Saturday, September 9, 2017

Run For The Woods 10K

Today was the 6th annual Run For The Woods 5K/10K at Sessions Woods Park in Burlington CT. This was my fourth time running it as a race. Living so close to the park allows me to run these trails weekly. It is always fun to run normal local trails as a race. It helps to know the terrain to take advantage of the less technical sections. Friends from the CT Trailmixers and Run 169 Towns were there. Lee Bradley joined in the fun today as well. He doesn't do trails frequently so it was great to see him take on the challenge.
Pre race with a friendly bear.
I normally run these trails at a casual pace. Today I pushed hard and flew through many of the easy sections. Sessions Woods has a varied mix of trail types. Some are wide and flat. Others are brutal tight single track with tons of roots and small rocks. By chance the weather was oustanding today. Cool(maybe too cool for some) with temps in the low 50's. Crisp air with a slight breeze. Perfect to run hard and stay cool. Right from the start I felt good. Legs were strong and I was loaded with energy. On the more technical sections I danced and weaved over the small boulders with surprising ease. Around mile 5 I was starting to slow down but saved enough for a strong finish. My time was 1:10 which is what my previous times were. Consistency!

It was good to get in a solid trail race since I haven't run many this year. It was also my 942nd day of consecutive running. Next challenge....the Hogs Back Half Marathon in three weeks.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Anchor Down Ultra 2017

Run 169 Town crew.
I've been waiting a few days to absorb and analyze my experiences at the Anchor Down Ultra this past weekend. This was my second year at the race. Last year I completed 51 miles which was actually a disappointment due to the fact I hoped to finish 100K. I wasn't going to enter this year but I needed to redeem myself. It was sold out but I signed up anyway. I was placed on the wait list and was eventually accepted in. That was the trigger to train harder and make this year much better than last. So as the summer started, so did my training.

First thing to do was review 2016 and determine what needed to be corrected. Looking at my stats last year it was apparent I really didn't train. Longest run was 14 miles and only one time. Most runs were 8,9,12 miles. This news shocked me. How did I not train? I know better! Therefore starting in June I was doing 20 mile runs almost every other week. Many 12-15 milers as well. I stayed off the trails and focused on a steady past while at the same time worked on fuel and nutrition.
Going into Anchor Down last Friday I was confident and ready. My goal was 72 miles. I tapered properly, drank plenty of fluids for two days prior, and ate relatively healthy with a higher percentage of carbs. I even slept later on Friday and tried to sleep Friday afternoon prior to the start. I setup my tent and supplies while greeting my friends especially from the Run 169 Towns group. Impressive to see so many attempt these longer races.

Tent city where runners have personal aid setups
As 7:00pm approached on Friday it was apparent we would see some rain. That rapidly changed to "expect downpours and lightening". In the 30 minutes before the start the usual greetings of old friends and group shots were taking place. At 6:50ish we started to line up and listen to last minute instructions. The RD had a lightening policy and it appeared he may need to use it. As the singer started the National Anthem the clouds opened up. It poured. Strangely enough many ran for cover under trees to avoid getting wet. What? Did they not realize they were minutes from starting an overnight race completely in the rain? After the anthem and a quick countdown we were off into the woods and massive muck. upon reaching harder trails the rain had built up enough to create small rivers. Then it happened. A quarter mile in the woods a loud crack of lightening came down. Then more after that. Were we gonna get struck? Were we going to die on the trail? Will they pause the race? Most expected the race to be paused. As we finished the first loop the RD decided to keep it going as the lightening moved away. After loop 1 it became dark fast and we settled into a messy, cold, and wet night of running. The rain continued for at least 4 hours and maybe more. Lightening came and went but without the intensity at the start.
Conditions early in the race. Photo credit to the official photographer Jon Packer
I was maintaining a 13:00/mile pace and running well. No tripping, sliding, or falls. I was on track through 12 miles. As the evening went on I started to weaken. My feet and ankles were very sore. Not normal and not expected. I was taking in fluids and nutrition just fine and started salt tabs and electrolytes(NUUN) as well. I could tell something wasn't right. Not critical but knew my pace would slow down. Then my mind starts over slow can I run to still reach 72 miles? Should I change my nutrition intake? Should I walk more? Should I stop for a long rest and regroup? I spent so much time thinking I hadn't noticed the time flying by. It was 2:00am.
My supplies for the race inside my tent to stay dry.
When back at the main aid station I asked for Ibuprofen. Thought that maybe my feet and ankles were swollen and it would help that and the pain. At 2:45 I could tell it was working! I felt better and had some good long fast paced miles. That got me through until the sun came up. The day was clearing up as I entered a "the worst was over" way of thinking. During the early morning I could feel the weakness coming back. Almost light headed but not faint. Odd. More over thinking started up again. On completion of the 16th loop I took a long break. Sat down and just relaxed. I needed 10 miles to reach 50 miles and the medal therefore the mission for the day was to take it easy and get to 50. Easy right? I did another loop and sat down again because I was definitely weak. After a long while I started loop #18. Only two more after that and I had my medal. I had 9 hours to do it. No big deal right? That 18th lap ended and I felt real weak. Couldn't figure it out. Drank plenty of fluids and ate a ton. Another long break then up for loop #19. I started into the woods and the mud, which had dried up a bit. After about 1/10th of a mile I stopped. Felt so weak I wondered if I was going to pass out. My inner self said to was OK. I turned and walked back to the start line. I sat down so my mind could have a cage match fight about stopping/not stopping. I needed only two more loops to have a respectable distance! Finally my common sense helped me come to the conclusion that my race was over. I got up and made my way to the time monitor. Quietly and sadly I told him I was stopping. It hurt to say it. It hurt bad. Especially after all my training and high expectations. Returning to my tent and chair I wondered if I did the right thing. I sat there in misery. Slowly I turned that sad and ugly moment into a positive. I am 63 years old and have run many races. This was another ultra. Maybe not the distance planned for but still a 44 mile ultra. I was satisfied and felt good. There is always next year.
Tired , dirty, and devastated
I had the most miles of any Grand Master in the race(only 2 of us in the 24 hour). But hey...that means I won! Lou Loban was the other Grand Master and he finished 36 miles. Not bad since he is within days of being 70 and has really bad knees. Always a great guy and inspiration. Within a 30 minute period I went from being completely devastated to feeling great. I headed out to the hotel to get cleaned up so I could return and watch the 100 milers finish up. Those runners completing 24 hours are amazing. Some completed 70 miles and other did more than 100. Many were in remarkable shape considering the conditions I knew too well. Congrats to all of them for an outstanding performance.
1st place for Grand Masters of the 24 hour race. Brought the smile back.
My final stats were: 18 loops completed. Total miles =  44.10. Average pace was 19:50

Is the 2018 Anchor Down on the radar? You bet it is!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Another 20 Mile Training Run

Another week and another 20 mile training run. So goes the schedule before the Anchor Down Ultramarathon in August. I ran a lot this week....75 miles total. Many mornings resulted in 10 mile runs. My leg conditioning has improved and feel great because of all the extra long runs. All this hard work is to end up with a better result at ADU this year. I expect to do much better than in 2016 for a variety of reasons. I compared training this year and last which was an eye opener:

1. In 2016 I had no 20 mile runs in training. This year I have 3 already.
2. I had only 8 10-20 mile runs prior to ADU and this year I have 9 already.
3. Total mileage this year exceeds 2016.

Therefore my legs and body are much better prepared for endurance and efficiency. My fluid and nutrition intake is better planned than in the past. Other prep is better as well such as sleep, general nutrition, and my head meaning my psychological state of mind..

Another observation was that last year much of my training was on trails especially Sessions Woods. Anchor Down is nothing like Sessions because it is mostly flat with some asphalt. My recent runs in the Farmington Flats mimic Anchor Down. I believe this will help especially training my body for that specific course. I'm really looking forward to the ADU this year. Can't be any worse? Right?

Today's run:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Well Planned Training Run

So I needed to get a few long runs in before the Anchor Down Ultra in August. Not unusual but in the past I just "went for a run" and accepted whatever the result. Today I made sure I was ready for an extended run. Earlier in the week it was obvious that Saturday would be perfect. Therefore I planned every aspect of pre-run prep.

On Friday I focused on fluids. Drank extra water throughout the day for hydration. I consumed more carbs than normal but didn't over do it. Had a calzone for lunch and slices of whole grain bread for snacks. I had plenty of rest by going to bed by 10:00pm. Early Saturday morning I woke up and I mean early. It was 3:15 and the first coffee was going down. To get a long run in early, without eating up the day, I had to start at 5:00 am. One hour before the run I had a banana and also drank about 12oz of water on the way to the Farmington Flats. I wanted a good solid run at a decent pace which is why I chose the Farmington Rail Trail for the day. Flat, long, plenty of places to stop if needed(nature calls). No sightseeing or picture taking! Recent attempts at long runs became a tour not training.

It was humid out so I planned to drink a lot of water with an occasional salt tab. I also had UCAN ready after the 10 mile return loop for energy on the second half. I took a salt tab at the start and after 10 miles. Soon after starting I found that a 10:45ish pace was comfortable and maintained at that level for most of the run. I hit the wall at mile 17 but pushed through easily. The fluids and nourishment helped me. It really felt good today and was a confidence builder for the upcoming ultra. Stats for the day was 22 miles at a 10:51 pace average.  I will do another in two weeks and follow the same plan. Anchor Down this year will be much better than last.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Time to train for Anchor Down

In six weeks I will be attempting the 24 hour Anchor Down Ultramarathon for the 2nd time. I learned a lot during last years attempt. A pitiful effort at best since I stopped at 17 hours and 51 miles. Sounds impressive until you see my historical stats and realized 50 miles takes me from 11-12 hours normally.

What did I do wrong?   Totally ignored any sleep needs by getting up early with no naps before the race. By doing that I was awake for 36 hours! My gas tank was empty by 15 hours into it which is why I stopped at 17. Couldn't go on. I believe physically I can do better but must have the proper rest. I also fueld poorly. Too many stops at the snack tables overnight, too much pizza on multiple loops, etc. Not enough water.  One of the best experiences last year was the college guys serving Ramen Noodle soup at 3:00am by the ocean. That really gave me a boost. Other runners have said the same. The last observation of bad habits was the frequent and long breaks. Every loop and sometimes for many minutes. All that together gave me a slow 50 mile time.

This year a plan is developing.
First.... I hope to get there early, setup a tent, and sleep a few hours. It may be noisy so I may end up up in the car for an extended nap. If I could sleep until 5:00ish instead of socializing I will be better prepared at start time.
Pace....My pace wasn't too fast initially for the race but too fast for the rooty trail section. I stumbled and stubbed toes which caused discomfort. I will walk most of that section this year.
Breaks and fueling....I need to plan what food and how often I eat. More carbs, less junk, and only a slice of pizza at midnight. It will be "grab and go" to save time.
After daybreak....Once the sun comes up I will be half done. Mentally I must stay positive and push at that point. Not push for speed but instead push for continuance. Walking is OK but I must keep going.

The goal....72 miles and/or 24 hours. Whatever the result I have a hotel reserved down the street for the proper rest before heading home.
After 17 hours