Monday, April 18, 2011

Trail Mix 50k

Man was it nice to finish a race after my DNF at Zumbro!

5:07 for my first 50k (results).  Not too shabby a week off 60+ miles at Zumbro.  Two runs last week leading up to this of 4 and 6 miles, then 31 miles on Saturday at Hyland Lake Park in the snow and mud!

I started this race with the right shoes, the right gear, and the right pace, I just ran into a porta-john stop after Lap #1, didn't carry enough gels out with me for Lap #3, and had tired legs from Zumbro the weekend before.  

Perfect shoes for the occasion!
I went out at a decent clip through the 1-2" of snow well behind the leaders and was quickly splashing through the mud.  It was actually really, really fun.  I chatted with Sonya Decker for the first few miles, who I recognized from the Metrodome runs this winter.  She was coming off a DNF at the 100k Championships in WI the prior weekend, so we chatted about tired legs and just finishing a race for a change.  She took off as I slowed up the hills a bit.  Climbing is definitely not my strong-suite, especially a week after Zumbro.  

I came in from Lap #1 at 1:08!  An 8:45 pace including walking up some of those hills!  Fast for me!  But I had to take a rather long porta-john stop before heading out for Lap #2.  I probably ended up losing 4 or 5 minutes there.  Oh well.  Came in from Lap #2 at 1:14 and saw Alicia at the start on her way to work!  I quickly said hello, grabbed a cup of powerade and an s-cap, chatted a bit, and headed out.  I ran out of gels early on Lap #3, so I had to stop and eat cups of trail mix at the aid stations to keep up any energy at all.  It was funny seeing all the single-lap runners trying to avoid the mud as I charged right down the thick of it, but a little demoralizing to see fresh legs out there, and Chris Lundstrom flew by me at Aid #1, further showing me how slow I was.  Meh.  I finished Lap #3 in 1:22 and went to the truck quick to grab gels, a cap, and drop off my empty race belt.  I passed 6 guys on Lap #4, only getting passed once in the process!  I even hit the 26.2 mile point around 4:17 or 4:18!  Not too shabby.  I finished Lap #4 in 1:23 for a 5:07 total!  Overall, a great run!

Sat on the bumper before someone offered to take this pic.  Meh.
Closed the week with a nice run with Alicia around Nokomis, where she absolutely smoked it!  To the lake at a 9:30 pace, and caught her on the way back at an 8:00 pace for a bit!

Weekly totals:

Mon - Off
Tue - 4.5 miles @ Nokomis in :40 (out-and-back, waiting a bit for Buck)
Wed - Off
Thur - 5.7 miles @ Nokomis and Minnehaha in :48
Fri - Off
Sat - 31 miles @ Trail Mix 50k in 5:07
Sun - 4.25 @ Nokomis in :41 (w/Alicia)

Total - 45 miles in 7:17

Zumbro Race Report

I haven't worn my Zumbro shirt yet.  I think it's mainly because I don't feel like I earned it.  Is it prudent to write "DNF" across the top?  I might do that.  At least then I can wear the shirt and not feel like I'm lying.  Maybe I'll write, "DNF 2011,"  so when I finish next year I can add, "Finisher 2012," and still wear it after that, too.

So it's difficult to pack for 100-mile race when you have zero idea of what a 100-mile race will be like.  I looked at everyone's race checklists and tried to sort out the stuff I'd need, but of course I found myself running around like a crazy person on Thursday night before the race trying to pack and figure it all out.  After setting 6 alarms for 5:00am, I finally got to bed at midnight.  Not the optimal night prior to a 100-mile race planning, I know.

The next morning was a little better.  Got up and ate 2 packets of oatmeal, loaded the car, and headed south.  Alicia grabbed the dogs and headed south shortly thereafter in the truck.  Made it to the campground by 7:15 to check in and fill my Nathan's vest, change shoes (out of the NB Minimus Trail and into the NB MT101--a lifesaving move at Zumbro), and hit the head one last time before RD John Storkamp gathered everyone for the pre-race meeting.

Jordan Hanlon and me at the pre-race meeting, second before the start!

It was chilly before the start, and I made the rookie mistake of being hugely overdressed.  In the picture above, I had on shorts (good call), a base t-shirt (still fine), a long-sleeved wool shirt (too much--left it at aid station #2/3), a jacket (which is surprisingly warm--also too much), a hat (didn't need it right away, ended up strapping it to the vest on lap #1 and then losing it at the beginning of lap #2, only noticing when I went to grab it when I was sweating my ass off after aid station #1 on lap #2), sunglasses (leave them in the car for trail runs through the woods), and the Nathan's vest (too much in such a well-supported race--two handhelds would have been ideal).  Jordan was better dressed than I was, and ditched the hat, gloves, and glasses at aid station #1.  Adam in the Salamon calf and arm sleeves behind us nailed it.  Meh, next time.

John sent us out right after the pre-race talk, and right away I wanted to run!  Mistake.  I didn't feel like I was pushing.  I was chatting with Jordan and we were walking up any hill taller than me.  I felt fine, but looking back, it was too much.  I ran the downhills the entire lap.  I love downhills.  Jordan pegged the term, "controlled falling," which is perfect!  But by the end, my right foot started hurting from the abuse.  I simply wasn't prepared for this much rock.  I don't know if I can run the NB MT101 here, even with the rock plate.  Just thank the lord I didn't stay in the NB Minimus Trail shoes.  I imagine that would have been disastrous.  Definitely not enough protection under the forefoot.

I ran with Jordan until Aid #2, about 10 miles in.  We were cruising.  I think we came into Aid #3 in second and third place (two front-runners took a wrong turn early and ended up back at the start).  After Aid #2 you run a short section through a lot of sand, then up, up, and up a pretty long hill with really soft footing.  That's where I said goodbye to Jordan.  I can't climb with that 130-pound burst of energy.  Gravity aids me in the downhills, and he's nice enough to wait for me on the straights, but up hills, I have zero shot at hanging with him.  I lost a few places in the 4 miles between Aid #2 and #3, but I was still moving really well and had zero notions of being towards the front anyway.  I was just trying to run comfortably.  Silly rookie mistake.  After Aid #3 though, the shit hit the fan.

I came in, refilled the Nathan's vest (which was already starting to become a pain in the ass--the thing takes too long to fill up, it's really heavy when completely full, and it takes a second to get the air out of so it doesn't slosh), and was off again through the woods alone.  Somewhere along the line, I thought, "Gee, haven't seen a flag for a bit," looked around, saw one off in the distance, and ran to it.  I followed the trail for a bit, but then it started looking familiar and I realized the flags were on the wrong side of the trail.  Yep, I was running back towards Aid #1 on the trail between Aid #1 and #2.  I cursed, turned around, and ran back towards Aid #2/3.  All told, I probably lost a mile or maybe a bit more.  Silly mistake.  Got back on the trail and headed up the epic climb out of Aid #3 with a fellow rookie (who also climbed better than I did).  At the top of that climb, I met Zach Pierce and his camera, and he took a few great pictures of me.  Thanks Zach!

Really a great view of the Zumbro River Valley
Shortly after that climb out of Aid #3, I got very familiar with a lovely little part of the course called Ant Hill.  I was hyper-conscious of trail markers after being off course earlier, so after heading down this epic hill and seeing a big tree across the trail, I started getting nervous that I was lost again.  This tree was perfect chainsaw material, but it wasn't touched or marked and I didn't see any tracks around it.  At the time, there were still only a few people in front of me.  Later, the path around was obvious, but on Lap #1, I had no idea.  I stood for a minute listening for other runners.  Nothing.  So I made the silly conservative decision to trek back up the biggest downhill on the course to the last marker and see if I'd ventured off again.  The only thing worse than venturing off course is thinking that you did and double-backing.  Ugh.  Anyway, I finished Lap #1 in the 4 1/2 hour range and felt really good about that, all things considered.

Lap #2 was hot.  I figured out that I lost my hat at Aid #1 on Lap #2, and doubled that mistake by not filling the Nathan's vest before embarking to Aid #2, misreading and misremembering the distance to Aid #3 as 3+ miles instead of the 6+ it actually is.  On the hottest part of the day, I ran out of water, which really slowed my progress.  Also, the heat of the day had turned a nice runnable portion of the course into wet and muck, and I was trying to keep my feet dry.  I graciously got a drink of water from one of the other runners who passed me on the big climb over the hill to Aid #2.  The rest of Lap #2 was pretty vanilla, and I finished in the 5 1/2 hour range.  Still feeling decent, though.

Lap #3 was headlamp time, and my dad packed up to go out with me.  I didn't know how much he was going to run with me, but I told him it wasn't really running at this point anyway.  I was really slowing down.

Alicia and me at Aid #1, Lap #3
When we finally turned on the headlamps between Aid #1 and #2, I started getting a little motion sick at the bobbing of the light, but that eventually worked itself out.  Lap #3 was a slow one, and when dad and I finished it in 7 hours, I called it a race.

I toweled off, changed clothes, grabbed some food, and crawled into the tent for some well needed sleep.  I was beat.  Nature's call pulled me out of bed in the morning, and I welcomed the stumble to the bathroom with a quick dry-heave before laying back down for a bit.  Eventually, I got up and ate breakfast with Bob and Kathy.  Bob's a coworker who came down to camp for the night!  And I hung out until Jordan and his pacer, Ben, finished in 29 hours and change.

Great job guys!
So, tips for next time.  Don't overdress!  Don't carry excess weight!  Eat, eat, and eat!  Make sure your feet can take the downhills in the shoes you're wearing.  And have fun!  Know that when you hit that low point in the dead of night that you'll get a second wind in the morning, and that laps #3 and #4 are the worst.  I was kicking myself for quitting after seeing everyone finish so strong.

Anyways, 100k 6 weeks off an injury isn't too bad.  I'll make a shot at Sawtooth in September, and I'll be back for Zumbro next year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Busted at Zumbro

Looking out over the Zumbro River Valley after an epic climb out of aid station #3, lap #1.
So, a bit to catch up on.  I missed last week's post, and it's Wednesday already and I haven't got my Zumbro post up yet.  Long story short, I dropped after 3 laps at Zumbro (62'ish miles + an extra 2 or so on the first lap).  I immediately regretted dropping in the morning, especially after seeing everyone get their second winds before the 5th lap, BUT, I had the time of my life and cannot wait to go back.  John Storkamp and Larry Pederson put on one hell of a race!  The course is fantastic!  I've never run on such technical and hilly trails.  I really have no idea how I would have truly prepared for this.  The volunteers were amazing!  Always cheery, most ultrarunners, always knowing what to say and knowing when to kick you out of the aid station.  Anyone lucky enough to get to try this race in the future, make sure you go down the night before, camp with all the runners, and then hang out at the finish after you're done.  It's really a great time.  When I get a free moment, I'll try to get my race (if you can call what I did a race) report up.

But, before I forget, here's the mileage the week before Zumbro.

Mon - Off
Tue - 10 miles @ Nokomis & Minnehaha in 1:30 (middle 4 miles w/Alicia)
Wed - Off
Thur - 4.3 miles @ Nokomis with in :47 (w/Alicia)
Fri - Off
Sat - 10 miles @ Minnehaha and Harriet in 1:24 (w/Jordan Hanlon)
Sun - 8.6 miles @ Minnehaha in 1:35 (w/Alicia)

Total - 33 miles in 5:16

Then, the mileage for the week of Zumbro.

Mon - Off
Tue - 4.25 miles @ Nokomis on the grass in :43 (w/Alicia)
Wed - Off
Thur - 1.62 miles in :15 (w/Alicia)
Fri - 65 miles at Zumbro in 17:00
Sat - Off
Sun - 3 mile walk @ Nokomis

Total - 74 miles in 18:48

Btw, I officially signed up for Sawtooth in September, and am really leaning towards the Trail Mix 50k in Bloomington on Saturday.  Should be fun!