Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2011 Promise Land 50k++ Race Report

This race was billed as "not your average 50k race" and they (Dr. Horton) was very accurate with this statement.  With 8,000 feet of accent and decent this was going to be tough race, but this is what I have been waiting for.  I wanted to test myself on a tough course, I didn't want flat and easy, I wanted mountain running at it's best.  Be careful what you wish for, because this is one toughest and most grueling races out there and I loved it.  Every race I have run this year has had moderate hills at best (Bull Run & Holiday Lake had none, HAT run had some good ones), but this race was going to tell me how much progress I have made this year with running on mountain terrain.  I have a big race in September that has lots of elevation change, so this was a good test to get me ready.

I arrived at the Promise Land Youth Camp at 6pm and setup my tent. After that I went to the pavilion and signed into the race where I received my tee shirt and bib number. I then scarfed down a few pieces of pizza followed by the race briefing by Dr. Horton.

When I woke up on race day morning it was overcast with some decent winds, but forecasters were calling for the sun to make its way out by late morning.  I didn't want to wear a long sleeve shirt for fear that it would get too hot on the course and I wouldn't have any where to drop it off, so I purchased some Moeben arm sleeves from The Aid Station merchandise tent the day before.  These sleeves worked great, when I got hot from running hard I simply rolled the sleeves down and put them back up when the wind picked up on the top of the mountain.  I ate some breakfast and had my usual pre race Vespa, then I packed up my nutrition (1 Vespa, 16 GUs, 15 S!Caps) in my Nathan Hydration pack.

The race started as promised at 5:30am and 326 runners and myself began our Promise Land 50k (yeah right, more like 35 miles, but I guess that means we got our moneys worth) odyssey.
Start Line
The first 4 miles of the race were straight up hill, I climbed approximately 2,100 feet.  I tried to just relax and do a run & walk combo during those first few miles.  When I reached the Overstreet Falls aid station the first time I topped off my water and got out of there ASAP.  I began my nutrition ritual of eating a GU every 30 minutes and 1 S!Cap every hour starting at the 90 minute mark.  The next 3 miles there
Making our way to the Overstreet Falls aid station
were a few down hill down hill sections, but that would short lived as miles 8-11 were uphill (approx 1,100 feet) and I finally reached the Sunset Fields aid station.  Now it was down, down, down hill from there.  I was moving along well considering it was hard to find a good rhythm up to that point because of all the walking I was doing.  Looking back I should have taken advantage of the downhills more and tried to push the pace knowing I had more climbing ahead at miles 26-30.
trying to take advantage of the down hills
The day started to warm up as promised and the sun burned the fog away too.  It turned out to be a great day for running as the temps got into the high 60's.  I felt good energy wise up to this point in the race and felt as if I would be able to finish under my goal time of 7:30:00.  The next few aid stations seems to come along so quickly, I was wearing my gps, but was only paying attention to my time so I could take my GUs and S!Caps.
why jump from rock to rock? when you can just plunge right through it
I came into the Cornelius Creek Trailhead knowing that this is where the race would begin.  From this aid station I climbed approximately 2,000 feet to the next aid station.  I felt good up to this point and then the course finally broke me.  My walking pace slowed down significantly during this period and I lost a lot of time.  But the course was incredibly beautiful during this section.
Climb, Climb, Climb

hard to enjoy beauty like this when you are suffering on the course
When I reached the top the Sunset Fields aid station awaited me.  I ran out of water 1.5 miles before the top and I was dying for some water, when I reached the top I was treated to some water and some stunning views of the valley below.  By this point in the race I knew that 7:30:00 was out of the question and I just wanted to finish in under 8 hrs.  The last 5 miles were all down hill.  My quads were doing ok so I decided to let rip and began to pass lots of people along the way.  I averaged 10:30 minute miles the last 5 miles finish in a time of 8:03:30.

This was not the time I was looking for, but this was the type of course I needed to help assess my mountain running.  I still need to work on running steep hills and would like to complete a course with no walking at all.  This was a great race as long as you don't care about setting a PR, you will enjoy it.  Another thing I kept thinking about during the race was the new JFK qualify standards which says an A standard 50k qualify time is 5:00, B time is 5:20, and C time is 5:45.  If someone is trying to qualify for JFK does that mean they will do so on easier/flatter courses and by doing that does that mean they won't run the Promise Land 50k because their time won't give them good qualifying times and make it difficult to get into JFK?  Does this mean that Ultra running will eventually turn into road marathon environment?    I hope not!!

Anyways thanks to Dr. Horton for another great race and thanks to all the wonderful volunteers that help Dr. Horton's races some of the best on the east coast.

Now it's time for a little bit of tapering then in 2 weeks it will time for Capon Valley 50k.

My Gear:
Shoes: Montrail Badrock
Socks: DryMax
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack
Nutrition: GU, Nutrilite Endurance Cubes, XS energy shot, S!Caps
Shorts:  2XU compressions shorts
Shirt:  Tech T-shirt with Moeben sleeves

For more pictures from Promise Land 50k click here

See ya on the trails,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Bull Run Run 50 Race Report

Alright another race in the books for the 2011 season.  I am still learning the ropes when it comes to ultra running and so far I have found out there is a huge difference between a 50 mile race and a 50k or marathon,  I still find the marathon to be more difficult then a 50k but I digress.  After a disappointing JFK last year I came into the BRR 50 this year with no time expectations/aspirations, I only promised myself to run as good as I felt.  As many of you know sometimes during a race you can feel euphoric and other times you can feel as if you are running zombie (sometimes when I feel as if I am going to bonk, my mind feels lucid and it almost feels as if I am dreaming).  A 50 mile race seems to suit me better then a marathon or 50k, maybe it because I am still lacking speed, but what I lack in speed I am hoping to make up with mental toughness.  Tenacity is what I am looking for, I know I am not going to beat many people out there but the only person I am racing against is myself.  I am racing against my preconceived notion of what I can do and how fast I can do it, if I beat others great, if not that is OK too.   For this race I wanted to have a relentless attitude where my objective was to run the majority of the race and run/walk the steep hills.  Overall I felt as if I accomplished my goal and I was rewarded with a time of 10:41:53 (still managed to set a PR for a 50 mile beating my 2009 JFK time by 3 minutes).

Eager Runners lookin' to get it done L to R (Kevin, Ron, Nica, Mary, and Dave)
The weather on Saturday was overcast and temps eventually got up to about 60 degrees, but rain the night before made the course muddy.  Before the race I took my usual Vespa pack and started to pack my bag with some nutrition goodies, next thing I know it's time to get it on.  The race started promptly at 6:30 and we did a small loop around the start/finish area before we headed north on the trail.  As soon as we got on the trail it was a little congested with other runners, but soon everyone spaced out nicely by the 3 mile mark.  I was warned that if it had rained that the northern section on the race would be muddy/slick and wow were they right (enjoy this one Dad, you were right).         
Course Map
I was cruising along and came into the Centerville Road (the first time, 7.2 miles) aid station feeling great, but due to the mud I was a bit slower then I would have like to run (maybe this was a good thing). 
Beautiful Blue Bells
Emily was there to hand me some extra GUs, I didn't need too much as I would see her again when I reached the turn around and came back to the Centerville Road aid station for a second time (11.6). 
Just a little hopping from stone to stone to get across the water
 When I came back to Centerville aid station for the second time Emily gave me a few GUs and sent me on way.  I was just enjoying the day and trying to stay relaxed, but most of all I just wanted to listen to my body.  I wasn't even paying attention to my splits or mileage until I came back to the start/finish aid station (16.6 miles).  Once I got to the aid station I took a meal replacement shake and grabbed some more GUs and Vespa and I took off.  My nutrition strategy was to take a GU every 30 minutes and a Vespa every 3 hours.  I was taking S!Caps every 45 minutes, but I started to crapped up during the latter stages of the race (seemed weird to me as it wasn't very hot outside).  The course started to dry out as I made my way south of the start/finish aid station.  This is where I started to feel strong and started to really push myself.  I was started to feel the effort at mile 27 and when I came into the Fountainhead aid station (28.1) Emily could see the effects of my pace.  I started to bonk, so I ate some boiled potatoes and bananas.  I was still struggling after I ate and then I entered the infamous Do-Loop.
Nice whip
I continued to struggle and felt crappy for the next few miles, it wasn't until after I got a B12 energy shot and a meal replacement shake at the outbound Fountainhead aid station (37.9).  Almost immediately I felt the tide start to change and I was not hanging on anymore I was passing people and again I was running with determination.  When Emily saw me at Bull Run Marina she even saw how drastically I had changed and I was trying to close the race strong and if I ran really well I could sneak in under 10:30.  I was pushing it as hard as I could till then end and finished in 10:41:45.

I am very happy with my results and will take the lessons I learned out there and put them to use in my next race coming up at the Promise Land 50k.

Congrats to my Ultra-holics teammates (that right we started a team) and everyone finished and ran well.   We finished in 8th place in the Men's division, not too shabby.  We will seek our revenge next year.

Happy finisher Kevin, nice job
Dave looks like he still could run some more miles
Also congrats to Nica and Mary for posting some nice times (11:44:29 & 10:53:31) as well and they both placed in their respected age groups.  Nice job ladies!!!!  I am going to start an Ultra-holics group to help people cope with their ultra running obsession.  The inaugural class will be Mary, Dave, Nica, Ron, and Kevin.  I have some good shirt ideas, so I will keep everyone posted when they come out.

My Gear:
Shoes: Montrail Badrock
Socks: DryMax
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack
Nutrition: GU, Nutrilite Endurance Cubes, XS energy shot, Nutrilite Replacement Shakes, S!Caps
Shorts:  2XU compressions shorts
Shirt:  UA long sleeve Heat Gear with tech shirt over top

Here are some of my stats from the race (distance was wrong, so the splits will be wrong as well)

Here is to another week of resting before my race next weekend at the Promise Land 50K.  I am really excited about this race because it has 8k feet of accent and 8k feet decent, which means there will be plenty of hills for me.  The only thing I am not looking forward to is eating more GUs, I ate 18 of them on Saturday.

See ya on the trails,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Racing & Tapering 3/21/11 - 4/3/11

Since spring is the bulk of my racing season, I have been racing and tapering, then repeat.  I almost feel as if this the movie Groundhog Day and I am in perpetual deja vu.  Hopefully all these races and experiences will help me out in my biggest race of my season, which is the UROC 100k in September.

L to R (Ron, Mary, Dave, Nica)
Coming off a run at the HAT Run 50k on March 19th, my legs felt great and decided to go for a jog of 5 miles the next day (very slow).  The following weekend I got together with some other runners (Ron, Nica, Mary, and Dave), who are competing in the Bull Run Run 50 Mile race this upcoming Saturday, and ran 20 miles at Rosaryville Park (Dave and I).  Rosaryville is a nice course with a nicely groomed trails with a little bit of hills and almost no technical sections.  I love hills and technical sections but this course is great for training because the entire trail is runnable and is good if you want to do a long training run with involves minimal walking.  I plan on using this course as part of my double runs on the weekend, I would like to run some tough technical mountain trails on a Saturday followed by a Sunday run at Rosaryville.  The Sunday run will force me to keep running and keep walking to minimum. 

This past Saturday I ran a short 10 mile race (Annapolis Striders Cherry Pit 10 Miler) just to open up the legs a bit and get a bit of speed work in.  I ended up running a bit faster then I wanted to and ended up setting another PR for a 10 mile race with a 1:26:06 time.  Not too bad, but not what I have been training for.  Maybe one of these days I will do some more speed workouts and see what time I can do in a 10 miler.  BTW congrats to Rose for putting in a smokin' time of 1:22:55, I am sure she didn't even break a sweat.

I am very excited about this weekend as it time for the Bull Run Run 50 Miler in Clifton, VA.  Should be a bit wet as the weather forecast is calling for 1/2" of rain on Friday and possible showers on Saturday.  If there is one thing you can't change it's the weather, so I am not gonna worry about it but I need to pack as if it will rain.  I even joined a team for this race, the Ultra-holics.  The team is comprise of Ron, Dave, Kevin, and I.  Championship here we come!!!! (or "winning"as Charlie Sheen might say)  I just purchased a new Garmin gps 310xt and that thing is cool.  I am going to wear it during the race, so I am sure I will have lots of graphs and other boring nerdy charts to post next week when I write my review on the race.

See ya on the trails,