Sunday, July 29, 2012

Camp Croft Trail Marathon Race Report

Camp Croft State Park, Spartanburg, SC
Sat July 28, 2012
Trail Marathon and Team Relay

The 1st Camp Croft Trail Marathon & Team Relay took place in the heat and humidity of the summer. Stating temps near 80° at 8am and a high of 98° (although it was likely only ~90° by the time I finished). The course followed much of the Camp Croft Half Marathon course before completing loops on the South Side of the park.
Many people believed this course was short leading up to the event - I had never been on the south side part, so I really had no idea. It was supposed to be ~26.2miles, but on a trail - I don't think you ever know. Multiple Garmins (I don't think you can trust them entirely either!) showed ~21-22 miles. Yes it was short, mileage unknown, but it was called a marathon and I am taking it as a marathon finish!

I knew a handful of people were not running due to the heat - I ignored the fact that it was the end of July when I signed up. Oh well. I knew it was going to be unpleasant. Plan was to carry 2 handheld water bottles for the 1st half (and some Gu) before swapping one handheld for my camelbak (left at the halfway filled with ice) and grabbing some more Gu there too. 

Started off on the 1st 7.5mi section and realized I hadn't raced in a Long time to realize what pace I should be going out at. Probably a little fast, but felt ok. Foot issue I've had for the last week-plus never materialized. Ended up with 2 others (Hillary and PR**) and we ran miles 3-13 pretty much together and had some good discussions. It was a rare thing for all of us to be running with other people during a race. Hilary kept cruising up every hill, and we'd catch her on the downhills. At the half though - she was gone!
Came thru the first aid station (to the encouragement of some friends waiting for their relay partners!) in 1:20. I've done the 1/2 marathon twice and came thru 1:11 both times, so I thought this was about  right in terms of pace. But - the heat was not pleasant. Water bottles lost their ice quickly and the aid stations weren't that refreshing. With Tiana's help refilling, I got back on the trail fast and kept plodding along.

2nd section was a little easier and only 5.5mi. There was some mud in many sections and the worst of it was thru here, sometimes ankle deep and unavoidable, so that also contributed to the slower pace. Shoes weren't ever sucked off, but they tried! Still recognized parts of the course and had No trouble at all following the markers but you actually had to stop and flatten out the directional arrows on the signs as they had curled up, hiding the tips of the arrows! Still feeling decent as we came to the next relay change/aid station. Large group there as this was also close to the start/finish. Came in at 2:17 and saw Kerrie & others again. Refilled my bottles and got out of there across the bridge. The water looked refreshing (and very brown), so I went down and stepped into it. Almost lost my footing (That would have been bad!) but steadied myself and dunked down to my chest.

Was good for a moment. PR waited on me and we started down the trail a minute before I remembered my camelbak was back at the aid station. Hmmm - what to do? I told PR to keep going and went back (and am SO glad I did!). Got an odd look or two I imagine, but Tiana took care of my one handheld and I put on my iced-down water-filled 2L camelbak and went back across the bridge.
Time (after the 4min diversion) was 2:21. (At the half's - 2:02 was typical)

Now the decline. Almost immediately - lost all energy. Took an S!Cap, but the others I had brought were ruined in my river dip. Soon realized I forgot to pick up the three Gu's I wanted from the AS and I had no more on me. I was hot and not feeling particularly good. I walked alot thru here. Would shuffle for a minute before walking again. Drank out of my camelbak frequently (I would drain it before the next AS!). I knew Kerrie would be coming thru here and after 20+ minutes, here she was. She pulled me along for a while, but I had to walk more and try to cool down somehow. I really had no idea how long this section was, so I had no idea how long it should take. Hoping it was as short as I'd heard.
After 1:12 on this section (3:34 elapsed), I saw Kerrie and other DNR goons at the parking lot at the last relay change. Meant to drop off my camelbak, but carried it empty the rest of the way (and you know how it's annoyingly bouncy when it's empty?!). Refilled my amphipod and continued on feeling slightly better. Still walking more than expected, but with the heat - I really didn't care. Got passed and was desperate enough (on an empty stomach for way too long) to ask if they had an extra Gu. I was in luck! Still following the yellow caution ribbons until there was an intersection...seemed like I should just continue straight-ish. No ribbons. After 5 minutes or so, 2 guys are coming back down the trail saying it must be the wrong way - no ribbons. It seemed like a well used path and the signs still said Lizard, although I had no clue what the trail name we were supposed to be was. Really hated turning around, even when seeing a discarded energy gel package (thankful for litterers if only for a moment).
So - we backtracked until the mystery intersection. Realized in another minute or two that we were right all along. Ugh. Wasted about 10 minutes with this extra mileage (not like it was that much extra as I came down with a thigh cramp thru here - ouch! Haven't had a cramp running in a LONG time!). I knew there was a bridge/river crossing less than a  half mile from the finish. The guy in front of me at that point decided he'd go across the bridge. I saw 2 people halfway, struggling to cross, and after recalling my earlier event in the water, decided to take the bridge. I like water, don't mind it one bit - but I didn't care to attempt it if I didn't have to - not with my thigh cramping up. Looks like a rope to hold on to may have been helpful (I heard almost Everyone pretty much fell - where's the fun in that?).
Anyway - soon enough came towards the finish, where my wife and little girl were waiting for me.
Happily crossed in 4:22:40 after a 48min section.
Courtesy of PACE Magazine

I was 13th out of 45. (Could've been ~11th?)

What I'll remember for future years (if I decide to punish myself again): Ice at all aid stations - most important, Gatorade/S!Caps at aid stations, knowing the course before I start (or writing it on my arm). Taking a breath at the aid stations and remember what I am doing there!
Was great seeing/meeting people - you know who you are!

**PR was a bandit. Race was sold out so he thought he'd run it anyway and drink the water, etc. He asked if that was frowned upon. As a 10 yr Greenville Track Club Board Member - I certainly told him YES and I explained why (outside the obvious). Hope he took my advice and paid the registration fee afterwards...not holding my breath though.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Camp Croft Trail Marathon this weekend!

I'm a little excited for this race - looking forward to the event, but uncertain with my preparedness for 26.2 trail miles. I've had a few good weeks, but only two 20 milers before my taper. It usually works out. I also usually get some phantom "injury" and this is no exception. 10 miles at Lake Conestee Sunday afternoon (90° heat - whew) was fine until the last 2-3 miles where the underside of my right foot/toes became sore. Only have 2 more runs left before the race Saturday (my usual 6x400 speedwork tomorrow and 3.5 easy miles Thursday) so I am hoping it will be fine. Will be my first race in my Montrail Badrocks! Still undecided on camelbak vs handhelds...looks like it will be a race day decision.
Weather is typical July: low of 74° Friday night and high of 94°. Whatever I have will be full of ice.
63 people signed up for the full - and some fast runners: Jonathan Allen, Mark Lundblad, Sally Brooking, Lisa Tolley...looking forward to seeing some familiar faces too, including some of my relay goons in the marathon relay! Good Luck everyone!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Updates: Running in heat wave; lost toenail; Marathon signup

So after my "recovery" week and my 8k PR, I jumped right back to 37 miles the following week. Hit my speedwork goals and my 11 mile mid-week tempo run.
With 6 weeks before the Croft Trail Marathon, I still had two 20milers to complete. The next week (June 18th) was another successful speedwork session. I had started the last 7-weeks of a FIRST marathon training plan. January 16th - I started with a 16-week plan for 3:50. After 9 weeks, I re-started with an 11-week 3:45 plan. (Adding extra days running of course for my 12hr training). Now I am down to a 3:40 training plan, and hitting the goals (or below!) each week.
So - my long run the prior week was at Lake Conestee, but this week I met up with the GTC Trail Runners group (Look for us on Facebook) and got my 20 in there. Nice group - Viktor, Merl, Tiana, Bo, Jim, and others!
The next week saw me travel to El Paso (Juarez) and CA (outside LA), but got a wonderful 9 miles of running in at the Puente Hills trails (Hacienda Hills). Great elevation!! After the red-eye home Fri night, I did something I had not done all year - took the weekend off from running! Not bad - missing one out of 26. After almost 43 miles the previous week, I felt ok with it.
More travel the next week - to DC over the 4th holiday, but the morning on the day we left  - more speedwork: 10x400@1:39!

I love going to DC and running in Rock Creek Park. Western Ridge & Valley trails...very nice. Few trees down after the severe storm that came thru last weekend, and Very hot. DC was in the middle of 9+ straight days of temps over 90 (setting a record for that). Even at 7:30am it was miserable.
After two days of doing my typical 6mile loop, I took off a day for my high school reunion.

Two events happened that week:
1st: my toenail (middle toe, left foot) was finally removed after being deadened after the 12 hr event of June 2nd. Was tired of it, so just yanked it out. No trouble at all.
2nd: had my first bee sting of my life. I'm 41 and have been running trails for years and grew up paying all kinds of sports outside - and this was my 1st time. Running thru Rock Creek Park, about 20 mins into my loop, felt a needle-stinging something on my outer left leg (just above my ankle). OUCH!!! Man did that sting. Kept going (never saw the culprit) but did stop to look at the mark once or twice further down the trail.
Sunday comes around and it's time for my next 20 miler. I made up 3 loops for this one and along with my handheld (of Gatorade, with ice), I also had my 3L camelbak.
First loop started at about 85° - 7:30am. It felt slow, but my next loop was faster, and stayed strong (at least not exhausted) thru 17 before struggling a bit thru the last 3miles. Saw two deer. Took 4 Gu, 4 S!Caps; ice in handheld melted in under 18minutes. Thankfully, the ice in my pack lasted longer! Took a few stops along the river to cool down-bandannas are a necessity! Almost emptied the 3L in the 3:25 I was out there. Was about 90° when I finished. No muscle issues, although my right knee is a bit sore today (2 days later; drove 5 hrs yesterday, but better than my 8.5hr drive on the way to DC after speedwork and a full day of work!)

Today - another excellent speedwork session: 8x800 @3:23. Slow to start (3:29), then settled in at 3:23 before throwing in a 3:18. Almost stopped there, but toughed out two more 3:23's to keep me right on target! This has got to be the fastest splits for me doing speedwork.

Last note for today: I signed up for the Spinx Runfest Marathon, presented by the Greenville Track Club, which I have been a volunteer/Board member going on 9 yrs now. A little "push" from my buddy Todd and a great price ($50!!) outweighed the fact that it is 2 weeks after my 50k in VA (which will make 3 ultras/marathons in 8 week. At least they'll get shorter (55k, 50k, 26.2mi).