Monday, April 20, 2009

Clicking on all cylinders - Bull Run Run 50-miler

It's hard to keep it a secret and actually say it out loud, but everything is slowly coming together. The training is paying off, the resting is paying off, the running is paying off.. and when you put them all together, you have a good run.

I've had mixed emotions on how to tackle the Bull Run Run 50-miler. With MMT four weeks away, do I push it and go hard, or enjoy a casual day on the trails and get in a long run? Considering how recent have gone, I wanted to continue to treat runs as full on training for MMT and work on nutrition and hydration, time in/out of aid stations, and pacing. Time goals, I figured I would finish between 10:00 and 10:30, but was really hoping for a sub 10 finish.

Moving the week before a big race is probably not a good idea, nor is searching for your gear at 9:30pm the night before the race. I was without a few usual favorite articles of clothing, but nothing to really get me out of my Zen state pre race. I was pretty relaxed and ready to go, and stayed that way for the first 16 miles, which was part of the plan. For me, the race started at Hemlock, but on the second time through. I started pretty well in the middle of the pack, but far enough ahead of people who walk all the hills. I wanted to take it easy, but continue to move at a good clip. The first out/back section felt blah and I really wasn't sure how the day would be. I could feel my left Achilles disagreeing with me and a hot spot already starting near the ball of my right foot. Not good this early.

Once through Hemlock with a reapply of some Aquaphor to areas that were rubbing raw and BioFreeze to knees and calf muscles, I was off with a small group of runners. I seemed to have a good sense of where I was at about 30 minutes after leaving Hemlock. I tried to remember the area for the trip back, hoping that 30 minutes out would equate to 30 minutes back, but wasn't sure how accurate it would be. Once at Bull Run Marina, I was in familiar territory since I'd trained on the section from the Marina to Fountainhead, and out to the Do Loop a handful of times. I knew the trails pretty well, with the exception of the White Loop and the trail out to the Do Loop, where I always tend to get lost. I was starting to bottom out, but finally looked at my watch and realized breaking 10 hours was possible. It was a matter of getting back to Fountainhead at this point, then I knew I'd be on my way home with only 12.5 miles to go.

My stop was quick and methodical. I hadn't been drinking much, but chugged from a water bottle my GF gave me when I came in. I took a cup of Coke, a few slices of potatoes and some Pringles and I was out. That was pretty much my staple at each aid station. Early on it was a few Oreos or chocolate chip cookies and Pringles. At the Do Loop I treated myself to a few quarter slices of a cheese quesadilla. Those puppies sure hit the spot!

The last 12.5 miles were very focused. They might not have been fast, but they were very determined. I hit the Marina with 5.5 miles to go and was in and out after a quick refill and refuel. I ate on the way out to not spend any more time than needed at the aid station. I told my GF it shouldn't take me more than 1:10 to cover the last section. I was very determined to get as close to 10 hours as possible with high hopes of going sub 10. With 9:30 showing on my watch, the iPod shuffle I had been listening to finally died. I looked at my watch again around 9:33 when I got to, what I was sure was the '30 minute out' spot I had mentally marked. Once you get close to the Popes Head Creek, it's a runable trail again with some short rocky sections to traverse. I thought back to Uwharrie when fellow trail runner, Q, helped pace me to a 30 minute PR, kept thinking "the hill is just ahead" to keep me moving. This section seems longer than it should be, and I was relying on mental points of reference from past runs (and earlier in the day when we went out on this section) to get me to that last big hill.

Once there, I glanced at my watch, which showed 9:55, and to the top of the hill, which I couldn't see. I knew it wouldn't be possible to break 10, so I just climbed. I might not be breaking 10 hours, but I still wanted to get as close to 10 hours as possible.

I crossed in an official time of 10:03:55 - 100/266 finishers. I was 7/29 in women under 40 AG. However, my time would've only been good enough for 14/33 in the women 40-49 AG. Those are some fast chicks!! Additionally, I was part of a team with four other runners, and we won an award for finishing the closest together. Further explanation of the award from the website:

The "finish together" category was, strictly speaking, won by no one. Last year, race management defined "together" as meaning together. This year we loosened that a bit, but not much. No team finished together under any meaning of that term. The judges, however, decided that the Entrail Runners came closest to the finish together goal.

No matter, we still won, and I will gladly accept my mug as a prize.

Post race summary and checklist

- I met my time goal. I finished in the 10-10:30 range, but closer to 10, which I had hoped to do.

- I paced well. I held back early on and didn't go out too fast. Did I have anything left in the tank? Not much. I really don't know if I could've gone sub-10. Maybe I'll shoot for it a year I'm not doing MMT when I can go all out and not worry about recovery.

- Nutrition was on the fly. Oreos and Pringles looked good, so I ate them and they didn't disagree with my stomach. Quesadillas at Do Loop have always been good, so I always have those. I had filled two 6oz gel flasks of about 600 calories of Carbo Pro and switched out at mile 28. Neither were completely empty.

- Hydration is still a problem. I wasn't as salty as most people post race and stuck to one Succeed salt tab every hour. Water intake was very, very low as evident by the color of my urine up to 48 hours post race. Not good. I need to figure out salt and water loss and how much to take in of both so as to find the right balance. MMT could be ugly if I don't stay hydrated.

- I started the day with an 'upset' left Achilles and finished with an okay Achilles. It was noticeable at the beginning, but I never really changed my stride to compensate for any pain or discomfort. Doing so helped keep my right side in balance with no additional soreness.

- Foot care - I did get a tiny blister (water) on my right foot, which I felt from the beginning but left alone throughout the race. At one point I tightened up my shoes to keep my feet from moving around so much, and that was it. I never took them off or messed with them. I am looking to try out a new pair of Drymax socks to help with the blister problem. At first feel, they are thicker than the Injinji toe socks I'm used to wearing. Change might be good, so I'll try them out on some upcoming runs.

Overall assessment of how I feel is positive. I walked pain free post race with no sign of limping or discomfort. My ankles, knees and hips felt fine as did my quads and hamstrings. My left calf, because of the Achilles, will continue to need some work on with the TP Quad Roller or the just as painful foam roller.

I figured out the last of my training the other week, so now it's time to fine tune a few things leading up to MMT - dial in my everyday nutrition, refine race day nutrition, and plan the rest of the good and the bad that could happen. I've very confident in my training so far and hope that it will help me cover 101.8 miles.


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