Sunday, August 28, 2011

North Country Trail 50 mile Race

Pic one - race start about 1/4 mile in, just entering the trail.
Pic two - picking up my age group award.
Pic three - after the race looking real dirty from falling down 6 times.

Pic four - my age group award

Pic five - my cheering section (nephew)

Pic six - self explanatory

At the finish line I said "Why do people run these 50 mile and 100 mile races, it's stupid!!!!! People are not made to run this far!!" Well, that's how i felt, but now i think i maybe planning another after 24 hours of rest. Here's a brief run down.

Start - got there a bit late, didnt have my water bottle filled, went to fill it and almost missed the gun! Started off in 17-20th place or so and just cruised the first 4 miles to the aid station. Sweated a lot so i took my shirt off and then felt much better. At the aid station i got only water because i was using my own Gu. Every 30 minutes for the entire race i had a Gu or Gel Block. Nothing else seemed to sound good and required too much chewing.

Miles 5-10 I made the mistake of following the 3rd place woman and going too fast. It seemed to be a pace that was easy and relaxed but in hindsight 9:20 miles were too much for a 50 mile race. This part of the course had no mile markers so I was a bit uneasy about where we were in the race. When we hit 11 miles I thought it was going to be 13 miles which was a bit demoralizing.

Mile 10-13 i had a bit of an upset stomach and knew that i was going to have to make a quick trip to the bushes. After a quick stop to lighten my load i felt much better.

Mile 15 had a huge long hill which was actually nice because i just slowly walked it. Nice downhill after then about 3 miles of flat single track for easy cruising, still feeling good.

Miles 18-24 were non-stop hills. Now, I've run a lot of marathons and a lot of races in my day but never have I experienced hills like this. It was brutal. Walk up breathing hard, slam your thighs (ugh) going down. All i could think was "This is killing my thighs."

Mile 24-25 flat and easy into the halfway point and my wife and the race start/finish area. At the half point my wife had two bottles of GuBrew ready and helped me get my iPod shuffle too. She refilled my Gu supply and I was off in 3 minutes. I also dumped some water on me and towelled off.

First half summary - a little tired, but not too bad. what's odd is i had at least 4 falls in this first half. I RARELY fall when running on trails so can't explain why it happened. I was right on top of hydration and Gu/food.

Miles 25-30 - I was totally alone for this hour. Weird and demoralizing. Had two guys in front of me but I let them go. At this point I was still in about 18-19th place.

Miles 30-35 I caught a guy in red shorts and stayed about 30 yards behind him, just pacing off him and relaxing. Being alone in an ultra is a little disconcerting because you never know when you could make a wrong turn!! (foreshadowing) It was good to just follow and listen to music.

Mile 35-38 Still feeling ok and now doing a bit more walking here and there on smaller hills. Hit the aid station at mile 38 that that had my drop bag. Gathered up all my Gu with CAFFEINE and 2xCaffeine (thanks nick!!!!!)

Mile 40 was that big long hill from mile 15 again, just walked it and hung with two guys right in front of me. I eventually caught them and was now in 17-18th place for sure as someone was counting off for us. One of the guys was definitely 40+ so i wanted to stay near them. As I passed them on a downhill they said "nice job!"

Mile 41 - BAD NEWS. Tuned into my music and all alone and tired I made a wrong turn. Actually, I didnt make a turn. The flags on the RIGHT meant turn right to do the last 10 mile loope, i didnt make the turn and kept running straight. The trail was nice and flat and I was feelign good and moving along thinking I would catch some more people. Suddenly i came to some more flagging which was coming out of a trail on the right (where i should have come out at mile 49!!!) and eventually I saw cars and people cheering. All I could think was "Holy crap i'm at the finish." I glanced at my watch and saw 7:12 - there's no way i just finished in 7 hours 12 minutes i thought. I began to turn around and head back to where I missed the turn and then some lady yelled "come on come on, the finish is up here." I wanted to go up and finish!!! It took about 10 minutes (a mile) to get back to the right spot and get back on course. In the meant time four runners past me and I lost 19 minutes total. I was demoralized, had missed 20 minutes of hydration and food and felt like crap. When i finally got back on course a serious calf muscle cramp set in. I knew it was probably lack of salt. I wish I had some salt packets with me (live and learn). I hobbled downhills as that's when it seemed to be the worst. The section from 43-49 miles is never ending hills. up and down and up and down. Now, if you are a runner from the mountains these probably wouldnt seem like much, but if you are 7.5 hours into a run they KILL you. Walking up was no problem, actually maybe enjoyable. Running down kills you. Slamming those thighs that have nothing left.

Aid station 43 - "Do you have any salt?" was my first question. "yes, right here" the lady said. I opened two salt packets, dumped them in my mouth and washed it down with a few swigs of water. The salt tasted like some sort of drug (maybe a crystal meth addict can chime in?) and within 30 seconds, literally, my calf cramp subsided. Whew. I walked out of the aid station to drink some more water and have another caffeinated Gu with the salt. From here to the finish it was just more hills and more walking. I seriously thought someone (or two or three) would catch me but nobody did. I guess at this point everyone is just going slow (12 minute - 13 minute miles).

At the finish I felt relatively good, hydrated and fueled. No horror stories. The only real negative was the nausea after the race. For a good two hours I felt very sick to my stomach and couldnt eat or drink any more until this morning.

Numbers First 25 miles 4:10 (exaclty 10 min/mile) Second 25 miles 4:53 (11:40 per mile) Wrong turn 19 minutes (crap!) for a 9:22 finish time total. 3rd in age group (45-49) and 22nd of 143 overall. I was seriously hoping for a time of 8:30 or so, but for a first 50 mile i am happy i guess.

Had my wife there which was very nice and a very big moral boost at halfway then my sister and her family came for the finish too. My wife has babied me now for the last 24 hours and she's great!!

Why a 50 mile? I've always been intrigued with a distance longer than a marathon for a couple reason. In high school one of my dad's friends ran Western States 100 and I just could not imagine running that far after racing 5k's. Then Nick Lewis, one of my former high school runners did Leadville and placed 2nd. This motivated me to think more seriously about it and after signing up last year and getting sick this year worked out. Thanks for motivating me to do it Nick!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

North Country Trail 50

the countdown is on .... 3 weeks (20 days actually) until the NCT 50 miler. gulp. I've been training specifically for this race for .... well, my whole life. I had my fill of 5k's in high school. Moved up to 10k's in college and 20's. Hit a few half marathons here and there. Switched almost exclusively to ski (nordic) racing marathons (30-40-50k) in my late 20's and 30's. Now its time for a 50 miler RUNNING race.

I've had long runs of 18, 18, 24, 32, 18, and 18 miles. I wish I could have gone as high as 35-38 miles, but it just didnt work out. Oh well. Too much running makes running not fun for me, so I will just have to see what happens.

I HOPE to hit the first 25 miles in just a bit under 4 hours. 3:45 is exactly 9 minutes per mile and that might be a bit fast for the first half. I may try 9 minutes per mile running pace and just walk the hills, walk while eating, walk while drinking, etc. This will bump my 3:45 up to 3:55 probably... then the second half we'll just see what happens.