Saturday, October 10, 2009

Firetrails 50 Mile -- 8:10:00

I successfully completed the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 Mile race today in 8 hours 10 minutes. (Average pace: 9:48 per mile.) It was very difficult (lots and lots of hills), I'm very sore, and very happy!

I want to give a big thanks to my friend "Big" Ben Voight for running the last 13 miles with me. Here's the Coastside Running Club crew that either ran or helped out today.
The weather was great and just about perfect for a long run -- lots of cool still air, a bit of mist at times, and low clouds. I'm so glad that I didn't have to contend with a lot of heat.

The race was superbly well organized and executed. The course was very well marked; I think the best-marked of any trail race I've done. The aid stations were well stocked and well staffed with friendly efficient volunteers. Thank you, volunteers! The "schwag" (goody bag containing stuff passed out to the finishers) was great, too -- a nice-looking wind breaker and a nice synthetic dry-weave running shirt. Made me think of the Boston Marathon jacket that cost $100 and was of poorer quality.

The results have been announced: I came in 23rd out of 234 runners. For nearly the entire race, I did not feel competitive with other runners. Just overcoming the challenging course and tremendous distance was the focus of my attention. I think everyone who started that morning has a lot to be proud of.

I'll jot down random thoughts and encounters I had during the race:
  • I ran with a couple of people for a mile or two and enjoyed their company -- Mark Matyazic, a triathlete and Rory Bosio, a 25 year old school teacher. Mark had an incredible 2nd half, running about 30 minutes faster and finishing 7:30:38. Rory ended up being the first place female in 7:54:33. She ran all the uphills! I tended to walk these and I would catch up to her eventually except towards the turn-around where she may have picked up the pace. Rory asked me during the race if I wanted to hear some jokes. That was a fun way of passing the time and I told her I'd pass them along to my daughter.
  • I thought to myself: "Mile 27. That's only 10 miles until I see Ben!"
  • I thought to myself: "Whew, 30 miles. That's a good long training run. I'm feeling the effort. Oh, man, 20 miles to go. That's so long. I don't feel like doing 20 miles. I wish I hadn't just thought about how far I have to go."
  • Ben: "You've only got 6 miles to go. That's only about an hour." He was right, but dang, after having been running or uphill power-walking for 7 hours, running for 1 more hour seemed very very difficult. I tried to just think about getting to the next aid station.
  • ~3 miles to go. After the last aid station, after stopping briefly and eating a yummy salty potato chunk, I started feeling much better. Soon, I was able to see Lake Chabot again. I knew that I was getting close and that the last few miles were going to be relatively flat. I decided to really push the pace. I dumped out my water out of one bottle and kept just the 8 oz of sports drink in the other. I decided I didn't need any more energy gels. I got to around 7 min./mile on the flat sections, faster on the short downhills, and never stopped running even on the uphills. Ben fell behind and I couldn't hear him any more, but I was determined to do my best. I knew I was going to finish the race and I was so happy and so relieved. It was wonderful hearing Jennifer and Claire at the finish area and I sprinted through the finishing chute. Whew. I was so relieved and happy, that I felt emotional and teary-eyed.
Consumed during the race:
  • ~20 Gu energy gels
  • 1 Shot Blok package
  • 1 Cliff Bar
  • 1 very salty potato chunk, with 3 miles to go
  • 1 handful of Pringles
  • lots of sports drink and water
  • 16 S-Caps (salt capsules)
My weight:
  • 163.6 lbs on race morning, after waking up and after carb loading the previous day. I was glad I was able to lose a few pounds of fat (presumably) since the SF Marathon.
  • 161.2 lbs after getting back home after the race, after having snacked and drank a bit.
Things that went well:
  • I appear to be uninjured.
  • I didn't fall, trip, or even stumble on the many miles of rough single-track trail.
  • My hydration, electrolytes, and fueling went very well. Eating an energy gel every 20 minutes and an S-Cap salt capsule every 30 minutes worked well. I tried to take a good sip of water or sports drink every few minutes. I'm guessing I drank 7 to 8oz a mile.
  • I had fun except around miles 40-45.
  • I put in my best effort. I kept my heart rate in the mid-140s on average. (My max heart rate is 183 beats per minute.)
  • I was 1 hour 37 minutes faster than last year's 50 miler!
  • I was efficient at the aid stations for the most part. I had the aid station mileage chart written on one of my water bottles and I knew what I needed to get each time. I wanted to leave each aid station with 3 Gu energy gels in my pockets and with one or both water bottles filled (depending on how far the next aid station was).
  • My equipment on the whole did pretty well. I discovered I needed to replace my Garmin heart rate monitor battery the day before. Thankfully, it performed well. My Dirty Girl gaiters worked great and kept rocks and twigs out of my shoes. My Garmin watch reported 49.0 miles at the end, so it was "close enough" but I think it lost a mile due to all the tree cover and the curvy trail was getting broken down into longer straighter lines. Body Glide kept me from having any chafing. No sunburns. My Halo headband, which has a thin plastic strip to guide water away, worked well and kept the sweat out of my eyes.
Things to improve on:
  • My shoes were not quite perfect and any problem at all can cause foot / skin problems. The ends of 4 toes started developing blisters -- not so bad that they needed to be drained, though, and the skin didn't tear. (Update: 2 days later, the ends of my toes are back to normal.) The top of my left middle toe started to get painful at times on the steepest downhills where I had to brake hard on each step. I don't know if my shoes were a tiny bit too small or if my laces weren't quite tight enough or what. And my right big toe has some redness underneath the toenail which can lead to me losing it. We'll see. Otherwise, I've enjoyed these Brooks shoes very much.
  • I think I picked up the pace too much when Ben met me at mile 37. I knew I was pushing my heart rate up, but then at mile 40 I felt a strong twinge of a cramp in my right thigh and things were feeling delicate all over my leg muscles. I think I was very close to having a lock-down general cramping. I quickly doubled-up on the salt and energy gels, but I felt very fatigued and sore for maybe 45 minutes. It felt like a long time. Only after the last aid station, with 3 miles to go, did I really start feeling strong again.
  • My shorts were a little loose for what I was carrying in them. I discovered this on a training run but that was a different pair of shorts. I should've tested the exact pair I was intending to wear. It wasn't too bad, but they started falling off my bum and I had to hitch them up every 5 minutes or so until I ate my Cliff Bar.
  • My worst soreness and borderline injury is my right forearm! Weird! But I guess holding and running with 2 20oz water bottles was a bit much for so many hours. Oftentimes, I had to carry both bottles in one hand and so my forearm muscles might be strained. It's painful to the touch. I should do more arm exercises.
As usual, I owe Jennifer a huge amount of gratitude. I ran every Saturday and Sunday morning, sometimes for many hours, since the San Francisco Marathon. My longest training run took me 5 hours 15 minutes, to run from the Bay Bridge in S.F. to our house (32.3 miles by the coastal route). Thanks, my love!

3 comments:

George said...

Nice, nice, nice! I hope you enjoy the endorphin glow for a long time!
(~: Calendar Man

Franz said...

Wonderful run and race execution Ron. Also, thanks for sharing so much detail regarding your fueling and hydration; it really helps to hear what other runners are doing and doing well.

Ron Little said...

Thanks, you two. I'm feeling pretty good today. I can walk downstairs almost normally now. My right forearm still has some kind of lumpy muscle thing going on and it still hurts but the swelling has gone down and I can use it more than yesterday.