River Newbie (Read 253 times)


    I'm running the AR50 in 21 days (not that I'm counting or anything), and I have tried to look up answers to my questions, but I still have a few questions.


    Just a little background: I've been a newbie Ultra runner since 2010. I've done TNF 50K in SF twice, and Bull Dog once. I just completed my 3rd Catalina Marathon last weekend, and have done 5 other marathons since 2009, and approx. 20+ half marathons since 2008. I have competed in triathlon since 2003, and have completed over 30.


    Needless to say, this is my first 50, and the distance doesn't frighten me, and I'm 100% aware of my lack of speediness. I don't remotely look like an ultra runner as I've had the same 25 lbs to lose for a few years now, but I keep on running, and with a smile. I am given 13 hours to finish, and my goal is to have a great time and finish before 13 hours 1 minute (Most of my pace calculators show I can finish in 10:58, but my goal is to just finish).


    My question is this: I train and live in the San Gabriel Valley, and I love hilly races, yet I chose this race for my first 50 since it's moderately flat. In reality, can someone with knowledge of this course tell me how flat it actually is, and should I change shoes at the Beals Point rest stop/bag drop?


    Any suggestions, knowledge, comments, words of wisdom are very much welcome and appreciated. 





      It is 20 miles on flat(ish) paved bike trail, followed by a not-too-technical but definitely roly poly 50k trail run.  Note that you pick up the single track right after you cross a dam and about 5-6 miles BEFORE Beal.


      I changed shoes at Beal last year.  I probably didn't need to do that... the second half had pretty good footing mostly, and I'm sure road shoes would be fine.  IF the weather has been fine.  It was very fine in 2011. There were a few muddy sections, though, and I bet this would be a bigger deal in rainy conditions.


      Anyway, specific to hills:


      1. The paved part is definitely pretty flat.  Beware of going out too fast!

      2. The traily 50k miles are nothing like flat... but you don't have superlong mountain climbs or steep descents either.  It's just a lot of up and down, rolling stuff.  Very runnable. Mostly.

      3. The last 3 miles are straight up a road. The elevation chart no lie. Up you will go. Up up up.  In 2011, the aid station at the bottom of the climb (the last aid station in the race) was manned (and I mean MANNED) by a bunch of thin 20something guys in shorts-and-nothing-else with big Anton Krupicka beards.  Great big fun.  And then up you will go.


      Take it easy, don't go out too fast with the crowd, and you will do GREAT.  If I run this race again, I won't change shoes (unless the weather has been poo and I'm concerned about traction)... but I did in 2011, and that was fine too.  All it cost me to do that was 5-10 minutes of puttering around at the aid station.  Their aid is GREAT and they will be very quick with your drop bag if you choose to stop and change.  So really, it's up to you. 



        Thank you so much! That is so helpful. 


        I had debated just wearing my trail shoes the entire way, and I think I just may do so. The only think I want to change, and only if I have to, are socks. Otherwise, I rather not sit-down at all and just keep on pushing through. 


        I truly am not a fast runner. My marathon PR right now is 4:49, and it involved a bit of walking. I tend to be a bit faster not he back half of a race most of the time. 


        The end of the race sounds a lot like the 16-19 mile section of the Catalina marathon, or even miles 10-14.5 of TNF SF. I've been including some climbs towards the end of my long weekend runs, but for the next 2 weeks I'll hit longer and tougher climbs for mental prep. 



        Hope you run again this year. I'll be the runner out there with the really big smile. I know in a race when I stop smiling I shouldn't be running!


          I guess it depends on your trail shoes.  I would NOT wear big chunky trail shoes the whole way.  The first 20 miles are paved, and unless you run in the grass that is going to beat the hell out of your feet and legs. I would wear road shoes the whole way or change at Beal.  If you are going to change socks, a shoe change will take the exact same amount of time.


          You don't need long tough climbs in your training.  The last 3 mile climb is going to be hard no matter what you do.  It is the last 3 miles of a 50 miler.  However, hill training is good for us and it won't hurt you to do so.


          I'm not running it this year.  Have fun.



            I decided again my heavier shoes in favor for a lighter better breathing pair. I'm going to pack both pair and decide the night before. 


            Thank you again for the help.