Preparing for the Spring Classic 50k over the last four weeks since my last 50k run, had me trying to put in a little less mountain running time and a little more training on double track trails. In terms of the long runs, I never ran over 17 miles on a single run, but still felt confident enough in my base mileage to at least attempt to go for a sub-4hr finish. I figured if I could run a few 45 minute 10k loops (there are 5 on the 50k course) to start with, that would give me a cushion to go slower on the last two, which is usually inevitable for me. Never running on the course in prior years, I relied on strava data and elevation profiles from last year to get any sense of the trails.
|I'm on the right running with (L-R) Loren Newman, Peter Lawry, Kevin Tilton. Loren would go on to win the race in 3:47:33. Photo by Edith Dixon.|
|Tall pines. Photo by Lindsay Topham at Topham Photo.|
|L-R Billy Preston, myself, Adam Wilcox, Kevin Tilton. Photo by Lindsay Topham at Topham Photo.|
|GPS map of the course|
|Ascending pace graph, especially after mile 24.|
Race results here
My paces went as follows:
1st loop (10k): 46:30 (7:47 pace)
2nd loop: 48:11 (8:04 pace)
3rd loop: 51:21 (8:36 pace)
4th loop: 59:04 (9:53 pace)
5th loop: 1:05:16 (10:55 pace)
Half Marathon cumulative time: 1:41:22
As you can see with the pace chart, the race was a positive split (slower at the end) and a particularly slow last 7 miles. I ended up running in third place for most of the race, until mile 23 or 24 when Billy Preston (2nd place) blew by me looking strong. I continued along at a pace I found manageable at that point and wondered when I would get passed by others. I'm not sure what the reason for the lack of energy in the legs was, but I suspect it might be because I haven't had a good consistent long run at a quick pace in a while (or most of the winter for that matter), and trying to push in the beginning of the race came back to bite me at the later miles.
I approached this race a little differently from others, and just tried to go for it from the start. Typically I am a little more conservative, planning on catching others late in the race so this was a change for me. I have been trying to get more comfortable with the 50km distance and in recent races have been experimenting with different strategies to see how they work for me.
The last four miles of the race were very slow for me and there was a little walking involved. I ended up finishing in 4:33:30 for fifth place after getting passed by the #3 and #4 finishers in the last four miles or so. It was a fun day on the trails and the course marking, volunteers, and whole atmosphere was great. I'll try to make it back next year now that I know what to prepare for and give the sub-4 hour 50k another shot.
Shoes: Inov8 Raceultra 290
Socks: Darntough VT Herringbone Micro Crew Ultralight
Shorts: The North Face Better Than Naked 5"
Shirt: Wapack and Back 2012 shirt, with Patagonia All-Weather Long Sleeve
Hat: Salomon XT Compact Cap II
Ultimate Direction handheld and four gels (Boom! and Honey Stingers)
The shoe and sock choices worked out really well for the conditions. I went with a slightly lighter sock from my usual race day sock, because of the warm conditions and tendency for my feet to swell throughout the run. It turned out to be a good choice and I had no blisters or issues with socks bunching up.
After this race, I don't have any key ultras that I am signed up for or planning on running. My focus training runs for the next couple months will be designed to get me ready for another AMC Hut Traverse attempt some time in July. I will plan on running a few times up in the Whites prior to the attempt, maybe trying for a fast Pemi Loop, and some time on the Presidential range. The Hut Traverse is my main focus for the summer, with some races in the fall looming on the radar as well. I am contemplating signing up for the Pisgah 50km race, where I ran my first ultra in 2011. I will be attempting to complete my first 100km run at the TARC 100k in October as well.
This coming May 9th, I will be directing the Wapack and Back trail races. I am not sure what to expect for race day, but almost all preparations are complete (besides buying all the food) and I will have my wife helping me out for the entire day. There has been a great showing of experienced volunteers and I am looking forward to experiencing the race from the other side of the fence. It is going to be a fun day!