azt

50 Mile attempt x3 Learning

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.

Training

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.

Course

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.

Drop Bag

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.

Pace

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.

Nutrition

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.

Attitude

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.

 

Colossal Vail 50/50

Colossal Vail 50/50

My quest to complete a 50 miler brought me to Tucson to run the Colossal Vail 50/50.  I found it kinda funny that I left home for a race in Tucson that had 40 people in my distance (100-125 overall) the same weekend a 40,000 runner Rock & Roll event was held back home in Vegas.  40 people on a beautiful trail, 40,000 people jammed together on pavement?  I made the right choice!

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The race was crazy well organized for such a small event, somewhere around 150 volunteers for a race of only 100-125 people.

This is a very nice fast course.  One could run this whole thing, there isn’t any technical portions and very smooth trail. … I couldn’t run the whole thing, it’s more of ‘in theory’ you could run the whole thing.  🙂

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The design of the course is a double out and back – 34 mile out and back south and a 20 mile out and back going north.  There are no real killer sections, but the climb from mile 12-16 before the turnaround and then the mid day heat on the return half of the 50k knocked a lot of people out of the 50 mile.   So watch yourself there.

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The deserts in Tucson are more varied than the Mojave desert in Las Vegas.  The trail flows between the scrubby desert with scrubby bushes that I’m used to, to the greener deserts you see in old westerns.  In the north portion, you get the saguaro cactus forest that AZ is more famous for.  Though at that point I was just trying to survive to the next check point so maybe I was imagining things.

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I’ve done several trail races, this was the first course that was on an active section of the trail.  Several day hikers and through hikers were out on the trail.  I’d imagine its because that even though there was no huge ‘payoff’ vista or anything, this was a good solid trail – a place and a route you’d actually go for a hike even if there was no race.

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So about the volunteers and aid stations, there really were more volunteers than participants.  There was an unofficial bacon aid station at a road crossing as well as pork chops at the 50k aid station!

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The most famous runner in any race is generally the fastest.  The second most famous is the person at the back.  That’s the person that is keeping all the volunteers out on the course.  From Mile 34-48 I was that person!  🙂 Though there was a runner still on the course after I DNF’d – but I was famous for a while.  I bring that up because there were at least a half dozen mountain bike volunteers out sweeping the course and making sure I was ok.

When I made it back to the finish line (via a car) there was still a ton of food left.  A nice treat for me – as a back of the pack finisher in trail races–  finish line food is usually very picked over.  In fact, the camp fire was still going and it looked like the ‘party’ would continue for hours after I left for my hotel.