Sunday, March 11, 2012

Land Between the Lakes 50 Mile

A sweet sterling silver belt buckle was the award for the CR.

It's good to occasionally use races as training runs or tune-ups for bigger goal races.  It's also a good idea to actually remember on "race day" that you intend to use the race only as a hard workout.  I forgot that little detail on Saturday at the Land Between the Lakes 50 mile trail run.

Now, I don't think there will be any long-term physical consequences; the issue is that I didn't mentally acknowledge that I wouldn't be 100% fresh and I should have factored that into my race plan and goals.  I also conveniently forgot to keep all that in mind after the race yesterday.  I was physically feeling banged up and mentally not all there.  Weird huh?  Who would have thought that running 50 miles could play with your emotions?  Even though I had just finished in 5:53, won the race and broke the course record by nearly half an hour, I was disappointed.

My smile hides how cold I was at the start.

Well, I can happily report that the day following the race I am thinking much more clearly.  I still will say that it wasn't a perfect day, but the reasons for that are pretty obvious to me now.  In the end, it's encouraging to know I ran 7:04 pace in 50 mile trail race and didn't feel like I had a great day.  The fitness is there.  I just have a few kinks to work out.

So, what did I do wrong?

1) I ran positive splits.  I am usually very good about running even splits, or even negative splitting, and I know from experience that I feel much better when I run this way.  But with the loop course setup allowing several shorter distance races to be run concurrently, I stupidly allowed myself to get caught up racing folks who were in shorter races.  I ran 4 loops on the trail with each being about 11 miles a piece.  My final loop was over 10 minutes slower than my first.  Not how I like to do things.

2) My taper was minimal at best.  And that's fine — that was the plan.  I just need to do a better job of adjusting my expectations accordingly.

3) I didn't bring a crew with me to this race so I was effectively self-supported, and that's something I'm not entirely accustomed to.  The volunteers were great as usual, but it's just not the same as having your normal handler there.  Being able to roll through aid stations like I could at JFK is easily worth several minutes in the end.  I failed to take that into consideration yesterday when evaluating my performance.

4) My nutrition plan still needs some work.  The first 3 points are pretty easy to fix.  This one may be a little more difficult.

Although I am hard on myself, I must be realistic and admit that it was a pretty good day altogether.  The weather was perfect.  The trail was amazingly dry in spite of the recent rains.  The course was also quite runnable assuming you could avoid the numerous exposed roots.  There were lots of little rhythm-busting up and downs, but no major climbs to speak of.

Elevation profile from my Garmin 405 showing 3500' of climb.

I had no major issues with gear.  My Swiftwick merino wool socks performed wonderfully, providing additional warmth during the first few chilly hours of racing, and then compression without overheating later in the race.  I also raced in a pair of Salomon Speedcross 3s for the first time.  They have a more aggressive lug pattern than was really necessary for this race, but they are also surprisingly comfortable on the roads.

Amanda finishing a loop.

I also want to give a quick shout-out to the winner of the women's 50 mile race, Amanda Lindsey.  She also lives near Cincinnati, and while she's an experienced triathlete, this was her first ultra run.  She asked for a few tips prior to the race, followed my advice to perfection, and was able to pull out the win.  (I wish I had followed my own advice.)  I think you'll be seeing her name atop the results of quite a few ultras in the future.  You've been warned.

So, a big thanks to the Durbin brothers for putting on a great race.  And thanks to Grand Rivers, KY for hosting a bunch of crazy ultra runners for a weekend.  That's definitely a place where I could spend a long weekend on the lake.  And now I know where to find the trails.

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