Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Sponsorship News

While this has been in the works for some time, I am excited to finally announce some sponsorship news for the 2012 racing season.

Before I get into the new news, I wanted to first give a quick shout-out to the folks at GU Energy.  I've been running for them for a couple years now and have relied on GU's nutrition products for all of my ultra wins and course records.  Their gels seem to get all of the attention, but the raspberry GU Brew electrolyte drink mix is my secret weapon.  The constant flow of calories and electrolytes keeps me running strong, especially when the gels just won't go down late in the race.  And I love the single serving packs that are so much more convenient for my crew to deal with when I'm racing.

Special delivery last week.

You might have also noticed that I recently added Swiftwick as my sock sponsor.  I ran my first race in Swiftwick socks at the Land Between the Lakes 50 miler (race report).  With the chilly temps at the start, I went with the Pursuit 12 merino wool compression sock.  It performed great even as the temperatures quickly climbed throughout the course of the race, a testament to the fantastic temperature regulating property of merino wool.  In addition to their wicking abilities and compression, one of my favorite things about Swiftwick socks is that they are made right here at home in the USA. 

Donning the Swiftwick Pursuit 12's before LBL50.

Now, I am especially excited to let everyone know that this year I'll be running for Salomon as my trail shoe and apparel sponsor.  After watching the great things Salomon has been doing on the trail and ultra running scenes, I finally had an opportunity to try out some of their gear for myself.  Not surprisingly, I found Salomon's reputation for producing high-quality and innovative products was well-deserved.  I've been wearing their Speedcross 3 shoes on the trails for the last few months.  My win and course record at Land Between the Lakes 50 miler was run in that pair of shoes.  The Speedcross is very well cushioned and I have found the heel-to-toe transition to be silky smooth.  If it weren't for the aggressive outsole lug pattern, I would wear these shoes to run on the roads.  Of course, that lug pattern gives them great grip on the muddy trails that have been persistent in the Midwest of late.

Speedcross 3

I just received my first shipment of team apparel and gear this week.  Although I've never run with a hydration pack before, I am really excited to try out the S-Lab Advanced Skin Pack.  The reviews have been fantastic and it seems to fit very well just trying it on around the house.  The real test though will be how it performs on the trails.

S-Lab Advanced Skin Pack

Speaking of exciting new products, Salomon is about to release a new shoe.  If you are an active member of the trail/ultra community and you haven't heard of the Sense, you must be living under a rock.  Salomon is hosting a live event tomorrow (Monday, 3/26/12), featuring Kilian Jornet, to officially introduce the Sense.  Weighing in at only 6.5 oz, the Sense was designed specifically based on Kilian's needs for the Western States 100 mile trail run.

As if it needs an introduction.  The Salomon Sense.

You see why I am getting excited here?  I am running Western States this year.  Kilian is running Western States.  We'll both be running for team Salomon.  Salomon will have a brand new shoe tailored for the WS trails.  In addition to Kilian, Miguel Heras and Ryan Sandes from the international Salomon team are currently entered in Western States.  No pressure, right?  I haven't gotten a pair of the Sense on my feet yet, but word is that it won't be too much longer.  While I am obviously optimistic, I definitely will have to thoroughly test out the Sense to make sure it's a good fit for me at Western States.  Seeing how I adjust to the low 4mm heel-to-toe drop will be of particular interest.

But before we get to Western States, I need to be mentally preparing myself for the IAU World Championship 100k as it is the next race on my calendar.  Physical preparation has gone extremely well thus far.  LBL50 two weeks ago was a great checkpoint race, and after a little recovery week, I was back at 105 miles this week.  This week included a 3x3200m track workout and a 25 mile fast progression run followed the next day by a 20 miler.  I'll do one more hard week before beginning my 3 week taper leading into the 100k in Italy.  Another exciting turn of events is that work is sending me to France to cover a test right before the 100k.  So I'll have plenty of time to acclimate before flying straight from France to Milan to meet up with the rest of the US team.

I'll leave you with this.  You've probably already seen this video, but it's worth another watch, I promise.


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.