Coastal 50k: 3 x 3
|September 20, 2016||Posted by Melinda under Event Report, Ultra Running|
I’m going straight to the 3 by 3 evaluation because there isn’t much of a story here – ran 14 miles the day before the race and besides one little arm-flapping-hysterical-shriek complete with teleportion to the side of the trail when I was surprised by something behind me (it was a bike, and no I wasn’t wearing headphones) it was uneventful.
Went out the next day for this 50K in the Marin Headlands, and instead of the misty overcast green paradise I was expecting (as was everyone else there) it was a no-cover sun OVEN with uncharacterically clear skies and high temps. But beyond that wrinkle it was what you might expect – long hours of putting one foot in front of the other and getting the distance done.
Besides the fact I wrapped up an awesome back to back run weekend totaling 45 miles, here’s what else went well.
My gear and nutrition is dialed IN
Almost. This random Target bra didn’t work as well as the other one – but it’s also one I normally never would have worn because it doesn’t even look like it would work. My feet felt GREAT in the Challenger model shoes, my shorts were awesome, and my nutrition worked flawlessly: Filled clif bar when I’m actually hungry – early morning, late afternoon post heat – applesauce and mentos throughout the afternoon. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and soda in the aid stations.
There was no early afternoon bonk where I wanted to nap – which is probably a first for a race that extends past 1 pm. This was despite having to get up at 3 am to make it to the race start on time.
I was really efficient in the aid stations
My goal was 2-3 min in the aid stations and I nailed it. I went in to each aid station with a plan and was efficient about getting out of them. Yes, there may be times when longer is needed to fix issues that have arisen, but without a specific reason, I really believe that getting in and out is important.
I made a difference. Twice.
I can’t help but write about this because when I think of these 2 moments I get all warm and fuzzy and puts a smile on my face, even though the act of telling the story seems to diminish what I did?
There was this awful part of the race where you run all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, and then underneath it…only to have to run all the way back up, and then make a left hand turn so you can keep climbing. Oh. AND this is 25 miles into the race. On my way to the bridge I ran around the corner down to the bridge and saw a runner sitting on the trail. Usually a strong runner, he was utterly demoralized, having nausea issues, and wanted to go back to the bridge aid station and drop.
I was having some pretty severe pain (more on that later), had gotten really hot climbing up a really exposed portion, and didn’t relish the idea of going down just to come back up….. and yes, was flirting with the idea of DNF’ing myself. But it’s amazing how when you see someone in trouble it’s easy to push your own problems aside.
“Have you thrown up?” “No, I’ve been dry heaving all the way up the hill”.
*Hands him an applesauce packet*
“Here. Eat half of this. If you puke it up you will feel better. If you keep it down eat the other half of it and you will feel better.”
I reassured him that even if he hiked slowly out he could make the 5 miles or less to the finish.
And then I left.
His wife who had been sitting with him on the trail caught up with me and thanked me. Apparently tough love comments from a stranger “with experience” worked better than reassurances from her and he was able to get on and continue (ultimately finish).
Here’s the amazing thing. I’ve never had stomach issues during a race, but parroted what I’ve heard from people more experienced than me and what I’ve told myself *will* be my internal narrative when inevitably I’m puking and nauseous during a race and want to die. Hopefully some random stranger comes by and returns the favor and gets me going….
The second thing I did was find a good home for my finishers medal. :3. I overheard another runner talking about a program she participates in that pairs disabled kids with runners (I Run For?). After races if the race director has extras she sends a T-shirt and finishers medal to the child, which apparently the child gets a HUGE kick out of. When I heard this I immediately handed her my medal. Fig will play with it for a day and then it will go into a box. I LOVED the idea of it going to this kid. As a bonus, I ended up winning an age group medal so Fig has something to play with after all!
(or as my Readers will probably think of it, “The Good Stuff” LOL!!!)
By the time I got to the second half of the race my right achilles was a major limiting factor.
It started because my right shoe was too loose and my heel was slipping and that combined with a lot of up hill hiking in the first 6 or so miles caused a friction rub over the top of my achilles. My body was sending plenty of pain signals to let me know of my egregious error (fine body, I’ll just let the shoe be too tight like Pioneer next time, which you apparently *don’t* care about in the moment).
I tightened up my shoe, and decided that the primary problem was not tendonitis and I was not in fact going to cripple myself by pushing through the pain. So it was time to not be a wuss and keep moving.
Hiking uphill and walking made it worse. Which was unfortunate because there was a lot of up hill and thus a lot of walking.
Then half way through the race my heel had decided that any shoe contact on the back of the shoe would result in immediate firing of any pain neurons in the area, just as a reminder that there might be something wrong. There are apparently a lot of pain neurons in this area determined to keep the achilles healthy.
So I loosened my shoe up, jammed my toe as far forward as I could and fantasized about cutting the heel off my shoe (not going to happen as these are relatively new shoes), or changing into my crocs and finishing the race in them (also not happening since no drop bags).
To my surprise by adjusting the shoe, deciding my pain neurons were overreacting to a rather minor problem, and continuing to move forward…. the pain went away completely for the last 3 miles and I ran in quite comfortably.
Which just goes to show that not every problem gets worse as you continue. You really can work through pain and move on. Pain is a funny thing and how the brain and neurons react to signals is not always straightforward.
Solution to this problem? I haven’t used traditional laces in a long time. I seem to be a laces-idiot. Maybe I need to go back to sport laces. Having another shoe and sock option wasn’t possible at this race (point to point with no drop bags) but having it available at other races where I do have a drop bag is worth it.
[on the positive side…..ABSOLUTELY NO IT BAND PAIN. None. It was feeling a bit tight on my 14 mile run the day before so I absolutely POUNDED it down hills at this race, needing to know if it was going to be a problem at my 100. Looks like the pattern from the past of it only bothering me if it’s been a while between runs is holding true.]
It’s not a race but I should have at least known approximately how far apart the aid stations were. I knew that I needed to be at Rodeo Beach before 6:30am to catch a shuttle to the start (point to point race) but thought that the race started at 7:30 because I had never actually looked up the start time. Apparently I had just *guessed* based on the time the shuttle would take? Weird.
More failings – There were no drop bags (which I knew) and over 31 miles I WILL need to reapply sunscreen and lube so I should have thrown some little bottles in my pack. It was WAY sunnier than anyone had expected and I didn’t wear sunglasses. I had a headache the day after the race that was probably related. From my quick glance at the course map I didn’t realize I was only familiar with 1/2 of the course and a quick calculation would have reminded me that this is a very hilly course – 200 feet/mile average elevation change.
All little stuff, but all stuff that adds up if I’m going 50, 62, or 100 miles.
I get kudos for a well executed long run. My check list for long runs is really well dialed in and I brought all the right stuff…but it also exposed some of the things I forgot to do if this had been a race. (and yes, is the reason that “long race” should be a different check list than “long run”).
Can’t even believe I’m having to talk about pacing here on the “what could have gone better” section. Especially at a race where I had pre-fatigued my legs on a FOURTEEN mile run the day before.
I feel like I shouldn’t even have to put this into words but I will anyway because it’s embarrassing and maybe that way I’ll learn.
I went out too hard.
It was a lot of up hill hiking (Dipsea) and there’s a fine line between tempo effort and long SLOW distance effort. I’m really good at tempo effort and doing a resource allocation effort analysis that leaves just enough gas to get to the finish in reasonable shape. I’m not so good at dialing back and leaving something in the tank so I can continue to put in training efforts just a day or two after the race.
In a podcast I listened to someone said that it’s easier to go out at a reasonable pace and then push at the end because you feel good, than to go out faster and try to hang on.
I think I’ve done the latter at most of ultras, even if they were suppose to be low slow distance.
It’s the little insidious decisions I’m making at the beginning of races….and it’s mostly during my hill climbing especially when I’m with someone else and we are having a conversation.
Fortunately at this race my achilles/heel pain made me slow down earlier on in the race and that’s probalby why I had such a strong finish (50k PR, and a pace (min/mile) PR for any race I’ve done in the Marin Headlands).
I had a revelation about long SLOW distance workouts that I’ll blog about later, but in the meantime I’m happy that I have another chance at a long back to back weekend before the 100 to dial in pacing.
Spandits Boardie shorts with pocket
A random Target bra (different from last time) that caused rubbing all the way around that will NOT be worn again at an ultra.
A tech performance shirt I got on sale at REI years ago (I have a white one and a black one and they are my fav’s for races. At some point I’ll look up the actual brand and will let you know….)
Hoka Challenger ATR 2
Ball cap – from an endurance ride
Smartwool arm warmers (for all of 20 min at the start)
Orange mud hydration 70 ounce pack
- Hammer electrolyte tabs
- Applesauce packets
- Filled clif bar
- Pro bar (prior to race start)
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, random soda at aid stations
Same as other events, if you have any questions I would be more than happy to answer them in another post in about a week. Post them in the comments, email me, or send me a message on facebook.
The I Run 4 program is awesome, let me know if you want more info!! At my race a week ago it was cold, the climb from GG and the ridge after was windy as heck, and I finally remembered shades because I always get a headache running there! Do you use heel lock lacing when you have regulars? Don’t make it unseasonably warm at Rio please and thank you 😉
I do use the heel lock pattern on the laces. When I say the shoe was loose….it was so loose I could slip it on and off without touching the laces. Which is about right when I’m using elastic laces, but way too loose when the laces aren’t stretchy!
My other hokas came with speed laces preinstalled so trying to figure out how I can transfer them into these shoes but they are continuous and you have to cut off so I’ll have to do a little planning on whether I can knot them back together etc.
Wow, you did awesome Melinda! We kept leapfrogging each other for awhile before you shot off, and I lost sight of you. It was a challenging race for sure with all the heat and climbing. It’s wonderful how you paid it forward with your wise and encouraging words to a fellow runner and for passing on your medal to a good cause. During the race, I saw another runner cramping and walking very slowly. I turned back to ask what was wrong, and he said he had some major cramps. I offered him a salt tab, one of my last two, and he took it. A short while later, he passes me speeding on the downhills and thanking me for the salt tablet that made his cramps go away. That put a smile on my face, and it reminded me about how much I love these trail races and the warm community that it fosters. Good luck on your future races. Carpe Diem!
It sounds so cliche but I’m finding out that it truly is the people and how we help each other that makes trail running so awesome (along with the beautiful scenery). It’s not e like We set out with that goal in mind but when we’re out there and it’s tough, helping the people around you seems like the most natural thing in the world. Hoping it reminds me to do that more in life too.