Saturday, December 29, 2007

The HUFF 50K Race Report

I expected to feel pretty good going into HUFF because I hadn't run in two weeks, so I thought I would be fresh. WRONG! I guess I really underestimated the impact of the CrossFit workouts I've been doing. With the squats, burpees, rowing and snatches I did this week, my quads were toasted before I even started the race. Not to mention the 5k I ran yesterday, probably not one of my smarter ideas.

HUFF is a 10.8 mile loop course repeated 3 times (you're correct if you think that doesn't add up to 31 miles.) It is run around J. Edward Roush Lake in Huntington Indiana. It's a pretty flat trail run. The course is usually either muddy or snowy. This year it was muddy.

At the start of the race my quads felt heavy and a bit fatigued but I didn't think it would be a big deal. I ran HUFF last year so I knew what to expect as far as pace and terrain. My rough game plan was to run the first loop in a comfortable time, something around 1:45, then pick it up on the final two loops to run negative splits and finish with I time somewhere between 5:10 5:30. That worked pretty will for the first loop. I came in at 1:48, but I knew I was in trouble. My quads were already completely fried. If it wasn't for the fact that I was trying to keep up with Mike, I would have ended up walking most of the 2nd and 3rd loops. Every time I slowed down, he caught up to me and cracked the whip. We ended up running the entire either together or within a minute of each other, not by design, that's just how it happened. Believe me, I was trying to drop him, It just wasn't happening today, he was strong!
At the beginning of my third loop I started re-tooling my game plan. 5:10 - 5:30 was way out of the picture. Now I would try to beat last years finishing time of 5:56 (I couldn't remember the seconds. Not a big deal right? You'll see.) But as I started the third loop that goal began to slip a way steadily. I felt so bad during the second loop, it really didn't get any worst for the third. My quads were useless, and something weird was going on with my ankles (I was worried about it during the race, but afterwards I notice both ankles hurt in the same spot so it most be due to the two week running break.) I kept plodding away until I got to the last aid station, with about 3.5 miles to go. I looked at my watch, which said 5:23. That meant if I could maintain 10 minute miles I could finish under 6 hours. That would be easier said than done, seeing as how I hadn't been maintaining consistent 10 minute miles since the end of the first loop. They were now hovering anywhere from 10-14 minutes depending on the muddy sections and the road sections. Regardless, I thought I would give it a shot. Mike was right on my tail at this point. I tried to get him to follow me, but we were both giving it all we had. I decided to make my final move. when I got to the 1.8 mile to go point, I looked at my watch: 5:39. I was keeping a steady pace. This is when I started thinking again about beating last years 5:56. It would be tough but I though I had a chance. I kicked it into gear. I reached the final .8 miles with 7 minutes to go. I kicked it into the highest gear I had left and speed to the finish. The final .25 miles is on pavement. When I hit the pavement the clock read 5:55, I crossed the finish line in 5:56:41. Still unsure if I had beaten last years time, but pleased with my effort on a day when I had far less than my "A" game.

I really only had one running goal for 2007. That was to complete 25 ultras. The Huff was number 25. I'd call that a successful year.

Congrats to Mike on a fantastic gutsy run. I'll let him tell you the details.


Catra said...

Awesome job and awesome report.
The more you do crossfit the stronger you will get.
I try not to do a WOD the day before a race or if I do I just go easy.
Today I took a crossfit friend up Mission Peak where I run after our WOD and he thought he was going to die. I'm just use to it.
I do 8 classes a week and on my non running day I will usually do 3 WODs.
I am trying to get really strong for the PCT next year. I finally nailed pull-up. I did 7 yesterday. It has taken me a whole year but I can finally kip. I guess I never really pushed myself. The trainers at my crossfit are making me push harder and I'm happy they are doing that.
Will see how I do at HURT 100 next month.

Anonymous said...

Josh, you beat me to the finish line, and you beat me to the blog post! Awesome chasing you all day! I really gave all I had to be even that close to you, but I am already feeling a lot better. I recover from each ultra a lot faster as I get used to them.

Nice thing is, we both felt like crap, and neither one of us complained...must be all that training by the Trail Goddess.

Kim said...

I thought HUFF would be a muddy mess out there! The mud probably wasn't helping you with your ankles. Maybe you should take like two DAYS OFF or something from working out??? Really, all the endurance won't drain out of you.

And good job on 25 ultras in 2007!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow Josh, I am less impressed by 25ultras in a year than I am by the dirt diva reading your blog. You have arrived. Go get em in 2008!

Anonymous said...

Oops. I didn't mean to be quite so anonymous in that last post.

Happy trails,


tony said...

Josh, nice race and congrats on an amazing toatl of 25 ultras & meeting your 2007 goal! And on Catra reading your!

Please consider going to the doctor soon and getting these lower leg pains / injuries looked at and healed up.

Josh said...


8 classes a week, 3 WOD's in one day!? wow, you're a beast! Pull-ups are definitely one of my biggest weaknesses.


yeah, the trail goddess is rubbing off on us...


A muddy mess, indeed! A couple days off?...Maybe.

Echo Guy,

I know! I feel famous, lol.
Good luck at the inaugural Frontiersmen Run Tomorrow! I wish I could be there.


Thanks! I am going to make a Dr's appointment.

Catra said...

I must confese I did 5 WODs in a day once. I'm so happy I finally got the kipping down.
Going to see how long it takes me to do 150 burpees tonight. I got an ab mat, pull-up bar and Buddie Lee jump rope for x-mas. I have finally got the double unders down..Woo HOO..
I'm getting my level 1 cert. for crossfit in March.
I'm going to to da 5000 meter row this week. Wanna get my name on the board at oneworld for that. I might visit pukie for the first time on that one.
Glad you are doing crossfit. Every ultrarunner who I have got doing it says they feel stronger in there races.
Congrats. on finishing all those ultras this year.

Chef Bill Bailey said...

Great Job Josh.
We have a new crossfit Gym going in up here. I haven't had the honers of getting beatup by them yet.

Rob "Buckeye" Powell said...


Great job and way to go slow and get the injuries under control. You will gain so much from thsi training you have been doing!

Nick said...

Great Race Report. You'll be unstoppable in 2008.
You'll come around on your injuries. Just be smart about it.

Addy said...

Amazing! You're going to be superheroesque in strength with all those crossfit workouts and ultras :) Congrats on a successful race and a successful year!