Hello Dear Readers!
Brief Overview Before We Get Started
Well, I did it and I feel really good! I finished the 50 KM (31 Mile) ultra endurance trail race yesterday in 5 hours and 31 minutes. I placed 22nd overall and 14th in my age group. I think I could have placed higher, but my lack of hill training really killed me after mile 20. Enduro Photo was there taking pictures. I will post to my gallery once I have them. Here is a rundown of my day:
I had a lot going on the day before the race. Work was very hectic and I didn't get on the road to drive to Huntsville till after 6:30 PM. About halfway to the hotel I stopped at a Ihop for my pre-race dinner ritual. Of course I had breakfast.
This included eggs, toast, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, wheat toast coffee and blueberry pancakes. Took me a little while but I ate it all! Below is the evidence.....
I got to the hotel around 9:30 PM and checked in. I tried to get my race packet from the local restaurant but the race officials had already left. I wasn't worried since they had race day packet pickup available. I stopped at the local valero and got 3 jugs of Gatorade and got back to the hotel and sorted my gear. Trail runs are fun because you have to be self sufficient. No aid stations every mile. This one is better than others in that they had aid stations every 3-5 miles. My gear included things such as gators (to cover my shoes and protect them from rocks and such from getting inside), a Camelbak water bladder, ipod, food and salt supplements, cold gear, head lamp (in case it is really dark when I get there) and of course the most important item of all....lots of anti chaffing butt cream! As usual I went to bed way too late for a sane person who is about to run 50 KM the next day. I think the clock said about 12:45 AM.
My alarm went off at 4:45 AM and I slumped out of bed and went to work taking a shower, brewing and drinking some coffee, going to the bathroom as many times as possible! The last part is REALLY essential. Think about it, do you really want to carry toilet paper on the trail and have to squat behind a tree all sweaty? I checked out and hit the road by 5:45 AM and got to the race site at around 6 AM (the hotel I stayed at was only a few miles from the entrance to the Huntsville, State Park). I grabbed my race packet and had a hour or so to kill before the start of the race at 7:30 AM. I got my gear box set up near the starting line. A gear box is something we trail runners place on the trail that has stuff I may need during the race. Mine had Gatorade, muscle milk, supplements, socks, some clothes and extra chaffing cream. After that was all settled I turned on my GPS watch and headed for the starting line.
This race consisted of three loops. A 6 mile loop and two 12.5 mile loops. I started at the front of the pack, I don't know how I ended up there, and started off at a pretty good clip. That first loop was pretty uneventful, and when I saw my split from the GPS at the start of the 2nd loop I saw that I was doing a 8 minute per mile average! So I realized then that I was going waaaaaayyyyyy too fast and turned it way down a notch.
The second loop went really well. I passed a few people here and there and hummed along great. I always feel a little guilty passing someone. When I go by, I want to say "Sorry", but that's just a hang up of mine. I usually just say something like "Great Job!" I do recall one guy I passed where we interacted for a while. We chatted a bit and did some small talk. I was feeling really good at that point and decided to run ahead. I said, "I'm sure you will pass me before the race is over." Guess what his reply was? "Oh, I will." Anyway, I might have been pushing a little too hard still, but I thought, "What the heck, let's see where this goes." I don't do any trail running for training, since where I live is basically a concrete jungle, my legs protested a bit when I went up the hills, but man did I fly down the hills! Not sure where I got the courage, but it just seemed like the right thing to do. I would just relax my legs, pick up my feet a bit higher behind me and let them fly. The only thing I focused on was where my feet were going when they touched the ground. I finished the first 12.5 mile loop and went to my gear box and chugged a muscle milk and refilled my Camelbak with more Gatorade. I checked my GPS splits and this time I was down to a more reasonable 9 minute per mile pace. I was still feeling pretty good and I was on pace to break 5 hours! This was not my original goal, but once I saw that it was within potential range I got super excited.
My calves were also starting to cramp up a bit (especially on the uphills) and it was now starting to get pretty hot (believe it or not, the temps were in the high 70's to low 80's). I was sweating profusely and felt the dreaded salt buildup on my face. This is a sign that I was getting dehydrated. It wasn't long before the Camelbak was empty and the stuff served at the stations was still several miles away. So I decided to walk a bit and try to recover. Of course, this killed my average time. So I knew 5 hours was no longer an option and I decided to go for 5 and a half. Once I got to the water station, I gassed up and filled the bladder again and re-hydrated as best I could. A mile or so later I was running again but my times would be off the remainder of the distance. I finished the last loop with a average pace of 13 minutes per mile.
And the guy I passed who promised he would pass me before the end of the race? Well you guessed it, about a mile away from the end he caught up to me and we raced each other to the finish line. Yeah he beat me, but I made him really work hard for it. The good thing is that he forced me to pick up my pace and for that I am very grateful!
Every time I race I have two goals:
1. Beat my previous time for that distance and venue.
2. Learn from my mistakes.
Number one was easy since I had never raced that specific distance before. Yes, I have done shorter and longer races, but this distance was my first time. Number two definitely had mission accomplished written all over it. My biggest mistake was not making sure I was hydrated throughout the event. Next time, I will make sure my Camelbak stays full the entire time as best as possible. Who knows? Maybe next year I can beat 5 hours? That's all for now!
Tri your best!