Saturday, May 19, 2007

Race Report McDonald Forest 50K

I think I recovered from the stomach flu and was in good form for the event. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. It was 50 degrees at the start and I doubt if it topped out over 65. It was overcast with a few sunny breaks. There had been a short rain shower over night but essentially no rain in the preceding week so the course was dry and in excellent condition. The elevation gain for the run is listed as 6600 feet. There were sections around little lakes, some old growth forest, some stream hopping and a lot of pretty vistas. One section sported a field of blooming delphiniums under the forest canopy, and another open area blooming fields of various wild flowers.

The course is very similar in character to what I'm used to running on my Fort-to-Sea trail at home. There was a 50/50 mix of packed gravel road and single track trail. About half of the trail was smooth and typical for this area and half was more technical and steep. Overall it was a nice mix and I felt well prepared. I never felt like it was beyond my abilities given the training I do.

That being said, after the worst of the course (the most steep and technical sections) I really slowed down on what should have been a long easy downhill cruise. I just couldn't run beyond a crawl. I'm sure it was because I wasn't eating enough. I still struggle with this. I just don't get hungry and I have trouble finding anything appealing. And they didn't have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which is something I can manage to eat when available. So, when I should have been able to make some good time, I just trudged along. And I got very chilled (even though the temps weren't cooling down) and began to shiver for a while. That's a typical sign for me that I need to be eating. Also what slows me down is a lot of plain old fashioned PAIN. My feet HURT!!! Every step was disturbingly painful. And there's nothing wrong with my feet. I think it's just glycogen depletion that manifests this way. I was religious about my salt intake but I also think I got behind on hydration and should have carried 2 rather than just one bottle between aid stations.

As usual, at the final aid station I forced down more food and fluids. The last 4.8 miles consisted of about 2 miles on a gravel road with a slow steady 800 foot climb that I powered up pretty fast. My feet quit hurting and by the time we hit the last section of single track I was able to fly. There were a number of women I passed on the road and I kept ahead of them on the last section of trail. I was able to really speed through the up and down of the trail and by the end I'm sure I was going at 7-8 min miles at as much of a full-out sprint as I could safely muster on the trail. And I felt REALLY GOOD! I made the final stretch in 51 minutes. Total time 6:51:31.

I find it really odd that I can do so well at the beginning of these ultras, tank so bad in the middle and consistently have a huge kick at the end. I'd like to eliminate the tanking part. I'm thinking I may try switching to using gels and see if that works better for me. I've never really been much a gel user, though I think I could be good at scheduling them in and then I wouldn't have to carry as much food that I never feel like eating. I had a baggy of high calorie granola in my hand for several hours and only opened it once and ate out of it. What a waste of effort and squandered potential for energy.