Sunday, April 18, 2010

McNaughton, Trail Mix 2010

This might be a record, at least recently - posting the day after a race. I was trying to post this last night while everything was all roses thinking I might wake up to a different story, but so far so good. So the short story is: the last two weekends I've done the McNaughton 50 mile and the Trail Mix 50k. There was some concern that a 50k the weekend after my 3rd 50 mile finish was maybe not that smart, but thankfully it seemed to work out ok.

[btw, this might get kinda long... but if you're here then you must not have anything else to do anyway :) ]

McNaughton... a couple of us decided we wanted to do McNaughton - I had heard a couple years ago that it was a good 50 with such a generous cut-off, and Karen wanted to give the 100 another shot. We put quite a bit of effort into recruiting others and were eventually successful with Mike. So the trip was set.

Here's a link to all the pictures we took: pics
Also Mike has a couple good McNaughton posts on his blog: Westy's blog

The short story here is that I finished well. I had lots of help with 'smart pacing' throughout and being pulled along at the end... so a very good run for me. It was great to see and experience that 'sipping from the tank' early is the way to go so there's something left at the end -- you can't run fast enough early to make up for walking a whole bunch at the end, so it's good to conserve and be able to still run at the end. Seems so logical but that doesn't make it easy to do. Karen, Mike, and I all ran together at the beginning and that was very good for me.

our campsite was just down from the start/finish
line - a great place to be, easy to stop in each time around

The run started early and I always like it when the sun is coming up. It got pretty warm (especially considering we weren't used to running in any sort of heat) but otherwise was beautiful weather. The course was in great condition compared to the previous mud years - but thankfully we had just enough mud and water to make it fun. And there are lots of hills so this is a tough course even without slip-sliding around on all the climbs.

So the three of us hung out for loops 1 and 2... just easing into things and enjoying the day and each other's company on a nice run. I ran the first 2 loops in my monkey shoes - I had planned on one loop but everything seemed fine so I did a 2nd. The 20 miles was my longest run in them, doubling my previous longest actually. After 2 loops switching to real shoes seemed like a good idea and that was fine too. I think the monkey shoes get me off to a good start both pace and form-wise. And they were great fun in the streams and muddy sections.

I biffed it once in the monkey shoes - on a smooth downhill my foot slipped out and I was down before I knew it. Later I went to take a picture and my camera was gone... I realized it must've popped out of my pocket when I fell. I was hoping it'd be out in the open and someone would pick it up and turn it in at an aid station - and that's exactly what happened! Yay!! Thank You, honest camera-finding trail runner! BTW, somewhere along the line there was a discussion about my monkey shoes and possible halloween costumes so now they are my monkey/flintstone shoes. :)

this is the hill that normally has a rope... we think Andy took that too

Mike knew he'd have some issues with hydration and fueling so as expected/planned he dropped back to try and work through things towards the beginning of loop 3. And nothing against Karen but by the end of loop 3 I was trying to drop back and run on my own too. :) It seems there's just something about wanting to drop off from a stronger runner when you start feeling tired... but it didn't work for very long so I basically ran with Karen the rest of the way and she helped pull me along to a good finish. Of course, she was hanging back and being smart trying to conserve through the hot part of the day for her next 50 miles. So click click click went the clock as we kept plugging along until finally Mike and I were quite happy and relieved to be done with our 50 miles.

So once I was done it was nice hanging out by the finish, relaxing, chatting with Mike, eating, cheering for others as they came through, and sleeping. Once Karen got rid of the dead weight (me) she had a great 6th loop. Unfortunately the heat of the day took its toll and she got sick on loop 7. And since I was up when she came through and Mike wasn't (well, not really anyway) I got to feel like a jerk doing the "oh no you don't want to drop, are you really sure, couldn't you try this, couldn't you try that, blah blah blah" -- it seems like that's what you're supposed to do, at least a little bit... but shoot, when someone's sick it's kinda hard to say with much conviction "you should go back out there again and hey, it might be better this time". So she made the smart decision to bag it, and it became clear after 4-5 hours of sleep that she had made the right decision as she was still not feeling that well as we packed up and headed back to MN.

So it's always a downer when someone in the group doesn't get what they were after but all in all it was a fun trip, and a good run for me with all the pacing/pulling help. It's a nice course with some variety in the different sections... and it's a tough course with or without the mud. Definitely a race to do if you're at all thinking about it. Road trip next year??


Trail Mix... so on the way back from McNaughton I got this crazy idea to run Trail Mix. 4 loops seemed like a perfect setup for more practice with the smart pacing - this time doing it myself instead of just following along with others doing the work. And I thought maybe I'd even be able to do the whole thing in my monkey/flintstone shoes, raising my longest run in them to 50k. So the plan was to run 'ridiculously slow' [note: this is a phrase that registers with my brain which always seems to think we're running 5 miles and can't compute an appropriate pace for 31 or 50 miles] early with the main goal to be able to run reasonably well on loop 4... not a walk, shuffle, walk, shuffle, "I've crashed and burned" finish. Taking into consideration the recent 50 mile and other numbers my plan on paper was to run the loops in 1:45 with the option of trying to run faster on loop 4 if everything went well.

---loop 1 : I figured it'd be hard to run a 1:45 loop and I was right - finished in ~1:33, with a bathroom stop and trying to walk all inclines no matter how small. The problem here though was keeping the pace way down on the 2nd half when all the 25Kers came flying by.

---loop 2 : I started feeling it, went to the tunes early, and was entertaining the questions: was this a good idea, am I going to have to drop? I eventually realized I was being worked over with the monkey/flintstone shoes - the body wasn't handling the impact like it should - and I decided the cushioning of my shoes would be really nice. Finished in ~1:39.

--loop 3 : I changed into real shoes and that helped a lot, gave me quite a boost right away. I stuck with the 'take it easy' approach and everything just kinda smoothed out and started feeling good again. Oh, I suppose that was the ibu kicking in. Saw Kel on the course with her monkey shoes and she ran back to the start/finish area with me. Thanks for the picture, Kel. Finished in ~1:38.

--loop 4 - since I was feeling quite good I decided for this final loop that I could 'release the hounds' [note: this is a phrase that registers with my brain but it doesn't necessarily mean anything noticeable happens]. It basically started with me running up the smaller inclines that I had previously walked. And then eventually I was actually running harder and faster than I had all day. It was actually kinda fun to be cruising along and, believe it or not, passing people. It might've even looked to my fellow back-of-the-packers like I had been sandbagging. Well, the best part of all that is the smart pacing worked - I actually did it right and it was successful... woohoo! Maybe there's hope after all. Of course, lest I get a big (bigger?) head... I didn't pace all that well on the last loop so I had to back off the last part and save some for the hill at the end. Finished in ~1:22, by far my fastest loop of the day.

As far as trail runs go, Trail Mix is an easy course... especially when they take the ski hill out like they did again this year. So the other crazy part of this plan was that even taking it quite easy, if things held together I figured I could PR. My previous 50K PR was ~7:26 at Chippewa last year. 4 loops of 1:45s would've given me 7 hours, so I thought best-case I might end up in the 6:40-6:50 range. I was so focused on pacing against my previous loops using the cool Virtual Training Partner of my Garmin that I wasn't paying any attention to the total race time... so I was pretty surprised to see 6:13 on the clock as I finished! That still seems crazy to me, like they messed up the timing or something. Oh, and as a double bonus... rumor has it the real medals we got this year are way better than what they handed out in previous years. hehe

Along the way I had some short conversations with people - I was surprised how many asked about my monkey/flintstone shoes - but I basically ran by myself, with the tunes going for most of it (for those who wonder I run with one headphone in and one out). It was a lot of fun seeing friends out there, both running and spectating... including a good-sized group from Duluth. It seems like the last couple weekends were the kick-off to the race season in this part of the country, so let the fun begin (continue)!

So what's next for me? Besides some rest and recovery I'm going to try to run the Ice Age 50 mile within the 12 hour cut-off (gulp). I had decided to save this for next year and I'm not sure who to blame for the change in plans (well, ok, I do know who to blame...), but I'm going to give it a shot. I don't know if I can run a 50 mile that fast, so the plan is to use my new smart pacing skills to run the best time I can... and hope it's fast enough. Anyone want to come along??

Still here? If you made it all the way through you can consider yourself an ultra reader!


Blogger Kel said...

You know you're an ultra runner when you're running so many races.... ultra races at that...that you start combining race reports in one post ;)

You're gonna do fine at Ice Age!

4:30 PM  
Blogger Mike W. said...

Way to go, now didn't it feel good to finish strong? I am impressed and I think you have set yourself up for Ice Age. Very impressive as well with the race reports, could this be the start of two trends, smart racing and timely race reports?

5:29 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Hi Wayne,
It looks like I am an Ultra Reader:) What a wonderful race report with fantastic pictures! Nice work on McNaughton...I am so impressed with anyone who can finish one of those!! Congrats you did awesome:)

8:09 PM  
Blogger wildknits said...

Awesome race!! And way to go on the race reports.

8:11 PM  
Blogger John W. Taylor said...

Great job Wayne!!! Two 50's in two weeks- that's not easy!!!

9:09 PM  

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