Monday, April 30, 2012

50K Training Run - Take 2

Awesome! 4 hours 52 minutes (9:21 pace, same as last time, but much better which I'll explain later) 5 GUs, 2 PBJ halves, 2 S!Caps, 3 bottles of water. This was such a huge confidence builder.  I am very excited for the Dirty German 50 after this run.


I was originally planning to run 25 or so yesterday, but my back was hurting for unknown reasons (volleyball? raking? sleeping weird?) so I thought I would play it safe instead so I just ran the Run with Rotary 5K as a weird progression run. When I finished I realized my back didn't hurt at all which made me upset because I could have done my long run and now I wasn't sure when I was going to be able to do it.  I didn't want to put it off too much longer because the Dirty German is only 3 weeks away and I need to start my taper.  So, I decided I would run Monday morning and work from home in the afternoon. 

My plan was to do around 25 - 28 miles.  The plan called for 25, but that assumed a longer run of 10 miles the day before which I did not do.   In fact I didn't do any back to back long runs this training except for a 10 followed by a 27, but that isn't that long. So I was already thinking I was leaning more toward 28.  I created a route which took me out to Princeton and then back along the tow path back home.  I took with me 6 GUs of all different flavors to try out, a bag of 4 S!Caps (These are sodium and potassium capsules) and two handhelds full of water.

I figured that would last me the 21 or so miles til I got back home where I would drop off one bottle, refill the other and grab the two PBJ halves that April was so nice to make for me. Then I would do another 7 miles and that would be that. 

I should also add that the course I chose was actually quite hilly.  I did this on purpose because the Dirty German isn't super flat like the tow path is.  It's not considered a hilly ultra, but that's only because there are these completely ridiculous ultras that have many thousands of feet in elevation change.  Compared to them, it's pretty flat.  But compared to the tow path it's quite hilly.  I figured if I did my 50K training run on some more serious hills, that could only help. So now on to what really happened.

Start - Hour 1

As is always the case, the first hour was uneventful.  I felt great of course and very optimistic like always do.  It always seems like I can run forever at a slow pace when I'm starting out.  It's like every time I forget what's to come.  After my last 50K I learned some valuable lessons which I applied to this run.  First off, I started a lot slower.  I decided to average near 9 minute pace while I was running and perhaps I'd take slightly shorter breaks because I was taking GU initially instead of PBJ sandwiches which of course take longer to eat. This worked very well. I bought an assortment of GUs to try to see which ones I liked the best and each time I would reach into my pocket and grab a new flavor.  The plan was to drink water every 15 minutes as I always do, and now take a GU every 30 minutes. The first GU was some kind of orange flavor and it was OK.  I give it a 6/10. The second GU was Jet Blackberry and I liked it a lot more. 8/10. I also took my first S!Cap.
Hour 2

At this point, I started to get a bit tired but nothing unexpected. I continued doing the same 9 minute pace while I was running.  Sometimes I'd go up to 9:30 when I would walk some hills, but then in Princeton after Mt. Lucas I had an 8:44 mile at very little effort because of so much downhill. The plan was working, but of course it was still too early to tell.  I had a Triple Berry GU. 8/10 and a Peanut Butter GU. 7/10. Unfortunately, my bag of S!Caps fell out of my pocket at some point which brings me to the one negative of doing all these GUs.  Man are they ridiculously sticky. This is not that big of a deal, but its annoying when your hands are covered with this sticky GU.  I think this had something to do with how the bag of S!Caps was lost.  I was upset, but at this point it wasn't that hot and I figured I would take one when I got home in 6 miles.

Hour 3

Surprisingly, I did not feel that much more tired at this point. Somewhere along the way I got off by 15 minutes with my GUs, so I only took one more before I got home to pick up the PBJ. I had Strawberry Banana. 7/10. I kept the same 9 minute pace with walking breaks thrown in while eating GUs and the occasional hill I was averaging a 9:20 pace.  I was feeling very optimistic at this point.  I clearly remembered starting to hurt at around 20 miles two weeks ago, so this was good.
Hour 4

I got home right as April was leaving with Lucy.  It was cool to see them for a sec.  April was laughing at me because I was in way too happy of a mood for having just run 20 miles.  She asked me if I was this happy the whole time I was running.  I think I was just happy to see them before I left and that I was having such a good run so far. I ran into the house, refiled my water and grabbed the two PBJ halves. I took off my orange sweatshirt and I was on my way. This ended up being by slowest mile at 13:21.  This included walking the hill back home, a couple minutes in the house refilling water, and then walking while eating the first PBJ half. If you look at the rest of my splits, the other miles with rests are 10 minute or 9 minute miles.  I wonder what kind of breaks I'll be taking for the Dirty German.  I guess they'll get more frequent near the end. 

So let me get to the big turning point of this training run. After I recharged and was back out on the tow path I realized I was feeling great.  At around 22 miles in I started thinking maybe I need to take advantage of how I'm feeling and go for a 50K.  The way I figured in my head, instead of turning around at 24.5 miles on the tow path, I would run an extra 1.5 and turn around at 26.  I figured 1.5 miles is nothing and I'm feeling great.  Lots of mental games going on.  I considered maybe adding on the three later when I got back closer to home, but I knew I might not do that at that point.  By running out an extra 1.5, I'd have no choice but to run back home.

I actually started to pick up the pace slightly at this point and was going just under 9 minute pace.  I was feeling great despite my HR climbing into the low 150s. Also, my legs were starting to ache, but this was no big surprise and I wasn't worried. When it was time for the turn around I at my last PBJ half and walked a bit to do the video.  I was ready for the 5 miles left to get home.
Hour 5 - Finish

The last 5 miles I continued to feel strong and even picked it up a bit more.  I was getting close to running out of water because I hadn't planned on being out for another 10 miles, but I was still OK. I was really happy that I had the energy to keep picking it up even though I had been running for so long.  This was a much different experience than last time. Although I had originally planned to stop and walk up the hill before my house, I was able to power up it and even averaged my fastest mile at 8:29! My legs were not aching that much, and I had no cramping at all. I finished strong and felt like if I wanted to I could have kept going, again a totally different feeling than when I finished last time. 


Everything went so well, I am going to be doing things very similarly for my 50 mile. I think my big takeaway was that all the lessons I learned last time, I was able to apply here and they worked! I slowed down in the beginning, which left me with more energy later on. I started with gels so I didn't try to eat so 6 slices of bread! I tooks S!Caps (although I could have taken another 1 or 2). Also, my stomach was 100% with the 5 GUs and the PBJ. 

As for new things that I would change, I need to make sure I don't drop my S!Caps.  I think there is a zipper pocket in the shorts I'm planning to wear, so I can keep them there. I'll pick the flavors of GUs that I liked the most from this run. The other main difference between this run and the 50 is I won't be picking it up like I did in the last miles, because boy am I going to need every ounce of energy to keep moving at the end.

Even though my pace for this 50K was almost exactly the same as last time, this one was much better.  Last time, I started too fast and then faded at the end.  This time I had extra energy left when I finished, and this was a way harder course.  It had hundreds of feet of elevation change throughout which meant a lot more walking breaks.

Ready to Taper

This run marks the end of the main training for my 50.  I'm so glad I got another 50K in there and it really helps with my confidence going into this race.  My training didn't go perfectly, but it never does, and overall I feel pretty ready for my first ultra.  Everywhere I read says that the real way to improve in these things is to do more of them.  So I'm going into this thing with really low expectations.  I'm just looking to finish.  If I do that within the 12 hour cutoff, I will be proud of myself.  Man, do I have some serious happy running high going on right now 6 hours after I finished this run. Time to rest and have some beer! Woo Hoo!

Run with Rotary 5K

I wasn't going to post this as a separate entry originally, but when I started getting into it as part of another entry I realized it deserved it's own place.  

I wasn't planning on racing this because I thought it would be too risky with my 50 miler in 3 weeks, plus I wasn't sure how that would work with me trying to do one last really long run before I start my taper.  So then I thought I would pace my sister who was going to run in the 30 - 35 minute range but when she canceled last minute, (It's ok Biek, love you anyways :) ) I wasn't sure what I was going to do.  I mostly wanted to get my shirt, box of large band aids, 2 whistles and a sewing kit.  Gotta love local 5k swag.  Although I must say, the long sleeve tech shirt is pretty nice.

Pretty sweet long sleeve tech shirt for a local 5K

Anyways, on to the "race".  This was my first time running in a race by myself where I wasn't planning on racing it or pacing Abby. So, on a whim, I decided I would start in the middle somewhere at mid 8 minute pace, then second mile I'd drop it down to 8 minute and then 7:30 for the last mile.  I figured it would be fun to pass a bunch of people without feeling like I was killing myself. That was the plan.  The execution was a bit different. The first mile went just like the plan.  There were a ton of people ahead of me going pretty slowly so weaving around everyone took a bunch of time so I hit the first mile in 8:35.  Then I figured it was time to pick it up a bit.  So I thought I picked it up just a little, but it being a race and all, I guess somehow my plan for 8 turned into 7:28. I should also mention that I decided to do this whole thing by feel so I did not look at my watch the whole time.  When I hit the 2 mile mark I picked it up again and I felt like I was a pushing a bit hard but 7:30 isn't an easy pace for me so I thought I was close to it.  The problem was near the end of the race I decided to play a game of how many people can I pass at the end.  So I guess I pushed it a bit harder than I planned and ran the 3rd mile in 7:01.

My final time was 23:48 and I felt very good at the finish.  I was happy that my fitness level was such that a 7 minute mile at the end didn't feel crazy.  I though back to my first 5k I ran with Pete almost exactly 3 years ago when I had just been running a month where I averaged 8:17 pace and that was an all out effort.  It's cool to see that I can now run a 5k as a training run at a much faster pace.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rutgers Half Marathon

Wooooo Hooooo! 

My official time was 1:36:28.68. 
162/2667 overall finishers. Top 6%
143/1312 men. Top 11%
24/222 in men's 35 - 39 age group.  Top 11%
My average pace was 7:22. 

I am very happy with my new 4 minute+ PR given the low expectations I had going into this race. So lets get to the race report!

Leading Up to the Race

As I've mentioned before, I've been in a bit of a training funk recently.  After Doing some really high mileage in March and seeing improvements in my fitness, I had to reduce for a few weeks to give my calves and Achilles a rest and as a result I gained a few pounds and felt a bit sluggish during my workouts.  

Specifically, this past Wednesday, I had a little tempo run with Frank, with 2 miles at my planned half marathon pace.  As we picked it up to about 7:25 pace for the first mile, I felt like I was pushing so hard to maintain it. The second mile when we picked it up to under 7:20 I felt like I was in a 5k race.  What the heck was going on? Even though there are good days and bad just like anything else, this training run absolutely killed my confidence.  If I was having this much trouble maintaining this pace for a couple miles, where would it leave me for the half?

Two days later after having lunch at a new Chinese restaurant at work I went for a very easy 3 mile run in the afternoon and felt absolutely horrible.  I was feeling weak, out of breath and my HR was crazy high.  Even after the run was over I was feeling pretty bad.  After telling April about it and describing my symptoms, she looked up MSG and it seems based on the timing, that is the most likely culprit.  But, even though there was this reason, the combination just left me thinking I'd be happy with any kind of PR with this half. 

I ran a 1:40:36 at this same race 2 years ago which was at the time an awesome race and an 8 minute PR. I remember thinking I had made a huge fitness break through after I ran it.  I knew I had to be in better shape than I was two years ago but I was having doubts due to the past few weeks. Back when my training was going super well in early March, I had an awesome tempo run where I did 6 miles averaging 7:08 pace.  At that point I decided that 7:15 was doable which would have given me a 1:35, but since then, I completely abandoned this as a possibility. I decided that I would be happy to break 1:40 and set a new PR which would be 7:38 pace, but I was really hoping that I could keep my pace under 7:30 to finish in 1:37:XX.  But I felt it might be a stretch. Plus, a little over a week ago I ran 31 miles and I was still a bit worried about hurting my calves if I pushed too hard.  So now you see why my expectations were low for this race.


I had my usual restless sleep the night before the race, even though I tried to tell myself I wasn't going to be going all out and my expectations were low.  I even had a dream where I ran a 1:37:XX and was really happy.  I woke up before the alarm went off at 10 of 6. I had my usual bowl of Special K Fruit and Yogurt which has been my favorite cereal for a couple years now.  I love it, and has surprisingly few calories. Had a cup of coffee and I was off to Rutgers.  I was a bit worried about the weather because we were expecting to get a ton of rain today, but I wasn't sure what the timing would be.  I didn't mind racing in a little rain, but if the course was already wet and it was a downpour, that would probably slow me down. When I got to College Ave. the weather was perfect.  52 degrees and no rain.

I started my walk over to Busch campus and this woman came up to me and asked if she could walk with me and talk the whole way.  I thought that was a bit odd, but I welcomed the company and we already had a built in topic of conversation: running.  I can talk for hours about running, so I was more than happy to oblige.

I paid a visit to the porta potty, checked in my gear and did a 1.2 mile warmup with a few strides.  I was actually feeling good and maybe a bit more optimistic with my expectations. I met up with Frank who was positioned right behind the 7 minute pacer and we chatted for a few minutes before the start.  With a minute to go, I moved back a few rows and was ready to start my first mile at about 7:25 pace and take from there.


The race started and we were off. The nervousness went away pretty quickly and was immediately replaced with a mild discomfort, but hey I'm a runner, so this was no problem.  I was feeling OK, but not great.  I looked down at my watch after a few minutes and I was at 7:20 pace.  I was hoping to be at sub 7 with the adrenaline of the beginning of the race and force myself to back off, but that was not the case.  So be it.  I just kept it steady and ended up passing the first mile marker in 7:27. Second mile was pretty much same as the first, but with about the same effort, I picked it up a bit and hit it in 7:22. I was still feeling so-so about how I was going to do.

Then came the third mile.  I felt like I was just cruising along and started to feel strong.  I looked down at my watch about half way in, and I was at ~7:12 pace.  Now there was a bit of a downhill, but still, I was really liking this.  I thought about how great I felt compared to the run with Frank, and this was much better at a quicker pace.  I finished the 3rd mile in 7:09. The next mile had some major uphills but I still managed a 7:28 so I was really happy at this point. I also realized that my HR was nice and low throughout all of this. It was hovering around the mid 160s.  By contrast, last year, during the shortened 10 mile version of this course (due to flooding, hence why I haven't run a half in two years) my HR was in the low 170s. I was really starting to think this was going well


I told myself that I would try to cruise through the middle of this course and keep an even effort and then see where I'm at once I get to the 10 mile mark.  That is exactly what happened.  As is often the case with these races, I yo-yoed back and forth with a few folks and this kept me at a fairly even effort. Miles 5 - 9 were pretty quick ranging from 7:06 to 7:26. I was feeling really strong, but I still felt like a was holding a bit back for the end.


When I hit mile 10, I was starting to slow down a bit.  I was fading a little, plus there are a few major hills at the end, so miles 10 - 12 were slower, but not by a ton.  The 12th mile with the biggest hill was 7:38 (Still faster than my average pace for the half marathon from two years ago). Once the 12th mile was over and the hill was done, I figured I would pick it up a bit and I was happy to see I had reserves left to do so.  Even with a bit of hill in the 13th mile, I managed a 7:11.  The last 10th of a mile I picked it up even more, but it wasn't my usual crazy sprint to the finish.  Seeing 1:36:XX on the finishing clock was such an awesome site!

Splits from RunningAHEAD

 TypeDistanceTimeTotal TimePaceAvg HRMax HRNotes
1Interval1 mi7:26.627:26.627:27158168 
2Interval1 mi7:22.2114:48.837:23165170 
3Interval1 mi7:08.0221:56.857:09164169 
4Interval1 mi7:27.5029:24.357:28167169 
5Interval1 mi7:18.6436:42.997:19166170 
6Interval1 mi7:05.3943:48.387:06166170 
7Interval1 mi7:25.6651:14.047:26166171 
8Interval1 mi7:17.7858:31.827:18165168 
9Interval1 mi7:09.021:05:40.847:10165168 
10Interval1 mi7:31.931:13:12.777:32162165 
11Interval1 mi7:29.181:20:41.957:30164167 
12Interval1 mi7:37.621:28:19.577:38164167 
13Interval1 mi7:10.581:35:30.157:11166173 
14Interval0.17 mi0:59.741:36:29.895:52174176 


I was so super happy when I crossed the finish.  I really had exceeded my expectations and I also felt like I ran a pretty conservative race.  I didn't feel like I pushed 100% and that was the plan.  I just didn't expect to get such a good time doing it.

While grabbing quite a good assortment of food, I saw Frank and we congratulated each other. He also had an awesome day.  He ran a 1:30:59, setting a PR, managing sub 7 minute pace! That is incredible.  He is trying for a BQ on the same day as my ultra, May 20th. 

After that, I met up with my Dad who came to see me.  I wasn't sure if he would be there because of the weather, but luckily it was only drizzling so he made it.  It was so great to see him, although once again like last year, he missed me.  I should have told him I was wearing a ridiculously loud outfit.  A bright yellow shirt and bright green compression calf sleeves.  I think he was more upset than I was that he missed me since I was still in a state of euphoria from my finish.  

This ranks up there with one of the best races I've had.  I think it was the combination of my expectations and the outcome. I had so many doubts and worries going in, and everything turned out better than expected, including the weather. Also, it feels so great that all of the training I've been doing and the increased mileage has obviously paid off. 

Monday, April 16, 2012


My buddy, Pete, just started a new blog to document his journey into insanity.  He's not really planning to go insane (although who knows how this will go).  He just decided that he is going to do this Insanity workout regimen for 60 days. Aside from getting into awesome shape, he is planning to lose some weight.  This of course means really watching his diet.  

I've recently been thinking that I need to start looking at my diet again after largely ignoring it for the past few months.  I was ignoring it because I was running some serious miles (averaging ~60 miles/week for 5 weeks and ~50 miles/week since the start of this year).  As a result of all this mileage, my weight steadily dropped to below 160 for the first time since high school. But, now after a few weeks of less mileage, I've gained a few pounds back.  So, once again I'm going to count calories for a bit.  This has made me think about my weight over my running career.

Running and Weight

Disney World 2008 (before running) / Disney World 2011 (after running)

When I started running 3 years ago I weighed 188 lbs. I didn't really think of myself as that heavy.  I felt like I was still in a normal weight range just based on appearance but I did want to lose a few pounds.  I thought that 175 would be good. I should also mention that I did not start running to lose weight.  I started running for the sake of running and to complete a marathon. Losing weight was simply a happy side affect and I didn't think about it that much.  

About a year later, I was down to around 170 and feeling pretty good.  At this point I started thinking more about my weight, not because I wanted to be healthier (although that's a happy side affect) but because I realized that I could run faster. I was hooked on running and racing and I wanted to improve my times.  When it comes to weight and racing, it's pretty simple.  The less you weigh, the faster you can run with the same effort.  Of course you eventually hit a limit, but I was no where close to that limit.  At my height (5' 10") I would have to be less than 135 pounds before I stopped seeing a positive affect from losing weight. There seems to be a general consensus that each pound equals ~2 seconds faster per mile.  That may not seem like much, but it really adds up, especially for longer distances.  That means if I lose 10 pounds I can expect to run a 5K a minute faster. That's huge! For a marathon, it means ~10 minutes! 

Reading about it is one thing, but I can say I have experienced this for sure.  When I've been at my lightest, I've run faster for the same level of effort.  If only there was a way I could track all my workouts in the last year on some kind of chart and see if there is some kind of correlation between my weight and my level of fitness.  Oh wait, I've done exactly that:

Average Monthly Weight vs. Max Monthly VDOT/HR

Now I know that correlation does not imply causation, but you can't completely ignore this graph! The blue line is my monthly average weight.  The red line is a bit harder to explain so lets just say its my measure of my max fitness for each month. As you can see, for the last couple months, especially last month, I've gained a couple pounds and so my fitness looks to have dipped a bit.  I'm curious to see how this will continue as I begin to once again lose weight.

Counting Calories

After my initial weight loss down to 170, I kind of got stuck. I needed to think about my diet and not just run more. I downloaded an iPhone app, of course, called Lose It! and I started counting my calories.

The thing is though, I found watching what I eat a lot more difficult than running. I would be good for a few days or sometimes a couple weeks, but then I would binge pretty bad. With how disciplined I got with my training, I couldn't really carry it over to my diet that well. Once again I got to a point where I wanted to be at a certain weight before a race and due to me trying to avoid injury, I ran less miles and gained some weight and missed my goal.  

New Weight Goals

I was hoping to be sub 160 before the Rutgers Half and instead I am somewhere between 162 and 165.  This stinks because I was at sub 160 about a month ago and then I let it slip away. Unfortunately, with the Rutgers Half being this Sunday, I'm not looking to lose 3 - 6 pounds by then.  I'm not really looking to lose more than a pound by then because losing any more would actually hurt me in the race for the short term because it would be too much of a calorie deficit. 

My new goal is inspired by Pete's Insanity training.  I'm not looking to do the Insanity workout (although my interest is definitely piqued). Instead I'm going to count my calories for the next 60 days and really look to lose about a pound a week.  That should bring me to the 154 - 157 pound range by mid June which would be super sweet. 

I just started today and I am already 236 calories over my daily budget. For some reason, I had an Iced Grande Vanilla Latte this afternoon that turned out to be 250 calories.  So I think I'll be skipping those from now on. I know this sounds crazy because I just started and I'm already over my budget, but it's alright.  That's because the way I create my calorie budget has a 500 calorie deficit per day in order to lose a pound a week.  If I eat 500 calories over my budget, I'm just maintaining my weight.  I'f I'm 250 over, I'm still losing weight but at a slower rate.  Plus I always error on the side of caution when estimating calories. Let's see where I am for the week. For some reason, I'm very optimistic about this.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

50K Training Run!

The start of my run on the tow path heading north away from Amwell.  Beautiful 47 degree weather.
Tow path was in great condition the whole way because they just redid it.

Wow.  4 hours and 50 minutes. 9:21 pace (Including breaks and everything). 4.5 PB&J halfs. 1 oatmeal cookie. 4 bottles of water. That was a lot of running. I felt the need to add an exclamation mark to this post because this was a big deal for me. This is the farthest I've ever run and it's also the most important training run for the Dirty German 50 Mile which I'm doing on May 20th. Since this was a long run, this will be a long blog entry.

A Little Background

Earlier in my training, I really started ramping up the miles until I was doing 60 mile weeks.  This was going very well and it was clear that my fitness was improving.  Then, after a mistimed 10k time trial, I developed some pain in my calf and Achilles. So for the last couple weeks I reduced my mileage into the 30s and moved my 50K run twice.  I had reservations moving it to this weekend because next week is the Rutgers Half Marathon.  Running 31 miles the weekend before a race is probably not the best idea, but I was running out of options. 

When I woke up this morning, I suddenly had the bright idea of running today. I get nervous before my long runs and races so the night before I can never sleep very well.  Having already slept well, I decided why not take the day off from work and just run this morning.  This was my mental list of Pros and Cons:

No time to worry about it
Beautiful weather today
An extra day of rest before the Rutgers Half
Gives me time to hang out on Saturday with the family
I just want to get this thing over with already!
Skip work :)

I left my heart rate monitor at work

With how much I love having the heart rate monitor, that was almost enough to make me change my mind, but ultimately I figured I could do this thing based on feel and I already had a pace in my mind, so this was happening!

Preparation, Concerns and Expectation

Since the PB&Js had been working before I figured if it ain't broke don't fix it. I made 3 sandwiches and cut them and half and put them in my lunch bag with ice.  I was planning on carrying with me one handheld of water and since I was going to be using my car as if it was an aid station I brought 3 more bottles with ice and water to leave in the car.

I had a few concerns going into this. Even though the PB&Js had been working, I've read numerous times that eating gets more difficult the longer you run.  Also, I read that variety is good.  Also, I don't think anyone else has adopted the all PB&J strategy.  Folks usually start with gel and then move to PB&Js but also mix in other things.  I'm not that big a fan of gels and I wasn't sure what else to bring, so I also packed a couple of April's awesome oatmeal cookies.

My other concern was that I hadn't run more than 9 miles in 3 weeks. I figured I'd be nice and tapered, but I was also worried that this was a big jump after resting my calf for so long.

Finally, I was concerned that the night before I wasn't thinking I was going to run so although I had a good dinner, I followed it up with a healthy amount of Scotch (Thanks Joe) and way too much dessert. 

But, it was the next morning and I was feeling good so whatever. My expectations for this were to just get through it, but honestly when I thought about it in my head, I thought this would be not bad.  This was because my 27 mile run went pretty well and I figured what's another 4 miles.  Plus I'll be taking it slow.  It's funny how these optimistic, naive thoughts can fill your head when you are not actually running.  I laugh at these thoughts now.

The Run Itself

Ok, enough already.  Lets get to the actual run. I got to the intersection of Amwell and the Tow Path right before 9 am.  Here's my prerun video:

Mentally, I decided I would break the run down into 3 5 mile segments and then 4 4 mile segments.  This sounded the best to me.  I always have to play these mental tricke to get me though challenging runs.  I try different things in my head to see how they seem.  3 10 mile segements and then 1 miles which is really nothing is not too bad either, while 10 5Ks sounds pretty crappy. 124 repeat 400s is just awful. The plan was to run 7.5 miles up the tow path turn around and come back.  Then do 4 4 mile out and backs stopping back at the car each time.

Miles 1 - 5

This was mostly uneventful. I was feeling good and optimistic. My pace was in the 8:30s. I thought it was maybe a bit fast but I wasn't too worried.  Ha.

Miles 6 - 10

Still feeling really good. I went as far as I ever have on the tow path.  Under 287 near exit 12 and then all the way past South Bound Brook (Hi Joe!) to 287 near exit 10. There was a huge tree down which a nice runner alerted me about.  Luckily I found a sweet little path through the woods to get around it.  Positive vibes all around.

Miles 11 - 15

Still feeling good, but I was starting to feel the miles a bit which was frankly too early because I was only half done. I got back to the car and refilled my water and got my 3rd PB&J half from the car.  I was trying to be quick about it, but I still lost a couple minutes.  I guess that means I was still feeling good enough that I was worried about being fast during my break.

Miles 16 - 19

At this point I started doing the 4 mile out and backs and I was starting to get tired and I thought this was way too early to feel tired. Also, my 4th PB&J was not sitting that well.  I had slowed down my pace to the low 9s. I was just thinking I need to do 3 more 4 mile out and backs.  It seemed like a lot left. I skipped taking video here and called April instead.  When I told her "19 down, 12 to go" it didn't sound too good. 12 sounded like a lot of miles left.

Miles 20 - 23

I was continuing to deteriorate and it's pretty clear from the video. I was a bit upset at this point that I was so tired considering I've run this far before a number of times.  I think the big difference is knowing how much more I had left.  If I only had a couple miles to go, I would have been feeling better all of a sudden. But, 8 more miles still felt like too much.

Miles 24 - 27

I skipped my last half PB&J because I couldn't stomach it so I had one of April's cookies instead. This worked a bit better.  At this point, I was very tired but the idea of only 4 miles started to feel doable. I broke up this distance further thinking I would be walking the beginning of it with my break and since I actually took my break at 27.6, I only had about a 5K of running left.  Since it was my last out and back it was just 1.5 miles and then I was turning back for the finish.  Mental tricks.

Miles 28 - Finish

YES! Wow I felt so good to be done.  This was really hard.  The last couple miles, my left calf would cramp up and it would force me to really slow my pace.  Then I would pick it up a bit and again it would cramp.  The frequency increased up until the finish.  I'm convinced this was partially mental.  

This was way harder than I thought it was going to be.  I thought I would finish thinking I could run some more, but I really couldn't.  I should clarify this a bit. I know that in a little over a month I'm planning on running 19 more miles than this, but when I start that run, I'll know I have 50 miles to go and not 31.  I think that's a huge part of it.  Adding miles to the end of a long run you've already accounted for in your head is nearly impossible.  If I was planning another 27 mile run, adding 4 more miles at the end would have been awful. 

Lessons Learned

My PB&J only strategy is not going to work.  It was ok in the beginning, but I definitely got tired of them by the end and they were hard to get down.  I need to rethink what I'll be eating.

Slow down! I thought that 8:30s ffor the first 15 miles while I was running felt like nothing, but the truth is, it does add up.  I think if I ran 9 minute pace instead, I would have had more left in the tank for later. I really need to feel like it's nothing for the first 20 miles. When I ran my 27 miler, it went better because when I met up with my friends for the last 6 we ran at 11 minute pace.  The combination of running that slowly and with friends made it feel alright.

S!Caps.  I keep meaning to order these electrolyte supplements called S!Caps since I'm going with a water only strategy and I keep forgetting because I'm an idiot.  The problem with just going with a sports drink like Gatorade is after a few hours everyone says it's awful.  All of the sugar does not sit well anymore. Electrolyte capsules give you the sodium and pottasium without the added sugar and flavor you don't want.


Overall, I am pretty happy with this and I've learned a few valuable lessons. I have my half marathon coming up next week and I'm not feeling that sore the next day.  I plan to do an easy 3 miler. I am planning on a 25 mile run before the 50 and I'll try out some of the things for my lesson.  I am still totally psyched for the 50 Mile Race. Can't wait!