Jun 22, 2009

Quick Race Report: Team Slug Booty Rumble 50K

Sunny and Mild?? BORING! Give me 3 Hours of Thunderstorms! 5 Hours of Torrential Downpours! Ankle-Deep Puddles! Shoe-sucking Mud! Treacherously slippy Wooden Bridges! Faceplants in the Soft Wet Dirt! That's excitement! That's what I want in a 50K!

Quick summary of the 50K, my eleventh marathon or ultramarathon finish:

* 3:30am Wake-up call
* Drove down to Delaware
* Met many of the notorious slugs for the first time, and..
* Saw slug friends Meredith and EJ and their infant baby daughter
* Signed the release

I was not attacked by any squirrels, thankfully

* Got together for a group photo


"Enjoy the weather, it's the only weather you've got" -Joe Bastardi
* Started running under non-threatening skies
* First thunderclap came ten minutes later
* First raindrop came 10 minutes after that
* Before we were done, 3 INCHES OF RAIN fell on us. (apparently)

* Steve made great time despite the rain for the first 5 laps.
* Slowed down a bit for laps 6-8
* Sped back up on Laps 9 & 10
* Sun came out for the last lap, got very warm & humid
* Bugs started biting with a vengeance!
* Steve Finished in 6:51 (a mere 4 minutes off my 50K PR!)

* Earned the right to wear a Team Slug shirt

Start Slowly, Ease Off

* Post-race meal at the Waffle House (all the way, dude!)
* Drove back home to Suffern

This was, in every sense of the word, my kind of race. Nobody took anything very seriously, yet I will be telling stories about this race for years. Plus, you can't beat the price.

I did use this race as a testing ground for several things, including gookinade, ensure, the GPS watch that I wrote about a couple weeks ago, and a camelback pack. I will write more that, on this blog, later in the week.

Please Click here to read the Team Slug Official Race Report

By the way, I listened to an incredible audiobook during this race.

Born to Run
I highly recommend it.

Jun 15, 2009

Short Training Update

At this point I'm at 28 consecutive days of running, during which I've run about 70 miles total with a longest run of 6. This Saturday, I'm running a team slug 50K fatass race in Delaware.

My training runs continue to improve. Where I am now compared to where I was in early may indicates a spectacular improvement. However, I'm still not to where I was in early march. The pattern of several of my runs has been start slowly with a strong negative split. In a 3-mile example, the feeling for the first half-mile is like I won't be able to go even a single mile, so I trod along at 11:30 per mile just to get it over with - but by the one-mile point feeling well enough to continue. I accelerate throughout the run, probably doing the third mile at around 9:00 MPM and well winded from the pace, with a total average around 10:00. This has happened in at least three of my runs in the last week or two, and it's interesting to notice.

Ultimately, where I'd like to be is back to the point where I was running three miles at 8:45 mpm or so, like I was in early march. I noticed that I tend to do really well in the weeks after ultramarathon efforts, as I ran a hilly 5-miler in 48:xx last fall a week after the JFK 50miler, and of course the 26:0x 3-miler a couple of weeks after my 50K PR in march - so I'm eager to see how well I run after this weekend's 50K.

On the weight loss front, I am not where I wanted to be by now, but I also cannot complain as I have lost about 20 lbs in the last month. If I can lose another 20lbs by Wakely on July 18th, that would be extremely helpful.

Jun 8, 2009

RaceReport: REACH 5K in Suffern, NY

Cruising along at 9:20, not knowing what lay ahead of me

I found out about this race only a few days before it happened, from the signs that were posted around town. I hate to pass up any racing opportunity that is logistically easy & fits in my schedule - and when the starting line is a mere 3 miles from where I roll out of bed every morning, it's impossible to pass up.

Despite the proximity, however, I don't run the location of this race very often (never) for a couple of reasons: there's little to no shoulder, and it's the road to the local dump, so it has lots of garbage truck traffic. This lack of experience on the road would prove to be a real disadvantage, because I was not aware of this:

elevation profile

But I get ahead of myself.

Alex woke up feeling sick that morning, so with Joe still asleep I woke up and headed out the door of a quiet house alone at 7:20am. I was in my parking spot by 7:25am. I had already checked in on Friday, so I had some time to kill. I quickly found my friend Carl, who was there to support Cathy, who was running her first race. Both of us were really very excited for her. While Cathy prepared for the race, Carl and I chatted for a few minutes until it was time to line up.

Cathy is a much faster runner than me, so I wasn't going to keep up with her - but from the starting line it seemed she was going to take it easy today, so I figured I'd try to match her pace, which I did at least for the first mile. The main feature of first mile are short rolling hills (that I knew about), and in a race this short, I attacked them aggressively and passed a ton of people (including, briefly, cathy). Shortly after mile 1 another hill started. I couldn't see the top of this hill because of some curves in the road, and even after the curves there were false summits - At first I assumed the rolling hills were continuing. As it turns out, I was charging up this thing at a 9:20 pace:

elevation profile
yes, it's worth repeating

yeah. There's this giant hill half-way through the race. Had I known about that, I wouldn't have gone out as aggressively, wouldn't have tried to keep up with Cathy, and I wouldn't have DIED a few hundred meters before the actual summit of the hill.

So then, for the first time in my life, I walked in a 5K race.

It was only for a couple hundred meters, and I started running again as soon as I summitted - but the damage had been done. I recovered quickly and charged down the hill very fast, letting gravity do what it does best and turning over my legs very quickly. By the time the hill bottomed out, the finish line was in sight a couple hundred meters out. My pace was right for a 30-minute finish - a PR was out of reach but I figured I could sprint and knock a few seconds off that time - which I did. I had a surprisingly fast kick and really felt great crossing the finish line, 20 seconds below what my pace had been just a few hundred meters back!

Net time 29:40

Given the topography, I am very pleased with this time despite the walking break. It is my second-fastest 5K ever. I am pretty sure I could have done better had I not charged that hill so fast, but hey - lesson learned.
"When you run there are no mistakes, only lessons. The art and science of ultrarunning is a process of trial, error and experimentation. The failed experiments are as much a part of the process as the combination that ultimately works."
- Keith Pippin

Photo credits: Carl Cox CarlCoxStudios.com

Jun 1, 2009

Ready to test: enhanced battery life forerunner 305

I've always been impressed with the battery life of my forerunner 305. At the JFK 50, it lasted over 11 hours, probably long enough to allow most people to finish the race on a single charge. However, for me, as slow as I am, it was good for about 42 miles - better than I expected to be sure, but not enough. There'd be no way it'd last for a 100-miler, and it'd sure be nice to know for sure I can run it for a complete 50-miler.

Always on the lookout for a possible solution, a post came across the ultrarunning listserv that might have had my answer. Jim O'Neill posted his solution here and I figured I'd give it a try.

So far as I can tell, all the device does is adapt two AA batteries to a standard USB interface. It's so simple, and may be the solution I'm looking for.

I figured the easiest way to put it together would be to use the watch's wristband.

The nice thing about this is I basically have an unlimited charge - apparently, each pair of AA batteries delivers another 15 hours of life. In theory, I can go as long as I have batteries to feed into the thing.

Obviously, I can't wear this on my wrist, so, like Jim, I'm going to strap it to the chest-strap of my hydration pack.

and this is how it looks from my point of view:

To see the data, all it takes is holding up with my hand really quickly:

The only problem with this little setup is what if it rains? The forerunner is water-resistant, but I doubt the battery-adapter is. I've not figured out a way to put that in an super-easily-accessible AND waterproof place in the event of rain. But at least I can keep it dry and still collect data:

..and I can just stick it in the camelback pouch where I'll have it when I need it.

The first real test of this system will actually be a place where I won't need it - the 2009 booty rumble 50K in delaware on June 20th. 50K isn't long enough to require extra batteries on my forerunner, but in the 31 miles I'll be able to assess how cumbersome it'll be over a long period of time. Then, a month later, at the Damn Wakely Dam 32.6 miles in mid July, I'll test it on some more technical terrain. The following week is my 24-hour race in massachusetts, where I will definitely need the extra battery life if I want to collect my pace and maybe heart rate for the distance. Finally, on Labor Day I'll have the Grand Teton 50-miler and I definitely won't run it in its standard battery life, but will want to have a complete log of the race.