Sunday, March 11, 2007

Land Between the Lakes 50 Miler Race Report

50 miles, 10:31

What a race! Not much went as planned, but that is to be expected when it comes to ultrarunning. I drove down to Grand Rivers Friday night and stayed with a great group of fellow runners from Illinois. I woke up at 4:15 Saturday morning so I would have plenty of time to get to the race and pick up my packet. After picking up my packet and getting ready I made my way to the start line where I ran into Rob and Tom. After about 10 minutes it was time to start what was sure to be a long day. The race starts off running down a road for 1.7 miles then dives into the 11.3 mile loop which was completed 4 times for the 50 miler. With some solid advice from Rob I started off a little faster than I would have to avoid the back up when every started into the trail. The only problem was I didn’t slow down once I got into the trail. The first 6 miles of the loop were pretty flat and the last 5 had consistent hills, but nothing really big. I cruised through the first loop with little effort (running up some inclines that I should have walked!) I came out of the first loop at a time of 2:20, which was 16 minutes faster than my goal time. It was difficult trying to slow down, but it wouldn’t be long until it wasn’t hard at all. About half way through the second loop I could tell that the Trail Gnomes had come out. What are Trail Gnomes you ask? They are trail dwelling creatures that live along trails where loop ultras take place. These Gnomes wait until you run your first loop, then with their little Gnomes shovels, they build up the hills so they are much harder to run your next loop. Some people just think your legs get tired, I prefer the Gnomes story. I had my first rough patch at mile 16. One big mistake I made was forgetting my handheld water bottle. When I first started running ultras my hip and knee joints would start to lock up around mile 16-20. Ever since I started using my handheld that hasn’t happened, and I forget it for my toughest race (errrr)! I wasn’t able to get enough water from the aid stations, and started to get dehydrated. As soon as I noticed this I made sure take extra water at the next aid station. It took a few miles for it to kick in and I started feeling good again by mile 20. I came through my second loop 20 minutes ahead of my goal time, but it wasn’t long until the dehydration started to hit me again. The third loop was running with often walking breaks. I took a pretty nice spill some where along the trail, I can’t really remember which loop, and by the third loop the sprained ankle that I suffered back in the first loop (don’t know exactly when) was starting to bother me. I didn’t really notice until someone asked me if my leg was ok. I guess that is one good thing about running ultras, there are so many different pains it is hard to focus on one thing. I paid close attention to getting enough fluids on the third loop, and by the end of it I was felling pretty good again. When I came to the end of the loop I was 1 minute ahead of my goal time, and feeling really good. Of course this is when I made another big time mistake. By this point in the race (Mile 35) I had lost my appetite so I though I could cover the last 15 miles with no food, WRONG! I didn’t take any food starting the fourth loop, or the first aid station into the loop. By mile 39 I was absolutely dead. I could hardly even walk. It was three VERY SLOW miles to the next aid station where I sat in a chair for 10 minutes eating everything I saw. Then I started off very slowly waiting for the food to kick in. At this point I knew my chances of sub 10 hours were blown, and if the food that I ate didn’t kick in I wouldn’t finish under the 11 hour cut off. Luckily the food kicked in at mile 45 and the last 5 miles were some of my fastest since the first loop. When I came out of the final loop I asked for the time (I wasn’t wearing a watch.) I had about an hour for the last 3.5 miles, all on the road. I was relieved because I knew I would make the cut off. I ran up the hill to the turn around point (.75 miles) then back down (where I saw Tom close behind me) the last 2.75 miles to the finish. The last 200 yards I felt like I was going 100 MPH, its funny how your legs come back when you see the finish line. I crossed the finish line and got my first buckle. Rob was waiting there, as he had finished nearly 2 hours before! We watch Tom finish and we took pictures at the finish line. I was pretty tired, but didn’t feel much worse than after a 50K. I wasn’t disappointed for not reaching my goal time. I knew it had nothing to do with my training, in fact that was the only reason I finished at all. My muscles and cardio felt fine throughout the race, It was the fluid and food intake that held me back. Over all I was so happy just to finish, and I will take the lessons I have learned with me for future races. It took me 16 ½ hours to make the 5 hour drive home (I had to stop three times to sleep) the drive was almost as grueling as the race. My sprained ankle is pretty swollen right now, it might take me out of action for a few days but it’s a minor injury. I am glad I have my first 50 under my belt. I felt like a fraud having only run 50k’s. Now I can call myself a real ultrarunner.

Weekly mileage: 52


Kim said...

Good race report and good run Josh. You still met your goal of a qualifying time for WS.
It's funny,how little things can really derail your plans, like the dehydration. I'm assuming it was pretty warm there on Saturday.
And for the eating, that is a learning curve. You have to eat whether you really want to or not, and that's where you need to assert the mental part. At least you recognized that enough to sit and eat til you felt better!
My nutrition was bad for my run yesterday, but it only manifested itself on the drive home.
Very good effort!!

Rob "Buckeye" Powell said...

Trail Gnomes. LOL. I wish I would have seen those bastards. I sure would have kicked them off the trail. They got me too.

Great race Josh. Great 50 miler. I can not wait to see how you do at the Western States!

Anonymous said...


Dude you were never a you can change the little blurb in your "about me" section on the left side of the blog to say you have run up to 50 miles and are planning to do a 100 miler this summer! (right!?!!?)

Your food/bonk issue is EXACTLY what I experienced on my 21 or so mile run down here in Dallas this week....I had nothing and felt great until the last 5 miles, and then I just lost the drive....I am going to get very strict about taking in calories early and often during these runs. I think we each have a specific "window" of calories in which we can run effectively....too little and you get what we got...too much and your body is working too hard to digest and you slow down because your muscles can't get enough blood....our trick is to find the ways to stay in the window during our runs.

ErieTom said...

Dehydrated - and he still beats me! Grrrrrr! ;-)

Nice race and report, Josh!