Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Burning River 100 Runner Tracking

If you are interested in checking my progress, you can go to the Burning River 100 Webcast page. I have bib number 71, and I think the runners will be listed by name as well, so you should be able to find me. The race starts on Saturday 8/1 at 5:00 AM. This is not a road race, so there will not be RFID chips and automatic data collection devices. The times posted will be accurate, but the updates will not occur immediately. The aid station personnel will use their cell phones to tell the website administrator when runners arrive at their stations. The web admin will periodically update the web page.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Burning River Preparation

In preparing for this 100 miler, I've had to make decisions about what is essential enough that I need to carry it with me, and what can be left in drop bags at various points along the route. I have decided that I will wear a fuel belt with the following:
  • 32 ounces of Heed
  • S-Caps
  • Endurolytes
  • Gels (a few)
  • Cliff and/or Mojo bars (one or two)
  • A small amount of medical tape/band aids/toilet paper in a plastic bag.
At each aid station, I'll top-off my Heed and replace any items I've used along the way. Everything else I'll need will have to be in my drop bags.

I have been gathering and staging the supplies that I'll need for the eight drop bags I'll leave at various aid stations. I've talked with some of the more experienced 100 miler veterans like Mark Godale, Connie Gardner, and Wyatt Hornsby to insure that I don't neglect any essential. Each bag will contain:
  • Lubricant (Body Glide or Vaseline)
  • Medical tape and gauze
  • Band Aids
  • Antiseptic
  • High caloric eat-and-run food like Cliff Bars and Mojo Bars.
  • High protein food like beef jerky
  • S-Caps
  • Endurolytes
  • Dried ginger (in case I need something to soothe my stomach)
  • Sports/energy drink other than Heed (I'll be carrying Heed in my fuel belt, and refilling at the aid stations, so I'll want something different in my drop bags. I am packing coconut water and maybe another alternative.)
  • Dry socks
Additionally, some drop bags will also have some fresh clothing in case I need to change:
  • Shirt
  • Shorts
  • Cap
  • Shoes (in case I want to change because I am getting blisters or just want a dry pair)
  • Spare sunglasses
I will also have one bag stocked with my supplies which I'll need as day turns to night, and it gets cooler. I'll need to calculate the appropriate aid station at which to drop this one since I don't want to carry this stuff any longer than I need to, but I want to be sure to have it when the sun and the temperatures go down. This bag will have the following additional items:
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Head lamp and flashlight
  • Spare batteries (in the bags after this point as well)
Still working out the particulars but I should be able to start packing my bags soon.


Recap of the Last 2 Weeks

Very little of note in the prior two weeks. The week of the 13th, I was easing down the miles for the BT50k on Saturday of that week. I still had a solid speed workout on Tuesday of that week with mile intervals of 5:35, 5:42,and 5:35. The rest of the week was light mileage until the race on Saturday. The Sunday after the BT, I ran the Solon 8 mile with the SERC group rather than the 12 mile , but I was not hurting as bad as I had expected. I was more bothered by the muscle tightness. I did only 6 miles on Monday, trying to get loose. Tuesday at the track was interesting. I was not mentally or physically ready for hard 1 mile repeats, but I forced myself into the first one. Mark G. really helped pull me along, as I tried to keep close enough that I wasn't embarrassed. I ran a 5:31, the fastest mile I have done in 25 years. The last lap hurt and the last 100 was worse. I ran an 800 after than, but kept the aggressive pace with a 2:42. I was feeling about lifeless after than, but couldn't go home without one more mile, and surprised myself with a 5:37. I had trouble with nausea after that. I did a very slow recovery lap before my stomach was OK again. Back on the trails on Saturday, feeling good, if not exactly perky. Sunday, I did about 12 miles on the bike and 12.5 with the SERC group.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Buckeye Trail 50k Report

Before I start, I want to address my apparent inability to listen to very reasonable advice. I was supposed to be running this as a training run, not racing it. I was going to go for a time of about 5 hours and 30 minutes, which still would have been faster than my target pace for the Burning River 100 miler in two weeks, but would have been slow enough to allow me to recover. A few days before, when the trails were still dry and fast, I checked and found that the Grand Masters (over 50) record for the course was 4:41:32 (Jeff Ubersax). At that point, the weather had been dry for about a week and the trails were dry and fast. I figured I might never get such a good opportunity again, so why not go for the record. Unfortunately, rain Friday and Saturday morning changed the trails from dry and fast to muddy and slippery, making that record safe for another year. No matter, I decided to let it fly and see how close I could come to it.

I arrived at the Oak Grove pavilion at 6:15 AM. I brought two pairs of shoes but I knew already which I was going to wear, my new Inov-8 RocLites. These are legitimate trail shoes, made for providing better grip in just the kind of slippery conditions we were facing. It was a bit of a gamble since I just got them a few days before the race, and ran a total of four miles in them. My other option, a 500 mile old pair of Nike LunarTrainers, might have been my choice on a dry day, but on wet trails, they provide traction equivalent to bedroom slippers on Teflon. One other decision I made just a few minutes before the race was to ditch my fuel belt. I found Vince the RD and confirmed that there would be Heed at each of the aid stations, so I decided that I did not need to carry my own.

I met up with some of my SERC buddies, did a little warm-up run, and made one last trip to the mens' room. By then, the race was ready to start, unfortunately, my Garmin was not. I had turned it on, but but it was still struggling to lock on to the satellites when the starter sent us off. It was .24 miles into the race before it started recording. I know it was .24 because I was running with Zach Lewis whose Garmin was on from the start.

This is the part of every race report where I say that I realized I was going out far too fast. My target pace was about 9:04/mile, but my first two miles were 7:41 and 8:05. Granted, these were more runnable portions of the course, but that was mostly due to adrenaline. I was able to dial it down and get under control after that, although the hills may have had something to do with that. I was running the shorter and/or less steep hills, but power-walking the steepest hills. Long stretches of the trails were just wet but not very muddy, but most of the low-lying trails were mucky with fresh mud. My strategy became 'just make it through the mud, so you can run the better trails'. The Invo8s were proving to be a very smart decision. They provided good traction through the wet dirt, hung on to my feet through the shoe-sucking mud, and were still light enough to allow me to run the clear stretches. I was loving my Inov8s.

I was making good time and actually feeling very good as I came through aid station at Snowville Road, about the 6 mile mark. I drank about 8 ounces of Heed (2 half-full paper cups), grabbed a couple of PBJ sandwich quarters, thanked everyone and moved out quickly. My absolute rule in this race was drink at every opportunity, and take an electrolyte pill every 20 minutes. The 3 miles between Snowville and Boston store flew by so fast, I didn't even realize until I came down the hill and out onto the road. As I crossed the bridge, I heard E-speed shouting my name. Here is a photo she took of me chugging toward the aid station.

Again, as was my routine for the day, I shouted for Heed and PBJs as I approached, and the volunteers had them ready for me. I drank two more cups of Heed, took another electrolyte pill, ate a couple of PBJ quarters, then thanked everyone and ran on.

I climbed the big hill after Boston store, and ran root-filled stretch of trail called the Pines. It was not much further between mile 13 and 14 that I encountered the lead runner, Mike Seymore, running past me going the other direction. He had already made the turn and was heading back. About 50 yards behind him was Mark Godale. As he approached, a gray coyote dashed across the path between us. He gave me a quick look over his shoulder and vanished into the brush.

I reached the Pine Lane aid station, the half-way point, at about 2 hours and 16 minutes, even faster that the target I had set when the trails were dry, and much faster than I should have under the current conditions. I grabbed my PBJs, Heed, and electrolyte, and did a quick assessment of my condition. My legs were only OK, feeling some of the effects of 15 plus miles of mud, but no pain and no injuries. I had been eating and drinking faithfully, so my energy level was good. I was not tired. All considered, I was in good condition to run a strong second half. Here is a photo taken as I approached the aid station.

I began encountering runners heading toward me as I ran the back half. At first, just a few here and there, but after a few miles, it seemed like there were groups of runners every hundred yards. Most of the time, they gave way to let me through, but not all of the runners knew the protocol. Some were newbies, and they didn't realize they were supposed to yield to the returning runners, so there were a few awkward moments. I made it back for my second pass through the Pines, then back down and through the Boston store aid station again. You know the routine by now...PBJ, Heed, electrolyte, thanks, bye...the trail running equivalent of "Wham, Bam, Thank you Maam".
Last year, it was on the big hill just after Boston that my leg cramps started, and the worry was in my head as I began that climb. This year, I had no indications, not a hint of a cramp. I ran for a while with Patrick Fisher and Beth Woodward, the current woman's record holder for the course. Both of them were running strong. We played cat and mouse for the next five or six miles, taking turns passing each other and being passed. Eventually, Patrick dropped off the pace, and it was Beth and I running together for a few more miles.

By the second pass through Snowville aid station, the fatigue was beginning to tell on my legs. My pace on the more runnable sections was not as fast as on the way out. I could not get the leg turn-over I needed to to make up for the slower pace in the muddy areas as I had been doing. I realized that I was about a minute or more of the time I needed to break the Grand Master course record, and worse, I was getting slower not faster. Still, most important, there we no cramps or even early warning twinges. So I pressed on, hoping a second wind might come and allow me to get back on pace for the record.

The last six miles were nothing more than a gut check. I was beginning to struggle, the mud seemed deeper, the hills higher. I began marking time by looking for familiar landmarks, a creek crossing, a opening in the woods, anything to tell me I was getting closer to the finish. I continued to drink at every opportunity, and take my electrolytes. There were no more aid stations, but there were jugs of water stashed every three miles or so, that allowed me to keep hydrated. Finally, I came upon a sign that said '1 Mile to Finish'. This gave me a tremendous lift. I checked the time, and calculated that I had no chance at the record, I was off by a couple of minutes. Still, I felt great that I was that close to it on a day when the trails were not fast. Despite the fact that the leg cramps had not hit me, I knew they might at any time. I picked up the pace as much as I could, and began ticking off the familiar twists and turns. Finally, I emerged from the woods and ran the remaining quarter mile on the road leading to the finish. When I crossed the line, the clock read 4;44:13, 2 minutes and fifty seconds shy of the record, but nearly an hour (57 minutes) faster than my BT50k time last year.

I got a kiss from Sue, and my medal from Vince, although in the state I was in that could have been the other way around and I might not have known. I walked around for a while, got some food and drink, and rinsed the mud off my legs with some help from Sue. I found Mark and Kam, both looking as bad as I felt. Eventually, Sue and I found our way to the car and headed home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Running Well

It was a good week, full of good runs. Monday was a very easy 8 mile recovery run, but Tuesday I picked up the pace and mileage. I ran a quick 6 miles at lunch, then did my track workout to add another 8.5 miles after work. After a couple of warm-up miles, and 6 x 100 stride-outs, I ran 3 x 1 mile repeats at 5:42, 5:49, 5:42. Not my best but certainly getting back into the range. I knew I was pressing because the nausea at the end of each mile told me so.
On Wednesday I ran a night trail run with Paul R. and Dave P., sort of a test run to check out how I would handle the post sunset portion of the Burning River 100. I wore my Petzl LED headlamp and carried a small flashlight (actually the removable LED headlight from my bike.) What did I learn? Well, my headlamp does not give enough light by itself, so the hand held flashlight is good idea. The flashlight was actually more useful because the beam was lower and at a better angle to the ground to reveal rocks and tree roots. Also, even with the hand held, I found that you don't get nearly as much reaction time. I naturally shortened my stride to allow for this. Looking up in the trees for the blazes can be tricky because you cannot take your eyes of the ground in front of you for too long. I found that I had to slow to a walk at times to get my bearings. And, because of these issues, you pace is slower even though you may be working just as hard. You just cannot cover as much ground at night. What else...oh, bugs are more of a problem, starting at twilight and into the early night. Thanks to Paul for bringing some spray. It was a successful run, and I did become comfortable with night running. Dave and Paul made it lots of fun. (You get into some weird conversations at night on the trails.)
Thursday I worked an abbreviated tempo run, 8.5 miles total, but only 4 of those at pace, averaging about 6:40. Friday was a recovery 6 miler. On Saturday, a group of us ran the first part of the Buckeye Trail 50k course, from Oak Grove to Snowville Road. It was a good morning, and after running the out portion at a moderate pace, some of use really picked it up on the return. It turned out to be a more aggressive run than I had planned, but it felt good. After that, I was determined to make Sunday a slower run, especially with the race only a week away. OK, so that was the plan. As it worked out, I did 11.44 miles at 7:29 pace. Not exactly taking it slow and easy. Total miles for the week: 72.


Based on advice from many running friends, I am going to try to run the BT50k this Saturday as a training run for the Burning River 100 Mile Run, rather than run it all out. Wyatt in particular has been very emphatic that I need to go into the BR100 as strong, and the BT50k on top of three marathons in two months, will take too much out of me.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Week of June 29 - Ramping-up (or down) for Buckeye Trail 50k

I have not had much down time in the first few months of the racing season with three marathons, a half-marathon, and some shorter distance races to fill the gaps, and the most demanding month is still to come. In less than two weeks, I have the Buckeye Trail 50k , followed by the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Race two weeks later. I am just trying to stay healthy and avoid an injury.
Seattle was the most difficult road marathon course I have run, and the compounded effects of Boston, Cleveland, and Seattle over a two month span have me feeling less than 100%. The week after Seattle was filled with mostly slow paced recovery runs in the 8 mile range. I did get a sloggy trail run of about 8.5 miles on Thursday, but other wise only easy runs until Sunday. The Sunday run with the SERC group was the first time I did anything that caused me to push. I ran a nice 12 miler at a 7:29 pace.

On Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle, I ran in the Mercer Slough Nature Park, a small by beautiful preserve which includes wetlands and a blueberry farm. I found that I could run about 7 miles without repeating any trails. Here are a few photos.

Since the park was largely in a slough area, there were some areas where boardwalks were required.

This is an abandoned house that was just off the trail. It is in the swamp, filled with water.

The flora and fauna were different that I am used to in Ohio. There were quite a few of these leafy plants, but I do not know what they are called. I did see a variety of birds, including lots of Cedar Waxwings that seem to have been attracted by the berries.