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

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations. That was a good write-up. I, as always, will continue to marathon vicariously through you. :)