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StumpJump 50k Race Report!

Although I think I may be legally obligated to say that my wedding day was the best day of my life (don't worry baby, it was!), I think I can safely say that yesterday was the second best day ever. I raced the StumpJump 50k in Signal Mountain, Chattanooga.

Honestly, I had an amazing time. Was it hard? Of course. Did I get hurt? Sure. But it was still the most fun I've had with my clothes on. So how do you go about recapping something so enormous? Here's my attempt at summarizing the 50k (31.1 miles), which took 7 hours, 29 minutes and 16 seconds. (And I thought recapping a four and a half hour marathon was tough. )

Pre-Race: The whole past week I was basically "getting ready" for this race. I only did a one-week taper, but it was a grand total of 7.5 miles, (3 miles Tuesday, 4.5 miles Wednesday) so I was eager to start running on Saturday morning. I slept a pretty solid 6 hours on Friday night, had carbo-loaded the day before and had everything packed. And then we started driving.

Freaking out in the rain pre-race.

The rain came slowly, completely eliminating all the work I had done over the past 10 days on Weather.com. How does 10% chance of percipiation turn into "rainy all morning"? You tell me.


SO excited to run in the race. Really.

Race Time: I started out right in the middle of the pack, which immediately split into two groups - there was also an 11 mile run that day. After less than half a mile we were covered from the rain and on the trail. The first 4 miles are basically a nice, wide trail that is completely runnable, with rolling hills but very manageable terrain. We all moved along at a nice, slow pace. I told myself that the rule for the first few hours was just DON'T BREATHE HEAVILY. That's it. Ignore pace, ignore everyone else, and just run nice and easy without ever getting out of breath.

After the aid station at "Mushroom Rock", things got interesting. A steep, technical descent, a swinging bridge, and plenty of water crossings. Around mile 7, there were a bunch of screams and someone yelled, "Yellowjackets!" Everyone around me got stung, but they missed me entirely. (Side note: all I thought when this happened was TRACKER JACKERS!)

At mile 10, I had my only real fall for the day. I was crossing a creek and trying to basically hug a rock to get over the water when I slipped. Someone actually hopped into the water and caught my head so it wouldn't smash into the rock, but I still had some minor scrapes/bumps. It was all fine, but all the aid station workers thought I was bad ass because of the blood. I did not correct them.

Around the 5 hour mark by knee buckled and I actually screamed - it was incredibly painful. Oddly, it only hurt when I stepped up or down onto a rock/step. I took some ibuprofen and it was gone almost right away. Other than that...there wasn't much excitement or drama on the course. I say that as a good thing. I met some fellow runners, chatting through tough spots on the course, but I also spent a lot of time on my own. That, honestly, was the best part. I got lost twice, but both times I was with someone else and we caught the mistake within a minute or two.

Aid Stations: These were great. I've only ever run trail half marathons before, so I don't really need to stop for snacks and I have my own water. This time, I brought along my Camelbak full of snacks and filled it up with nuun. But I still enjoyed snacks at the aid stations and they were kind enough to refill my backpack with water too. Over the 7+ hours I ate jelly beans, gummy bears, lots of peanut m&m's, boiled potatoes with salt, coke (I had no idea it was going to be that delicious, but it was), shot blocks and a KIND bar. I was aiming for around 150-200 calories per hour, but I think I ended up at the lower end of this scale overall. I drank about 120 ounces of water and added 4 nuun tabs overall.  I never hit the proverbial "wall", felt dehydrated or cramped up, so I say SUCCESS!

Camlbak with snacks!

 The Course: I have very few complaints about the actual course. It was very challenging, with 5,000 feet of elevation gain and lots of boulders, a mile long "rock garden," where there was little trail and you just hopped from from boulder to boulder, but that is what made this run so much fun. The scenery was incredible, and there were tons of awesome rock formations along the way.  The rain did leave everything muddy and slippery, and there were some spots that were dangerous as a result. But there's not much race directors can do about that. 

source

The Finish: The last 1/3 of a mile or so is on road, and as soon as I emerged from the trail Tim was waiting there - and had been for an hour. Love that man, and I love that he was standing there (in the cold!) waiting for me to finish. THANK YOU! I had a surge and was able to sprint to the finish, coming in at 7 hours, 29 minutes and 16 seconds. That put me at 41/90 women, and I'm more than happy with that time.


2 minutes from the finish
 
Post-Race: Today (Sunday) is so much harder than the actual race itself. Everything aches. EVERYTHING. I walked for about 45 minutes and that was more than enough. Sleep, food and movies are the agenda today and tonight. I'm still waiting for my celebratory wine - I think I may FINALLY be hydrated enough to start properly dehydrating myself.

I really want to thank everyone who sent encouragement, support and congratulations through Facebook, Twitter, text, etc. I really appreciate it so much. It means a lot to me!

What's the one thing that has helped recovery after a long race for you? I'll take all the advice I can get!
I didn't do much yesterday that I maybe should have - I drank, ate and slept. I wish I had taken an ice bath or gone for a walk in the evening, but I was just too exhausted. Hopefully the walk today will help get rid of some stiffness by tomorrow!

Comments

  1. i'm HORRIBLE at recovery.. i just sleep and eat, nothing else HAHA. but i'm just here to call you badass and congratulate you on a rather "uneventful" race as you say, that's exactly what you want cause that means you finished!!!! lol. man, i would be broken boned after a trail ultra! 3 miles make me sore, cannot imagine the level of sore after that :)

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  2. Awesome job!! Love the pic of all the snacks you brought--and that one of the aid station snacks was potatoes! You have me itching to do a trail race...but maybe I'll start with a nice short one!

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  3. Oh my word - rain, mud, trails, blood - you ARE badass! Congratulations!

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  4. Congratulations!! What an awesome job and a great experience. I totally fell during my trail ultra as well, but it sort of makes the whole thing MORE badass, right? Nothing wrong with that!

    You're right...the days after are much worse than the actual run. But hang in there. You'll feel better in a couple of days. Enjoy relaxing and eating! You deserve it!

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  5. Woo-hoo! That looks like one badass course and YOU DID IT!

    P.S. look up leg drains, they helped after my ironman.

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  6. No need to pretend you aren't a bad ass...you are definitely a badass. Even without the blood.

    And that camelback picture looks slightly dirty.

    Congratulations!!

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  7. Most definitely badass!! You are amazing- great racing!!

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  8. Congratulations on a great race! I would love to do an ultra one day!

    I hope that recovery goes well!

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  9. Congratulations, you little badass you!!!!!

    Wanna hear something funny? I thought "tracker jackers" before I even got to the sentence saying that's what you thought. lol Kindred spirits, I tell ya.

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  10. Congratulations! I haven't been on twitter this weekend, so I didn't see.. but you rock! :) Awesome.

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  11. Howww do u run without getting outta breath?? Sheesh. Awesome job!!

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  12. Wow, I am in awe of you right now. I am not one for trail running as I tend to trip over my own feet so I am super impressed that you did 50k! I think I would have quit at the yellow jackets, I'm allergic and they really freak me out. Awesome job!!

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  13. The most fun with clothes on! Ha! Are you sure that wouldn't be shopping?

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  14. Great job on your first 50k!

    I totally would have thought "Tracker jackers!" too. Although my brain after a few hours of running is really loopy, so I probably would have shouted that out loud too.

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  15. Congrats!! You're a total badass!! Recovery wise I just drunk lots of water, eat because I seem to be ravenous, and sleep!!! And plot my next race ;)

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  16. WooHoo!! Way to kick some asphalt, er I mean some gravel!!! You are totally GBA!!! (Galactically Bad A$$)

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  17. Congrats on your first 50k! Coke at aid stations is the most wonderful thing ever. In my experience, recovery from the ultras isn't too bad and I bounce back better than others!

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  18. WOW! That is seriously amazing. I bow down to you:)

    ❀Barbara❀
    My Running Shortz

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  19. Awesome job!! I am now all excited after reading this bc I have a trail half on the 21st!! I love trails!

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  20. Congrats on your 50K!!! Your recap is much more concise and entertaining the the one I wrote for my first one last month, lol :)

    It seems so common to fall on trail ultras! So happy you didn't get hurt (or stung, earlier, lol), and that it made some people think you were bad@$$ ;) I LOVED the potatoes with salt idea, I wish they would do that at all races!

    Did it rain the whole time?

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    1. No, thankfully it didn't rain the whole time! I think it stopped after about an hour or so.

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  21. Congrats on completing your ultra and only upping your badass status!

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  22. awesome job Vanessa! I love love love coke after long runs, something about it. You are the first I've heard mentioned boiled potatoes with salt... actually sounds quite amazing!! Now that your big race is out the way, I'll be anxious to see what your next adventure is.

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  23. SOOO excited for you! CONGRATS! you are quite bad ass-expecially in the rain! :) recovery-yes, feeling that and sadly i only ran a half today. I would suggest ice bath, walking, advil, biofreeze, tiger tail and foam roll.

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  24. I'm in one of my Army field exercises so just caught this! but wanted to say congrats! You are a beast! :)

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  25. Congrats Vanessa!! :) The aid station Coke is soooooo good. It looks like you and I take the same approach to ultras: all-day junk food adventure :)

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  26. Wow! What an accomplishment! So very proud of you!

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  27. You are so badass. Seriously felt like I was reading a page out of born to run. And I also instantly thought of tracker jackers when you said yellow jackets!! This sounds so fun and challenging, congrats for finishing it and for doing such an awesome job!!

    I don't have any great words of wisdom for recovery. I try to foam roll and stretch and also drink lots of water and lay around haha. I also swear by a glass of chocolate milk or hot chocolate after long runs/workouts.

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  28. Awesome job!!! I hope you thanked the guy for saving your life when you fell and then immediately passed him :).

    Good luck with the recovery! At least you know all of that soreness comes from being awesome.

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  29. Holy cow. Like I said, I have so much catching up to do! Dang Thanksgiving getting in the way of my blog reading this weekend!! First off, congrats on running a ridiculous race! Just from your recap I can imagine how difficult it was. Rain, creeks, rocks?? If I slipped and almost smashed my head I probably would have called it quits!! I am so impressed with you, your time, and your ability to fuel so well!! I always struggle with that.

    Hope your body is feeling better! Eat and drink. Repeat.

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  30. Definitely badass! Way to go! As much as it hurts, I'd say keep moving as much as possible to flush the junk out of your system. Hope you're feeling better soon.

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  31. Congratulations!!! You're awesome and this is an amazing recap - reading this makes me want to do it even more than I did before :) EPSOM SALTS! I have found Epsom salt baths to work miracles in my recovery and it's cheap and easy. I also immediately thought of tracker jackers!

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  32. Congratulations Vanessa! I'm so glad you had such a great race. It sounds like you did a great job preparing yourself and had a really successful race. Congrats on your first ultra!

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  33. Way to go Vanessa! You did so awesome! I think gummy bears have a special power that makes people run faster.

    I totally agree. The couple days after a long race are without a doubt more miserable than any pain during the race. I'm feeling that today too. Ugh.

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  34. Awesome great job!!! Ice bath would have been the best advice but has to happen right after, just keep moving every day even if it is walking. It must be warm still where you are cuz I couldn't have ran in shorts and a tshirt here especially with rain this time of year. Glad you didn't get hurt other than the minor fall. That is quite an accomplishment!

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  35. Congrats on completing your first ultra! That is HUGE :) I cannot even imagine running that far!

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  36. You are amazing!!! Congratulations on the fabulous finish!

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  37. Congratulations!! You rocked the 50k!

    We have been having beautiful, clear but cool weather here, but Saturday (the day of my 50k) has a 40% chance of rain. :'-(

    That is a long time to be running... I was hoping it would take me less than 6.5 hours to finish my 50k. Maybe I need to re-evaluate....

    I hope the recovery is going well. Another runner friend told my BF that he must make me sit in cold water for at least 10 minutes after the race. Hopefully, I'll have enough energy left to foam roll and stretch.

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  38. You have all my admiration!
    this is fantastic!
    congratulations!
    and look at you smiling at almost 50k done! seriously!

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  39. You deserve all that rest! What an impressive race. Good for you! I seriously can't imagine doing it. You are hardcore.

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  40. Rock star!! I totally would have thought Tracker Jackers too! Ha! Great race!! Many congrats! Can't wait to hear what's next. :) Besides Chicago next year of course. ;)

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  41. Congrats!!! You did such an amazing job! You deserve some eating and sleeping ;)

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  42. I would be very careful about taking Ibuprofen during or after ultras. You liver is pretty busy processing the carnage of your body already.

    Congrats on the ultra. Great job on nutrition.

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    1. You're definitely right. I wouldn't encourage anyone to take ibuprofen or any other NSAIDs during exercise/races without fully understanding the health consequences. I am not familiar with liver damage due to ibuprofen, but I know that it can really wreak havoc on kidneys -especially when you're already dealing with dehydration. Thanks for mentioning it.

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  43. Congrats! That is so awesome!!! Maybe foam roll to help with the soreness? That's always my go-to for aches and pains :) But seriously, nice work!

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  44. Congratulations again! Love the Hunger Games reference! P.S. I am in awe of this accomplishment, I am terrified to even try trail running in fear of getting injured! lol
    Good job girl!

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  45. That sounds FANTASTIC.
    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!

    And, ahem, for the record, racing bloody does make you bad ass!

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  46. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! you are so hardcore and officially an Ultra-marathoner :) ...you're cool. I'm glad we're friends. I have a cool friend. :)

    I love that the race went so well for you - I can't BELIEVE that elevation chart. I literally can't! OMY!

    I can't walk today after 20km's so I guess I'll just keep my complaints to myself ;)

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  47. way to go vanessa!!!! tracker jackers? i almost peed my pants laughing!

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  48. Great job on your race! Aren't the trail ultras fun!? I really enjoy them, the camaraderie, the scenery and the fun snacks! I am glad you enjoyed it and did not hit the wall! That's awesome!

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  49. Vanessa! this is awesome! congrats - also love the hunger games reference hahah!

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  50. You are AMAZING! That is beyond awesome. You look great at the finish too!

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  51. Very cool! This makes me so excited for my first 50K in February. I'd doing Cheaha down in Bama.

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  52. Congrats!! That is very exciting. How did the race fuel/snacks go for you? Boiled potatoes with salt sounds genius. Shot Bloks are not listed as gluten free so I was curious if you'd had any problems with them. I have been using honey stinger equivalents to shot bloks because I was afraid of the gluten!

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    1. I didn't have any problems with Shot Bloks! Even though they aren't listed specifically as gluten-free, they are technically free FROM gluten. I asked Clif and their rep told me that since there are other items produced in the factory that contain gluten, they can't guarantee it. BUT - no other items are produced on these specific machines. I suppose there is a risk for cross-contamination, but it doesn't seem to be likely.

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