Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mad Marsh Ultra - My first!

I would like to say that all the pieces came nicely together this morning for my very first Ultramarathon! It was exactly 2 months ago that I decided to take this new route with my training and racing... going long instead of fast!! Over the last 2 month I put together a very focused training plan taking me from decent 5k running shape to racing my first (of many more to come) Ultras.

The only negative thing that I did in my training was doubling my long runs literally over night. Knock on wood, I stayed healthy and continued to progress my long runs up to 24 miles (two weeks prior to my race). My comfortable distance of choice, by far, was my 15 mile course. I quickly found that I could hammer out a fast 15 miler and quickly recover without missing any workouts! My fastest in the last two months top out at a 7:14 pace.

The last two months seem to fly by and finally race day was here! The Mad Marsh Ultra was a PERFECT first for me. It was A. Local, B. Cheap ($20) and C. Small. All together between the 50K and the 22 miler there were less than 50 people. I thought it was awesome that the race director and her husband both ran the race after getting it started!

The race was completely self supported and I put together an amazing Crew team with two different pacers. I can not even begin to express how grateful I was to have both Giancarlo and Brain out there with me, along with being able to fill water bottles, grab Gu, or even my sunglasses once the sun broke out of the clouds! I also had Kayla on stand-by to pop or wrap anything that needed attention on the medical side (Glad I did not need her services until after the race to drain a blister on my left foot that looked like a 6th toe!!!) and Sandra to help cheer me on, keep track of splits and fill in where ever needed! These guys totally made my day, without them I could not have done as well as I wanted to!! My Advice: Find a great crew that is willing be stand out in a field at 5:00am, freeze, bring you whatever you ask for and you are golden!

My plan was to go out slow and build up. I did just that!! Taking the first three laps (4.5 miles each) at a very steady target pace of 9:00 miles. Once they "junk" miles were out of the way, I slowly started moving up and gaining time off of my original goal of 4:47.00. By the end of lap 4 of 7 I had myself 6:37 ahead of pace and gaining. Lap 6 was by far my fastest lap with 3 back to back 8:00 miles between miles 22 - 24. I finally had to stop (for traffic) around mile 29 and my thighs quickly locked up on me! It took the next mile to loosen back up. Around this time, my mantra kicked in with "you've got this" "you've got this" over and over and over. My body was screaming for me to stop again, but I did not want to ruin the streak I had going so far. The last mile was tough! My body was fighting hard for me to stop dropping down to 10:30, only to have my heart fight back with 7;30 pace! This fight when back and forth 8 times over the last mile between my Body and my Heart to finally cross the finish line well a head of schedule!

My nutrition plan consisted of the following:

Lap 1: Nothing

Lap 2: 6 oz Water and 1 Gu

Lap 3: 6oz Water/ 6oz Red Bull Mixed and 1 Gu

Lap 4: 8oz of Ensure, 1 Strawberry Fig Newton, 1 Gu

Lap 5: 12oz Coke, 1 Gu

Lap 6: 3 Motrin, 12oz Water, 1 Gu

Lap 7: A few sips of water

The only thing I will do differently next time is not drink Coke after the Ensure... the few bubbles still left did not mix well at all...Took a few miles to settle my stomach back down!

All in all the day was a huge success in my opinion. I had a great team, a huge remote cheering crowd between family and friends from a far (sorry you couldn't find the race Rachael - Argggg!!!) perfect running weather and an amazingly flat course! I can not wait to get my next race on the schedule! If anyone needs a crew man to help out, please let me know as I now know how appreciative I was of having dedicated friends out there helping me today!!! Cheers!!!

Time: 50K 4:28.14 (Total time 4:35.27 - 31.89 miles)

Elevation Gain: 1,494ft

Calories: 2,997

Average Moving pace: 8:38

Mile Splits:

1 - 8:46 11 - 8:50 21 - 8:40 31 - 8:43

2 - 9:00 12 - 8:43 22 - 8:09 32 - 8:32

3 - 9:05 13 - 8:26 23 - 8:06

4 - 8:56 14 - 8:09 24 - 8:08

5 - 8:39 15 - 8:28 25 - 8:24

6 - 8:57 16 - 8:24 26 - 8:50

7 - 8:49 17 - 8:34 27 - 8:54

8 - 8:26 18 - 8:25 28 - 9:04

9 - 8:26 19 - 8:18 29 - 9:29

10 - 8:35 20 - 8:20 30 - 9:33

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pacing: Making racing fun again

At times in our sport, it gets really hard to keep an open mind and not give up when you hit that new time barrier or worse you've reached your limits on how fast you can push your ever ageing body. What are runners to do when you constantly compare yourself to your last race, your last workout or even your younger self? Mix it up!!!

All to often we get into habits, be them good or bad in our sport. We do that same workouts, we run the same distance races, and we hardly ever think outside of the box. When we put on our running blinders, we block ourselves in and we forget why we started running in the first place: To better ourselves and to have fun.

I have found throughout my running career (almost 27 years now...WOW, that's been a long time since the "Sun Run" in 3rd grade) that the best thing you can do when you find yourself in a "running-rut" is to try something new. I've recently switched my focus from the short and the fast, to the long and not-so-fast with Ultras and I am finding myself running better, more focused and really enjoying my running again even after more than doubling my weekly distance!

I also added in a truly amazing new experience this past weekend at the Bluffton Half Marathon. I led a pace group for several of our members that wanted to break 2:00.00 for the first time (9:00 pace). It was truly an awesome experience and I got more satisfaction out of this race than some major events I have competed in. I can not even express the sense of pride that I felt for the runners in my group as they crossed the line one-by-one (I really wish I could have crossed the line with each of them!!) But as the clock ticked down closer and closer to the two hour mark, I decided to run back out one last time and see if there was anyone else that could still go under. I saw one of our Club members about a half mile out and there was no way that I was going to let her miss her goal. Rachael dug in deep and kept dropping the hammer all the way till she crossed the line and beat her goal. I really felt like I won the race at that moment, and honestly I did because I got share this amazing feat with so many awesome runners!

I would highly recommend that if your training needs to be mixed up a little, think about leading a pace group in an upcoming race. Contact the local race director and they would love the help!!

Great job to everyone that ran the Bluffton Half Marathon this past weekend and to everyone who gave me this awesome feeling today... PROUD.
Thanks to Palmetto Pacer member, Gary for catching this AWESOME shot as I sent Rachael off to the finish line!!!
Bluffton Half Pace Group:
1 - 8:51 8 -9:02
2 -9:02 9 - 9:00
3 - 9:01 10 - 9:04
4 - 9:03 11 -9:02
5 - 9:00 12 - 8:56
6 - 8:59 13 - 8:54
7 - 9:02

Friday, November 12, 2010

Music: Adding to the running experience or taking away

A "sponsor" recent gave me the new 16G nano by Apple. Without sounding like a commercial for Mr. Jobs, because we all know the last thing he needs is an endorsement by a runner in Bluffton, SC... This thing ROCKS!!! Imagine your iPhone or iTouch scaled down to just over 1 sq inch, add your favorite tunes and with less than a few ounces you are jamming down the road!
The question is always out there: Does running with music add to your running experience or does it take something away? As much as I love my new toy, I've always been mixed about running with music. I never race with it, but love cranking out some hard fast miles with Green Day, Eninem and even Neil Diamond pushing me faster and faster. I started thinking about this again during my morning run today. It was dark, cold, foggy and very little traffic. The sky looked like a light-brite without a single cloud. It was a beautiful run. But would I have appreciated my surroundings more if Bruno Mars wasn't serenading me to "Just the Way You Are" or does that add to the experience?
I decided to go tuneless on my out and back run just to mix it up. At the end of the run, the only difference I saw was that my ears were much colder without my headphone plugged into them! I think there are times and places to run with music and there are others when you just want to unplug, listen to your surroundings and just run. Wearing headphones and being pushed by music has gotten me through some long runs recently and I truly few the music selections I am listening to at this point only add to the memories of these runs. I can not hear "Welcome to the Black Parade" by My Chemical Romance, without thinking about training and traveling to the Big Sur marathon in 2007!
My advice, mix it up... lose the tunes on group runs, add it in on solo runs but at the same time get out there occasionally and just listen to your body, listen to your breathing listen to nature!!
What is currently on my "Running" play list: (in ABC order)
Ain't No Rest for the Wicked, Cage the Elephant
American Idiot, Green Day
Animal, Neon Trees
Bicycle Race, Queen
Boom Boom Pow, Black Eyed Peas
Born to Run, Bruce Sprinsteen
Bottoms Up, Trey Songz
Break Your Heart, Taio Cruz
Bust a Move, Young MC
Club Can't Handle Me, Flo Rida
Crazy Train, Ozzy Osbourne
The Distance, Cake
DJ Got Us Falling in Love, Usher
Dynamite, Taio Cruz
F**k You, Cee Lo Green
Free Fallin, Tom Petty
Handlebars, Flobots
Im Gonna Be, The proclaimers
I Gotta Feeling, Black Eyed Peas
I Like it, Enrique Iglesias
If Your Wondering If I Want You Too, Weezer
Just the Way You Are, Bruno Mars
Ladies & Gentlemen, Saliva
Like a G6, Far East Movement
Live Like We're Dying, Kris Allen
Meet Me Halfway, Black Eyed Peas
Mr. Jones, Counting Crows
No Rain, Blind Melon
Not Afraid, Eminem
The Race is On, Sawyer Brown
Shake, Jesse McCartney
Stop and Stare, One Republic
Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond
Sweet Tea, Cravin' Melon
Walk this Way, Run DMC
We No Speak Americano, Yolanda Be Cool & Dcup
When I Come Around, Green Day
You Learn, Alanis Morissette
I'd love to hear what your current "power song" is and why!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Putting goals in writing...

So it's official, I put pen to paper and finally laid out my run plan for my up coming Mad Marsh Ultra 50K coming up on November 20, 2010. Signing up for a race is my first step towards motivation the second step is setting goals for that race. Normally my goals are something along the lines of: Beat last week's time or finish in the top 10 or win my age group, but going into this Ultra, I have mainly been thinking my goal would be... FINISH. But, over the last month of training, I have increased my overall weekly mileage, trained smart, switched up my running gear and have TOTALLY kick off some serious time on my long runs...all a while, stayed healthy, maintained a steady weight and met my training goals up to this point. So after all of that, I figured, finishing was not a goal worthy of the training I have put in so far.

My last 15 miler run I kept a sub 7:30 pace and felt like a million dollars. But I'm learning in Ultra running a fast 15 miler will only get you started and then you still have more than half of the race left to go. Slowing my pace down to 8:00-8:30 I easily cranked out a 20 and 24 miler in the mountains and still had plenty left in the tanks afterwards. Backing waaaaay down to 9:00 pace I feel that I can break my new GOAL of under 5:00.00 and leave plenty of room for error.

I've talked non-stop about this race over the last month with my "Team Captain/ Pacer" Giancarlo, and we both feel that this is right on track with my training for this race. This past week we laid out the course into 7 laps (4.5 miles each) and reviewed my nutrition plan, clothing, and hydration. We also have on "Team Ultra Waz" as my Chief Medical Officer Kayla, who already has Ultra support experience from this years Keys 50 mile Ultra. If the rain holds off, I should be good to go from a blister standpoint, but you never know. It'll be great to have Kayla's support, but I really hope she just sits there and gets bored. (sorry! If I need you, I'm hurting!!!!) G is planning on pacing me laps 3,4,6 and 7.
Personally, I am breaking the race down into a 3 lap race and a 4 lap race. The first 3 laps are "junk miles" I plan on sticking to my pace goals regardless of how I feel. Everything I have ever read about Ultras says that you can blow a race in the first 10 miles, so NO MATTER HOW I FEEL, I'm going to stick to the plan! After lap 3, I only have 4 laps left. Lap 3 is the Honesty Lap, really how do I feel at this point, where are the other runners, what do I need to do from here, and how can I get to where I need to be. Lap 4 and 5 are Power Laps, I should still have plenty of fuel in the tanks and I am making the progress I need to. Lap 6 is the Guts Lap, I know where I want to finish the race and I need to push harder and deeper to get through this lap. The last and final lap is the Heart Lap, here I've put in too many miles to give up even though my body is done. By this point my body is telling me to stop and the only thing I have left is my heart to get me across the finish line!!
Thinking it and doing it are two completely separate things, I know this. But putting my goals in writing makes them that much more solidified. I read today that the best advice one Ultra can give to another is "to run 26.2 miles as hard as you can, and then keep running!" I have bigger goals with my Ultra running for 2011 and I am very pleased with where I'm at 2 weeks out from this race. Next Saturday I will be pacing several members from the Palmetto Pacers Running Club to a sub 2:00.oo 1/2 marathon... perfect for more 9:00 pace training!!! Got a goal? Put it in writing, not only will it help you get there, but, others will know too and help push you to that point! Run hard, run smart and run with all your heart.