Monday, April 14, 2014

Lake Sonoma 50 mile - two year anniversary of running

I think I am going to start with the punch line this time - I had a great run for me 10:08:40, this was a 30 minute PR on an arguably harder course than the 50 mile North Face run in Marin in December. This month is my two year anniversary of running, I took my first run out the door for about 3.4 miles at over a 13:30 pace Apr 2012. My first ultra was in July 2013 at the SOB in Ashland (there was a timed one a couple of weeks earlier but I signed up last min and barely made it 28 miles in 6 hours). So when/if you read later in this report about me being disappointed with any part of my run just ignore me :)

Now if you are bored you can read on;

I picked this race because I wasn't really interested in running American River, a bit too flat and I had heard a bit too paved (I think that is a concern from the past as the course as changed a bit.). We had plenty of our ultra team running it and I would have been bringing up the rear so they didn't need me for points. I signed up and was put on the waitlist pretty high at like 15 so I was sure I would get in.

Since this was a "B" race (one step above a training run race), I didn't train or do any extended taper. I really just wanted a pretty race that I could do before Bryce that would hopefully give me some confidence going into that run.

Melanie and the kids came up with me and we stayed at the Hilton in Santa Rosa their only lodging requirement is that it have a nice pool. It sure did we had a great time in the pool and then a "pre-race dinner" with Tim, Teresa, Danielle, and Zac.  

The next morning the wake up call was pretty early at 4am, I got everyone in the car and we headed out. We grabbed a person on the way up, since he was looking for a ride. Side note - he is from Bend, Dave Town he did really well under 9 hours. 

We got there without incident and picked up bibs, I ran into a few team mates at the start, Sachin, Claire, And Marc. I also was in the porta potty line with Chris Vargo, one of Nike's trail elite team we chatted for a bit. He was hoping to get his Western States entry here for winning or placing. Unfortunately when I caught the rest of the Nike team later I found out he had a knee / IT band issue and had to drop. 

To back up a bit, I was a bit excited and naive I had initially printed out a pace chart that showed a 10 hour finish. Luckily John set me straight since his finish was 10:10 a couple of years ago, he explained this wouldn't be as easy as NFEC since it was pretty "relentless" up and down the whole time with three large climbs. Nothing was ever too flat for too long.  I revised my pace chart for a 10:45 finish then in pencil I put a 10:10 finish. Then I promptly forgot/dropped in the hotel room. Pace Chart with penciled in numbers for a 10:10 PacePace Chart with penciled in numbers for a 10:10 Pace

We started out at first light at 6:30, down about 2.5 miles of paved roads, this separates us out a bit before we hit single and double track.  This sure was a pretty run, as you can see by some of the pictures. I was also extremely lucky with the weather it started out foggy and didn't get warm and sunny till much later in the race.  

I really started out conservative at a 10:36 pace for the first 11 miles, it is hard to go slower at the beginning of a race, I probably would have benefited from a bit slower, I will as the middle third if the race I couldn't be happier with I think I averaged around an 11:30 pace for the next 19 miles I was cruising well. Trying to manage my aid station time. This is when I would yo-yo past people since I hate spending any time there. My worst aid station was the turn when I put on my headset to start listening to music on the way back. My cord was tangled and I probably spent 4 min at that one :(  So all in all I would guess about 15 minutes in the aid stations - maybe slightly more - that is the difference between where I finished and a sub 10 hour finish.

On a side note Greg Lanctot and Dan Decker were manning the Wulfow aid station - it was great to see some friendly faces, they also had someone else working and I can't remember her name but she was able to dig up some advil for my hip.  So a lifesaver on the way out, but I didn't see her there on the way back so I didn't ask.  Greg got a few pictures of me but this one is my favorite of the whole race - I have my super serious face on as Brian and I were leaving the aid station on the way back.

I tried to remember to take some pictures when I could, some turned out ok others not so much - if I bring a camera again I need a better pocket for it I think.  Here are a few of the better ones...

Downhill StretchDownhill Stretch

Pretty view of the LakePretty view of the Lake

Cruising long side the trailsCruising long side the trails

I think up to this point, just looking at my Strava / Veloviewer data - for the first 30 miles it looks like my average pace was around 11:15.  I can't complain about that at all, that put me past the three big climbs and back into the rollers.  The next 7 or 8 miles were actually much slower at around 12:30 or so.  I was trying to keep on top of everything (my nutrition and hydration).  I was starting to look forward to any river crossings as I really wanted to cool down because at that point it was starting to get hot.

Sachin and Brian and I ran a bit together so that was nice, they are both newer to running ultras over the past year - they both beat me handily at this race but it was fun running with them when I could.  I should have made them take a picture with me I was just too serious for my own good. I will figure out the camera thing because if nothing else I want to have some good memories of these races!

I think / feel like the wheels sort of came off in the last 11 or 12 miles - my pace here shows 14:25 (again I think based on some of the data, I could be reading this wrong - but it felt much slower for sure).  I believe it was a combination of a few things; my hip that had been bothering me a bit really started to act up - this is something I need to address somehow, my shoes suddenly felt much bigger, on the downhills my toes were ramming into the front of the shoe and it hurt - I found that I had (still have) a very large blister on the bottom of my left foot but that doesn't account for my toe ramming.  I think I am going to try to go down one half size for the wildhorse. 

I think this is a good point to do what John said I should at the end of a race;

What went well; 

  • Handhelds - I had two handhelds and I think that was the right strategy for this race I never felt like I was going to run out of water so I wasn't rationing it like I am apt to do and shouldn't do.

  • Nutrition / Tailwind - I think this went well - I consumed 18 GU's one every 30 minutes.  I had 300 calories of tailwind in my two bottles at the beginning of the run because that is when I mentally have a a problem of eating GU (I am feeling great the first hour or two of a race :) )  I also had one 200 calorie pack of tailwind for the turn to just add some calories.  I consumed / choked down at least 1 PB&J over the various aid stations.  Total Calories consumed for sure was 2300 + 200 for the PB&J.

  • Race belt - This was outstanding to hold everything I needed without feeling like I was carrying too much - UltrAspire Quantum - ordered after I saw the review on Trail and Ultra Running -

  • Shoes - this is going to show up in both categories - the Nike Wildhorse drains very well for all the river crossings a few steps later no water at all

  • Music - I saved music for just the return trip in one ear that worked nicely- No drop bags - I felt pretty good about this decision - didn't really need anything so less time in aid stations

  • Aid Station - overall, I was pretty happy with my time management here - I played yo-yo with quite a few people that stayed too long
What went bad;

  • Shoes - Boy my toes took a pounding as I mentioned toward the end of the race, downhills I could barely run and that was disappointing

  • GU-Brew - I was trying to put some pep in my step at one of the aid stations so I asked for a half and half in one of my bottles - half GU-Brew and half water - I am so glad I got the other just water that stuff immediately just made my stomach hurt a bit, I choked down a bit more than I would have liked because it was a ways between that aid station and the next but yuck not for me

  • Hip Pain Management - hopefully this is just a one off thing I need to address this, I took two 12 hour ibuprofen before the race and then about 12 miles in I took a couple of advils.  I probably should have carried some with me it would have made the last 10 or 12 maybe a bit better?
At the end of the race I messed up and told Melanie my best case time would be 10 hours 30 minutes so she was even 15 minutes earlier than that and they still missed me finish.  Her Uncle Tim came up also and we had a good time wandering around the finish line while I tried to eat something and get my goodies.  They brought my box of Samoa Girl Scout cookies, so I ate a couple of those and then offered Brian and his family as well as the Nike Trail team some since we were all sitting close.  They gave me a new Nike Trail shirt so that was neat.  

Well I think I am done babbling about this race now I may add somethings as they come to me later but all in all I am pretty happy (can you hear the disappointment in my voice though :) ), I wish I could have finished stronger, I feel a 9:45 here isn't out of reach.  

I feel much much more confident going into Bryce 100, I need to keep up the training (after taking it a bit slow this week), but John has gotten me into a real good place that I honestly couldn't have imagined 2 years ago, hell even a year ago I was still 3 months out from my first ultra (not counting the last minute signup I did for the 6 hour that I barely squeaked 28 miles on).  So my official "ultra career" is just 9 months old and my running career is just 2 years, just have to keep moving forward :)

As always I have a ton of people that have gotten me running and keep me running :) I have mentioned a few of them here but really a shout out to John for all the continued advice and saving me from myself, as well as his wife Amy always up for a run to listen to me babble on and taking me for some new trails.  My wife for putting up with me which as anybody that knows me and is reading this is no small task.  She said I looked better at the end of this 50m than the last one so I get to keep running. :)  Dan who keeps me motivated and really started me on this.  My sister who's excitement for running really is infectious. All my friends in the Quicksilver Running Club who let me wear the shirt even though I am definitely pulling up the rear in my age/gender.  

A few links mentioned above;

VeloViewer - - Just to be extra insane about the data