Friday, February 24, 2012

Rocky Road 100 Mile Endurance Run

Of all the distances I have ran in Ultra Marathons, 100 mile are my favorite. I think there are more than a couple reasons, but mostly due to the adventure of it all, 100 miles seems to have it all for me.
For me, pacing for completion, becomes a mental strategy, that I do not find so extreme in other races. I am not a fast runner, so sometimes it's the fact, that knowledge of yourself and pace, allows you to eventually pass the faster runners. Continuous trail races, rather than looping or out and back races, are even more adventurous and mentally challenging. But I think the nights, and breaking the threshold, of while you should be resting and recovering from a long days run, you are still running in the dark.
Things are different in the dark. Your weary eyes become tired, and uneven ground becomes obstacles that were not so hard to run on during the day. The distant scenery becomes black, only to be silhouetted by a bright moon or stars.
While you could run most the day on a empty stomach, nutritional intake becomes important, to continue such a long journey. Without the correct balance of hydration and nutrition, things become harder. Running the first 50 miles might be easy, but the next 25 miles feels like another 50. Then you have to figure out how to run the next 25.
Running a hundred miles is hard, and that is why I like it. I do not enter these races because I want to win or have some glorious finish. I run ultra marathons, because I like a challenge and how they make me feel before, during and after. So far, a hundred miles is my favorite, and I someday want to push myself to 135...
[If there is such a thing] The Rocky Road 100 Mile Endurance Race is a easy 100 mile race. It is 6, 15 mile out and backs, with a 10 mile out and back. The trail is on compressed gravel, and the grade is very gradual. The web site says 10,000 ft of elevation gain and loss, but it feels like less. I think the hardest part, is the long gradual sections. The aid stations, are 2.5 miles apart, and you do not have to carry much between them.
The worst part of the race, is that there is not much in terms with nutritional food, until dark. So if you are running a sub 24 hour pace, you are running on what you bring, or potato chips and pretzels. After dark, there is better food options, so knowing this, be prepared.
I had ran this race last year, and ran it in 22:29, which for me, is fast. I was in better shape last year, and the weather was cooler, which I perform better in cooler weather. This year I had a goal of running it just under 24 hours, and really nothing faster.
The first 15 miles I took off too fast, and began to feel some damage on the top of my right foot. I slowed down on the second lap, took advil, and it went away. By the end of my 3rd lap, I was nutritionally drained. I began eating junk food, and was gracious to the chicken breast that my friend John gave me, as I started my 4th lap. At mile 50, I was only 3 minutes behind last years pace, but I felt I had a more relaxed pace to do better in the second half.
Into the 5th lap, I finally started pulling up on some of the faster runners. Upon my arrival, It was hard not to join them on their last attempt to stay ahead of me. I would have to remember, I was passing them due to my pace, and not some crazy ability to surge after 75 miles. I usually just passed them at the aid station.
At mile 90, the closest person to me, was my friend Catra Corbett, who was on her way to 3rd place female. Together we paced out that last ten miles to finish 8 minutes faster than my last years time. I was guageing her turn around times, most the day, cause she was the next runner ahead of me, so I owe it to her and her speedy pace to my faster than my goal time.
I have not been running enough, due to work, hiking, and basic family obligations, but this race was more or less a training run for the much harder races I have planned, I was just looking to put the miles on my legs and come out with no injures. I achieved this and more. Thanks Charlie, for putting on a fun race. Congratulations to everyone who ran, and WOW to John Olsen for his 13:15 finish. Thank you to all the volunteers!