Monday, December 26, 2011

50k - 1 week later

So after looking at my recovery after my last knee issue (1 year ago) - I took off 4 days from running, and by that time - my knee felt fine. Aside from a little muscle soreness in my hips - no other problems. Not one blister or toenail issue - thank you smartwool and size 12's!; I did wear my road shoes for this as my new trail shoes weren't quite broken in and the trail was not technical at all).
I began with a 6 miler outside my work (around ICAR), followed by 4 more there the next day. Worked out for me to run Christmas day after lunch and got a good 10 miler in. Took me 2-1/2 weeks to get that many miles in after Harbison.
I wore my watch (basic Timex Ironman) and my brother's Garmin he's letting me borrow. I wanted to check my route and see if the mileage I have been writing down was accurate (or at least as accurate as the Garmin). Turned out - my distance was exact! Whew - I've always been a little worried that my actual mileage was not true. I adjusted it down once a year or two ago - but now I can worry no more.
Oak Grove Lake: 1 lap = 0.85mi.
One lap + hill loop = 1.15mi

During my nice 10 miler yesterday - I was also thinking about the Mount Mitchell Challenge. I am still undecided...full refund by the end of the year, or only $30 lost if I wait to cancel by the end of Jan. Guess I'll wait to decide. I like the challenge, but want to see how my knee holds up at Harbison. Maybe I'll take a trip up there in Jan to look at the course.
With my motivation back - looks like I'll keep my current schedule for 2012 - running thru early June before taking the summer off from races.

My year in review is coming up soon! Will I break 1500 miles finally? (Not telling!)

3rd Seashore Nature Trail 50k Race Report

The 3rd annual Seashore Nature Trail 50k took place at First Landing State Park just outside Virginia Beach, VA on Saturday December 17th. My brother Pat and I were going to run this together. After running the Chicago Marathon together in October, he thought he'd get an ultra under his belt (in his LAST long race) while the distance was somewhat recent. No long (over 12) training runs for him since, and my running has been up and down the last 3 weeks. Were not really sure how this would go.

Where it began

Before the start
We arrived for packet/chip pickup at 7am for the 8am start and debated about tights or shorts. It was around 40° after a night of rain, with it staying in the 40's for the day, maybe some sun later. Definitely shorts and the weather turned out perfect! About time - but too bad I was not in condition to take advantage. So - chip, bib, bumper sticker, fleece vest all received quickly and we hung out for a bit, gathering our drop bag items. We'd leave this at an Aid Station we'd pass 4 times - at 5, 8, 20 and 23. There were additional aid stations at 12.5, 16 and 27.5.
Planned on stowing my jacket/gloves after 5 miles and that worked out well. (Ended up getting my gloves later on as my hands got cold on and off).

start/finish on road
And we're off (after a few pictures and leaving the drop bag in a truck)! I was not going out too fast, so we settled in as people moved ahead of us. We stayed in the last 30% of the runners all day, which was fine with us. The initial road section was short (maybe a mile) and towards the turn off onto the trail, I realized my hands were free. Huh? I Always run with a water bottle - even when I was running 5k's. I don't believe I just left it at the start!! Wow - what a mistake. I actually debated going back for it, but running 31 (and not 33) was enough for today. With Aid pretty close together, I would be ok, but just not what I'd prefer. We came upon an aid station for later in the race and I asked if anyone was in contact with the start and if they could ask about my bottle. Sure enough - at the 1st AS - it was there. Whew! Felt normal again. Not sure I'd ever run 5 miles without anything in my hands before.
Some long, flat sections

Panoramic of boardwalk/marshland

Few mud areas - easily avoided

So the course was very nice. Early on, I was already thinking this would be a good course/race to run again. Some gentle rollers, some flats (although the long flat straightaways were not my favorite). Pine straw, packed dirt, some boardwalk, thru marshlands and swampy areas - all great to run on/near. There was a "main" trail (Cape Henry) that we ran on, then do a side loop (King Fisher/White Loop), then an out and back on the main trail to a turnaround. We'd return the way we'd come and back near the start, take a different side trail loop (Bald Cypress & Osmanthius). Then do it all over again.
first of a number of Aid Stations
Aid Stations were, as expected, perfect. My typical stop consisted of refilling my water (if needed), maybe sipping some Gatorade, then grabbing M&M's, PB&J triangles, potato chips, pretzels, and small choc. chip cookies. Yum. I'd walk out eating and not start running until my hands/mouth were empty. One different thing I saw - the bag drop area had all the bags spread out on a tarp, so you could stand back and see your bag easily. Very organized.
More leftover water.
So we stayed a pretty slow/steady pace, not really knowing our speed, but assumed it was about 11min/mi based on the approximate AS mileages. Under 6:00 hr pace. Our goal of the day was, if we did not break 6, then to get me another PR (under 6:34). Early miles felt good - best I'd felt in 3 weeks with no leg issues, feeling pretty strong. We ran near some people on and off, but after 8-10 miles, it was mostly just us, even with ~250+ starters.
beautiful moss

Some gentle rollers
Nothing too serious thru the halfway point for either of us. We knew we'd slow down some. Did not expect it to be partially because of me or my right knee. Near the turnaround (~Mile 22), my knee quickly went from being slightly sore, to being very painful to run. Really, the only other time this had bothered me was almost a year ago around Mile 21 of the Harbison 50k. Why??? (Cold/cooler weather + slow running?) Until the finish, I could not run more than 100-200 yards of flat (could run downhill fine and felt nothing when I walked; we were walking the gentle uphills at this point). So strange. At this point, we were running for just over 4 hours, so we were still looking good for beating my previous best. 6 hrs was definitely out. Pretty much decided that my Mount Mitchell Challenge attempt was off (for Feb - more on that in another post)
Little bit of boardwalk
So the last 9 miles was run until it made me cringe, walk (where the pain disappeared instantly), then run again on any downhill or where I thought I could try it again. Our splits (according to my brother's Garmin after the fact) were mostly under 12 min/mi until mile 20 or so, then it became 13:15's or so. Once we came out of the last side trail loop, we knew we had a mile or so left, mostly on pavement. I tried running it in, but just couldn't - two short walk breaks, then I was ok and we ran to the finish side by side - finish time: 6:19:16!
The Goal

Picked up our finisher's medal (nothing special), paperweight (solid!) and a nice finisher's hat. Grabbed a few snacks, took a few photos, and we headed back home. Very happy to have done this with my brother - he did great. I can see doing this one again (Alone - as I said before - my brother is DONE with long runs!) if we come up for a visit in mid-December. I would recommend it to anyone.
Thank you to the Race Director (very detailed website/emails) and all the volunteers!!

2011 Course

Monday, December 12, 2011

Catching up

Have been too busy to post - so here is a quick summary of the last month.
Seashore 50k this Saturday. Not ready.
More ready than my brother.
Last weekend's long run: 8.5 and heavy legs from the start.
Weekend before that: 14 or so. Not so great.
Before that I actually had a good 20 miler on trails (got me 42 miles for that week!)
Not the best lead-up to a race, especially not an ultra.

Two treadmill runs last week in El Paso (work trip) - hated to do it, but the only option. Been what, a year??

Not making any bets on time for this race. Expect breaking 6 is out for Harbison...only 3 weeks between these. Oh well.

Motivation is low these days. May take another break from distances...we'll see. Just need more sleep (nightly).
Obviously too busy to write on my blog...sorry (if anyone is still out there)