I did it! My third Quad Rock 50 mile finish in three tries. My official time was 13 hours, 56 minutes, and 57 seconds, just three minutes under the limit. I prepared less for this race than I have in 2019 and 2021 because I'm aiming to peak at the end of September and looked at it as mainly a long training run that I might finish or not. My longest run so far this year was 18 miles. I joked with the race director afterwards that my plan was to run myself into shape in the first 25 miles and then build on that. I was mentally prepared to not finish and also prepared to push myself if a finish was within reach.
In the first half of the race, I stayed well within my limits and left the Soldier Canyon aid station, the turn-around, with an elapsed time of 6 hours and 15 minutes. The climb up Timber Trail was warm and I cramped severely on the following descent down Howard Trail. I arrived at Arthurs Rock aid station only seven minutes before the time check. Dropping out at Arthurs had crossed my mind on the descent and the thought was lingering a bit as I hobbled in, but the friendly volunteers filled my tank up with pickles, popsicles, and encouragement, and I found myself good to go again. I headed out towards the Mill Creek climb and was racing, slowly, against the clock all the rest of the afternoon.
After I got to the top of Mill Creek, I had to resupply quickly and then get over the rest of the Westridge Trail climb and down to and through the Horsetooth aid station in 65 minutes. Again, thoughts of dropping tempted me during the technical part of the descent. I felt better during the runnable last 1.5 miles and made it to the aid station with four minutes to go. Not enough time to change socks and shoes as I'd planned, only enough time to grab more drinks and food and regroup with two other runners.
The final climb is not as hard as the penultimate climb, and after that it was mostly a matter of managing my effort well. At the last aid station, with 2.3 relatively flat miles to go and 30 minutes left, I was pretty confident I would make it in under 14 hours. I ran the downhills quickly and didn't dawdle on the flats, coasting just a bit to the finish line.
Honestly, I could have kept going. I was feeling composed and fairly energetic at the finish. I'll be building on this for the next 16 weeks.