Sunday, March 23, 2014

Buffalo 'training' Run

That's what I kept telling myself. Lake Somoma 50 is in 3 weeks and is a big deal to me. I want to be in tip top shape, tapered and ready to give 100%. I debated doing this because I love to race and push hard but that would do me no good for Sonoma. But I needed a last long run so I promised I would work to keep the reigns on. This gave me more anxiety than racing, bring able to hold back in a race atmosphere. Probably wasn't the smartest to sign up, but I did. Race atmospheres are always fun and I figured even if I didn't race the miles, they'd be better quality than if on my own. Aid stations are always nice too.

Anyway, my husband Jeremy and I drove onto Antelope Island about 7pm, enjoyed our take out Thai food (mas mun for me), and watched friends running the 100. I crashed in the tent from 9:30pm-11pm before getting up to spend the night volunteering in the start/finish aid tent. Night challenges me and with my first 100 in June I figured it would be good practice in sleep deprivation then running after. I enjoyed helping them fill bottles, get them whatever they wanted to eat, finding chairs and other supplies they needed and just listening sometimes when they looked down. I enjoyed watching and learning from the 100 milers at night.  And it was a good learning experience but honestly left me a little more intimidated of the night. Coming into a warm, lit up tent with goodies and warm food and chairs and a sore body and often upset stomachs only to leave minutes later to go back out into the dark cold for hours and hours. Man. 
Talking strategy with Zac 
Admiring Craig getting ready to head back out at mile 69 I believe. Loved watching all of our friends help when someone would come in. From L to R: Josh, Matt, Zac, me, my husband Jeremy,, Craig in the chair and Mark behind the camera. 

I didn't get too sleepy overnight but after I bid good luck to friends doing the 50 mile race that took off at 6am I climbed into the tent and fell asleep for an hour. Wasn't sure if I'd wake up more tired or destroy the deprivation thing I was going for, but it sure felt good. I went to sleep when it was still dark and woke up when if was light and felt good!  I think the dark/light thing reset my body clock even though it was only an hour of sleep. Got dressed and ready for my own race and we took off at 8am. 

I got a little caught up in the race my first couple miles but let many people pass me. Once at the top of the hill around mile 2.4 or so I settled into a trot where I felt totally comfortable and couldn't hear my breathing at all. I wasn't pushing. I do long runs harder than this pace. But after talking with many friends the plan was to go super conservative the first 15 mile loop and then negative split (run faster) the second resulting in a 5:30-6:00 finish (I wanted 5:00 originally). I knew what the aid station splits were for a 5 hour finish so knew to be slower than that and could estimate what 6 hour splits would be so wanted to hit those splits first loop. All the aid stations are about 5 miles apart. After that initial 2 mile climb up it's a gradual down, sharper down where I got a hug from Mark who was running the 50m, then switchbacked up to the first aid. Hit the first one, 5.3 in 57min. Happy with that. Not happy with the poop stop I had to make that wasn't very productive. Grumpily knew I'd be stopping again. Loooong downhill after AS1 where I kept my eye on a close buffalo and ran in a hurry to the big rocks ahead for another stop. I invisioned crapping in my shorts if he charged, maybe that would have been the last stop at least.  One more a few miles later. Long down followed by lots of switchbacks back up then flattish back to aid. Hit that one also in 57min at 1:53. Figured out the math in my head and figured I'd be to the halfway turnaround at 2:50. That would work. Was shooting for 3:00 but 2:50 would be a lot slower than the 2:30 I originally wanted. 
Some neat views courtesy of my friend Jason Brockman who ran his first ultra Saturday!  You can find more in my Oct 2012 and March 2013 posts. Antelope Islamd is a neat place!

Heading north was always tough because of a headwind and much of the 11-15.5 mile stretch was heading north. So I was surprised when I hit the turnaround in 2:42. Whoops. I didn't feel like I was working too hard, but the problem with that split was I'd have to work even harder to negative split and my brain is pretty stubborn when there's an idea in my head. I figured I'd just run 3 or so minutes faster each aid station (AS) from 15.5-25 and then run the last 5 stronger. I calculated my place in the women and was around 6th with 1st being 13 minutes ahead of me at halfway. Ouch. But I wasn't there to win so I didn't dwell too much on it which I was pleased I was actually able to do, not dwell on it. I had only passed 1 woman in the first loop but as the second started I started passing more. I never pass people with a 'kill' attitude you see in Ragnar and other relay events where they mark off everyone they pass with tally marks on their van as 'kills'. Hate that. But I enjoy keeping my mind busy and motivated with spotting someone ahead and starting to count after they pass a simple landmark I can remember. I stop counting when I pass it and do that every now and then while the number goes down until I pass. Just works for me. Also put the iPod on around halfway which was nice except it kept shuffling to slower songs, it must have known the plan too, or my friends rigged it. Anyway passed a few strong looking ladies over the next loop. Back into AS4 at a 55min split which I wasn't thrilled with because we turned around about 2 min away from the Start, which meant I should have been under 55min to here. Decided I'd power hike stronger and run the downhills faster like I've been working on to drop time, but keep the flats conservative still. No buffalo this time and no stops so I thought I'd make it back to AS 5 early also. I made it 1 min faster than the first time. Hmmm. I really thought I was moving faster than the first loop and wasn't working at true race pace, but was working harder than before. Took off from that aid taking 400mg Ibuprofin. Wasn't going to since this was a training run and I wanted to feel any pain or discomfort to detect any injuries or annoyances to get them worked out before Sonoma. But I took it anyway, inflammation isn't really ever a good thing and I would be careful not to push TOO hard since pain was masked. Knew I needed to open it up and run fast in order to negative split since at this point I would only even split if I could make it in time. Finishing a long run strong is good training for race day too. Ran the last 5 or so at 7:30-7:45 I'd bet (didn't wear GPS, don't like it anymore, just wear a regular -and cute- orange watch for the stopwatch). Didn't push 100% still but was much closer to it than any point in the day. Estimated I'd need to be to the shirt I dropped by 5:16 to run 8 more min and get in under 5:24. Got there in 5:14 or 15. Finally got to the gate where there's 1/2 mile or so to go and was at 5:18, I'd make it. Eased up just a little to do as little muscle damage as possible and enjoyed running strong in to the cheers of a few friends at 5:20. 4 min negative split!  2nd place woman. Sure I made up time on that 13 min halfway difference but haven't seen results. Never thought I'd be happy to run slower than I was capeable :) but I was proud of keeping things under control. That 5:20 worried me a little because it was faster than planned and right now is all about staying healthy and strong for Sonoma but I feel good today and am happy that a fairly conservative (but not easy, don't let me fool you, I did work) run ended up in that time. I'm getting so excited for Lake Sonoma 50 where I will leave it all out there and push 110%!!

It's already been a long report so I'll try to keep the rest concise. Congrats to everyone out there!  Many good races were had and many others just worked their tails off and persevered. 
THANK YOU to the many friends who talked me through my strategy -repeatedly since I need to hear things at least 8 times, ask my husband, drives him nuts. Many of you were getting ready for your own races or in some cases racing the 100 and still asked about my race in the morning. Mark, Zac, Jeremy, Duncan and Jen being my most yaked at victims. Thanks for being patient with me!

Things I learned -
1. Lay off the nuts close to a race. I snacked a little overnight since my metabolism wasn't asleep. Ramen, a few handfuls of crackers and a handful or two of peanut m&m's. That's it. Then right at 3 hours before start I ate my usual PB&J with thinner bread but with crunchy peanut butter I didn't realize I'd packed. I usually use smooth. I wonder if all the nuts between dinner, overnight and breakfast got to me, disrupting my GI and forcing me to stop and squat several times. I also think sitting in a classroom for 10 of the last 15 days stunted my metabolism and digestion. I have a new found respect and sorrow for those of you with full time desk jobs, even that much sedentary lifestyle took it's toll on me!
2. Speaking of squatting, I was reminded of the importance of selecting a spot off trail that keeps me modest from both directions of runners, not just behind me. Sorry guy running toward me....
Had a guy just ahead of me peeing on the go for about 30 seconds. Seriously?  We are not elites at an elite race. Stand off the trail please. 
3. Although watching the 100 milers at night intimidated me, settling into my trot Saturday showed me both mentally and physically that I can run for a long time in a longer race, like 100 miles in June. 
4. Half the race and I wore the Altra Olympus, our new trail/road max cushion shoe because I wanted to keep my legs as stress free as possible and knew the extra cushion would help. It did. I also thought maybe it would keep me slower which I don't know if I can agree with (for ultra length events anyway) since I never felt slow in it, especially once I figured out how to roll forward onto the rocker on push off. Holy cow it was like a rocket!  Anyone wanting a pair they run true to size for men and 1/2 size small for women (against other Altra's, women size up 1/2 a size). Used the UltraSpire Quantum pack which I love.  Also got to try VFuel's new Fudge Brownie and Cool Citrus flavors - yum!  3 cool citrus  with 1 vanilla tasted like lemon meringue.  Love V's easy down, steady energy.
5.  I think I liked negative splitting. I had never done it before except a few times growing up swimming. It was hard but not too hard letting everyone take off ahead of me. It was nice to not feel my lungs burn and legs take 6 miles before they felt good because I started out fast.  It was nice getting to halfway and not dreading going back out. If anything I was excited to push a little harder and race my watch AS to AS rather than watch the splits get slower and slower. When I'd pass people it felt strong and confident and not like they'd try to race me for the position. I don't know how it will work in fast races, but for longer or more casual races I think I'll implement it again. Thanks Mark!
6. People are good. I saw so many big and small crews taking care of their runners. And when there weren't crews we 3 volunteers or other strangers took charge of an incoming runner. 
Saw more people smiling as we'd pass than I have in a long time (3 different races along the 15 mile trail I was on that all started at different times which meant people were coming and going all the time). I try to always smile and say good morning or good job or at least give a thumbs up or smile when I'm tired but man there was a lot of it going around. Love it!  We're all out there for fun, 99% of us don't do this as a profession, it should be fun and friendly, and it was. A great day!

Friday, March 14, 2014

My favorite nutrition/supplement website

Shameless plug. I'm not sponsored by them or anything. Good prices, great brands, cheap and fast shipping. They usually give automatic discounts in your cart based on how much you spend.