Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2 x 50K Weekend

Saturday morning, I had every intention of running the New River Trail 50K Saturday & the FATS 40 Miler Sunday. A couple of hours later, I told myself I wouldn't bother going to FATS. By the end of the race, I decided I'd go, but choose the 50K (31 miles) option there & not the 40 miler. Sunday morning, when I checked in, I asked where the closest bailout point was- the place where we came back to the parking lot. They told me 19 miles and I figured I might just do 19. I'm happy to have completed both 50Ks and in decent shape.
New River Trail 50K- This race is organized by Annette Bednosky and was a top notch inaugural event. Good swag, great ultrarunner volunteers who knew what people were going through, and a BEAUTIFUL course. At the race start, there was a thick fog & it was a chilly 48 degrees. Felt perfect. When I finished, it was 72 and sunny. The course follows the New River Trail between Fries & Galax, VA & back. It is an old railroad bed- a wide, smooth, completely non-technical trail, with no significant hills. There were several sections of long incline, but for the most part, you were using the same muscles all race long. I'm not used to running like that, with even cadence and pacing. I told someone it's too much like running. :) The biggest obstacles on the course were the acorns and walnuts. I talked to a lot of people on the course and ran with some people in the first half that ran faster than I wanted to go. After a few minutes, I'd tell them, "Go ahead, I need to back off." They'd tell me they'd back off too, but wouldn't, and I'd stick with them for a few more minutes. I met a lot of people at this race & some approached me, telling me they recognized me from reading the blog! Ha! Glad people are reading it. I assumed since I don't get many comments, no one reads it. A few people asked me how the Weddington XC teams are doing. I wanted to go out in about 8:30-9:00 pace, but ended up doing most of the first half in 8:00 pace, except for a couple of bathroom breaks and some timeouts at aid stations. I didn't feel great from about mile 16-25, but not too bad. I slowed a little, but didn't fall apart. I never walked, but did spend 2-3 minutes at each aid station. I could've PRed (4:41) at this race, but wanted to take it easy and save some for the next day. I was still not far off from my PR, finishing at 4:54. I just wanted to break 5 hours and feel decent at the end. For what it's worth, I came in 30th out of 100 finishers. I think there were 30 who dropped out or didn't start.

This race hurt more than it should have. I'm just not used to the terrain and my hips and hamstrings were killin' me. A dip in the New River at the end was nice. Brrr! I had a large blood blister on the side of my foot, but didn't feel it running. I got one on the other foot in the same spot Sunday that I didn't notice either. I usually don't get blisters if I tape my feet (and I did), so I don't know what happened. No toe blisters thanks to the Injinji socks.

FATS 50K- I drove home & stayed a couple of hours & then on to N. Augusta, SC. The drives were both about 2.5 hrs. I woke up sore and had trouble moving around the hotel room. I walked around the parking lot a couple of minutes to decide if I didn't just want to get back in bed. In the first 20 steps of the race, I wondered if I'd made the right decision. For those of you who don't do ultras, you don't really warm up for an ultra. You kinda pile out of the car 10 minutes before the start and get rolling. I honestly wondered if the legs would go at all and probably should've tested them out before the start, but I was too tired!

The race was small, very low key, free (I gave a donation.) & no frills. It's a new addition to the South Carolina Ultra Series put on by Terri Hayes. The course was more to my liking with rolling singletrack. There were a million little roller coaster bumps that took 2-3 steps to get up and down. That was rough on tired legs. I enjoyed the course though. The only part that killed me was the two 1.5 gravel road sections. Too much like Saturday. As expected, I was slow and just got through it, had fun, and talked to a lot of people.

"Either way, it's a long freakin' way. Let's just go that way," said a guy a came across at a confusing intersection. There were a few of those. Rather than run the risk of picking the wrong way, getting lost and adding more mileage, I always consulted with someone else. Once, I waited for about 3 minutes for the next guy & another time, I waited close to 5 minutes to be given the advice, "We went that way, but most people went the other way. I'm not sure which way is right." A couple of other times, I hit an intersection other people were waiting at. I came past 3 groups of people walking the opposite direction along one stretch who all told me they knew they were going the wrong way, but that's the only way they knew how to get back. One women I ran 3-4 miles with earlier said, "I followed those 2 idiots ahead of me even though I knew it was the wrong way." Ha! I never got lost, but I was extremely cautious.

There was a 1:45 gap between aid stations at one point and a 1:30 gap another time. I was going slow, but there were plenty who were slower than me and I can imagine it took them 2:30 to get between aid stations. I packed light today- just a hand held bottle. I went the first 2:45 with only 150 calories. Eek! The guy behind me said he'd give me a gel 30 seconds before we saw the aid station. I was close to a bonk. I still didn't eat much all race. 2 gels, 1 bottle of Heed, 2 handfuls of pretzels, 1 bottle of ClifShot drink & ...uh hmm... 3 cans of Mt. Dew. Aid station volunteers were friendly.

I was really slow, but that's OK. I just wanted to get through it. I was 2:11 slower than yesterday. I attribute 60-70 minutes of that to the differences in courses, close to 10 minutes of it to waiting for directions and 50-60 minutes of it to me just being slower. Again, that's OK. I finished in 7:06. That's a long day for a 50K!! There's no doubt I could've done the last loop and finished the 40 miler, but I had already been out there so long I was ready to be done! The best part about the day was that I felt no worse at mile 31 than I did at mile 1, and I felt no worse at the end of Sunday than Saturday. I can honestly say that the homemade plywood finishing award was one of the awards I'm most proud of outside of Ironman medals. I didn't have to do this race. I didn't feel like doing this race, but I did and every step hurt. I am proud I got through it and ended up feeling OK at the end. I've done back-to-back & back-to-back-to-back long training days, but not quite this long. I most certainly would've bailed on my own. I don't think I would've been nearly as sore on Sunday if I'd done the two races in reverse order.

Overall, a very good weekend!


Anonymous said...

You are an idiot, but that's what's great about you, Coach. I don't know how you do it!

annette bednosky said...

It was very fun to read your reflections on both events! Thank you for coming up and running along the New River on Saturday!
NOW...please take some time to recover!

Dave K said...

Love the picture in the tunnel! Great test of endurance. You'll get the 100 miler!

Cool Down Runner said...


We met at the NRT 50k and from the looks of it you had a great weekend.

I know how I felt Sunday morning so I cannot imagine running another 50k.

Keep it up, I am envious.



Coach....very impressive! I'm amazed. I know how I felt after the ASC 26.2 (or 32 miles for me!). I couldn't have done another 31 the next day!