Friday, December 7, 2012

50 miles with Salomon: TNF50m race report

Photo by Brett Rivers of San Francisco Running Co.
Despite getting a blood clot a week before the race (in my inner adductor/quad area) I was able to run the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler this past weekend in San Francisco for Salomon.  I was in the ER just 8 days before the race.  Luckily, recovery time was faster than expected.  I had a good deal of inflammation in the week leading up to the race including swelling, pain, calf cramps and pain/reduced ROM with bending my knee and landing while running (running downhill especially). My coach, Ian Sharman, suggested that I rest as much as possible because even with no running the week before the race, I would be okay for race day if the pain would subside.

In the end, the pain disappeared because of a skillful taping job by a magician of a Physio by the name of Arnaud.  Arnaud travels with the Salomon running team and I had the pleasure of getting treated 3 times by him.  As far as I could tell by his Franglaisures (French/English/hand gestures) he practices acupuncture, physical therapy, massage therapy, osteopathy, and a few other -pathy's.  Like Tape-athletopathy. He taped my knee and thigh for the race like an artist surveying his clay then molding it to his vision.  My leg was taped so well that I felt no pain for 35 miles!  35!  Do you realize the accomplishment here?  I could feel the pain sitting without even moving. It became more severe with any knee bending. Araund taped my leg, added some magnetic ceramic pieces and voila!  Magician. Thank you Arnaud!

Race morning came fast as i was up at 3am. I had to meet the team at 4:15 at the race course.  Rain was steadily drizzling down and fog had settled in the  valleys.  It would be dark for the first 2 hours of the race and I wished I had brought my good headlamp.  No point in worrying about that now though.  The race began like a sweeping breeze and we blew down a paved road to a wide dirt road that wound up the Marin Headlands.  The course proved to be either uphill or down hill and it was a fun challenge to run up the hills, gritting through the muscle burn, grinding up, up, up then flowing down into the valley again.  I attacked the downhills with new found pleasure. 

Just two days before I had gotten a short, but incredible lesson from Salomon team manager Greg Vollet on downhill running and how to fix a little "kick out" that I do with my left foot because my hips are a little turned to the right. Using the downhill methods Greg gave me I was able to really roll down the hills with stability and speed despite the slickest, muddiest conditions I have ever raced in.  I would pass my competition on most every downhill and then they would gain a little on me on the uphill. Here is some of the crazy mud:
Photo by Rick Gaston. Can you say mud??!
Here's another one of Rick's gems:
Photo by Rick Gaston
I ran a solid 4:10 for the first 26 miles.  5 hours for the first 50k.  8:01 for 46 miles (the course was shortened a bit due to weather conditions), a time I am happy with after such a stressful week of injury and not enough sleep!  I would love to do this race again and I really enjoyed spending time with Team Salomon!  What an amazing opportunity and adventure.  Here are some pictures from the trip. I've included some information about the new Salomon gear I got to try out. 

Salomon House- the team plans for the race the next day.
Photo by Greg Vollet. Running with the team on one last run in the Headlands before the race. L to R: Emelie Forsberg (finished 1st at TNF), Miguel Herras (1st overall finish), me, and Francoise D'Haene (2nd overall)
All decked out in my new gear. Thanks Salomon! The gear was amazing for the race. I loved the waist pack it is very light and flexible.  I barely noticed it.  It never chaffed or rode up on my waist.  I plan to use it for HURT 100 in January.  I used little soft s-lab hydrapak 8 oz. water bottles for it. 
A closer view of the new waist pack:

Salomon Advanced Skin S-LAB Belt

It will be out in March 2013.

Here are the water bottles

I also loved the S-Lab shoes.  I was afraid they would not have enough grip on the downhills but I was happily surprised that I rarely slipped in all that crazy mud.  No blisters or hot spots despite never having worn them before the race!
S-Lab Sense shoes
Start of the race, about to get going
James paced me for 23 miles! He is a great pacer.
James and I got to hang out with our favorite musicians, Joe Cappocia of the Pine Hearts and Kendl Winter in San Fran where they  played a a series of shows.


  1. Nice work Candice! Running in the mud can be a pain in the ass! I recently went on a ridge run of mud and ended up on my ass several times! Can you expand on your downhill running strategy??

  2. Yes, I'd love to hear downhill running tricks also- especially for those conditions!

    What is this with the blood clot? How did you know it was that and not just a muscle strain? Good thing it worked out in the end, that can be scary!


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