Originally I registered for the 100k at Lake Waramaug. This was an impulse decision after I ran a PR 6 hour (41.48 miles) on April 6th at the BUS 6 hour. I had been looking for a road 100k and it seems they are few and far between. The two I considered (Lake Waramaug and Mad City) both occurred this weekend. Ray inspired me to give Waramaug a shot so I signed up.
However I ran a (surprising, considering how tired I was) 3:24 at Boston on April 15. That did not give me a lot of time to recover for a 100k. On the drive up I did some math and realized I would likely not get home until 10:30 -11:00 pm tonight if I ran the 100k, but I had a actual shot at getting home with some daylight if I ran the 50 miler. I was likely to drop to the 50 miler en route because the time crunch was stressing me out. If I did drop down, my pace would be a 100k pace from the start which would likely ruin my shot for a good 50M.
As soon as I got my bib I asked Mike Melton, our timer, to please switch me to the 50M. I felt so much better making that call pre-race.
Gun Goes off. Somehow Ray, who I swear was half way back in the pack a second ago is up in front of me now. LOL. I catch up and we run a little, but I end up cruising along with Joe Laskey for the first 2.2 out and 2.2 back.
Joe had a handheld and I carried nothing. I noted that I would likely lose him at the aid station where I will need to grab something to drink, which is exactly what happened and I never saw him again. It was great to distract myself with chatter during the early miles. Joe's pace was a little fast for me so it was ok that he pulled off ahead.
The course is mildly rolling, with only 2 parts I consider long or steep enough to call a hill. One comes in the first 1/3 of the loop while the other is somewhere around 2 miles to go (or something like that). You would think I could remember, I ran it 6 times! After the out and back, the 50 milers run 6 x 7.6 mile loops around the lake. The entire course is road. Road is Fast! I love Roads!
After losing Joe, I ran a lot by myself feeling very very beat up. I was not sure how this race was going to go or how long I could stay in it. The wind on the back half was rough. Wind is Slow! I dislike Wind! I would have been ok if I did a few loops and left, if I found that I just not recovered enough. I have a lot of races on my calendar and don't want to really do unnecessary damage.
Eliot ran up to time at about mile 13 and he was moving well! We stayed together for a few miles, but I could not stick with his pace. He was racing the 50k. I was already talking about an eminent DNF. I started to plan my escape, but first decided that I needed to get to 3 laps to figure out what I was going to do.
However, every time I thought about how tired my legs felt, I looked at my Garmin and my pace was sub-9. I slowed down to well over 9:00's, and started walking up parts of the hills and through the AS. I realized that was just so much better. I grabbed a Mt. Dew from the Aid Station.
Lesson #1 (for me and unlikely to be true for everyone): Never ever under-estimate the value of a well-timed Mt. Dew. The burst of energy I felt after the sugary sweet caffeinated liquid hit my stomach was undeniably a game-changer for me. I felt much better and when running I was moving well, but I needed to take care of some issues at the start of lap 3, which I knew would take some time.
As I completed lap 2, my feet would feel the hard road surface and they were getting very achy. At 20 miles or so by the end of loop, I decided to swap from my Brooks T7 to my Brooks Lauch (The T7's did me well so far, but were just not enough shoe for the next 30 miles, especially since I ran Boston in them and much of the 6 hour run from early April, in addition to all my shorter races and I need a new pair).
Lesson #2 (for me and unlikely to be true for everyone): The right pair of shoes really can make all the difference. The Launch is just an incredible shoe for my feet. Loose enough to allow my swelling feet room, light enough to not tired me out, cushioned enough to keep my feet happy and protected. After I made the shoe change in Lap 3 and also made a pit stop, I was back to running comfortably again.
As I continued to run, I felt so comfortable that I was actually beginning to get faster. What I believed helped me was staying hydrated and consuming most of my calories from liquids.
Lesson #3 (for me and unlikely to be true for everyone): Solid food hinders my performance.
I spent years trying to sort out my stomach trouble by trying different foods. I was told early on in my ultra "career" that to run an ultra well, we needed LOTS of calories from densely caloric food. For me, now, this seems to be just a lot of extra work that my body does not want to do. Packing in calories makes me stop craving foods and drinks. I sweat a lot, especially if warm out. I get dehydrated, get nauseated and throw up and dry heave until I can't function.
My most successful races have a few things in common: (1) Cool temps, around 35-40 degrees, (2) very little calories from solid food and (3) Carrying NOTHING with me.
This race was setting me up nicely by starting off around 32 degrees, but warming as we ran. I knew hydration would be important, yet I did not bring a handheld or pack. The idea of running unencumbered is how I prefer to do it. This race has AS about 2 miles apart. By not carrying a bottle, I find that I create a sense of urgency that forces me to drink at each AS rather than simply tote around fluids and forget to drink.
I grabbed two cups of fluids (water, gatorade, Coke, Mt. Dew in any combination) at each AS. I found that a Gatorade and a Mt Dew combo works best for me. I drank enough that I had to pee several times during this race (this is odd for me, so I knew I was drinking well and running slow enough).
When I was feeling a bit hungry, I tried one brownie bite which upset my stomach, then I had approx 2 potato chips. Yes 2 chips. Not a handful, or a sleeve of pringles, just 2 at separate times! I had one small chunk of honey dew melon (approx 1.5 square inches) and one orange wedge on my last lap. That is ALL I ate. All the rest of my calories came from liquid. This seems to work for me.
The last three laps of my race were quite steady and evenly paced. Each lap felt harder, but the paces were close. What helped tremendously was that Carl, the RD was actually driving around the course backwards cheering on all the runners! That was really motivating for me. Carl seems like a really wonderful guy!
With one lap to go, I knew I was setting a PR. I felt great and gave what I had left. I was running fast, which gets exaggerated by the others who are fading. I had to work hard to finish strong while my legs were starting to rebel. Again I found myself with 3 miles to go and things started to get rough, but not as rough as in the last race, which was about half the distance!
I finish the race, learn that I was First Female in the 50 miler and was promptly awarded my prize and medal. I check the leader board and learn I was 5th Over All. That made me happy.
I asked Mike if splits would be posted and he showed me mine. If I remember correctly, my splits went something like this:
- First 4.4 out and back - no idea of time.
- Loop 1 -1:06
- Loop 2- 1:12
- Loop 3- 1:15
- Loop 4 -1:09
- Loop 5- 1:11
- Loop 6- 1:08
Time: 7:41:52 (9:14 pace)
Place: 1st Female and 5th OA