Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ironmasters' Trailmasters Challenge 50K - 4/28/13

A few months back I ran a 50K.  Big whoop, right?  My previous longest race was exactly one year prior.  On 4/28/12 I ran my first trail marathon with some amazing runner friends.  One of them was a big player for refocusing my lifestyle towards defining myself as an athlete again, that's Kelly Agnew, ultra runner extraordinaire.  Another was my girlfriend Kristen.  She ran her first half that day, too.  Our enjoyment and pride in finishing that race led HER to find this 50K, not me.  She gets more credit for this torturous trek through central PA.

We had signed up for this race about 7 months before the actual date.  As 2 fit adults, we have no business running any more if we can't be prepared in that time frame.  We'd trained, we'd fueled and the race could not have been a more amazing day.  I'd bought a gopro camera for, among other things, this race.  I thought it would be a great way to document our races and other adventures and I'd wear it for 31+ miles.  Why not?

We'd both had race plans.  Kristen's was under 9 hours.  Mine was 7.  7's the magic number.
Well, this was my first raceplan.  Having hiked the first half, and hardest parts, of this course, I knew what to expect.  I made some assumptions, a few guesses and I thought it was solid.
Ironmasters Challenge 50k Raceplan4/28/20137:30:00
SectionMilesPaceGoal timeTODCutoffAid StationMile
17.70:16:002:03:129:33:12CP1: Michener Cabin7.7
25.20:12:001:02:2410:35:3612:00:00CP2: Woodrow Road12.9
33.10:12:000:37:1211:12:48Water Station 1: PA 23316
43.40:12:000:40:4811:53:3614:30:00CP3: Brickyard Pavillion19.4
540:14:000:56:0012:49:36Water Station 2: Old Forge Road23.4
650:14:001:10:0013:59:3617:45:00CP4: Cold Spring28.4
72.830:12:000:33:5714:33:33FINISH LINE31.23

CP1 follows 2 serious climbs.  That was really the hardest part of the race and I made some pretty good guesses at my raceplan.  I hit CP2 dead on to my plan.  Then, the wheels fell the hell off.  I wouldn't say I spiraled out or completely failed but I was dogging.  Section 3 should have been a nice, flat jog at an easy pace.  I was 15 minutes off after that 3.1-mile leg.  The subsequent legs all followed suit and I rolled in at about 8:33:08.  

I hadn't thought of it all day but until I was done, I recognized my downfall was fueling during the race.  Too long of a gap of refueling between the start and in the early stages left me high and dry right right where I crashed at Water Station 1.  I had carried with me a Nathan quickdraw handheld and a fuel belt with 2 more water bottles.  I kept water in my handheld and Hammer fizz in the 2 belt bottles.  I carried some Gu, energy blocks and some other random electrolytes and carbs I picked up at REI.  In addition to that, I relied on the checkpoints and the bananas, trail mix, candy, Gatorade, etc. there.  

Ironmaster's Challenge won that battle but I'll be back in 2014 for sure.  

Diamond in the Rough - 7/13/13

I'd always imagined I'd be a pretty badass triathlete.  I'd grown up swimming competitively, always had a slim frame for endurance events and recently shed some lbs off that frame from running... so how hard would riding around on some bike for a while and a kinda long run be after crushing all these goons in the swim?  Well, since I had started learning to develop race plans, I recognized that the swim, as a percentage of the race, wasn't going to give me any real competitive advantage over the field, unless my competition was truly novice swimmers.  Most of the mileage and time on the course is dedicated to the latter 2 events so my race plan was probably on par with most of the field after spying on a few age-groupers on

The Diamond in the Rough Tri is in Perryville, MD right by the I-95 bridge over the Susquehanna river.  There were some fierce storms the day before and there was some threat to cancel the swim.  But we woke to a pretty perfect morning and the swim was on.  Game on.  The course details for the sprint event were pretty short: 0.25mi swim, 7.8 bike, 2.5 run.  My race plan was something like 6min even for the swim, 25 for the bike and 20 for the run with two 1-minute transitions even though I had no idea how long the trasitions may actually take on my first go at it.  So I was hoping for something like 55 minutes which would have been top 10 overall last year.  I looked at this like a one-hour asskicking workout.  No reason to not go all out.

I was lured to the event by my friend Adam who's been competing in tris for quite a while now.  This is a training run for him in preparation for the Nation's Tri in DC in a few weeks.  We were both in the sprint so we were the first wave to start the day's events.  After a brief warmup in the river, we floated around until we we got the start.  I don't remember if it was a gun, airhorn or whistle- I was too amped up to destroy my first race.

The swim course was around 3 buoys then a run up a staircase then about 150yds to the transition area.  I felt extremely strong during the first half and could tell I was tiring fast after the second buoy.  The adrenaline was fading fast and I was pretty sure I didn't swim the straight lines my Garmin suggested and was sure I swam more of a wide loop.  I came out of the swim with the 15th fastest split at 8:21.  I could see Adam about 10 seconds ahead of me.  I really would have liked to catch him on the bike but figured that was impossible

Transition one was unremarkable.  I yanked my bike shorts over my swimsuit, threw on my socks, running shoes, race belt, shirt, helmet, sunglasses and bolted out at 1:56.  A bit longer than 1 minute.

It's been years since I had a road bike.  About 8 since I really used to ride it.  I was on my 2-week-old Trek Madone and had put about 60 miles on it before this race.  The rolling hills in the area felt like mountains since the 60ish miles I put on my Trek were all on the flat Schuylkill River Trail.  I managed a 28:44 ride then a 0:49 transition to the run.  The best part of that transition was trying to be really cool and dismount my bike while moving and just glide off the seat and into a trot next to my bike.  I swung my right leg over, slowed down, hopped off and started running.  Success!  Until 6 steps in when my jello legs gave out and I dumped my bike and fell right on top of it.  What fun is anything if you don't lose a little blood, right.  I laughed it off, felt embarrassed because there were plenty of people watching, hung my bike and ran out for a quick run.

Extremely unremarkable run and I thought I threw everything left I had at it and finished that leg in 21:54, very pleased after regaining several spots I'd lost on the bike.  I'd hoped for around 55 minutes which would have put me in the top 10.  I settled for 27th overall with a 1:01.46 and holy CRAP- second in my age group!  I'm hooked!  After housing some snacks at the finish line, I felt pretty strong.  I think I had a little gas left in the tank at the finish which is regrettable but part of how to learn how I feel when I perceive more fatigue than is really there.  
Traded a little blood for 2 finishers medals
No races officially on the calendar yet but looking at Half-wit-half on 8/11, Boulder Dash 20-miler 8/17, possibly the North East Tri (sprint) on 8/25, then Marshman tri on 9/15.  The next official calendar "race" is the DC Ragnar Relay, 10/4 & 5.