My first 50 (almost).
and my first DNF!
This past Saturday I ran the Indiana Trail 50 (www.indianatrail100.com) with my wife.
For a little background: My wife hired a coach a couple months ago to get her ready for several races this year (this 50 miler, a 1/2 ironman, another trail run, and a full distance tri). I have never had a coach and generally “wing” my training. I have piggy-backed on about half of her workouts and have been amazed at how quickly her fitness has improved. My long run during training was 17 miles while hers was 30.
We went into signing up for this race with an overconfident joy! As training progressed the length of the race became more obvious and we became more and more nervous.
For weeks prior to the race we would talk about how we were going to run it. We discussed clothing, gear, shoes, food, hydration, the course, terrain, etc. We constantly read about ultrarunning on websites like http://www.irunfar.com. We followed other ultras on twitter whenever we could. The IndianaTrail100/50 group has a great/active facebook page that I frequented as well. It was fun and felt good.
On Friday, April 25th we drove to Fort Wayne and settled into our hotel. In trying to get an early-to-bed kind of night finalized we re-arranged our gear.
Shoes – Brooks PureGrit 1 – my favorite trail shoe! This shoe just feels like it hugs and cradles my foot perfectly. www.brooksrunning.com
Socks – Injinji trail socks. The idea was to start with these because I think they help minimize toe blisters for me. www.injinji.com
Shorts – Nike running. these are almost brand new…but feel great. I’d love an extra pocket but they are quite comfy. http://www.nikerunning.com
Shirt – InkNBurn – our favorite company for shirts. Great material and incredibly cool graphics. http://www.inknburn.com
Arm Sleeves – InkNBurn – they match the shirt. It was a cool morning so these were perfect.
Jacket – Brooks LSD Light – this is the ideal jacket for those in-between temps.
Pack – Camelbak marathoner – it’s a great fitting, highly useful pack. It served me well at TransRockies and here! http://www.camelbak.com
Sunglasses – Oakley. didn’t need these until about mile 15 but they are light and clean! www.oakley.com
Hat/visor – Headsweats. Love this visor. It’s comfortable and soaks up the sweat. www.headsweats.com
The parking lot was right along the course so we just used our trunk as our drop bag location. In the trunk were extra shoes, socks, shorts, shirt, and food!
The course is a 16.66 mile loop we would be doing 3 times. There were aid stations about every 4 miles. We decided to prepare to carry enough that the aid stations would just be for extra stuff and water refills. So, I had the following:
Perpetuem, Endurolytes, Hammer Gel – http://www.hammernutrition.com
High Performance Sports Drink – http://www.biosteel.com
X2 Performance – http://www.x2performance.com
Fruit babyfood – Sprout Smash – http://www.sproutorganicfoods.com
Wild Friends Single serve PB – http://www.wildfriendsfoods.com
My plan was to start sipping water as the race started. Every 15 minutes I would sip some Biosteel and about every 30 minutes I would consume some sort of food. This all depends on which food and how I’m feeling. The run started great and at 30 minutes I had a Sprout Smash. It tasted great and was easy on the stomach. At the 1 hour mark I had a WildFriends PB. Since it has a lot more calories I decided to wait until about the 2:30 mark to eat more food…and then it was another Sprout Smash. As I finished the first lap and started the 2nd I filled up my Perpetuem (Cafe Latte) and used that during lap two along with more Sprout, an X2 and the Biosteel I was sipping.
We forgot our headlamps! Oops!
Luckily, there were enough people around us that it was not an issue. The course was nice and wide and very well marked. We started off at a comfortable pace trying to just get heart rates up and get little sweat going. Once we settled in the pace was quicker than we expected but the heart rate was good so we just kept it going. I was expecting a very flat course for some reason. While there are no major hills or anything it was constantly rolling terrain. I suspected this could add up over time…
We cruised through the first aid station/checkpoint and kept right on going. All the crew at the station were great with their cheering and enthusiasm.
As we approached the halfway point of the first loop I felt like my wife wanted to run faster. She would edge out ahead of me and then come back. Her coach had her setup to run a heart rate range that was higher than what I was planning for myself. We both felt good so I sped up a little and she held back a little.
During lap one we thought the next aid station was at mile 12 so we were getting concerned when we past mile 13 with no sign of anyone….and then we saw it…at mile 14. Relief! It was also exciting to know that we were only about 2.5 miles from the end of loop 1. I was expecting loop 1 to be 3 – 3:15. Instead, we rolled up to our car at around 2:40. Wow, we were flying!! We both felt good (minus a few mild aches). In the trunk of the car we threw our trash and restocked our bags. Once refilled, we cruised up to the main tent for more water.
Right after leaving the main tent my wife was like a gazelle. There was no more creeping out ahead of me. Instead, it was obvious she was feeling really good at a fast pace. I was the opposite. I was starting to feel the muscle fatique. As we yo-yo’d another mile she finally said she was going to give it a go. I encouraged her to “have fun” and that I’d see her at the finish.
That was the last I saw of her other than a glimpse of her occasionally through the woods over the next couple miles.
As the miles kept adding up I kept slowing down. I completed a trail marathon distance in a new pr (4:17-ish) and was happy about that but could feel my wheels just getting worse and worse. As the muscles were getting more and more fatiqued I started to notice my knees not doing as well either. It was shortly after the marathon distance that I decided I would be calling it a day once I finished loop 2. Running had become a real struggle. Even walking the ups and downs was painful.
I finished loop 2 (33.6 miles) with a time of around 6:05. I turned my timing chip in with a smile on my face as I knew the hurt was ending! I was also happy that my stomach and head were great the entire race. I suspect my issue was more a lack of appropriate endurance training. I suspect I will focus more on that should I ever choose to try this distance again. In the meantime I am going to focus more on some shorter distances. I have a few trail runs of 9 miles this year (www.dinoseries.com), a half marathon in June, and TransRockies in August.
After I changed and relaxed I took a look at the leaderboard. After loop 2 my wife was in 3rd place overall female. I knew that if her comfort and pace continued she would hold or improve that position. I lounged around and counted the minutes. Pretty soon she came running up the finishing shoot as the 2nd overall female (and 5th overall) in a time of 8:16. She nearly collapsed crossing the finish line! I was impressed, amazed, and incredibly proud!!
I can’t express enough how awesome the race organization and volunteers were. The race was very well put together. The volunteers were helpful and encouraging along the entire course. The course itself was very well maintained and marked. I would highly recommend this race to anyone interested in tackling (or trying to tackle) a 50 or 100 miler.
As i write this I am back at home relaxing and massaging my stiff knees. My wife can hardly walk but is feeling great.
Our next race is a sprint triathlon at the end of May…maybe it will be short enough that I can win this time. ;-)