On my birthday I made my 3rd attempt at 50 Miles. I didn’t quite make it but I had fun and learned a lot on this attempt.
Good: I ran about 40 miles a week (MW) leading up to the race and I cut the mileage down to 20MW the month before. That amount of mileage was fine for me. I guess I can try for 50MW next time but I don’t think so. I’d rather do some other activity rather than increase the mileage.
Bad: I didn’t do enough long runs. I need more 25+ mile runs. Pace, Nutrition and stubbornness are only tested on longer runs.
Good: The section of the AZT I ran was beautiful, non-technical, and kinda flat (4,000 feet of elevation change). The RD even scheduled perfect weather – though he could have made it a bit cooler in the mid afternoon.
Bad: The race was actually 54 miles. I don’t mind the extra 4 ‘free’ miles, but I told everyone I was running a 50 miler. I didn’t want to be so particular when I was talking to people, they already think that I’m crazy. So I kept it simple and told them I was running a 50 miler.
Where it gets bad is I DNF’d at mile 48. ‘Why’d you quit with only 2 miles left?’ …uh it was actually a 54 mile race. They think I’m crazy either way but now I feel more crazy having to add more context to my DNF.
Good: Ziplock bags. When I ran Zion 50k I had a tough time using my drop bag. While at the aid station I wasn’t thinking clearly and never could remember what I wanted out of my bag.
This time, within my dropbag I packed all my ‘must haves’ in a separate gallon size ziplock bag. That way no thinking, just grab and go. I did have ‘just in case stuff’ but the important stuff (like my headlamp and gels) were all in the ziplock.
Bad: Didn’t use all the drop bag stations. While running I figuratively slapped my head about my planning. I was concerned about how to get my drop bag back after the race. I travelled to the race and wouldn’t be able to get my drop bags back – except for the 50k drop bag, which was located at the start/finish line. I didn’t want to leave behind my stuff.
Duh – It never occurred to me to not drop stuff off. If I only pick up stuff and use disposable bags I won’t need to collect stuff later. I should have sent nutrition to each of the drop sites. Then I’d be able to tell how I was on calories – (for example: my pockets still have gels in them, need to eat more often). I’d be travelling a little bit lighter and it would be easier to find the gel or tablet I was looking for because my pockets wouldn’t be stuffed.
Good: I had a pace plan. I also converted the cut off times to pace as well. Doing math while running gets harder and harder. I didn’t have to remember to get to this station at this time – 16” pace was the cut off.
Bad: I may have had a pace plan… didn’t mean I used it. Ugh. Something about mile 10 is magical. I feel like superman. Part of me knew I was just Clark Kent but then again I don’t run with glasses. I was running way faster than I planned to and in my mind I figured I was just more awesome than I thought I was during planning.
To be fair to me, I’m not sure how much of my problems where from pace. I didn’t manage nutrition and hydration as well as I need to and the midday heat also worked against me a bit.
Good: Bacon: The race had a bacon station! 🙂 Salty bacon tasted really good.
Pork Chops: The race even had pork chops at the 50k aid station. I wasn’t in shape to eat it by then, but every race should have pork chops and bacon! 🙂
Applesauce packets. Yum. I’ve been experimenting with them. Those go down very easily. The problem is they don’t have much calories. Don’t care, they taste good even when I wasn’t feeling well. Perhaps I’ll experiment with other packets (perhaps some baby food packets might taste good too).
Pretzel sticks. I wish I thought of that earlier. I was running a huge calorie deficit, I just couldn’t think of anything I wanted to eat. At mile 40 I grabbed a big handful of pretzels and left. Salty, small bites, easy to stomach. Perhaps the magical food to solve all my problems?
Bad: On my last run I realized that I needed as simple of food as possible. No tasty flavored gels – I bought Vanilla Hammer gels as my primary food source. I think I need to go with unflavored (and stock my drop bag with pretzels!).
Caffeine – I figured caffeine would help keep my speed up during the back half of the race. Perhaps, I did use 2 of my caffeinated gels. However I need to find a better caffeine delivery system because chocolate and coffee flavored gels have too strong of a flavor to sound appetizing for me late in the race.
Good: I planned on having rough spots and I planned on using the clock. That way when bad things happened it wouldn’t knock me out – I’m here all day.
Where it really paid off was at the 50K aid station. I wasn’t having that much fun as I approach the 50K finish. Rather than drop down to the shorter distance, I knew I had plenty of time left to make the next cut off. I figured I could just sit in the aid station and decide in 5-10-20-30 minutes if I should drop down or continue. If you are watching the clock, use it.
Plus it was still daylight – I wanted to run with my headlamp! 🙂
Bad: I wonder how much of my slow pace at the end was from running out of desire and stubbornness. There was more in the tank. I just couldn’t get it out.