Colorado Bend State Park; Bend, Texas
August 3-4, 2019
I write these for my future examination and my coach (Ben Drezek). I hope you enjoy – please ignore the errors…it’s a train of thought rather than a monograph.
This was race date was situated at a good time during the summer to get me more time on my feet overnight and avoid the summer heat in Texas. It started at 7p with a 7a cutoff (12 hours).
Leading up to the race you have alway have expectations and guess: Hot since it’s August in Texas and….well, no other ideas. I’ve never run this race and had nothing in the way of a race warnings – should have done more research.
Race Conditions: Temperature, according to my race watch started at 91 degrees and progressed down to about 84 degrees. It felt a few degrees cooler to me, but we had little to no wind for the entire night. The little breeze that there was would only hit you on the ridge tops and seldom seen clearings.
Goals: 1) To finish the race – always the first goal. 2) Work the first lap (18.6m) and see what I had left in the tank on loop two. 3) Work on my nutrition between aid station to supplement calories.
Note: #2 is an iffy strategy, and not discussed with coach, but going into the race I felt strong and wanted to test my fitness….and I did.
Before the Race: I hate not starting a race first thing in the morning. It throws off all my race day preparations. But, I picked the race. For this race I chose to treat race day as a normal day with a normal wake-up time and did a few things throughout the day….why?…to keep myself up during the day and race during the night to help simulate a longer race that takes 24 hours. I did take a 30 minute nap out of boredom right before the race – oops. Food was normal fare with nothing added to the menu – higher than normal calories, but nothing special.
It should be mentioned: A fellow racer stated that he had race the 60k two times and did not finish either….he was now running the 30k! This made me pay attention…
The Race Course: This a two loop course (2x 30k, 2x 18.4m) with aid stations every three to five miles – well covered by volunteers. This lollipop style course had a 3 mile stem (start/finish to Lemon Ridge Aid Station) and then traveled west on a long loop back to the Lemon Ridge, into the start-finish and back out for the second loop.
Loop 1 (1 – 18.6; 7:00p – 12:03a): The race started at 7:00p sharp with short 1/2 mile flat that turned to about 5 miles of climbing. This course was rough with boulders, large rock and spikes. This required that you pay attention, find your footing and move at a good pace when available. Not terribly technical, but stubbed toes and turned ankles were par for the loop. I moved well for the first 13 miles and then started the long climb back to Lemon Ridge. I hit my goal of working the first loop but lost track of my nutrition….and thus burying my self with low energy. This could be blamed on the heat and the copious amounts of water that were need to keep me moving, but it was simply racing more than managing the engine. The course surface was much tougher than I bargained for…even with my Altra Superiors and rock plates. My feet were beaten up and sore, my ankles rolled multiple times and I was tired. By the time I got back to the start/finish (to start the second loop) my engine light was on danger and I need to make some changes.
I’m happy with loop one work, but I paid a price for the work.
Transition (12:03a; 10 minutes): Because of where I was at mentally and physically I didn’t want to spend much time in transition between loop 1 and loop 2. However, I wanted to to the right things. I changed socks, changed shoes (Altra Lone Peak) and changed my sock. I WANTED to change my shorts, but there was simply no easy option – I have to think about this one for later. Everything was soaked with sweat and salt. I quick got up and walked away…then walked back to resupply my nutrition also. In hindsight, transition went well, but there are improvements to be made (more later). I didn’t take my trekking poles out on loop one, but pulled them out on loop two.
Loop 2 (12:13a – 6:06a; 18.6 – 37.2): My mind changed when I started back out on loop two. There’s a lot to be said for “last lap” and no excuses. Embrace the suck and keep moving forward. As one sign on the course stated: It’s ok to want to quit as long as you don’t quit. I reminded myself often this sign.
My nutrition from aid station had been minimum the first lap and I did not take in as much supplemental nutrition as I planned to during the first lap. In addition, electrolyte imbalances had me on @basesalt and water fighting off stomach cramps and cramps high in my thighs. This could easily be my undoing for the course. Lap two also had me worrying (for the first time racing) about cutoff times. I left start/finish about 47 minutes ahead of the cutoff and I had ended the last lap slow. I had to make some changes to be sure that I didn’t get caught.
Two things saved me: Trekking poles, and nutrition. By the time I got back to Lemon ridge, I finally got my water and electrolytes handled and the stomach was settling, but it took almost an hour to make three miles. This meant that I was still only about 45 minutes ahead of the cutoff. If anything went wrong, I was toast.
For the first half of loop two, I was trying to get back into the race. I burnt too much energy on the first loop (on purpose) and was struggling to get back to racing well. Nutrition was now every 45 minutes plus aid station food and it started to make a difference – my body had the things that it need to run to engine.
The second half of loop two went better and I caught and dropped a number of racers – that’s the way it’s suppose to happen. I started to again enjoy the race. The pace was not quick, but I started getting a little distance on that imaginary cutoff line. Best was that I was doing water and nutrition like clockwork and it keep me where I needed to be – a tough lesson on a tough course.
By the time I got to the last aid station, Lemon Ridge. A volunteer that I knew exclaimed that I “looked strong….much better than when going out.” I took the comment as it was meant and I felt the same. I took the last 3 miles of the race to finish stronger than I finished the first – I’ll take that as a win.
Finish (11 hours 6 min.): The soles of my feet were literally numb from running across the tops of boulder, rocks, and pyramids of pain (rugged trails). My ankles were rolled more than I can count and my trekking poles save me from a trip to the doctor. Even with all this said – I felt strong!
Mentally: This was a challenging race for many reasons. But, I was physically and mentally strong going into the race and overcame a number of situation that could have been excuses for stopping.
Done right: The grind! Simply, I’ve been doing the everyday work to get prepared included night running. Feet were done right….taped them up and changed socks and shoes.
Improve: Pay attention to the damn nutrition plan stupid! This is something that I control, for the most part, and can put me in a hole that I cannot remove myself from if everything doesn’t fall right.
Differently: Nothing for this race. Little bit of reorganization of transition gear.
Lessons: Nutrition and stomach have to be cared for from the beginning. Run on carbs and not on what you can do….long races require constant fueling.
Back to Training: Same as last race: Time on feet matters. Need to spend time both at a run and
power-walk for long time periods. Correction, I need to develop a better coyote travel trot rather than a power hike. It worked well, when possible, on this course.