Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The MMT specs - behind the scenes planning

I plan to get a REAL report posted soon, but in the meantime, here's a 'behind the scenes' look at my training and planning that went into this years race. A few things 'failed', but I'll get into that in the full report.

After my DNF last year at MMT, my goal this year was to finish. Just finish. As I trained, completed races, and watched my name slowly creep up the wait list, I started to think more about a possible finish time and settled on 34 hours. I'm not the best at pacing - going out too fast and crashing, or going out too slow and racing to make up time - and 100 miles is quite the daunting task to pace correctly. I figured a 2 hour jump I could do by just shortening my stay at each aid station. This could be done by planning ahead of time what foods to eat when/where, how much, and when to do shoe and sock changes.

Sample 'feed bag' - packet of Pringles, half a PBJ, a couple Oreo's, and a gel flask. The flask contains just over 600 calories of CarboPro made into a 'gu' consistency with 1/4c water and a bit of Gatorade Frost powder for flavor/color. I had 5 of these flasks made up - 1 for every 20 miles - for on-the-trail calories. When I reached an aid station, I wasn't inundated with 'what do you need?' questions - I had my food ready. I think we figured there was about 600 calories there. Additionally, I had 6 wraps made up for more calories and something different to eat from time to time - flour tortilla with 2 hard boiled eggs mashed together with 1/4 an avocado. Tasted just like and egg salad sandwich and was DELICIOUS (until 3am..) At a certain point of the run, I would nosh on grilled cheese, cheese quesadillas, and whatever else sounded good at that hour.

Foot problems were my downfall the past two years and so far I'd been fairly free of major issues. I switched to the Brooks Cascadia 3 in late January and adjusted nicely to them. I ran the rocky Reverse Ring in mid February, which is a circuit run of the Massanutten Trail, so I knew they could withstand a good beating. Of course the worst of the rocks are at the beginning of that run, but that's beside the point! After running the National Marathon in late March, I developed a bit of a twinge in my left Achilles. It came back right before Bull Run, but wasn't a problem race day. I hoped it would stay dormant all day.

I planned to be in and out of each aid station in 5-8 minutes. Of course, as the night wore on that number would inflate, but I hoped to still be moving well and not hobbling too much.

I didn't want to be called a sandbagger if I beat that time, so after thinking about all the 'you're running very well this year' comments I'd been receiving over the months, I decided to up my predicted finish time by two hours to 32 hours. Do able? I wasn't sure. While I was at it, a few weeks before the race I thought 'what the hell' and added 30 hours to the list of possible finish times. My GF designed and laminated 'cheat sheets' for me to carry to see where I was at and if I was on target with any of the three times.

Training wise, I've mentioned that I used CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance leading up to the race. Back in December I wrote out a training plan based on some online training programs I'd found for 100 milers as well as anything else I could find about ultra training - speed, hills, intervals, etc. I did CF workouts about 3-4 times a week with 1 or 2 of those workouts on my own/at my house. I found CFE around February and started 'cherry picking' workouts, adding one or two to my plan and 'subbing out' runs I already had written in. Thankfully they weren't written in indelible ink as I was doing mostly CFE interval workouts by March (Tues and Thurs) with a Tempo or TT run on the weekend (Saturday). The weekend runs were longer than what CFE prescribes, but by no means was I lollygagging just to cover X distance. The longest I did was 28 miles (MMT training run #3 from Moreland to Signal Knob) aside from any race I had lined up - Uwharrie, Reverse Ring, National Marathon, Bull Run. No back-to-back long runs on the weekend. I ran those at or below race pace the previous two years and look where it got me.. nowhere fast, basically.

For the CF workouts, the ones I did on my own usually included an erg piece one day, and KBs the other. I tried to keep one day for KB snatches and heavy swings to really focus on my hip drive. Hips, hips, hips. Knowing the course and knowing my form would deteriorate near the end, I wanted to make sure my hips could take a pounding if necessary, and they succeeded.

This is the end of Part 1. I'm still working on the main report which will hopefully include more detail about nutrition, pace, weather, and everything else that a 'normal' race report includes.


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