Thursday, December 01, 2005

Two races, one day

Below is a copy-and-paste report of my experience on July x, 2005, a day when I raced the Buckeye Trail 50k and the Shot in the Dark 4-mile:

TWO RACES IN ONE DAY (Warning: This is really long.)

After my Spring marathon, I geared up for this race with trail runs twice a week and every Sunday meeting with Vince down at the CVNP for some BT running. Also, for the second year, I was a pacer at the Mohican 100 mile race in June. This year, I ran the last 40mi with a fella from Akron--so i think I was ready!

The weather for the Buckeye Trail 50k couldn't been better. After 6-8 weeks of relentless heat and humidity, the weather broke for the weekend and a relatively cool overnight resulted in starting temperature at about 60F. And in the woods, this felt even cooler. After a couple announcements by the RD that no one could hear, at 7am the race started.

By this time, I had already signed up for the Shot in the Dark (SITD) 4 mile night race. For fun, I was supposed to race an old-timer. We joked that I would give him 50k handicap. Never in my right mind did I think I'd follow through with it. Nevertheless, I was signed up. Little did I know how much that little 4mi race would help me in the 50k.

My goal this year was to break 5hrs 15min. Last year in the mud I ran 5:36 and all indicators from my training runs dictated that I could do 5:15. So I had a plan to meet that goal. After all, I had covered every part of that BT trail several times since May. Also, I volunteered to mark the course on the Thursday prior to the race. Vince marked one-half of the course and I marked the other half. After last year's washout of all of our lime trail markings, we figured that we needed to mark the course better. So this year we took a lesson from Mohican and used pie-plate markings that were a bit more waterproof than the lime. Last year some participants got lost. Although we knew the course like the back of our hands, we knew that there would be some out-of-towners and some first-ever BT runners. So we wanted to do a good job with the trail-marking.

Little did I know about all the good karma headed my way. By volunteering and marking the course, I knew the recent trail conditions and also every zig and zag on that course. I was fairly confident with knowing where every uphill, flat and downhill was. We made it to the first aid station at Snowville Rd in 57 minutes and I was shooting for 60.

At Snowville, I took my stashed hand-held bottle of Sustained Energy mixed with Ultima Replentisher and started with the first 200 calories of the race in which I consumed a total of about 900 calories. (The most common question people have asked me is: What did you eat? For the record, during the 50k, I consumed 4 GU gels (100 cal each), 2x 20oz bottles of the Sustained Energy/Ultima Mix (200 cal each), 20oz. Gatorade (100 cal), about 150 oz of water, and 5 each Endurolyte-caps and chewable Tums. I had the e-caps and the Tums 1 per hour.)

The second section of the course went by without complications. My stomach was happy and I was sticking to the plan. I was surprised at my pace. That 4mi Shot-in-the-Dark race was in the back of my mind and I thought I was taking it easy. In fact, the 4mi race was on my mind almost the entire way. I was trying to conserve energy from the very beginning. Apparently from my result, it must of worked. The stategy I stuck with for the day was to walk every uphill and to run the flats and the downs. I did most of my fluid and food consuming on the uphill walks. This section has a fun staircase aptly named the "piano keys." Its 88 steps straight up the hill right before the downhill to that led me to the second aid station of the day.

I arrived at Boston Store and I was surprized to see Kurt, Kelly, Dee, Julie, and Mary (I was thinking to myself, Is Corey running this?) My friend Rob was volunteering here and handed me my next stashed water bottle and I dropped my hand-held. It was great to see familiar faces even if I didn't stay too long to chat. From Boston Store to the Pine Lane turn-around and back to Boston Store I went with water only and gels. After getting to the top of the ridge and crossing over the Turnpike overpass is my least favorite part of the course--the Pine Lane. Its only a short 1/4 mile alley run through trees, but its infested with roots and I usually stub a toe and sometime trip. Today I made it through with no faceplants. The last mile before the turnaround is another pretty valley with a downhill to the creek crossing and then the uphill to the Pine Lane parking lot. I started seeing the leaders on their way back--that always blows my mind to see how far ahead the leaders really are.

Goal at turn-around was 2:30 and I made it in 2:24. Someone told me I was 14th. I didn't spend much time there except to thank the volunteers and refill my water bottle. Then I was off on the return trip. I was still feeling good and now seeing all the runners in the field as I passed by really energized me. I also saw Mark not too far behind and encouraged him. I took in my second gel and continued with water and the caps. By the time I made it back to the Boston Store, there were no more runners to pass and I knew from last year the race really begins at this point with still some 11-12 miles to go!

I saw the gang again waiting at Boston and I picked up my hand-held again. I was trying to talk to the Solers but then Connie Gardner butts in and was trying to give me aid. She said, "What are you eating? Did you take an e-cap? Did you drink?" I know all she was doing was trying to help, but all I really wanted to do was chat a bit with the gang. I had everything I needed. I left there right around the 3 hour mark.

From here is where my preparations kicked in. Last year I had bad indigestion and gas--hence the Tums. It really worked. Also I learned from a nutritionist that in ultra-running that the most the body can process (in balance and without getting gas,) is 265 calories per hour. Last year, my Sustained Energy mix was about 400 calories in a 20oz bottle. I took in way too much. This year, I took half the serving per bottle and my stomach was happy. From Boston Store to Snowville I consumed my second 20oz bottle of my mix.

For the next 10 miles from Boston Store to Ottawa Point was the area of the course I marked, so it was really familiar trail. Yet it was really lonely. There was no one in front and back of me. But I have two words: IPOD SHUFFLE! That thing was a life saver. I loaded up about 4 hours of tunes, mostly Reggae and the 2005 Bonnaroo live set, and of course Carlos Jones and the PLUS Band, and put it on shuffle. Every time a cool song came on I would yell out, "Yes!" I probably sounded silly, but then again, I was alone in the middle woods on the Buckeye Trail with no one around.

The condition of the trail was uncharacteristically dry. Normally, even a short 5 mile run out there results in a mud-fest and for sure warrants a hosing off of the shoes at home. This year, at the finish, I kicked off my shoes and they didn't even need a rinse. Totally unreal!

I kept cruising along with the run/walk/eat strategy and before I knew it I was at Snowville Rd. I couldn't believe how good I was feeling and the pace I was maintaining. I knew this last section to the finish line is the toughest and I had estimated it would take 65 minutes if I made good time. I crossed snowville at 3:53 and now knew that sub-5 hours was possible. At the Snowville aid station, I filled up my two water bottles: One with water and one with gatorade.

This is where I employed my secret weapon. Gatorade. Julie Cleary gave me a tip several seasons ago about gatorade in the last part of a marathon. It works for me. Usually I stay away from Gatorade before or during a run. Too much sugar. I've been using the Ultima or Gu2O. But for me, Gatorade in the last 30 minutes of a long run or marathon is just right. By this time of the race I am tired of gels and the sugar from the Gatorade carries me through to the finish. I just hope to get there before my sugar levels bottom out. I kept it safe and waited until I had 30 minutes to go. Thank you Julie!

I pressed on with my same run/walk/drink methods and I still had that 4mi race in the back of my head. Unbelievably, it helped me to relax. I can't imagine what my pace would have been had I not signed up for the SITD--I probably would have run like a rabbit and bonked. As I inched closer to the last stream crossing and the last hill I was feeling real good. I made it to Ottawa point and all that was left was the flatish Bridal Trails of the Brecksville Reservation. It was 4:40 into the race and I had 20 minutes to go about a mile-and-a-half. I consumed the last of my fluids and gave the best kick I could to the finish, which by the way, was not much of a kick. I stumbled into Oak Grove and trotted through the finish in 4:53 and 12th place. This was 22 minutes ahead of goal and 42 minutes faster than last year. I was estatic! It was about 12pm at this point and I had exactly 7 hours until the SITD.

I had a nice cold (flat) Pepsi and a piece of Watermelon and enjoyed watching all the other finishers. When Mark arrived I went over to the finish line and gave a big high-five. What a day. If there is anything I regret about this run is that I did not run any with Mark. We had talked about it beforehand and I thought we'd run at least to the first aid station and maybe the first half together. As it turns out, I didn't see him at all except for the turn-around. Mark, maybe next year, huh?

On to the night race.

So how does one get ready for a second race in one day? Besides eating a ton, I'd agree with Irene and the best way is to not cool down. But then again, I had never run twice in one day before. When I got home, I had a bag of ice ready and I filled the tub with ice and water. Soaked for 25 minutes. I ate another meal and then layed down with legs elevated. Took a 90 minute nap and woke at 5pm. Ouch. The legs were stiff. Made a cup of coffee, ate a Clif Bar and by 6pm I was on my way downtown.

As I walked from the car I took a 5 min jog. I really couldn't believe my legs were moving, but they were. I got to the starting area and apparently word got out that I was doing the double. Some congratulated me on the 50k and some others told me I am nuts. As the race approached, I went over to my challenger Dan P. from CWRRC for a little jaw-jacking. Dan ran about 7:50 pace at Bay Days. I was thinking that I could maybe pull off a 7:30 pace or about 30 minutes for the 4 miles. I really had no idea. So the gun went off and we started. I was rolling along and took it easy early. I ended up falling in line with Liz and we chatted for the first mile. We came through miile one in 7:16 and I felt okay. Up to this point I was unsure If I could even finish. But after about 1.5 miles I knew that I would survive. This pace was a little slow for Liz and she started to pick up the pace. I followed. We went through mile two in about 6:42 and mile 3 in 6:48. Damn, the Jake still looked miles away and I knew we had to go around it to the finish. Since we started slow, we were picking off runners in the last mile. It was so cool seeing many people I knew, even if I was getting strange looks. We finished the last mile in 6:43, for a total of 27:29 and a negative split by over 30 seconds.

Once again I was estatic, yet I was really happy that the race was over.

Again. Totally unreal. Two GOOD races in one day? Heck I've gone months and months before having ONE good race and I feel really blessed to pull off a feat like this. Like I said, this ranks up there with my BQ run.

I want to thank all of you out there (on the forum and in person) that cheered me on, helped me out, and/or shared in the celebration of the night. This is certainly a day to remember.


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