- Nutrition worked well as I said, and looking back was pretty light for the day, but it worked with virtually no stomach issues. 4 x EFS Gel Flasks, 2 x Gatorade Prime with serving of Chia , 1 of those 5 hour energy shots, 3 Gu Gels, 1 Jam Sandwich, 5 or 6 x S! Caps and a couple of Tylenol's to help dull the tired legs. So maybe 3,000 calories, if that, but it worked.
- During a section of the AT I had a brief chat with a guy running his 14th JFK - that is 700 miles - I told him I figured he knew every rock on the trail by now.
- The last km running into Antietam Aqueduct aid station (27.1 miles) I was running with a girl who was just flying, she had crew on cell phones calling ahead with what she needed. We were running a 4:45/km coming into the aid station. It felt great to open up the pace at that point in the race.
- Lost the toe nail from my right big toe. First time that has happened so fast. After the race it was the only thing that hurt.
- Last year at this time I was mentally done training, this year I am pretty excited looking towards the first half of 2012.
- Still in awe of what I did. I know there are 70 people who ran it faster, but still it's pretty cool, and as someone mentioned, largest Ultra in North America. Not Bad!
- Started Wall Sits today (see Sulphur)
- Next up is the Marathon, as part of the Yukon Arctic Ultra where Derrick is running the 100 Mile. (more on that in my next post)
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I remember after my 2nd marathon (first ever destination race) cruising around the web looking at different races around North America and happened upon a report from the JFK50. Reading about these people running 50miles, finishing in the dark wearing reflective vests mesmerized me and boggled my mind. I just could not imagine doing this and that thought stuck with me for a couple of years. I decided this year would be the year that I ran it, and based on last year’s qualifications I would need to run a sub-9:00 50 miler to get in the early entries. I set my sites on Sulphur Springs in May and managed to pull off a nice 8:22. I sent my application into JFK the first day I could and was happy to make the cutoff as it seemed like it sold out in 7 days.
Heading into the fall and this race it was supposed to be just a relaxed, end of season race. My original goal was to aim for a sub 3:15 marathon at Wine Glass and that is where my summer training focused. However, all of that got sidelined with Kim’s pleurisy, so it ended as a false start. Since I had done the training and not the race, I decided to continue with the build and change my JFK goal from a fun run to a more ambitious goal of sub-8:00. I knew it was lofty, but I also figured I should try, after all I was in great shape and there was no reason not to at least try.
Kim and I drove down on Thursday so we had Friday to pre-drive the check points (where she would meet me as my handler) before the race. It was a good thing we did because a couple of the check points were pretty remote and it made her task a little easier on race day.
Race pickup was pretty simple as it was in the Hotel where we stayed and we just headed down in our PJ pants and Flip Flops. Love that.
As with most races, weather obsession became a big part of my life for the two weeks leading up. JFK can have quite the swing in temperatures and I was rehearsing for everything. Fortunately, the day turned out to be almost ideal with a starting low of -1C and a high of 10C with a slight SE wind. I went with shorts and three different tops as the day progressed, thank goodness for my handler. J Now, JFK50 has three distinct and different sections to it, and can be broken down like a triathlon; The Appalachian Trail (15.5miles), The Tow Path (26.5miles), The Rolling Country Road (8Miles). After reading a few reports and descriptions of the trail section, I decided it was best for me to run the first section in trail shoes and then take the time to switch to a road shoe for the final 34.5 miles. The only issue was that that section also included about 3.5 miles of road/pavement and really 12 miles of trail, but that trail was supposed to be a rocky road. I settled on using the new Lasportiva Syklites, a perfect hybrid trail and road shoe that I have fallen in love with and my trusty Mizuno Precisions for the remainder of the race. Fuel wise, I stayed with my trusty EFS Gel flasks with a side of Gu’s, S!Caps, and whatever I felt like at the aid stations (which ended up not being much).
Kim and I arrived at the High School in Boonsboro in plenty of time to hear the pre-race speech and chat with a few of the runners from the Burlington crew.
We made our way to the start line taking our time with a brief stop for the ceremonial picture in front of the Colombia Bank sign.
Then crap, we hear an announcement that there is one minute to the start, and we were not even close. We hustle to the start, I work my way in, take a breath, and the gun goes off. No waiting for this one to start.
As mentioned, the race starts on paved roads, it progresses over a couple of rolling hills for about the first mile, and then climbs straight for 1.5 miles. It was the beginning of a long day so I just kept my effort easy and plodded up the hill. I was keeping around the same group of runners, so I knew it was pretty relaxed and everyone was just getting into the race. At the top of the first climb, we then turned on to the trail for about 1 mile. This was a great taste for what laid ahead. You read that it is rocky, and it is! There are rocks everywhere and you are either running on them or around them. They are not massive, but aren’t pebbles either. Thank goodness for trail races and training that I had done under similar conditions as I just let instinct take over and do my best mountain goat impersonation. Out of that short trail section, a brief aid station stop to refill my flask with water and then we were on pavement again. For this part you are on what seems to be a single lane road that ends at a communication tower at the top of the road. I say top of the road, because this was another section of continuous climbing. I like most others, ran most sections and just walked the steeper parts just grinding it to the top. Finally we were done and back on to the trail. I knew most of the climbing was over with at this point, and let myself open up the pace a bit, passing some less experienced on the trails, finally getting into race mentality (the warm up was over).
I wasn’t really too worried about pace at this time, I was trying to get close to a 6 min/km pace knowing that is what I needed to hit my 8:00 goal, but I was really trying to be off the trail by 2:30 into the race. With 3 different sections of the course, even pacing (like for a marathon) was out the window; I had found a pacing chart on the Reston Runners JFK50 site and that was the goal time for that section.
I was really enjoying the trail once I got into the groove of it, kept on top of my hydration and nutrition and just enjoyed the time in the woods; soon the trail started descending - slowly first and then quite steep through a series of very rocky switch backs and we descended the Weaverton Cliffs, exiting to the cheers of the crowd at the bottom. I exited at 2:27, right on schedule.
Kim was waiting for me just after the exit, so I jumped out of the way of the other runners and started my “transition”. Shoes and timing chip (that was a bit of a pain) shirt change, gloves, new fuel and water, Garmin back on and I was off running again in 4mins.
For the time lost here, it paid many times over for the security and comfort on the first section and for the next 34.5 miles.
Leaving the base of the cliff, you are not on the tow path just yet, there was about .5km of some fun single track before you finally exit to the Weaverton aid station, cross a set of railway tracks and you are on the tow path; 26.2 miles to go on this section.
This was the section of the race I was really most worried about. It was the least technical/challenging, but it was also the easiest to lose time on. Goal was simply to stay focused for the tow path marathon and run a solid even pace. Again with the first section, I stayed on top of my nutrition and hydration, even taking a couple of brief walking breaks to make sure I took care of the little things, so they wouldn’t become big things.
I was pacing fairly steady and on target hitting the 25 mile mark on my Garmin just before the 4hr mark. However, about 5 minutes later, I hit an aid station that was at 24.8 miles. Oops, my Garmin was tracking long, first time ever for a trail race. I wasn’t too worried because I had the easier section(s) ahead, but also the more tired legs as well. Again, focus on keeping steady.
Kim was waiting for me at the Antietam Aqueduct aid station (27.1 miles).
I did my second shirt change of the day, it was a beautiful day and the bare arms felt refreshing, but stayed with gloves.
Quick swap of bottles and taking on more nutrition and I was out in a couple of minutes; still a long way to go.
Pace stayed fairly constant, and I checked every once and a while, but I was running a pretty even pace so stayed with what felt right. Just before my next meeting with Kim at Taylor’s Landing, I passed a spectator who told me I looked good, I responded that I felt like crap. She responded, you’ve just run 38 miles, how do you expect to feel? That summarized it well. I was getting tired, and pulling in at 38.5 miles, Kim knew it. I was tired.
But the best thing I could do was not linger, so I got moving again after a quick swap of things. Key thing with Ultras that way, you can’t waste too much time at aid stations as you get too comfortable and you can lose too much time. So I took off, running a little harder to get the body moving.
Again I passed another spectator who said the same as the previous and I responded the same. Their response was just what I needed. They said ‘You sure don’t look it’. This was the little boost I needed, because to me even though I was running tired, I was still running strong and that was most important. Stay on pace and stay on form.
Leaving Taylor’s Landing, I only had 3.5 miles until Damn #4 and the end of the tow path, just over 5km left, so the end was near and I started pushing as best I could. Then, with about 1km to go, I could see the Damn in the distance and then the tow path was over. I made as quick stop at the aid station and then onto the final 8.2 miles.
So leaving the tow path was the first time I really had a feel for what my finishing time could be. I had run 46 miles in 6:30, just another 8.2miles in 1:30 to run sub-8 hours. Very possible, but I would have to keep it strong. Knowing full well of how tough the last 10km of a marathon can be, where when you start walking, you bleed minutes; nothing was for sure.
The first .2 miles of the last section are uphill. I had read that it is runnable on fresh legs, but best to walk it at this point in the race, so that is what I did, taking in water and gels while I had the chance. The top of the hill is the 8 miles to go mark and the countdown started.
The rest of the race course is roiling, paved country roads, a refreshing change from the tow path, but offering its own challenge as any sort of uphill at this point is tough. There were a few of us on this section within sight and I could tell we were all just in our own world, pushing to the finish. I thought of the early morning intervals and tempo runs, the races, and progression runs I had done to get me here and fed off those feelings. Dig deep, and keep pushing it will be over soon enough. I met Kim for the last time at the 46.0 mile mark where I dumped my Speed Belt, shoved a gel in my gloves and made for the finish.
I had been counting down in all seriousness since the 5mile (8km) mark and now with 6km to go, I was starting to smile inside.
At 5kms to go, it should hurt like Carleton Place 5km race last July, and it did. Reached the water station at 1.2 miles to go, grabbed a cup of water and took off for home. Then sooner than expected, the final turn for home and I saw the glorious finish line off in the distance.
I felt I had a little left in the tank to push harder to the end, but really what was the point? I enjoyed every moment of the final run to the finish of the JKF50, smiling and still feeling strong.
Time: 7:45:14, way under my 8:00 goal time and not one faltered step all day.
As I have stated many times in the past, this is not a journey I could make alone. Kim was there for me through all the training and spot on, at every station doing everything I asked. My life partner is also my race partner and I carried her on my shoulder the whole way. This one was for you sweetie. Thank you for all you do.
And Coach Derrick, I hate it when you are right, but you were in everything you made me do for this! There is no way that I would have come close by myself. Now let’s go after that 100 miler. J
Some Final Stats
Time 7:45:14. Distance: 50.2 Miles. 71st Overall. 3rd AG. 2nd Canadian.
Paces – 6:05/km, 5:29/km, 5:34/km
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
- A woman past me about 3km into the 2nd loop, and as she went by said "I hope you don't mind me saying you have the most beautiful legs" - Just confirms what Kim has told me all these years :)
- The mud was tough for sure, but it was a tacky mud, not the shoe sucking variety I found. It ended up being easier to run through the centre in most sections rather than skirting about it. I do feel sorry for those people trying to run the course in road shoes. Watching them slip and slide was painful. The LaSportiva Crosslites gripped like a studded tire.
- What were those blue flowers in the woods? They were gorgeous, as was some of the forest sections.
- As I said in my report, the course was hilly. Not crazy long climbs, but over the 20km loop very little flat so a lot of constant elevation changing. On that note, my quads were trashed after. I know I was running the downs hard and felt it at the end. Note for next year Derrick, back to wall sits
- 90% sure I will run the 100 mile there next year - Post race I am feeling pretty confident I can do it on that course, and makes for easy crewing for Kim.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
After finishing my first 50 mile race at Haliburton last year, I knew I had discovered a magical distance. As running for 10hrs and 50 miles gave me such a rush of accomplishment and satisfaction, I was itching to run another. So, I started laying plans for a spring 50 miler. However, if I was going to run another, there would be a purpose. For a number of years I have flirted with the idea of running the Granddaddy of 50 mile races, the JFK50. Thinking back to last year’s registration qualification times, I remembered seeing for 50+ yr old males the qualifying time needed for a 50 mile race was sub-9hrs, the goal had been set. I let Derrick know what I wanted to run, so then the question became where? I put my name in the lottery for the Bull Run Run, but was not picked; I thought of Seaton but having never run it and rumours that it was tougher than Haliburton had me re-thinking it, so I settled on Sulphur Springs, whose course record is very impressive so I knew it had to be the perfect race to attempt the 9 hour goal.
Fall, Winter, Spring training went well. Derrick had me focus on a lot of strength building, along with gym time and Physio to help correct some “weaknesses”. I managed most of my training uninjured, and had rediscovered some foot speed that I had lost. I did two pre-races; Chilly Dog, a 40km freezing rain snowshoe slush-fest and Seaton Trails, a 55km freezing rain mud-fest. Both races were tough outings, but I learned a lot about Gear, Mental, and Nutrition that I would not have discovered any other way. So, they were well worth it.
Leading up to Sulphur, my hopes for a 9 hour race were starting to wane, with all the rain, the normally fast and dry trail of Sulphur was becoming a slow, wet, slippery pathway. Still I never discounted the goal and headed to the race ready to do what it would take. My plan was simple: 4 loops with a 10min increase in time for each subsequent loop, so 2:00 / 2:10 / 2:20 / 2:30 for a total of 9:00.
Race morning dawned, cool, damp and foggy, but no rain thank goodness. I decided to go with a long sleeve shirt for the first loop and change after 20km. I set up two plastic totes just after the turnaround, one with my nutrition refills and another with equipment.
Race started quickly with a 400m that spread everyone out nicely before the right turn onto the trails. I settled into a comfortable pace, not really focusing on anything but trying to get a feel for what the trails were all about. After about 5kms, I was pretty confident that even though they were muddy and wet, when compared to my two previous races this year, they weren’t as tough. I found my pace a little quick, but also had the feeling that for the most part we were running downhill and having a little time in the bank is a good thing. I jumped on top of my nutrition from the start, something that Derrick had drilled into me. Things ticked along nicely with my pace just under my 6:00/km goal for the first loop. Heading into the last 7km, we met up with the 25km racers and the course started to get a little crowded, but nothing crazy. Still not knowing what the course was all about yet, I kept my pace up and when I hit the ridge at about 15km, I was still under my pace goal. Then guess what happened? The course headed downhill, w00t! More time in the bank as I made my way back to the aid station, on to the road and hit that ever so lovely 400m climb up to the turn around. Hit the turn, stopped at my totes to restock my Gels and Food, switched shirts, and headed back down the hill for the 2nd loop. Done #1 in 1:55, nice, 5mins ahead.
On to loop 2, down the hill and into the trail. Now, I knew what I was in for and there was nothing surprising or overly challenging, just a nice trail of constant up and downs (I believe the net elevation change on the course description now). Feet were soaked, legs were muddy, body was just starting to feel the distance, and nutrition was ticking along nicely, just a day at the office. I was able to maintain a slightly faster pace than planned without pushing too hard. About ½ way though the loop, my Morton’s Neuroma on my right foot started acting up (it is a pain on the ball of the foot between the 2nd and 3rd toes). I tried various foot positions to help relieve some of the discomfort, and it would fade in and out. I had been having issues with it on and off for the past month, and I was figuring the wet shoes had compressed my metatarsal pads in my orthotics and I wasn’t getting the support that I needed. So I figured I would switch shoes at the end of the loop to get some relief. I found myself running across the ridge again, just ahead of goal pace (which I knew meant I could make up some more time on the downhill stretch). When I started on the descent, the strangest thing happened, the pain in my foot all but vanished. I could feel some lingering tenderness, but it felt mostly good. w00tx2!! Climbed the hill to the turn and chomped down some ginger as my stomach was starting to go a little south on me. Kim was there this time, looking quite fresh after her 10km race, restocked and NO shoe change out for Loop #3. 2:03 for the 2nd loop, so 12mins ahead overall.
On a 4 loop race, the 3rd loop is always the toughest, but knowing this I forced myself to keep my mental on and not think about where I was at, just push forward. I hit two major obstacles at this point. The thought of food was really starting to turn my stomach. Fortunately I could still stomach gels with water, but any real food touching my lips seemed to invoke a gag reflex. I had been ahead on my nutrition on the first two laps so I was confident that if I kept up the gels, I would have enough in the tank to get me to the finish without seriously bonking. The other issue was my right quad was really starting to give me grief for some reason; tight and sore. As with any race though, if it ain’t broke, run through it, and sure enough the pain in the quad eventually went away. Stomach on the other hand was a battle, but I was getting calories in me, and even better keeping them there. My pace was slowing as expected, but I was staying focused and still ahead of the laps goal pace. Finally I reached my favourite section, the Ridge and down to the aid station, opening the stride up a bit, power walk the final hill to the turn. Whew! 3 loops done, 1 to go. It was warming up so I decided to dump my shirt at this point, and food was useless to carry so I stripped off my zippered pouch from my waist pack. The less the better. On to loop #4, the final one. 2:11 for the 3rd loop, so I had the 10min difference as I expected between the two loops, but I was ahead on goal time by over 20mins.
On a race like this I take nothing for granted. I bled minutes in Haliburton and knew how easy it was to lose time. With this in mind and knowing what the 1st 5km of the loop was like, I decided to ”hammer” it as best I could. I figured the further I got, the less distance I would have to cover when I did start to slow. I was happy to see that after 60km I managed to cover the 5km in just over 30min. More of a buffer, 15kms to go and I was starting to feel confident that I could hit the sub-9hr goal. The next 10km were a mental and physical slug fest. I kept forward momentum, trying to actually run some of the final uphills, trying to save every second I could. I knew when I had made it to the Ridge Line that one last time it would be downhill to the finish and only a stupid mistake would screw things up. With about 10km left, I started to entertain a sub-8:30 time. Just as I was starting the final section up to the ridge line, I calculated that if I ran 7:00/min kms to the finish that I would break 8:30, it would be tough I knew but one final push. So then with 2km left, I hit 2hrs on my garmin for the loop. Excuse me, I thought how does that work? Based on my previous calculation, that didn’t make sense (math and running do not mix). So here I was with 2km and 20mins to cover the distance to run under 8:30. Ha, that was not going to be an issue, now it was time to push to the finish. I ran as much and as fast as I could, but in the end that final hill got me and I had to walk it. Still, once I crested the top, I started running again and finished strong and happy. Lap time 2:13 for a Total time for the 50 miles of 8:22. J A PB by 1:34.
Kim was there at the finish and I gave her the longest sweatiest hug. I was so happy and thrilled with how the DAY had unfolded. I was tired and sore, but I had far exceeded my goals and expectations, and stayed strong to the finish pushing the whole time and never loosing focus. We stood around and chatted with some people as I tried to let the Tylenol do its work and get some real food in me. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to know how I had placed. I was very surprised to find that not only had I placed 10th overall (top 10 finish is always great), but I was also 1st in my age group (50+). Well how about that! I received my first ever plaque, and yes I am still grinning.
Before the race, the JFK50 qualifications were posted and all I needed was a sub-10hrs this year. I knew that going in, but I had trained for the goal and was determined to do my best to reach it.
I am taking the time now to soak in everything and let my mind and body recover and renew before I start back training. I have a couple of goals left for the year and I know that with Kim at my side and Derrick in my corner, they will be reached – not going to be easy though, but what fun would that be? J