Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Sunday, September 20, 2009

90 Miles at Hinson Lake

"Why would anyone want to run all day & all night around a 1.5 mile loop?" Those were my thoughts a couple of years ago when I heard about the Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race put on by the prolific Mangum Track Club. I really enjoyed it though. You hear that? It was actually fun. I never thought something that long would be fun. Rewarding yes, but not fun. Having done one 24 hour race, one 12 hour race, 12 hours of a 24 hour relay & numerous fixed distance ultras including a 100 miler, I really love the fixed time races. No pressure. If you do 30 miles, OK, great. If you do 130, OK, great. You're not a loser if you don't complete a certain distance.

I had few expectations coming into this one. I wanted to get in 70 at least. Some recent injuries made me back off that goal a little, so I really went in expecting to do... whatever. In a way, that's what made my race. Didn't psyche myself out.

I completed 90.0 miles. This was on some pre-existing sciatic nerve problems & foot issues that caused me not to run all week. I kept upping the bar throughout the race. Said I'd quit at marathon, 50K, 40 miles, 50, 60, 100K, 70 & then I was DONE at 75. Packed my stuff up and started walking to the car. Was talked into running 5 more miles. Then at 80, was told I was in 9th place. I had no intention of making the leader board so I had to defend that. At about 60 miles, I passed the guy who was in 10th place but then went to the car for a short rest & never actually made the leader board of top 10 at that time. Late in the race, I was doing some math in my head, predicting what the people behind me could do. I stopped at 23:20 with 90 miles when I knew I had 7th place locked up. There were over 200 starters.

Early in the race, dealing with pain, it was harder & harder to pass by the car every 1.5 miles! The course was an easy, smooth loop around a lake. A bit monotonous doing it so many times, but really a beautiful location. The first half of the loop was perfectly flat and the north side of the lake was gently rolling. Fans of Umstead would feel right at home.

I had just told someone I was doing 1 more lap at 30 to make it 50K. I waited at the aid station for my buddy Konrad to tell him I was leaving & run my last lap with him, but I ended up running the next 20 miles with him! He saved my race. During all of those miles, I felt like a pacer- like I wasn't really in the race- just getting him through it. I'd let him get ahead of me at the aid station & then run hard to catch up. I didn't realize he was getting me through the race. Konrad fell victim to the tent at 100K & didn't run anymore after that. When I saw his shoes outside his tent, I knew he was done for the night. Still, a solid effort. Getting my mind off of the pain with Big K was incredibly helpful. We got separated at 50 miles & I really felt great from 50-65. Best I felt all race. No one passed or lapped me this whole 15 mile section. I flew past people & they asked if I was the leader. Not quite. The leader (Jonathan Savage) ended up with a staggering 131.5 miles I believe. I walked one hill & the aid station each loop all day & stuck to that. I did walk a little more in the last 3-4 laps but not much & walked almost the whole last lap as sort of a "victory lap."

I could've gotten 100 in I'm sure. With a 1.5 mile loop, the tendency is to not carry anything with you & just use that aid station each time, but with 60 laps & spending 2:00 each time, it really adds up! That's 2 hours spend just in the aid station! Also, I laid down in the car 3 times for 15 minutes each time. That's a total of 3 hours of down time. I don't regret not getting in 100 at all though. I'd like to do this race again & next time, I'll bring a bottle & a gel or two with me so I can just stock up every 3-4 loops instead of stopping every 1.5 miles.

I met & ran 3 hours with race director Tom Gabell at a race last spring. He & his crew were great. Most of them were out there all 24 hours. Standard ultra fare was served. No gels. I didn't eat much & certainly didn't stick to any fueling plan. I brought a big bag of stuff but barely used it. I consumed less than 200 calories an hour & most of it was liquid. I'd say 50% of my calories for this race came from the Powerbar Endurance drink served on the course. 25% was from Mt. Dew, Coke & ginger ale. 15% was from solid food like salted potatoes & trail mix. 10% was from Gu Chomps & Roctane. Also had one thing of EAS protein drink. Most people would say that's not enough & not the right types of food, but it worked for me.

High of 81 & low of 66. Warm for my tastes. Most of the course is in the shade but I packed a hat with ice during the day. A lot of people had issues with the heat. I really enjoyed the night hours because it was cooler & just fun. The race cleared out quickly when it got dark. Many quit for good & others came back after the sun came back up for a few more laps.

Feel sore & a little groggy now, but much better than after Rocky Raccoon. I spent the whole day in a dark hotel room barely able get across the room to make it to the bathroom then.

What's next on the agenda? I haven't looked much past this race. It was a good one! Click here for a video of the race. It's not great, but it's all I filmed.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hinson Lake 24 Hour Preview

Coworker: Are you pumped??!
Me: No.
Coworker: Why? Shouldn't your adrenaline be flowing? Isn't it good to get a little nervous.
Me: No. Adrenaline might be good if I were racing 800 meters, but 24 hours of adrenaline doesn't work.
Coworker: But aren't you excited?
Me: Trying not to be.
Coworker: You don't make any sense. I still don't understand why you do this stuff.
Me: Cause.

I'm running the Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race Saturday & Sunday. I put a lot of pressure on myself in my 100 mile race this year, but this time, I'm just getting in what I can get in. You never know what can happen, but 50-60 miles is in the bag, barring injury or illness. I'll be satisfied with anything over 70 miles. 100 would be very nice.

My training hasn't been anything like it was leading up to the 100 miler in February. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I developed some problems due to overtraining in December. This summer, my training has been OK, but few really long runs. I did run 12 hours at night 6 weeks ago & felt fine. Ran a marathon 4 weeks ago. Not much over 2-3 hours besides that. I think I'll be fine though.

I've had some foot issues this summer. Haven't made much of it & it really doesn't bother me while running, but I've had some plantar fasciitis and pain on the side/top of my foot which may or may not be connected to the PF. Also have a stone bruise that hurts a lot when I'm barefoot or step on a rock. All of this is on the same foot. That said, I don't think it'll effect my run this weekend... that may be a dumb thing to say.

I've never been to Hinson Lake, but it's a 1.52 mile loop you do all day & night. Sounds exciting, right? Pictures are actually nice- you run around a lake the whole time. Looks like a relatively flat, wide, smooth dirt trail. Not my favorite type of running, but it'll be good for getting the maxiumum number of miles possible. Sue Norwood posted a lot of good photos & a race report from 2008's race. Click 2008 on the left.

Supposed to be around 83 degrees for the high & 60 for the low. I don't do well in the heat, so I may take it a little easier between noon & 6 PM on day 1. I tested out a new (to me) product to help me out in the heat- Liquid Endurance. Always thought about using it when I did triathlons but never did. It's main ingredient is glycerol which helps you absorb liquid prior to the race (3 day pre-race loading process). Theory is you have more to sweat out this way. It also helps metabolize fat. I'm also planning on trying some different methods of staying cool like ice under a hat & an ice-filled bandana.

Maybe I should be nervous, but I'm not. Just going out for a very long run & we'll see how it goes.

(after a XC meet this weekend)
Me: Next week at this time, I'll be getting kinda tired.
Girl on my team: Which one will be more fun for you, eating lunch with us now or running that race all day & night?
Me: Fun?? At the time I'm doing each of them, I'm sure lunch will be more fun, but this lunch won't be a highlight of my year & possibly more. This sandwich isn't exactly character-building.

Saturday, September 12, 2009