Sunday, November 28, 2010

MCM Race Report or An Example of Poor Execution

Marine Corps was my target race this year after making the questionable decision to run Baltimore (as a last overly long taper) two weeks before. I had been hoping to cut another 30 minutes off my marathon to break 4 hours.

The short story is that while I think my training was generally on target my execution failed.

I got out of the house about 10 minutes later than I had been aiming for but still with what I expected to be plenty of time to spare. Parking was fine and it took 5-10 minutes to park and make it to Court House Metro. Just as I was passing through the gate I heard a train depart. I was expecting trains to be running on rush hour schedule unfortunately the next train to Rosslyn was show as being 15 minutes, from Rosslyn to Pentagon the trains were about 6 minutes apart and the wait was about 4 minutes.

From the Pentagon to the start is ~1.75 mi. I had a bag to check, 12 minutes to the start and I could use a trip to the can. Instead of trying to run to the bag check and start I decided to remain calm and make my best progress without going crazy. I got to the bag check just before 8am and with expected punctuality the race started. I was still about a mile from the start and could still use the toilet and I decided to spend the time before crossing the start instead of with my race clock running.

Both sides of 110 go to the starting line and the south bound lane appeared to have substantially fewer people. I crossed over and made my way up passing pace groups in the NB lane down to around (hand carried) signs for the 4:15 group before the field got too crowded to move further forward, after crossing the line the crowds remained tight. Even planning for a couple of slow miles with the crowds and early hills I still found myself getting frustrated after the second mile when I had trouble making good lines and the throngs of people seemed to be composed mainly of interlocking waves intent on randomly and dramatically changing pace.

Mile 5 was almost on pace, Mile 6 with the last real climb was about the pace I expected. Mile 7, a descent, was faster than planned while Mile 8 was again crowded, 9 and 10 were a few seconds behind and ahead respectively but having run the Army 10 Miler helped a bit here with lane selection around construction near the Kennedy Center. Mile 12/13 slowed as the roads narrowed getting onto Hains Point. I also paused for ~15s to stretch as my left glute and hamstring were starting to get tight.
I made the half at 2:04 and realized that given how I was feeling, the crowds etc that there was no way I was going to take 5 minutes off my half marathon PR to make a sub 4 finish. Around Mile 19 I gave up on a big improvement on my PR and decided I was just going to run it in at a relatively easy 10min or so pace thinking that if I could get space and get moving I could hopefully take off a minute or two.
Climbing onto the 14th street bridge and back into the wind I stopped to stretch a couple more times around 20.5 with wide roads I died a little inside and just decided that finishing was generally the new goal. I did eventually finish in 4:47:38, it was clearly not the result I was hoping for but I learned from this race.

Immediately post race the finish chute was very crowded and slow but getting the medals and water went smoothly and fairly quickly. However, trying to get out to the finish festival the crowd was very slow so I stopped and stretched a bit, took stock drank a bit more water and decided to move on. At this point there were further delays and on standing back up but not being able to really move around my calves and hamstrings started to cramp. I walked myself over to the medical tent to get checked out the staff was quite helpful and I quickly got a tylenol and some ice bags to chill my legs. Twenty or thirty minutes later I got up and headed for baggage check collected my things and walked two mostly uphill miles to my car.

Take Aways

  • I had water at every aid. I didn't have any real stomach issues but I was dehydrated at the end.
  • I ran with a hydration pack but drank only half of what I was carrying. I need to go back to wearing a second watch with an interval timer to remind me to drink.
  • I was worried about being cold at the start so I didn't want to allow too much extra time, instead I was late (Crossed the line at 8:13).
  • The large races are fun but I don't necessarily like crowds and the crowded course was frustrating. It was a good experience but I may not run it again.
  • Waiting in line 30s for a port-a-jon before crossing the start was making the best of a bad situation. Already being late two more minutes here didn't make that much more of a difference in the crowd density on the road, probably.

After I got home we had our traditional halloween gathering with a nice fire and chili, this years turn out was not as good as previous years it seems that cool weather and a Sunday are not the most conducive for halloween parties or trick or treat volume.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Army 10 Miler

Friday the 23rd of October was our 5th wedding anniversary, since we were planning on staying in the city overnight I packed to run in the morning. Shortly before we left the house I got a last minute opportunity to run the Army 10 Miler which I accepted. That evening the Caps defeated the Thrashers 4 to 3, we went to the Irish Channel Pub stayed had a late dinner and drinks made our way back to the hotel and eventually got to sleep.

After a brief sleep a convenient but uneventful metro ride to the start I got a bib, dropped off my bag and headed to the start. This is the largest race I have ever run and the mass of people was impressive. As a last longer taper run before Marine Corps I tried to keep my pace to a very easy recovery pace and note the parts of the course that coincide with MCM, in particular the 14th street bridge.

I enjoyed the easy run noticing a bit of heaviness in my legs, a bit of a hangover and felt the lack of sleep. For the last few miles starting on the 14th street bridge I began increasing the pace picking up slowly to my goal marathon pace for the last mile and a half or so. The pace felt OK, the effort seemed to be about what I was expecting for that point in the race. I finished in 1:43:38 a reasonable but unchallenging result.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Potomac Heritage 50K

I'm still going to write up my notes from MCM and Army 10 Miler but until I do I'm trying to not fall too far behind.

I got up early to head to the trail and get in a few hours of easy running to shake out my legs before the Turkey Run aid station opened. I was getting antsy to run after going from full on training to racing for three weeks to recovery from MCM.

After an exciting descent down the small cliff to the PHT via not the actual trail I got in another 8 miles and felt good. Shortly after 10 while I was changing my clothes the first runner came through shortly after that I started taking pictures. It was a good time and the after party was also very fun. I met a bunch of new people who's names I have mostly forgotten.

PH50K at Turkey Run Aid carry an egg to the turn around and back (~4mi) for a 10 minute bonus PH50K at Turkey Run Aid PH50K at Turkey Run Aid PH50K after party
Photos Link to The Gallery

Thursday, October 21, 2010

10th Baltimore Marathon Race Report

An abject lesson in not trying something new for a race, even if it supposed to be a fun run.

This was my third time running Baltimore only this year it was an excessively long training run for Marine Corps. I went into the race this year planning on running around a 4:30 or a bit slower than my current marathon PR and my current easy/long training pace. Expecting it to be a long and possibly difficult but not really challenging run I planned to allow for up to a 4:25 finish (and a possibly PR). I had been calling this a fun run in my head for weeks to make sure I wasn't thinking in the back of my head that I was out to really push myself and dig in and compromise my MCM performance.

I was looking for the 4:30 pace group to make sure I wasn't going out too fast or maintaining an overly high pace. I was slightly late and behind at the start and crammed in around the edge of the field they pace group got off into the distance and disappeared. The first ~3.5 miles of the course is generally a slow easy climb it felt easy but I was bottled up instead of weaving and dodging I picked good gaps and took it easy. The weather was phenomenal a bit chilly at the start but once we were moving it was great if a bit windy. Around Druid Hill park/Mile 4 I started running with Debora? and Ken? they were both running their first marathons and it was good to chat.

Part of treating this as training and not a goal race was trying something new, clearly there are no downsides to this plan. I have been running with a Nathan HPL 20 and Hammer Perpetum previously and for all my other marathons I ran with a fuel belt and concentrated fuel. This time I decided to try a SPI belt and very concentrated fuel relying on the water stops for all my water. I was very consciously taking water at every aid station the SPI belt was a little bouncy in my lower back but not a problem. In the end this was a horrible failure.

Around mile 9 I started to feel a bit off and stopped putting in food but kept drinking water and taking endurolytes every hour. I just figured that I was taking too much fuel due to the concentration and I needed to dilute and let my stomach clear I wasn't sloshing but I just felt full. The discomfort continued to increase but otherwise I continued to feel fine. Around mile 12 we caught up with the 4:30 pace group and slowly passed them running a still very comfortable average at 10:07. Around mile 17 Ken paced himself back to us and around 17.5 I told them I needed to take a pit stop and would hopefully catch up over the next few miles. At the mile 18 water stop I had a frustrating bathroom visit producing nothing and wasted three minutes for the rest of the run I would have some occasional gas and feel a bit better for it.

On the way to the lake I called C- looking for moral support, she told me that this was only a training run for MCM and I could drop if I wanted and she would make it to the wedding early for posed pictures (all of which is what I needed to hear). I thought seriously about dropping or vomiting at the 3rd relay leg but recalled someone saying they could have jogged to the end faster than the bus which got stuck in traffic last year and decided to stick it out.

At Lake Motebello Aid I had 1/2 bananna and stopped to get some petroleum jelly for chafing, temps and wind resulted in lack of liquid sweat on skin and I think I lost some lube on my throw away pants. While I was getting extra lube I realized that medical might have an anti-gas, they had generic Maylox with simethicone which is exactly what I was looking for. Around the end of the lake I picked up someone's discarded shirt and put it on, feeling a little chilled I guess from the lower pace or in retrospect maybe dehydration. The last hills and the finish weren't much to mention I slowly began to feel a little better and chatted with and encouraged some runners but I was so in the hole for hydration and nutrition there wasn't any time to recover on the move.

After I collected my bag, drank my recoverite, tried to piss before heading to the car, saw an orange on the ground and decided I really wanted an orange, it was cold juicy and wonderful. I slowly made my way back to the car dumped a gallon of water over my head and scrubbed my pits to rinse off as I wasn't likely to have time to shower before the wedding started. As I was parking I saw the bride walking in and made my best speed changing into emergency clothes from the trunk. Wedding was great, good food and friends. I was tired but not ready to sleep when I got home. Up hydrating and chatting until about 1am with friends who were in town for the wedding. Didn't want to sleep until I had to urinate which took a glass of wine, two glasses of champagne, one beer, 100oz of water and almost 12 hours. Slept in late the next day it was wonderful.

Walked on Sunday and Monday to shake things out and now I feel fully recovered.

How this compares to last year:

Baltimore 5:20 (3rd Marathon, 2nd of 2009, with low grade fever), Space Coast 4:26:55 (4th Marathon, 3rd of 2009, PR) We will see if a horrible Baltimore always makes for a good next race.

Doing the math I took in all of ~300 Calories in the first 2 hours. I would normally do closer to 600. At MCM I'm going back to the Nathan and saying damn the extra ~4 lbs in water weight.

I'll see you next year at Baltimore, I managed to win an entry. Baltimore 2011 is goal race; I'll be the one going faster and finishing stronger than I have before.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Caps vs Bruins Pre-Season

We enjoyed the first home game for the Caps this year. It doesn't hurt that it was a reasonably close game, a couple of our young talent scored, there was a fight and the home team won. Here for your viewing enjoyment are a few pictures from the game.

King and Thorton fight in the first King and Thorton fight in the first King and Thorton fight in the first
King and Thorton Fight in the 1st

Mathieu Perreault scores with a Snap Shot at 8:40 in the 1st
Mathieu Perreault scores with a Snap Shot at 8:40 in the 1st

Day Hike on the AT

Managed to start this entry and never post it. I do that sometimes... 25 days ago

Carried CamelBak Rim Runner which I think is about 10 years old, it didn't disintegrate in the closet. Weather was beautiful company was good. Attempt to patch smaller Hydrapack was a failure so C- got wet.

Pleased with the North Face Singletrack although with a loaded pack I think I would want a bit more height for ankle support (maybe).

We did end up taking almost 6 hours to do 12.5 miles but the fluid needs were lower than expected (e.g. not 100oz in 3 hours of relatively easy hiking in nice weather). Food Choices were correct in volume 2 PB&Js each and I also had a Hammer Bar early in.

Saw a bunch of people running, chatted with one on an uphill section, she was pre-running the trail part of the JFK 50. Yet again I have more respect for people doing ultras on more technical terrain. For some reason that doesn't stop me from wanting to do them.

Shawn, Steve and Courtney at Crampton G
Shawn, Steve and Courtney at Crampton Gap

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Icing my foot and reading ultra running blogs

I spent the last few hours reading ultra running blogs starting with the race report for the Burning Man 50k with ice packs on my right foot.

I think it started last Saturday when I ran 23 miles. I was tired at the end but found myself running on and off with a big grin. Finished up, went grocery shopping with C- and home to clean up for Mike and Mindy's Reception. I wore my new Vivo Barefoot shoes they were comfortable but felt a little tight over the arch of my right foot.

Sunday I ran an easy 6mi felt a little tired from the run and late night, my foot hurt a little but not horribly. Monday I played hockey for only the second time in the season and my feet started to cramp a little at the end if the first period (I wear my skates a full size smaller than my shoes). Did an easy 7mi on Tuesday did goal pace mile repeats on Thursday.
Saturday I was supposed to run 18 with 8 or so at race pace instead I was exhausted and have taken the weekend off.

I thinking I will walk over to pick up some prescriptions and back just so I do something today. Hockey game at 9:15 I'm undecided. Should I rest what is probably tendonitits or should I play I want to run both races but if I go into Baltimore with a nagging injury doing well at MCM is probably off the table.

27 days to 10th Baltimore Marathon
41 days to 35th Marine Marathon

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

All I talk about is running

It seems that all I talk about recently is running and all the pictures are related to running. I guess I'm mostly OK with that I'm still doing plenty of work but I'm not finding quite the angle to talk about it.

I'm currently sitting here eating a late lunch waiting for a SNMP event from a device to debug the handling since previous events from this one source apparently have gone missing.

Briefly, SNMP -> custom trap sink -> event parser. I'm sitting in front of the whole stack waiting for packets with debugging enabled.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rockville Rotary Twilight Runfest Race Report

Saturday was the 25th Rockville Twilight 8K and the first time either I or Courtney had run it.

shampoo and haircut

After spending the morning at Capitals development camp watching the rookies scrimmage and lunch at Rock Bottom Brewery we headed over to Potomac River Running in Rockville for last minute pre-registration.

A couple observations; I really like the free space counter and signs directing you to open spots. Also, if the parking lot has free space counters and signs guiding you to the open spaces, why are you driving around asking people if they are leaving?

A huge ice cream cone

After registering for the race with about 4 hours to kill we headed to the movies to sit in the AC and took in a showing of The Sorcerers Apprentice, it was lighthearted and entertaining. With that done we got smoothies at Robeks for a light early dinner and C- got a pre-raceshampoo and haircut.

The square around packet pickup was packed with people picking up packets, stretching, putting chips on their shoes eating huge ice cream cones and having a good time while enjoying the atmosphere and shade waiting for the sun and temperatures to fall.

Around 7:45 we headed back to the car to change and on to the race start to warmup. After checking my bag I decided to turn down the offer from 7-11 for a free hot wing sample. However, I observed a number of runners taking them up on the offer which I decided was very daring minutes before a race.

At the starting line I saw the youngest race official ever and headed out for a moderately hard warmup befitting the relatively short nature of the race.

the youngest race official ever

At 8:35 I ran into Mandana who was still in need of a warmup and Allen who was trying to decide just how hard of an effort he was going to put it. Allen and I looked for Tom and Carol and any other members of the AARC who might have been there to pass the time until the start (Although most of them would likely be much closer to the starting line than we planned to be).

As Allen and I waited we wondered about the utility of announcing on a hard to understand PA that specific paces should try to line up by X, Y and Z but seemingly only the once instead of having pace grouping signs.

Around 8:50 at the 5 minutes to the start announcement I felt like I was starting to tighten up a bit and started feeling antsy to get the race going.

At 8:55 the race started and we were off for a leisurely race in the heat and high humidity. Having talked to Ray Pugsley about the course earlier in the day I was expecting some hills and had decided that this was not going to be a PR attempt. I would go out a bit easier than tempo pace and pick it up a little each mile.

Near the first turn Allen wished me luck and dropped back a little only to fly by just at the second turn at a little over a mile on the down hill. I called out asking him how he felt about his pace and slowed ran with me (a bit faster than his original plan).

Right around the hill of the first water stop Allen wished me luck again and I didn't see him the rest of the night. Looking at the results I believe he finished about 10s/mi faster than the pace he had been aiming for.

I stuck to my plan picking the pace every mile but got to the end of the race with too much in the tank. At mile 4 I realized that although I had too much left I didn't have enough to run the fastest nearly mile of my life to PR and just did a progression picking up the pace to a final sprint for the last 100m or so.

I dropped off my chip, grabbed some water and reverse ran a bit of the course looking for Allen and C- to cheer them in while I cooled down. I missed Allen but saw Courtney who was looking good so I headed back to the finish to cheer some more. After C- crossed the line I heard the announcer call out the name of a friend we hadn't seen in years and went to say hello, chat and get her over to say hi to C-.

Then we headed to grab our bag, some food, our beer and to look for friends and eventually as the party was over head on home.

I definitely had a good time and would look to do this race again next year. C- mentioned that after starting fairly far back she was jostled and had her elbow hit by at least three people running at a substantially higher pace than everyone else around her in the first mile to the point that she was wondering why anyone would want to race and was thinking about dropping out. Thankfully the field opened up a bit and she ended up having a good race as well.

Ron Mandana and Courtney Post race beer and donuts

Post race beer

The full gallery of pictures by Shawn Ferry

Wickerman Burn

This year was my second Wickerman, it was different from the first in a number of ways. Still a great time but the change in date for the event caused it to overlap with both the Baltimore 10 Miler and the Twilight 4 Miler. I left site very early Saturday to go to the race after arriving late on Friday. As a result I was a bit tired Saturday during the day and evening.

I enjoyed the fire conclave and the burn again this year but the brief bit of wind, rain and thunder drove much of the crowd away shortly after the man fell. After the burn we headed to sound town but still called it a night a bit earlier than watching the sun rise last year.

Waiting for the burn to start Drum circle in front on the man

The man is burning

Soundtown Soundtown

The fully gallery of images from this years burn. Some images may be NSFW.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Running Rocks! in Summer Race Report

On a working farm, the trail is decorated with bones
On a working farm, the trail is decorated with bones

Rockland Farm in Leesburg is a private working farm that happens to have periodic riding and running events, primarily mountain bike racing with Plum Grove Cyclery and now trail running with Potomac River Running. Sunday's race offered two options ~8mi and ~4mi courses. Having already put in my weekend workout I went with a camera planning to run a little and take pictures. I am looking forward to getting out there and racing the next one.

After the rain and the MTB race the day before I was wondering how the trail would be holding up. The parts of the course I saw were fast, dry, smooth and clear with some rocks, logs and roots to keep you from getting distracted. Humidity was fairly low and it was very pleasant running in the shade. On a Mountain Bike I would call the course fairly flat but as a runner I would call some parts gently rolling.

As with any inaugural event there were a few issues that need to be worked out. The course had a single water stop which was supposed to be around the middle of the overlapping course. For the long course the water was closer to 6 miles, combined with mile markers only at the first and last mile a number of long course runners were under the impression that they had become lost on the course and those running without watches were glad to hear that they were nearly done.

The field for each race was fairly small with the short course at 27 and the long course boasting only 30 runners. On the course each of the eventual winners was in the lead over the next runner by over a minute.

Based on the times in the pictures the long course heated up after the water stop with second to sixth place all within a minute. Second place finisher Dirk Plante passed 4th place Charlie Mercer and 5th place Dennis Billings while making up about a minute on winner David Wagner and 37 seconds on 3rd place Jess Laurent extending the gap to 5 seconds at the finish.

The short course got started at almost exactly 8:02 with eventual winner Van Arnold starting off in the lead.

The short course got started at almost exactly 8:02 with eventual short course winner Van Arnold taking off to an early lead.

Men's Short Course Winner: Van Arnold
Overall Short Course Winner: Van Arnold

Women's Short Course Winner: Billie Brown
Women's Short Course Winner: Billie Brown

Men's Long Course Winner: David Wagner
Overall Long Course Winner: David Wagner

Men's Long Course 2nd: Dirk Plante
Overall Long Course 2nd: Dirk Plante

Women's Long Course Winner: Jess Laurent
Women's Long Course Winner and 3rd Overall: Jess Laurent

Men's Long Course
1 1/3 56 David Wagner 20 56:14.5
2 1/7 55 Dirk Plante 33 56:56.4
3 1/9 18 Charlie Mercer 40 57:20.3

Women's Long Course
1 1/3 17 Jess Laurent 29 57:01.5
2 1/3 11 Anita Freres 45 1:00:16.3
3 1/4 21 Emily Sensabaugh 33 1:03:40.4

Mens Short Course
1 1/7 27 Van Arnold 32 28:10.7
2 2/7 43 loren hudziak 37 34:47.3
3 3/7 41 Josiah Hortega 31 37:17.1

Womens Short Course
1 1/5 28 Billie Brown 38 40:40.6
2 2/5 50 BRENDA MORTON 36 41:55.0
3 1/2 64 Jill Raschiatore 43 42:23.3

Plum Grove has a quick write up as well

Full Race results at Potomac River Running

All photos by: Shawn Ferry Race Gallery

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Baltimore 10 Miler Race Report

It was an excessively long and hot day for me but I am pleased with my results.

The Lead Up

Friday evening started with an ~2 hour drive to Artemas, PA for Wicker Man a burgeoning Burning Man Regional Burn and ended around 2am when I went to the tent to try and get a couple hours of sleep. C- came to bed about an hour later and my alarm was set for 3:55.

Around 4:10 I climbed out of the tent, made my way to the coffee dragon for a shot of joe, talked to a couple of guys who were sitting around and got in the car for the 2+ hour drive to Druid Hill Park in Baltimore. I needed to get there early for packet pickup and allow time for parking and warming up.

On the way to the race I talked to Karina and she confirmed that she would be able to pick up my race packet which was fortunate as I needed to make an emergency stop at a McDonald's to use the restroom, with that out of the way I was just about ready to race.

ProTip: Sheetz MTO with jalapenos (late lunch), high fat summer sausage, cheese, pickles and beer (late dinner) are all very tasty but they might leave you with a bit of gas and the fear that you will need to change your shorts.

Upon arrival at the park I called Karina again and just so happened to find a prime parking space right next to the group and fairly near the start, score! I strapped on the Nathan Triangle I had purchased for C- on Friday hoped it wouldn't be a problem on the run and headed down the hill to the start. At the start with ~35 minutes to go I realized I didn't have my Hat, HRM strap and I hadn't put on body glide. Went up the hill back to the car fixed my problems and headed back (Woo, Warmup!).

The Plan

I had various thoughts about the race. I know the course from last year and you could call at best 1.3 miles in the middle flat, knowing that I had debated going out for a PR thinking about trying to hit 1:30:00 knowing that I probably shouldn't put in that kind of effort. With the sleep the night before and heat I really wasn't feeling it and decided that a relatively easy run was the plan and I would revisit on the course.

Karina indicated that she did something around 10:15/mi at Survivor Harbor 7 the previous weekend and that she may try to do something similar here.

The Race

Karina and I started off just behind the 10 minute pace marker but on the first hill I found myself closer to 9:45 and feeling easy. Karina indicated that she was OK for now and led the pace a bit faster until almost mile 2 when she decided to back off on the hills and told me to go on.

Shortly after mile 2 the course was slightly different going around the south side of Wyman Park instead of Up Art Museum Dr. although my watch (and many around me beeping every mile) seemed to indicate that the early miles were about .1 mile off everything seemed to line up in the end. This year also removed the lollipop near mile 9 which was much appreciated!

Between miles 2 and 5 I found some nice people to chat with (and sweat on, I had sweat dripping off my elbows, sorry), I was trying to maintain a nice HR in the mid 140s to low 150s this worked early on but the hills and heat had me in the mid to high 150s instead.

I was feeling good at mile 5 and decided to pick up the effort a little and then maybe again at 7 miles with the plan of not walking any of the hills but feeling perfectly fine with slowing down on 33rd and East Dr. and making time on the downhills. On the return I also did my best to continue sticking to the shaded parts of the course so long as that didn't have me weaving about.

I picked up again at mile 7. The push kicked my average HR to 171 and shaved ~10s/mi on the back half of the course and the no walking plan resulted in passing a large number of people in the last two miles on the hills.

The final kick to the end over the last downhill .25 and in particular the last 10th of a mile to the finish pegged my HR at an anaerobic 182bpm with a spike after crossing the line to 185. Presumably this is why I was wondering if I might vomit, fortunately I recovered quickly.

My Finish: 1:34:41 is a new PR, Last year on this course was a 1:44:24 taking almost a minute a mile off my pace

After Care

The finish corral was well manned and stocked as I have come to expect from this race. The ReGen sports recovery drink was cold and a good rich chocolate, the watermelon was cool and refreshing, the iced towels were wonderful and the mist blowing fan was both misty and fan like.

Outside the corral the beer selection improved this year to include Yuengling a welcome addition to the standard light beer selection from last year. For the more calorie conscious I also noticed MGD 64.

Among the vendors was Plow Gum (with a picture of a bull). This energy gum starts off tasting bad and gets worse, it was impressively horrid tasting to the point that I wondered if the bull in the logo contributed to the formulation. Maybe it just shouldn't follow beer but I don't think I will give it another shot.

Post Race

Before I got back on the road for PA Karina, John and I went to the City Cafe for brunch where I had a wonderful blackened catfish with andouille sausage and crawfish gravy and cheesy corn meal grits. The food and out waiter were both excellent.

In the end do to poor planning, scheduling changes and inattention I missed the Potomac River Running Twilight 4 Miler. I did however wear the shirt which was noticed before, during and after the race with questions and comment like. Wait, isn't that today? Are you running that race tonight? and I'll see you there!

A Personal Note

This weekend I also did not attend the funeral of Peter Theune, a good friend and father figure. We had not talked in quite a while, I am very bad at keeping in touch, but I have many fond memories of my younger adult hood hanging out at his house with him, his son Travis and our friends talking and shooting the shit into the wee hours of the morning. He was on my mind all weekend and I would like to believe that he would have appreciated my decision to spend quality time with my family doing things that I enjoy but I do feel some regrets for choosing not to attend the funeral.

Bib FName LName City State Div Age Sex ChipTime ClockTime Overall SexPl DivPl AgeGrade
1157 KARINA FERRY BALTIMORE MD F3034 32 F 1:49:24 1:51:03 2150 1052 244 45.5%
1158 SHAWN FERRY LEESBURG VA M3034 34 M 1:34:41 1:36:21 1123 695 134 47.2%

Friday, June 18, 2010

Timed Mile, I'm an analytics guy

I am always interested to see the speed and HR tracks post race and workout. This will be my third year participating in the AARC (Ashburn Area Running Club) DTP (Distance Training Program/Fall Marathon Training) and while I do listen to the coaches I know that I am commonly running too fast on slower days.

The premise of the timed mile, in the beginning of the year for the DTP, is to establish a baseline tempo/threshold (T) pace and a feeling for what that T effort should generally feel like. On the track last night Cathy Pugsley said "this is a comfortably hard run for some of you this will be 10k pace for some closer to 10 mile pace [if you have questions ask]" the pacing guidelines of 'comfortably hard' and 10K pace didn't mean much to me the last two years, this year I have a much better grasp on both.

  • Year 1: Started running about 6 months prior not only did I have no idea, I didn't even have a good guess. Ran ~7:38/mi
  • Year 2: I had only raced 5k, 4mi and Marathon and felt a bit more confident, eventually declaring that my T pace was ~8:30/mi. Ran ~7:37/mi
  • Year 3: Added 8k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon and Ultra (50k). 8:30 feels a bit easy so far this year. Ran ~7:38/mi

What does any of this have to do with numbers?

What we can see here is that even though I had no idea on pace at first and then when I did I ran relatively consistent times, the difference is in the numbers I get from using high tech running gadgets and how I feel during the run.

2008 - 2010, Bigger Image

All the miles are run on the same track and with the theory that each lap could be a little harder than the one before. What isn't shown as clearly is that I always start too fast and back off generally in the first 200m.

  • 2008 pacing is all over the place but most notably almost half the last lap is in Zone 5 effectively sprinting.
    • Better than 1/2 in Zone 3 seems good but I know this turned into a maximal effort and I was spent at the end.
    • 9/24/58% Zone 5/4/3
    • Max HR 185
  • 2009 pacing is a bit more consistent but still variable
    • I was OK at the end but comfortably hard would be a generous description
    • 0/54/37% in Zone 5/4/3
    • Max HR 179
  • 2010 Still started too fast. However, the remaining laps are within a few seconds.
    • Could I keep it up for an hour...maybe on a good day. However, for a mile I would call it comfortably hard.
    • 0/41/49% Zone 5/4/3
    • Max HR 174

Great, what do those numbers mean?

Really I don't know, I'm not an exercise physiologist. I haven't actually done a lab or field Lactate Threshold test. There is probably some heart rate reserve analysis that could be done based on my maximal heart rate (observed at 195bpm at mile 17 of the '09 Frederick Marathon) and resting HR 54bpm (I should recheck). Instead I think I will do a LT lab test and let someone who knows what they are doing figure that out more specifically for me.

  • Lower Max HR at the end of each run seems to indicate progressively better aerobic fitness
  • Time in HR zones moving lower seems to indicate progressively better aerobic fitness
  • Lower perceived effort and faster recovery seems to indicate progressively better aerobic fitness

For now this means that for now I will be targeting ~8:00/mi as a tempo pace, which is probably to fast, ~8:30mi or maybe a bit slower is probably more accurate but we will see what we get.

What are you doing with those numbers?

Hopefully I am properly setting my expectations and getting the most out of my training. After my first marathon I was briefly despondent because I didn't hit my goal time of 4:45:00 (or maybe that and postmarathon blues). I got over it and realized that as a self-declared non-runner I had trained and finished a marathon and I missed my arbitrary time goal by 2.5 minutes. In subsequent marathons I haven't had those problems even when my performance has been much worse.

I would love to reach a sub 4-hour marathon but I think that is an overly ambitious improvement last years 00:20:53 is huge and an additional 27 minutes in a year seems quite a big year-over-year improvement. I'll keep sub-4 as a massive stretch goal for now but (hopefully) more realistically I would like to complete the 35th Marine Corps Marathon in less than 4:20 and it would be awesome to do it in less than 4:15. Time will tell and goals for the year should be adjusted as we go.

  • Baltimore 2008: 04:47:30 (First Marathon)
  • Frederick 2009: 04:59:50 (Weather kicked my ass, started at an optimistic pace for my level of preparation)
  • Baltimore 2009: 05:21:08 (Stubbornly started with a fever ran out of gas at the half)
  • Space Coast 2009: 04:26:55 (Fourth Marathon)
  • Baltimore 2010: ??? (Will be an overly long training run for marathon training, maybe I need a fall ultra)
  • Marine Corps Marathon 2010: ???

Tempo/Threshold Pace: A pace that you could theoretically maintain for an hour if you had to. Theoretically this can also be determined with Lactate Threshold testing.

"It's what I call 'comfortably hard, You know you're working, but you're not racing. At the same time, you'd be happy if you could slow down." -- Bill Pierce

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cascades Firechase 10K

Cascades Firechase 10K (May 29, 2010) race report (Belated)

I had been waiting to see if the finish line photographers had a picture of me finishing with my mimosa but I can't figure out who they were and just forgot.

I hadn't been planning on running this race a week before North Face but I decided on Friday that since I was going to be running anyway I may as well have a supported run with friends. Little did I know that not only was it going to be hot and humid but this race is know for hills. OTOH I got a couple Chik-Fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwiches out of it as post race food.

In brief, it was hot in the low 90s and a bit humid. I got to the start just as the group was going out for a warmup run. I ended up behind everyone warming up slow planning on racing at maybe 11:00/mi which in the end was not to be.

Immediately prior to the start I let myself get dragged to the front by Mandana and Atle when I tried to go towards the back the group wouldn't let me so I started the first 100m at 8 something then moved to the side after the first corner and slowed down. On and off I ran with various members of the Ashburn Area Running Club watching them slowly pull away from me while my pace slowly increased until Maureen caught up with me on the way out of a pit stop. Allowing for hills we were running around 9:40/mi and I pulled ahead a bit after on the hill around mile 5. At 5.9 I stopped for a mimosa took a gulp and Maureen caught me up moments later.

Crossing the line with a little kick I was holding the mimosa (finding that the nice rigid plastic cup was hard to drink from on the run), which I finished a moment later. Much amused by the questioning looks and "What are you drinking?" I kept the cup next year I may run with it.

Run Washington has a non-Shawn focused write up as well :)

Result: 61:41

I'm sure I could do better, maybe next year I should opt for the bloody mary.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k Race Report

It was my first 50k and I finished!
I went into the race with a hydration plan and no real idea when/if I would finish. I knew my training was mostly solid I wasn't trying anything new it was going to be hot and humid. In training particularly on trails I found that I was overestimating how much I was drinking. With a solution in hand and regrets that I might be heartily annoying to those around me I wore a timex with two 10 minute interval timers set.
The Plan
  • I would run at some comfortable/reasonable pace that kept my HR down on the flats. Walk uphills and go quickly with control on the downhills.
  • 10min I would drink ~4-5oz Hammer Perpetum mixed to ~250/cal 25oz
  • 30min I would take 1 possibly 2 Hammer Endurolyte capsules
  • 60 min I would take an 1 maybe 2 Hammer Endurance Amino capsules
  • As needed/desired I would take Hammer Gel, Cliff Shot Bloks or some Hammer Bar. The Hammer bar as a last resort as I hadn't trained with them.
  • Aid 2/4 (Great Falls) and Aid 5 (Frasier) would get longer stops to mix fuel. Everything else would get a gulp of water.
  • At the finish I would mix a double strength Recoverite drink about half relatively quickly and nurse the rest for a little while

It is about 5 minutes to 7:00, humidity is high, the temps are in the high 70s only going up. We would never look quite so fresh the rest of the day. At the start of the race I took off at a quite comfortable ~10:30/mi. The first couple of miles are flat grass, golf cart path and crushed gravel road. I ran with Matt Lancaster from around 2.5 - 5.7 and we talked about his tips for ultras. I breezed through Aid 1 (5.7), as planned, slowing only to check in and for a cup of water. About 2 miles before Aid 2 I heard "why was there no water (at River Bend Park)?" "Does anyone know how much further until the next aid station?"
At Aid 2 (12.4) Great Falls I was feeling pretty good. However, was already concerned about hydration. I was hot and had started to get goosebumps around 11 miles and had been drinking on plan. On arrival I had ~5oz remaining in the pack having used up almost all of my reserve placing me ~2oz shy of 25oz/hr. It was at this time that I started icing everything ice hat, ice pocket, ice in the bladder and pack. Remixing was mostly painless but 60-65oz instead of the planned 50oz, this would be a theme for the rest of the race with my fuel tasting a bit thin. Dee and Ron rolled out and I decided to pause and change socks I had been thinking about saving them for the return leg but my feet were swimming.
Total Consumption ~65+oz
From Aid 2 (Great Falls) back to Aid 4 (19.27, Great Falls) I caught up to Matt who had passed me in on his way through. He told me that he was feeling a bit dry and that he was going to take the loop easy to see if he could recover. In Great Falls my pace dropped dramatically. My feet already soaked again and were sliding a bit in my shoes. I didn't want them any tighter but my big toes were slamming the front of the toe box on the steeper descents. Partway through the loop everything started to sound distant (which continued for the next 5 hours or so,  about an hour after the race the pressure in my ears normalized) and look a bit grey which seems odd as my HR was not abnormally elevated, it may have just been hazy. I backed off a bit more and tried hydrating at a slightly higher rate concerned that I was heading towards major problems. Matt came into Aid 3 (15.08) as I was leaving (with another ice hat!). The swamp trail wasn't fun at all, the rocky terrain had my feet at all angles and sliding again. Just off the swamp trail I caught up with Ron who indicated that he was feeling cooked and might drop at mile 20. At Aid 4 I paused to mix more fuel finding ~10oz and C- got me an ice rag for my neck.
Total Consumption ~115+oz
From Aid 4 - Aid 5 (26) I was struggling with a bit of nausea every 10 minutes I would drink then feel a little nauseous, if I tried to push the pace I got goose bumps and felt off. My hill climbing walks slowed substantially and my flats were walked as much as run. In River Bend Park I met Bob and Beth who had adopted each other as race partners encouraging people along the way. We chatted in a group ranging in size from 3-10 as we walked the uphills, ran the downhills and ran on and off on the flats. After a few miles I stopped to get a rock out of my shoe and lost them until Aid 5. About a mile from Aid 5 I stopped to try and get a Marathon runner who was staggering and clearly disoriented heading the right direction. He was non-coperative and I asked a group of passing 50mi runners to send back help as they would reach aid before I did. Not long after aid was tearing down the path with a gallon of water.
Total consumption ~160+oz
Aid 5 - Aid 6 (29.28) Aside from a few steep climbs this section is mostly flat fun and fast until you get to the golf course when it is sort of boring. Unfortunately I was not feeling particularly fast but I picked up a ridiculous run/walk from blaze to blaze that sometimes had me running/walking only a dozen or so steps at a time and my average speed picked back up to slightly faster than a snails pace. I entered Aid 6 with Bob, Beth, Carol and the guy with a camelback but apparently not the hydration part. Had a couple cups of water, more ice hat and dumped ice down the back of my shirt.
Aid 6 - Finish (My Garmin says 32.2) The last officially 1.7 miles are flat on gravel, golf cart path and a touch of grass. After each aid station I felt refreshed with ice in my hat, pockets, pack and actually maintained a quickish (sort of) pace and ran in the last .5 with a ridiculous grin on my face at 08:19:04 ... I had a good 40 minutes to spare.
Total consumption ~210+oz
Post race, cheered Bob and Beth through the finish. Hit the ice bath, the pain was exquisite, for about 60s before I got out. Got a massage drank about 80oz of Recoverite and water and had a burrito before heading home chilling out and heading across the street for a margarita party.
The Good:
  • The next day I felt fine (I slept until 1pm but I didn't get back from the party until 1am)
  • Three days later and I feel great and mostly normal (compared to my first marathon, it took over a week)
  • No major injuries, a couple of small blisters and sore but recovered big toe nails
  • I am ready for the next one (Theoretically, not actually)
  • No cramping
  • No swelling
  • Nathan HPL #20 with replacement HydraPak bite valve and magnetic clip
  • Halo Hat, I like halo hats/headbands etc.
  • Hammer Tri top/bottom. No chafing fast wicking
  • Perpetum added dry to a partially full bladder mixes up just fine with a blender ball (in testing also without a blender ball but not as fast).
The Could have been Better:
  • I should have started icing at Aid 1
  • I should have mixed my fuel stronger and added ice just before the start
  • Maybe I should have changed shoes at Aid 2 and damn the rocks
  • Gore-Tex shoes sounded like such a good idea in the winter when it was wet and I started training
    • They are a bit hot now and don't dry so quickly
    • I think I want something cooler, lighter and much faster drying
  • Maybe I should have mixed stronger fuel or eaten (a little) more on the run
    • I didn't feel like a bonk was coming I just trained with a higher concentration
  • Hydration, Maybe ~13lbs in 8 hours is normal but that is roughly 5.9% dehydration
    • Maybe I should have gone with a slightly higher intake rate the whole race
    • Maybe it was too high late, my math says close to 27oz/hr
  • I need to adjust my hat for pictures, Ice Hat is awesome but it doesn't look as nice
  • Light nausea after drinking lasting a minute or two (too much fluid?)
  • Holy crap the music was loud in the finish area. Too loud to talk so we went home.
  • Late Discoveries* 
    • Blister under the nail of my left big toe. Which explains why descending was so painful
    • A couple of small spots of poison ivy around my ankles
The Bad:
  • People started without any way to carry water
  • The distance from Aid 1-2/4-5 was theoretically 6.7 miles I got a little longer. People with water were having problems running out.
  • It was hot and humid, more than I had trained in more than I was ready for.
Overall I am very happy with the race itself, my performance and the experience in general. I am thankful to C- who would much rather have been staining her new bookshelves or sewing rather than sitting around waiting for me all day and taking pictures. The next one will be better.

* Edit: Newly discovered injuries/ailments

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Starting to get excited/nervous for TNF50k

It has been a long 16 weeks of training and progressing a bit faster than I should to try and get on track with my 20 week 50k training plan from UltraLadies. I'm about as ready as I am capable of being. Nothing I can do now to get ready except to stick to my taper. Which apparently for me means running in the Cascades 10K and getting another PR*. All I need to do now is finish The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k and that will make three PRs in three weeks.

* It is always a PR the first time

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

MD Half Marathon Race report

I just ran a new Half Marathon PR!

Countdown Timers with fireworks

Pre-Race: Woke up at 3:20 hearing the rain pouring down, a severe weather warning and around 4h sleep. Thought about bagging the whole thing and going back to sleep but knew if I did that I probably wouldn't get my run in later. Got in the car at ~4:30 rain stopped on the way and the drive was uneventful, if you ignore the part where I started to doze off and had to break into the emergency chocolate covered espresso beans. Packet pickup was extremely fast and easy, although it started raining again just as I parked, I picked up C-'s shirt since she had registered no one gave me a hard time except for making sure that I knew I was picking up a women's shirt. I allowed that I look dashing in a cap sleeve.

The Plan: I have been comfortable doing around 9:45/mi pace on longer runs and decided that since 9:45 would shave about a minute off my last half I would try for something like 9:30 expecting to lose some time on the hills, make up a bit on the decent and hold steady on the flats. I would be running with the Nathan as that is the plan for the NF50k but wearing road shoes instead of trail shoes.

Pre-Race: I had gotten a little wet warming up and felt chilled prior to the start at the last minute I decided to run with my PI mesh back cycling vest, this would turn out to be a mistake. The anthem by 'Maxx Factor' was the best pre-race anthem I have heard at any race this year (with tempo and spirit, not your country singing debut and they knew all the words).

The Race: At the request 'Lets get all the 5:00/mi runners to the front' most people backed way up. Maybe I should have gone further. My first mile was fast at 8:55 and my HR was a bit higher than hoped I checked and saw low 8s a few times and backed off. The first hill I noticed came around 1.5mi when I decided that I was getting hot and walked while I adjusted my clothes.

Then came the dilemma that I faced throughout the rest of the race. WTF do I do with these downhills? I ran them but I kept wondering if I needed to slow down, was I going to burn out my quads? If I slowed down would that burn out my quads? I think that by mile 3 there had been a good .5mi of downhill just in time for the first real climb.

On the first climb 3-3.5 and through the climbs to 4 I took a couple of short walking breaks to control my HR. From this point to next big climb was fairly uneventful. I managed to clip a puddle and splash my right foot, noticed that my HR was remaining higher than I would generally have liked but felt fine in spite of that unexplained data. In retrospect I should have put it together with maintaing a few sub 9:00/mi splits.

The start of the second climb reminds me of Forsythe Ave in DC, took a walk to try and lower my HR but didn't want to slow down too much and kept to a fast walk (10:58/mi split). From here to the end of mile 10 I took a couple more quick walks resulting in two 09:09:04 miles before the real downhill.

Mile 11 to the end the race is advertised as a an easy downhill two miles to the finish, it is downhill. However, I found the 8:12/mi to result in a creeping HR 170-178bpm and while I tried to back off in mile 12 (9:26/mi) even taking a quick walk to lower my HR and combat a bit of rising gorge I felt like I didn't have anything left for the last mile. Apparently I was wrong finishing mi 13 in a slower but still better than target 9:19/mi. The race finishes on the horse track where I almost bit it slipping in some extra wet sand.

Post-Race: Walking around the track to get the race medal was a nice forced cool-down walk. Plenty of helpful and friendly volunteers to remove timing chips, hand out water, snacks, mylar blankets and medals. I had a free muscle milk...yeah I don't like it even in chocolate malt. My recoverite tasted really good (dehydrated, really?) The bacon egg and cheese muffin I had tasted really good as well. The festival looked fine but I wasn't really interested and the music was overly loud for me.

Thoughts: I'm in the middle of my taper for the North Face 50K and I just ran a PR Half Marathon taking about 8 minutes off my previous PR at LAWS on April 18th. I am happy with the results and think that it is a great confidence booster, but I do have some concern about the pacing/effort as related to what I need to do for the 50K.

I spent slightly less than half the race in zone 3 the rest in zone 4 except for a brief foray into zone 5 to the finish. Finishing with a new PR of 2:02:58. I drank about 1L of Perpetuem mixture (of the 1.5 I carried, this is still a problem). I wasn't really feeling dry while running but I was dehydrated at the end and carrying .5L of water and fuel! I don't think I can maintain those effort levels for a 50K, I can't afford to dehydrate and carry effectively useless weight for what I expect to be at least 7 hours on the trail.


For a first event I think it went well aside from some obvious logistical problems. I'm looking forward to the one that is planned for DC in 2011. My Garmin reports 5 miles and just over 2 hours total time 1:17 moving time.
Saturday check-in
  • fast easy
Sunday parking Shuttle
  • horrible long wait (> 2.5h) looked like three busses with a 30min RTT4
Sunday Check-in (waiting for the rest of the team to get checked in)
  • fast easy
  • not bad took it with a bit of caution after being warned of holes on Sat.
Death March
  • long slog cost time and effort. I won't be thinking local climbs are so bad for a while
Sweaty Yeti
  • yes, a bit chilly. Generally lame as an obstacle
Devils Beard
  • With a group not bad at all, raised mesh passed from hand to hand
Hold Your Wood
  • I went up hill with a chunk of wood
Cliff Hanger
  • ridiculous :) I'm not sure I would want to ski down it
Boa Constrictor
  • had been expecting this to be worse, it was a little slow needed a better way to move through the tube
Swamp Stomp
  • felt like a little kid playing in the mud
Trail run
  • nice trails, rocky, rooty wet and fast
Kiss of mud
  • way slower than I expected
Ball Shrinker*
  • a lot worse for the wear when we got there, ropes were dangling
Water Tunnel*
  • not special
  • first big line. fun, swimming in shoes was slow. Hydration pack provided unexpected flotation
  • a bit hard being sort of tired, slick with the wet
  • not bad
  • so disappointing. Obstacle was down when we go there
Small wall
  • great place to get muddy again after rising in the lake
  • yes, it was fire
On course Logistics
  • Water stops did not have enough water to cover the runners. Possibly the wave sizes were off because of the timing?
  • Lack of rigidity in wave starts was good (due to bus delays we were 1 wave behind)
  • Medical staff were prevalent and attentive
  • Other runners were encouraging
  • Course markings were clear enough
  • really glad to have taken water with me
* Waited in line for these obstacles

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This Year's Race Schedule

The secret to weight loss (aside from better eating habits and more exercise) is telling people that you have a goal, it helps you stick to it. Actually those are all the secrets for weight loss. I find that the secret for getting my ass out of the house to get exercise is to train for races. If I don't have a race it is easy to make excuses. I'm tired, it's raining or I'd rather just drink some beer and read a book or watch TV. Following the weight loss formula I'm publishing the races that I have selected for the year.
On that note, I'm going for a run.
* Goal Race, and One of Baltimore or Marine Corps
** Maybe, We'll see how the shorter ultra goes before getting really crazy and thinking about submitting an application

Edit: I think I got the date for the 4 miler from last year, I am heavily overbooked for the 19th 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A weekend of running, a new hydration pack and the LAWS Half Marathon (PR)

It was a down week in my training schedule for the Mid-Atlantic Regional North Face Endurance Challenge 50K. On June 5th I will have 9 hours to complete the ~31 mile course.

Saturday was a good 12 mile run with Mandy and Cherry from Great Falls to Algonkian Park on the Potomac Heritage Trail which makes up or at least parallels a fair amount of TNFEC DC route. The weather was beautiful if slightly chilly and a little windy. We finished faster than I had previously done that section ~2:30. I didn't feel at all bad letting them head back to and around Great Falls for another 14 or so miles. This was the first time out with the Nathan vest and I have to say I like it. Sunday was the Loudoun Abused Women's Shelter (LAWS) Half Marathon. I had planned to go out easy, continue on and finish that way, a nice easy supported training run. Having reviewed my results from my first running of the event in 2009 I knew that I needed to beat a 10:15/mi pace to PR and decided to see how I felt in the morning after an early start, trip to Columbia and a Caps game in DC and late celebration at the Irish Channel for the Caps second game against the Habs the day before.

Race day, it was cold when I woke up at 6 after about 4 hours of sleep. I had pre-mixed fuel in my new Nathan HPL 020 with its HydraPak bladder to replace my older leaking CamelBak with its taped patches, pinned on my number, attached my timing chip, laid out my clothes and set the coffee maker to start brewing at 5:50. I rolled out of the house about 7:15 and arrived in the parking lot around 7:30. I mustered the will to get out of the car and into the cold wander into the hall, chat with Conan and eventually back out for a lack luster warmup only to find that my Garmin would not turn on even though I took it off the charger right before I left the house. Oh well, I have RunKeeper which works well enough if my phone can get GPS signals.

At almost exactly not quite 8:30 the race started after an abysmally down tempo rendition of the National Anthem. In the first half mile I felt horrible and thought to myself that if I hadn't crossed the starting line I could just quit. It's one thing to not start but another thing entirely to DNF and I wasn't going to start doing that now. At mile 1 I got the first and only split until after the turn around. 00:11:49 eh, I thought so much for a PR. Got to the first water at about 1.25mi skipped it but took a drink from the pack and a walk to adjust the shock cord on the Nathan, it was managing to brush me right on the funny bone every so often.

Around mile 3 I loosened up and started enjoying the race, around 4.5 the leaders on the road started passing on the return leg. Then I had to stop and urinate the second of three times during the race, I guess that is a good sign for getting re-hydrated after Saturday but it seemed ridiculous. I started passing some people who had gone by in the first three miles but still took it easy with no real idea of pace or HR. A few times I noticed that my breathing was a bit labored and backed off to easy again reducing pace on inclines and just going with the flow.

At mile 7 the second split on the course I got ~1:11:30 and realized that even with the horrible beginning, a bit of walking and running easy I was close enough that the ~10:14 I would need to make a PR was in reach if I kept it up and maybe pushed a little on the down hills (forgetting that the return really seems like it is mostly long slow climbs). I rolled on with renewed enthusiasm. From 7 - 12.1 my split was ~2:01:?? and I thought, holy crap I just flew through those miles like nothing, even with another pit stop all I needed was nice fairly easy 10:00/mi to be sure of a good PR. A short sprint up the last little hill and across the line left me with a new Half Marathon PR of 2:10:37 down from 2:14:17 in 2009.

Equipment thoughts

Nathan HPL 020

The Good:

  • No bottles (as with the FuelBelt) to hit with my thighs on obstacles
  • Front facing pockets are great and totally missing from my CamelBak packs primarily used for cycling.
  • Hammer Perpetum in the reversible bladder (for cleaning) works well, no problems with flow.

The only OK:

  • The bite valve, when the bladder is full and I am running the valve drips/squirts a little as fluid sloshes. I find myself turning the flow on and off via the push pull mechanism which I think adversely affects my ability to sip as frequently as I did with the CamelBak.
  • Bite valve on/off the push pull mechanism, it works but it isn't my favorite.
  • Having recently been shopping for hiking packs...I would really like the strap adjustments to pull towards the back (your front) so that I could snug the pack on the run. Again thinking that I could slightly modify the fit as content and volume change.
  • I had snugged the shock cord on the back of the pack to see how it affected the fairly minimal sloshing I had noticed. It didn't seem to make a difference but the now longer end of the cord swung to gently tap me on the funny bone every so often.
  • The closed zip pocket on the front has the same mesh back, if I were to store a phone/camera in the pocket I would need to continue to use a bag inside the pocket.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

3 days and 60 miles with a loaded pack

It is with little in the way of surprise that I must report the outcome of this weekends hiking adventure as generally successful (1.5 days 31.8 miles) with a large helping of pain and failure On the list of failures:
  • Over packing
  • Feet / Foot care
  • Practice
  • Sunscreen (lack of)
  • Hydration
  • Scouting for the theoretical JFK 50
  • Still alive
  • Generally good time (ignoring the feet)
  • ~32 miles in 1.5 days
Chocolate Malt MilkshakeFood I packed way too much food, baking meat into bread seemed like such a good idea. The trial run went well but on the trail the amount consumed was less than expected and the results turned out dry. ~ 3,000 Cal (~1lb) of trail mix ... this seemed reasonable at the time but I never went into the bulk storage bag consuming only the 4 servings (640 cal , ~.25 lbs) in the ready access bag on my belt over 1.5 days. In retrospect this alone would have been good for ~1 day eating almost nothing else. ~1,250 Cal (~1lb) dehydrated fruit, see above. I did consume the two servings in the bag on my belt (~220 cal) ~9,700 Cal (~3.5 lbs) of meat roll (2 lbs flour, .5lb meat .5lb cheese, 0.11lb olive oil, water) without double checking my math (which I clearly didn't do before hand for weight or calorie density. Consumed ~3200 cal) ~1,100 Cal (~.6lb + ~1.5lb water) pre-mixed Hammer Perpetuem (Sitting in the fridge from last week, needed to be consumed) ~1560 Cal (~1lb) Perpetuem powder as emergency just add water food ~340 Cal (100g) Recoverite powder. Consumed ~170 Cal at end of day 1. Additionally, we had planned dinner in Sharpsburg Day 1, Lunch outside Boonsboro Day 2, Dinner at Gathland Day 2, Brunch Day 3 why did I take none of this into account when planning food? I have no idea. ~ 4.75/6.75 lbs of food that I did not consume. Had I not abandoned the hike I would have needed food for the rest of a day of hiking and breakfast the next day (at most one more day of food), fail. 2.5 miles before lunch on day 2 we stopped at an Ice Cream Parlor where I got a Chocolate Malt! Then at the Old South Mountain Inn a burger with great fries.
The Lisa Burger 
Why is it that I packed all this food again?

Almost Food Messkit: We had decided not to carry a stove. I was on the point on leaving this in the car but didn't. Other Some clothes and socks I didn't need but I would be hard pressed to not carry. e.g. warm layer I didn't end up needing but could have worn as it got cool Friday night. More selective reduction in medications/supplies and extras would have been warranted and probably would have saved at least a pound. BodyGlide is good on thighs. I think it is good on feet for hiking but I don't have enough of a sample size to tell. Failure Why didn't I put on more sunscreen Saturday morning? I don't know either, a bit of sunburn on the tops of my ears and backs of my hands (but really my ears) will teach me to reapply. The C&O Canal water pumps were all winterized. Including the mixed Perpetuem I started with ~.65 gallons of water (2L hydration bladder). More frequent water and better hydration is needed. When I thought about it I also took Hammer Endurolytes (~9 capsules in 1.5 days, not enough) Foot care, my feet are a wreck. Various sources talk of many reasons for blisters including dampness, fit and bad humors. Having recently run 20 miles in wet shoes without blisters I currently subscribe to the hydration and electrolyte imbalance results in swelling and swollen flesh is less able to support weight theory of blister formation (that and the wet sand in your shoe always causes blisters theory). I know I was dehydrated, I know I have a high sweat rate and dump a lot of sodium. 
Sweat Stained Pantsblistered feet 
Practice: I got my pack 4 days before the hike. While the fit seemed good and I have no pain other than my feet even with a pack weight of ~32 lbs (closer to 40 with food and full water, why I didn't weigh immediately before leaving I don't know).
  • More practice will likely result in better packing discipline.
  • Less weight will provide less load on the feet.
  • Shorter loaded practice hikes would likely have revealed problems with footwear, sock or whatever selection (as it is I don't know if this is an actual issue or not)
JFK 50: I still believe that I am not planning on doing (or even sending in an entry for the JFK 50) but I am entertaining the concept as a followup to the North Face 50K (or the NF 50K is a trial on ultra marathons after being asked if I wanted to do the JFK 50). I dropped off the hike after doing only the walk from Boonsboro to the AT, the very beginning (~2mi) of the JFK route so much for scouting. At this point I think there is not a single one of us who didn't learn something on this hike or come away unscathed. On the other hand we are all talking about what to do to make the next one better. The route from 0 - 31.8 Smugmug Photo Gallery