Monday, May 21, 2012

Mac 50k Report

Well, I did it.  I finished my first 50K.  Consequently, I finished my first half-marathon, my first marathon and my first ultra all in one shot.  This report might make things sound more complicated but really it's simple: I picked up one foot and put it down in front of the other enough times to cover just under 31 and a half miles and roughly 6800' of vertical gain in 5 hrs. and 7 minutes.  And, for reasons beyond my own logic, I enjoyed it immensely.

On to the details...  I awoke early in the morning and had a light breakfast with some re-heated coffee.  I had a pestering cough that seemed to be intensifying that morning.  Other than that I felt ready for the big day.  I had a relaxing countryside drive down to MacDonald Forest where I arrived in time to check in and watch the early starters get on their way.  I love the people watching in the ultra scene.  It's inspiring to be surrounded by people who all wound up and ready to take on the challenge of climbing up and down hills for a very long ways.  There is always such a variety of people: different gear, different shapes, different races, different ages, etc.

After a bit of roaming around I decided which shoes (NB MT110), what gear (handheld over waist pack), and what the contents of my drop bag would be for the day.  I made sure my pocket (only had one, more would have been nice) had 6-7 gels and 5-6 salt stick capsules in it.  This would be enough to get me through to AS #3 where I had more of the same in my drop bag along with an i-pod and my Rogue Racers should I feel the need to change things up.

Well, we toed up and took off at 8:00 and I was glad to see things take off in less of a frenzy than the 20 mile race I did in Sisters did.  People were chatting and it seemed like some giant group run for a mile or so.  We did the first climb and I did walk--as I promised I would--the steepest portions.  Once things tipped downward I took off and never really let up until well past AS#1.  I slowed to a hike very briefly when we climbed up a small but steep hill before taking the long (and fast) drop down Extendo to AS#2.  All this "easier" terrain and my religious gel, water and salt dropping had me feeling incredibly strong.  I was comfortably clipping away at a pace much faster than I anticipated.  But it was early on in the day and there were some mothers of hills yet to come.  I tried to keep this in mind but like I said I was really comfortable and did not feel like I was overexerting myself.  Sentiments that I was in over my head were only cemented when I cruised with Ashely Nordell for at least 10 miles.  We even passed Pam Smith and that's when I knew my position/place was not for long.  I'd be smacking a wall really soon--I haven't trained like these two do and I don't rightfully deserve a spot amongst them.

It was fun while it lasted but indeed these two lady badasses had more in store than I did along with 5 or so other "smarter" runners who passed me either right before AS#4 or on the hills that followed.  By the time I reached AS#4 I was walking any somewhat steep uphill that was more than 50-100 yds. long.  I logged a few very slow miles making my way back up to Rd. 600 which took us back towards the saddle.  I wouldn't say I ever hit a wall but I did start "really thinking" about what was left in this race and how my energy/strength was holding up.  I really wanted to have something in store for the section between the last aid station and the finish and I knew if that was to happen these hills were just going to have to be done the slow way.  This late-game tactic seemed to pay off as I did feel a surge of energy as soon as I hit the roads and it carried fairly well through the end. 

The final mile was marked and downhill so I really opened it up in there along with some other dude who was huffing and puffing on my shoulder.  I was wondering if we were settled into our places or if there was going to be a dramatic showdown this late in the game.  I thought about this for a few seconds and all the sudden: boom!  "Oh shit" he yells as a root got the best of him and tossed him to the ground.  I asked him if he was alright and he said yeah.  With that, I was outta there and on towards the now audible finish line crowd.

The finish line was a relief and I felt an immense joy overcome me as I relished in the moment and drank cup after cup of water.
To recap:
I went out fast.  Too fast?  I don't know.  There is something to be said for going out strong.  There is a crew of racers that use this strategy with the thought that if all the stars align and it is "your" day a strong start could be the key ingredient to a very fast time.  I think a bunch of the old school marathoners and distance guys of the Pre era subscribed to this thought.  It was fun to be cranking through the easy miles (with some very fast people) and who knows maybe all those post 20 miles hills would have been walked anyway.
Religious/by-the-clock, consumption of water, gels and salt was a good strategy, especially early on when it's not something your thinking about.  Later I had some chips (not so good) and a piece of pb&j that was really good.  The handheld water bottle was perfect for a warm day provided there is an aid station every 6-7 miles.

What's next?  Bunker to Bonneville PCT 50k.  September 1st.  This looks like a fun course!  With a couple 1000-1500 foot climbs followed by a long descent down to the Columbia, it will be interesting to see how things work out there.  In the meantime, I've got to hit the hills.  The big, steady, long ones are the ones I need to build my legs up for.  Now that the snow is finally melting off some of the local Cascade foothills I've got a couple ideas of where to start training.  Probably wouldn't hurt to do a little strength stuff as well if I want to realize more of my potential.  I am particularly thinking squats, core and even a little upper body stuff.  I feel motivated and I am excited to see what I can do.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

how to eat

talked to my coach about how to eat before and during a race.  these were his suggestions:

1.  Starting 2 days prior eat a lot.  Eat a big breakfast and continue to top off the tank throughout the day.  Complex carbs preferred over meats that require both more time and energy to break down.  This is helpful is building reserves in the muscles.
2.  1 day prior maintain usual diet with an emphasis on complex carbs.  Veggies, etc.
3.  Night before:  not necessarily a carbo-load feast like I used to back in H.S.  but a good solid dinner that won't leave me feeling like i am carrying a bunch of extra weight around during race.
4.  Morning of:  light breakfast, like a clif bar and banana or similar.
5.  During race:  gels every half hour.  water heavy, especially early on.  on warm/hot days s-caps every 1/2-1 hr.  electrolytes and whatever craving at later aid stations.

So...  I'll be carrying lots of water when i take off on Saturday and I'll have a pocket full of gels and s-caps.  if it doesn't work i'll adjust things until it does work.

who knew eating could be so complicated?