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!


  1. Congratulations on such a successful training run man. You are definitely ready and will do awesome on the 50 miler! I'll be thinking about you while I'm doing my marathon on the 20th.

  2. Thanks, Frank! I'll be thinking about your run too! I'll have my phone on me so maybe you could text me the result for motivation. I should be at mile 20, with only 30 to go!

    1. Certainly. I will do just that sir!

  3. Wow, this sounds like it was a much better experience than your previous biggie. Way to live and learn D!

    You are going to do a great job at the Dirty German, no worries!