marathon

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.

 

Big Races

I came across this picture of a the City to Surf race.  I’ve never run a ‘big city race’ with tens of thousands of runners or even thousands and thousands.  I think the biggest race I’ve run is the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon where it is 1-2 thousand.

I’m sure these big races are fun, but man that’s a lot of people.  If you haven’t run a smaller race you’re missing out.  At a smaller race you all cross the starting line within a minute of each other. It feels like a race – even though the only time I’m within 1 minute of the leader is at the starting line.  The aid stations are personal since the volunteers aren’t trying to get water to 10,000 runners.  Almost like you have your own crew at each aid station.  And the courses for smaller races are more varied – not every road and trail can handle 10,000+ runners.

There are tons of smaller races out there.

e

Labor of Love 50 Mile

I mailed off my entry today to Calico Racing’s Labor of Love 50 Mile race!  This will be my second attempt at 50 miles.

Labor of Love 50 Mile

I’ve run this course as a half-marathon before.  I was recovering from a torn calf muscle (ouch) and so I dropped from a marathon down to a half.  If you ever want to ‘podium’ in a race, sign up for a medium-short distance in a primarily ultra event.  I believe I finished 3rd in my age group but the field was really small since the focus was on the ultra-distances.

Whatever, this is a nice course and hopefully the weather will cooperate.  I think I have my pace down and I think I know some of the reason for knee injuries.  The biggest concern is going to be nutrition.  Hopefully even if my nutrition is messed up, I’ll be able to recognize the problem for what it is and tough it out.

E

Ed’s 50k Red Rock Canyon Run 3/19/2015

I had some PTO time to burn up so i took Thursday off to do a 50K long run.  Never mind that I was still recovering from my Marathon a while back and hadn’t run for 2 weeks.

I mapped out a a nice route.  From Red Rock Station (NV159 & I215) to NV160 (NV159 & NV 160) is 15 Miles.  Then to make it a loop instead of an out and back, I went a bit east on 160 until I hit Fort Apache and then took that back to I215 and followed I215 back to my car

Ed’s Red Rock 50k Route

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This is a pretty nice part of town and there were a few people out for their morning run or bike.

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After a little bit you get into undeveloped desert.  This whole section runs through Red Rock canyon.  Very pretty place to run.  No burros were on the road today though I did see 1 on a hill.  I was excited to see 2 coyotes run across the road.

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NV159 has a nice wide shoulder.  There are very few large vehicles on this section so you should feel very safe, even when it gets busy.  As you get closer to NV160 there will be more large vehicles as there are some Gypsum mines/plants.

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My last marathon was at the Red Rock Canyon loop.  I ran by the entrance and exit to the loop but that wasn’t part of my route today.  Which was fortunate.  The loop has more elevation change than the route I mapped out.  I believe I started around 2800 feet and peaked out around 3600 feet and bottomed out around 2600.

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I finally made it to NV160.  NV160 is a busy road with a lot of large vehicles moving pretty fast.  Fortunately the side of the road is a wide packed dirt shoulder.

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Fort Apache @ NV160 probably isn’t the best road to run on.  Very narrow paved shoulder and the gravel shoulder has several obstructions.  At one point, there is a blind curve and no gravel so you have to run on the road.  What makes this more harrowing is the heavy construction and gravel truck traffic.  Maybe the weekend traffic is safer.

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By the time I got to Wet and Wild water park the road was fully improved with sidewalks.

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Part of the reason I went this direction was because there is an urban trail that follows I-215.  I drive by it all the time and a trail that I haven’t run on always seems to call me.  Plus running a city street with traffic lights stops every mile isn’t the funnest.

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One of the signature items on this urban trail is the Town Center pedestrian bridge.  By the time I got to the bridge I had to debate if I really wanted to climb the switch backs or simply walk across the road – I took the bridge.

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I was able to complete this run with no acute pains and no nausea! Somewhere around mile 20-25 I ran out of legs so that may be a problem for a 50 miler.  And I don’t think nausea was too far away.  But this run was definitely a win and it really boosts my confidence for longer distances.

Calico Racing Red Rock Marathon 2015

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The 2015 Calico Red Rock marathon is my first race since recovering from my leg injury.  In 2014 I injured my leg during Calico Racing’s Twilight Red Rock run, which is the same course, just in the dark.  I “ran” the 5k option of the race with my kids.  I was training for a 100k so my mileage was higher than normal.  I could ‘feel’ that an injury was coming, but I had to run with my kids!

My legs seem to be recovered and I’m back to my normal mileage – though slower than in the past.  I intend to run a 50 mile race this year and need to be able to run these longer distances without injury – If I can’t complete a Marathon with healthy legs, how can I complete a double marathon?

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So I set out to run this race nice and slow with no thought to pace.  The course is a 13 mile out and back, climb for 6 1/2 miles and descend for 6 1/2 miles then run (walk?) back.  The half marathon starts an hour later and does the “return” leg of the marathon.

Since the start is uphill, keeping pace down isn’t too difficult – although it’s still tough to keep pace down when people are passing me.  But the wonderful downhill.   How can you not open your legs up and fly down the mountain?  The half marathon runners are spread out across my downhill.  It’s just so much fun to fly by someone, it just feels like you are showing them how awesome an athlete you are.  Never mind that I was at the back of the pack and nearly every other full marathon runner had already passed them.

This was the second time I ran this race.  I knew I needed to keep my pace down on the downhill.  But I didn’t and I paid for it on the return trip.  Not sure how but my left ankle is now swollen and I have a slight twinge on my right knee.  Over extending?  It’s my normal reoccurring problem.  So my return trip was mostly walking back.

If my goal was to race, this would have disappointed me.  I had the cardio-vascular strength tocontinue running but it was hurting my ankle and knee.  So I just had fun listening to my iPhone and staying fast enough to stop anyone else from passing me.

There isn’t a nicer on-road course in the southwest for either distance.  It’s challenging with the hill climbs, but it’s not a mean climb.  The road is still open to traffic, but it’s one way traffic and the entire 13.1 miles of the course is coned off (That’s a lot of work! 13 miles of setting cones and then 13 miles of picking them up!).

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As for my results, I finished in around 5:15.  I had fun but I did have more injury than I wanted in a lead up to a 50 Mile.  Fortunately I have some PTO time to burn this month.  I’ve mapped out a neat 30 mile course to try.  Perhaps getting a few more really longs run in will help my diagnosis some changes before the 50 Mile race I’m eyeing gets too close.

Las Vegas 100

So I’m thinking of running a 100k race in October – Las Vegas 100. I know, I DNFd doing a 50 Mile. However the race falls during a good time and they don’t have a 50 mile option.

First the course. It is a loop course in a park. When I first started thinking about Ultras, loop courses seemed boring. Perhaps loops are boring, but after running a 50 mile race I see a lot of advantages. The race advertises that the loops are 10, 7, and 5 miles long depending on the loop. But really, the loops are zig zaggy in the same desert lot so it really is 100k of mostly the same scenery over and over again.

So what are the advantages?

* There aren’t many Ultra races within 5 miles of my house. I can do this race with the only expense being the race entry fee and supplies.

* I saw how much work it is for my race crew (AKA Wife). In a point to point 50 mile race it is a long day for the crew, especially when she isn’t into racing. With a loop course, the aid station is always in the same place.

* The course is at a park. While I’ll be mostly running in the desert, the park is large, grassy, and has duck ponds (and other animals). My extended crew can picnic and play at the park.

* After awhile, the scenery doesn’t matter (I hope). It’s me versus the race.

* Loops = more people to talk to? In my last race, as the field spread apart, there wasn’t anyone around.

How am I going to avoid 2 DNFs in a row?

* Pace Pace Pace.  I’ve taken to wearing a heart rate monitor again.  I’m going to try and keep my heart rate down below 160.  Probably in the 140s.  Still trying to figure it out.  Regardless, the HRM will keep me dialed back.

* I’ve been running with a light total knee compression wrap.  It seems to be working.  It also helps to remind me from time to time to work on running mechanics.

* Caffeine!  Not sure how I’m going to do it yet, but hopefully caffeine will keep me perked up at the end.

* Training.  I’m trying to get my weekly mileage up to 50 miles and I’m more serious about the training.

Now I just have to find a pacer.

Ed

Rainier To Ruston 50 Mile 2014

R2R Race Report

Rainier to Ruston 50M was my first attempt at 50 Miles.  The course was a downhill point to point course with about 20 miles of trail and about 30 miles of paved trail. This is a very fun course with the whole distance being very runnable.

Just before the start

The start of the race was a bit disorganized, not bad, but a little crazier than I’m used to.  Driving to the starting line, we nearly turned around before we got to the start due to lack of signage.   Much of the confusion is understandable. I’m used to races set in rural areas or mountain trails in the middle of nowhere.  Those RDs mark the course during the week and get everything set up the day or night before.  This race was on a heavily used urban trail and ran through city parks.  The RD must go crazy trying to get a 50 mile course up in time for us.

My ‘plan’ was a 12 minute mile pace for a 10 hour finish.  Figured I might drag at the end but still be able to make 12 hours.  We were off and quickly I ran into my first strategic error (second if you count the goal pace).  Turns out there are trees in Washington.  I’m used to running in the desert southwest where I can always see the sky.  My Garmin lost signal under the canopy of trees — so my primary tool to rein me in during the start of the race wasn’t very useful.  Without the feedback of the watch, and with the wave still tightly packed, I probably was running 9-10 minute miles.

The first 3 legs of the course are primarily trail.  Some of the relay runners were nervous about the ‘secluded wilderness’ advertised on the website but these are the best legs! (Assuming it hasn’t been raining) This was a very pretty trail that you could actually run on.  Some roots are there to try and place you in the dirt but I was able to get through unscathed.  There were a few muddy sections to scramble around but it was a dry year for the course so it wasn’t too bad.  This section could be very challenging in a wet year.

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After the trail sections, the course moves onto a nice and active urban trail.  From this point on it was like running a ‘supported’ run out in the community.

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Navigating the course was easy; although I spotted some runners heading off in the wrong direction in 2 spots so you can get lost if you try.  Some of the city portions can get a bit sketchy – especially if your pace starts falling off.   I was cheered on by some homeless guys later in the race as I ran under a freeway overpass.

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I really enjoyed the course, but I struggled the whole way with my pace.  It didn’t help that my left knee was killing me.  By about mile 39 I lost the desire to go on.  It was a combination of exhaustion and nausea that probably finished me – though I didn’t realize how much the exhaustion hit me until 2 days later when I noticed I had 2 black eyes.  I kept on going until about mile 41, search and rescue was stationed there and my wife and her friend also had walked down the trail to that point to cheer me on.

I sat and talked for a half hour trying to rally but that wasn’t happening.  I ended up DNF’ing at 41 miles and 11 ½ hours or so.

Perhaps with more experience I could have rallied and gone on.  I didn’t notice the nausea.  I’ve been nauseas on runs before but this felt different.  I just didn’t feel good.   While I was being driven to my car I fixed my nausea problem  :-).   My pace had dropped off to somewhere around 20-25 minute/mile pace but perhaps with caffeine and an understanding that I was going to take 12-14 hours and not 10-12 hours to finish I could have combatted the fatigue.

But those are all …could have dones… They didn’t start to hit until a week after the race.  I was pleased with the distance I went.  I am starting to plan my next 50+ mile attempt.

Key Learnings:

  • I figured the ‘easier course’ would compensate for the longer distance.  I had run several 50Ks, but they were intense courses.  -Nope – Miles is different than intensity.
  • Pace.  Argggh. –Maybe I should have spent more time ‘resting’ at the early aid stations.  That would have helped me get away from the pack that I was running with.
  • My left leg – Grr.  I wore an IT strap above my knee.  I think it worked – or rather it hurt worse when I tried to run without it on.
  • Hammer Anti-Fatigue caps seem to work.  When my legs got sore, taking one of those eased the pain.
  • Around mile 20-30 my shoes felt like they were a half size too small.   Not sure if that’s just my mind finding something else to worry about.
  • I’ve never had problems with socks before.  But after a while my socks felt a little like sand paper.  I even changed socks at mile 20.  My feet were fine after the race so maybe it was all in my head but it will give me a reason to buy more running gear.
  • Caffeine!  10+ hours running – I need to add caffeine to my nutrition about 8-10 hours into the course.

Aside from the DNF, I had fun on my run.  I need to figure out my stupid left leg and make some other changes to my strategy and try again.