Sunday, August 18, 2013

Turkey Swamp 50k, Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold, NJ. 8/18/13

Alanna, Tracy, and me pre-race
I like small local races.  They take the pressure off.  I get to sleep in my own bed, drive my own car, bring the snacks I prefer from my own kitchen. It is easy and I am glad this race was small because I was not very confident going into it.

I need some low key races because I am using the next two months to build up mileage volume and everything I do is going to be on tired legs.  I enjoy training through races.  I love the sport. I love the people. I love the challenges. Even though my times may be slower than my best, I thrive off working a race tired and then racing one fresh.

My Calves
Last Tuesday, two days after running up La Luz in New Mexico, I felt a severe charley horse in my left calf when I was out for an easy 4 mile loop.  I was not running fast, it was flat, I had no significant burst of speed - although I did pick up the pace from "pedestrian" to "leisurely" while crossing the street when it happened.  I walked the .5 miles short cut back to my house. RICEing and hobbling for two days followed, since it felt bruised inside but did not look it outside.  I was not happy that my "Build" week was going to be a rest week.  This was not how things were supposed to go.

After shutting down a bit, without actually missing a day of running,  I was able to resume regular training by Wednesday.  This helped give me the confidence to at least start Turkey Swamp 50k.  However, I lacked that confidence to believe I would complete it.

Sunday: Race Day
My Garmin was dead.  This happened last year as well.  I am starting to think this race likes to mess with me!  I had my Timex and decided that I am really quite happy to just run at a pace that feels comfortable, whatever that it. This is just training.

We started a few minutes later than 8:00 am due to some technical difficulties. Our wonderful RD did all he could to keep us occupied while he waited for the timers to give us the OK.  The only inconvenience for me was that as I stood on the line, I felt like I really should go back to the bathroom but not knowing when we would start, I just waited.... and then I couldn't stop thinking about it! LOL.  I took a quick break when we passed the port-a-potties at lap 2 and then I was able to focus better.

The weather was just perfect today for an August race.  Just as we started we had a little drizzle that was so light it was almost unnoticeable to me.  The clouds kept the hot sun hidden all day.  Only later in the race did the humidity creep up to the point of stifling, but by then I was almost done.

Because I was worried about my calves, I did not plan to go blazing fast at the start.  I did want to set myself up for a good race or strong training run if possible.  I was prepared to bail if I needed to, but I didn't want to make that happen by running stupid, so I sought out to find my rhythm.

Without a Garmin, I just used my Timex to take splits,  but not really knowing how long the trail loop really was, I was never quite sure how fast I was running. I assumed 2.6, but who really knows. All I knew is that I felt like I was making an effort, but I was comfortable.

At about 4 laps into the race I was caught by a female runner.  She was in the marathon. It was nice to not be passed this early by a 50k runner. It was too soon to be racing hard and I would have likely just let her go.  Instead of passing me, she joined me to run with Mike, for many miles, while talking about 50 mile training ideas and race courses, etc...

At about 7 laps, I felt our pace slow a little. My marathon partner and I discussed what lap we were on and whether we were actually sure.  I also noticed a female runner seeming to make up ground on us in the fields. I knew most of the 10 milers and half marathoners were done so if this chick was moving up on us she was likely in the full or the 50k.  I felt compelled to pick up the pace to make it challenging to be passed.  After all, I was technically over half way done at this point.  I thought my marathon running buddy would come with me.  She did not.

As I put a little distance on my perceived competition I noticed a female, who had passed me quiet briskly earlier coming out of a port-a-potty.  Again, gauging by her pace she was likely a marathon or a 50k runner. I wanted to keep her in range and see what happens.  With over 4 laps left, I did not want to pass yet.

At the end of that lap, I wanted some intelligence to help me determine how hard I needed to work.  I don't need to and cant pummel myself if I want to keep training well this week. I asked what place I was in and was told 1st female with 2nd place 7 minutes behind.  Good to know.

The girl ahead of me slowed at the aid station and I caught her.  Knowing she did not lap me, and to confirm my lap number I asked her what lap she had us on.  She then said, "Oh, I ran the half, I just needed 20 for the day so I am out getting extra."  I responded with "So I can stop trying to race with you now! Thank goodness!  You were making me work!"  She laughed and then helped me confirm that I was starting 8 laps.

When I finished lap 8, I wanted to know how far ahead was I from 2nd as per the last lap splits.  I was curious as to whether I was putting time on her or losing it.  The timers weren't sure and said they would figure it out.  By the time I finished lap 9, I had stopped asking because I could see back about 6 minutes behind me due to the open fields sections. I knew that no one was closing in fast on me.

I started passing some guys at this point despite feeling like I was fading a little... maybe a minute per lap or I was just getting hot and tired.  I noticed the humidity getting heavy and my chafing (under my sports bra band because I forgot to pre-treat that) was starting to irritate me.  I just wanted to hurry up an be done.

The last laps clicked off uneventfully and by lap 12 I knew I had a good chance of taking home the win.  I finished as strong as could in 4:43:33.  Second place was about 14 minutes behind me.

Photo byVivian Corlew
I was really thrilled to find out I was actually 3rd place Over All -  The beauty of running very small races. :)

After the race, I had a great time sitting and talking to a runner-friend, Joe, who I am coaching.  It was so nice to see a runner I am training have a great time at a race that was outside of his usually running routine.

As I write this report, I finally got to sit down to look over my splits, because I did not actually look at many as I took them.  I have been very good in the past about running steady and mostly even 50ks.  Those races involved using a Garmin and knowing how far I was running per lap.  Today was hard because I had no Garmin and did not even know the loop distance.   I had check points en route that I attempted to get to by certain times and based on that data I felt like I ran a pretty even race.  Now that I look at my splits, I am very proud of just how even I did run.  Fastest lap - 23:19.  Slowest lap 24:24.  Just 55 seconds difference between fastest and slowest of eleven 2.6 miles loops.

Lap 1 - 16: 55 short lap
Lap 2 - 23:19 (abt 2.6 miles)
Lap 3 - 23:20
Lap 4 - 23:34
Lap 5 - 24:24
Lap 6 - 23:33 early split as I high-fived Maria
Lap 7 - 23:33 average for last two laps
Lap 8 - 23:48
Lap 9 - 23:20
Lap 10 23:46
Lap 11 24:24
Lap 12 24:16
Final partial lap: 5:17

Race Fuel:
Although this was a 50k, I opted to carry nothing.  The day before I went to my parents house for a party and ate a lot of carb-based foods, including chocolate mouse cake, (abandoning my "no gluten the day before a race" rule and not suffering any negative consequences.  I did stick with my "no-more-food-12-hours before the race start" rule and stopped stuffing my face around 7:00-7:30 pm).  In the morning, I had coffee and then on the ride down and prior to the start I drank about 20 oz of sports drink and Mt Dew.  I left half a small bottle of Mt. Dew in my small cooler bag next to the race course.  I ate a rice crispy treat for my pre-race snack.

With the exception of the first lap, I grabbed fluids at each station (2 AS per 2.6 mile loop, one water only.) At the main aid station, I would grab a cup of gatorade, drank about half of it, and ate small boiled potato until they were gone. Then I tried a pickle... and concluded that don't need to do that again.  Once the potatoes were gone, and the pickle taste was out of my mouth, I just ran on gatorade.  With 2 laps to go, I recalled the Mt. Dew in my cooler and drank that.

That was it.  No salt, except any, if any, that was on the potatoes. No gels. No other food.  Just gatorade, water, some Mt. Dew and about 4 potatoes pieces each about the size of half a ping pong ball or smaller. No bonking. My pace was even the entire way.

Time: 4:43:33
Over All: 3rd place
Gender: 1st place