The Official Website of Ultra Athlete Shanna Armstrong

Los Alamos Jemez 50k

May 18th, 2009 Posted in Shanna's Blog Entries

Home Sweet Home-this morning i woke up and my tire was flat. i was planning on hitting the road early but ended up waiting for a tire shop to open.   My brakes also went out yesterday coming into Santa Fe from Los Alamos.  Ok so they did not go out but there is major grinding going on.  i am walking like i have something stuck up my butt from the soreness but other then that i am in good spirits.  After finding out how much it was going to cost to finish my van i recruited in some massages to help pay for it.  i got out of my shop at 8:45 and am beat.   I have my Santa Fe century written up but will post it later this week.   There is never a dull moment in my life.

Los Alomos 50k 


This was just a training run but is was darn hard. I woke up nice and early that morning.
Here lately it has been hard to get going in the mornings. Since my gramps passed away doing anything is an effort. I always feel better once I do something. Signing up for these races keeps me motivated. Jemez 50k is one of the toughest trails runs out there. I signed up for the 50 miler last year thinking that I could do it in 10 hours since I can run under 8 hours and 30 minutes on pavement. There is no way that was going to happen. I twisted my ankle 4x last year and got pointed off course. I am glad this happened so I had a reason to quit. This year I was smarter about just signing up for the 50k.

I bundled up at the start knowing that I would be taking it all off later but wanted to be warm. I met some people at the start and Mike was there as well…ready to go. I figured that if I finished within an hour of him that I would have a good race. we ran on pavement for about a mile so I took advantage of that. We got to the first climb that was straight up the side of the mountain. This is a hard hike. I was trying to keep Mike in sight and was having a heart attack in the process. He was being nice and sort of holding himself back. I told him to go on. I don’t run my own race with others around and even though I am social I don’t want to be hanging with someone all day. He took off like a torpedo for the downhill. It was very technical with lots of loose dirt and s turns. I got passed by at least 6 people. All the heavy set guys come down the hill fearless and I am hanging on to branches for dear life. I babied this downhill and tried to take my time. I still slipped but did not twist anything. Next was a climb of 10,000 ft. This was where two guys hurt their knees and one girl broke her arm last year. It takes forever to get up the climb. I actually passed people back on this one and got into a grove. I saw Louie, David Steadman, and several others that I met last year coming back down the mountain. This perked me up. I got to the top and Mike was not 100 yds ahead of my so I must of done pretty good. I also saw a great ultra runner name Barb from Ft.Worth and passed her. She got me started in my first trail run. The people that I passed were doing the 50 miler so they needed to conserve themselves. I took it real easy on the downhill again and got passed by about 10 people coming down but I made it safe and sound. Just towards the bottom people from the aid station were coming up since someone had seen a bear. One was this little old lady…what was she going to do? Tackle the bear for us? I was getting out of there. I think it took me almost 4 hours to do the first 11 miles. It was going to be a long day. I did not really track the time but I think that is correct. There was another climb of 1000 ft that I again passed people going up…this time I kept thtem off on the downhill. The downhill was not technical so I was able to run it. I did not spend much time at the next sag but my stomach was growling so I got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The next part was an out and back so I was hoping to see how I was doing. I got to the next sag and had caught Mike. This was a big surprise to me. We left hat sag together and he was having stomach issues. I knew what he felt like so I hung out with him. We were on some flat stuff that we should have been running. WE ran and walked some to the next sag. After that we had 11 miles to go. Mike commented that it was a long way to go…then came another giant hill. We walked that and then ran the downhill. We had lots of climbs like this until the last 7 miles. The last 7 miles was all downhill. Mike went on and was feeling better. I once again babied downhill running. I grabbed on to a bush with thorns that went through my gloves. The were long thorns and I could feel them break my skin. My glove got a little wet with blood but I kept going. I then got passed by some guy in surfer shorts with a huge backpack. He had a nice pace so I stayed close to him. He would get away from me on a technical downhill but I would catch up on a flatter part or uphill. I ran behind him driving him nuts into the last sag. We caught up to a girl and she seemed startled about seeing me. She picked the pace up and you could tell she did not want me to pass. I stuck with my surfer dude. This race did not mean much to me so I did not see any sense in wrecking the girls day. Who knows if I could of passed her but I was not going to try. I stayed back with my surfer dude. The last part was pretty flat but it the trail did have a cherry on top. It looked as if the trail ended in a pile of rocks. We had to climb up all the rocks to finish. If it had not been for the surfer guy leading the way I would of thought I was off course. When we got to the top you could see the finish line. I just jogged that in. My time was 8:15 or so. That is a long darn run considering I have done 50ks in just over 5 hours. My quads were shredded from all the downhill running. I was glad to be done. Turns out that Mike was still there. He had just finished himself. This perked me up that I once again had gained some time. I am sure I was still the back of the pack but I did finish. These trail runners amaze me!!! They are studs and really a tough bunch. I am impressed by all of them and know that I will not ever run trails like them. It is just nice to be a part of it on occasion. I made lots of new contacts and hung out at the finish for a while. David Steadman and Louie were still out and would be for a while. I did not hang out to see how they did. David left message that he came in with a time of 16:07 for the 50 miler. He thought he would do 12 hours so that gives you an idea of how tough the course is. I will be on stuff like this in Switzerland so the training was good. I will be back again next year.