Jemez 50 – an amazing race

In mid March Emily and I decided to do Jemez 50 in Los Alamos New Mexico. It was still full on ski season and I had not even started to think about running yet. I had run ~30 miles so far in 2015 when we decided to do the race and only had 9 weeks to train. I put together an aggressive, but attainable training schedule and quickly got excited about doing a new race in a place we had never been. As the race got closer, we realized it was going to be a very fun weekend with a lot of Wasatch runners going down for the race.

The race is known to be hard, but I definitely underestimated how hard it really would be. With ~12,000′ of climbing and 3 climbs making up the majority of that vertical gain, it didn’t seem too bad. When we arrived in Los Alamos on Friday afternoon and did a quick shake out run on a portion of the course, the difficulty really set in. The course was going to be VERY technical and rocky with 90% trail and 10% cross country (no trail at all).

I think the hardest part of ultra’s is the ridiculous time the alarm clock goes off on race day. On Saturday morning, our alarm rang at 3:20AM. We were out of the hotel by 4:15 on our way to the race start. The weather was looking to be perfect. Starting temps of around 40F with highs of around 60F with a slight chance of rain, but strong winds up high.
At 5AM we were off with a fast pace (~7min/mile) until we got onto the rocky single track where the pace quickly dropped in the dark. My body was feeling good and I was on a great 10:30 pace until the top of the ski hill climb (the first ~3000′ climb) where I got off trail and descended about 0.5 miles before realizing my error and having to turn around and climb back to the top of the ski hill. I lost a little over 15 minutes and had added 1 mile. The descent to the ski lodge aid station was steep. I took it easy not to trash my legs and was met by Brent to help refuel and get back on the trail. It was shortly after leaving the ski lodge that my chronic sciatica kicked in with full force. All of a sudden my right leg from my waist to my ankle ranged from mild tingling to extremely sharp pain (to the point of almost passing out on the second climb up the ski hill).

Here is a great photo of me from Jim Stein:

My pace slowed and I kept plugging along. Around mile 22, David Hayes caught up to me and I was happy to have someone to run with and take my mind off my back/leg for around 8 miles. We ran together through the most spectacular section of the race the Caldera (Valley Grande). We were treated to 2 beautiful bull elk running across the trail in front of us and watched them continue across the expansive valley. A very steep cross country climb out of the Caldera and we had a long descent to the Parjarito Canyon aid station. With my back issue I had not chance of keeping up with David on this long descent so I would be alone again for quite a while. The Pajarito aid station started the second climb to the top of the ski hill. My legs felt find (muscle wise), but the sciatica was becoming excruciating at times. I suffered up the climb and was able to find some relief on the steep descent. I took 5 minutes to get my head together at the aid station and was back on the trail. I covered the next 2.8 miles faster than the first time, and then was happy to know that most of the climbing was behind me.

Shortly after the Guaje Ridge aid station, I was caught by Cody from Silverton and together we pushed our pace much harder than either of us could have maintained alone. We rang the final ~7 miles together at a strong pace down some amazing single track. With about 1 mile to go, we caught David Hayes and the 3 of us ran into the finish line together.
My goal time was 10:30 and I ended up finishing in 11:46 for 33rd overall (30th male) out of . I wasn’t thrilled with this time, but considering how my back/sciatica felt and my 1 mile detour, and the fact that the race was close to 54 miles (no including my detour) I wasn’t that disappointed either. It was great to have Bethany, Brent, Emily, Leslie (David’s sister) and other familiar faces cheering at the finish line.
After recovering (a little) and getting some food, we waited for the rest of our Wasatch crowd to finish.

Jemez 50 - 23May15 The final climb to the finish. Photo by Brent Mitchell

Jemez 50 - 23May15 The Legendary Roch Horton finishing

Jemez 50 - 23May15 Emily Finishing
After getting cleaned up, we were treated to fantastic homemade lasagna at David’s moms house.
We were looking forward to Sunday and Monday in Santa Fe. Since neither of us had been to New Mexico, we decided that it would be fun to spend 2 days there. We got into Santa Fe around 11 on Sunday and walked around town looking at galleries for several hours. We then relaxed by the pool and had a much needed nap (I had only got 12 hours of sleep the previous 3 nights combined). We had an amazing dinner at Pink Adobe and after dinner drink and dessert at Coyote Cafe. Sunday morning was had a great hike/jog on the trails around Santa Fe, a little more relaxation, followed by some more galleries, dinner and tequila tasting at Maria’s and then we headed back to Albuquerque for our 6AM Tuesday morning flight.

Recovering from Jemez 50 in Santa Fe Recovering in Santa Fe

Food consumed during the race (~2800 calories)

  • 3 servings Herbalife Prolong (100 cal)
  • 3 Hammer Nutrition Fizz
  • 9 Hammer Nutrition Peanut Butter Gels (900 cal)
  • 3 Stinger Gels (300 cal)
  • 3 servings Hammer Nutrition Sustained Energy (300 cal)
  • 8 Hammer Nutrition Endurance Aminos
  • 14 Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes
  • 3 handfuls potato chips (100 cal)
  • 1 mini snicker (50 cal)
  • 1 Stinger waffe (150 cal)
  • 1 Pizza portable (150 cal)
  • 3 watermelon slices (200 cal)
  • 4 orange slices (200 cal)
  • 2 peanut butter chocolate cookers (200 cal)
  • 1 can Red Bull (150 cal)
  • 8 oz Coke
  • 4 Advil