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!


  1. I give you props cuz, you are hard core, i cant run nor do i have any interest in it. keep going :)

    1. Thanks, Cuz! I really appreciate it! I definitely plan to keep it going :)

  2. What an amazing achievement. Congratulations Dimitri. This is really fantastic! This run was such a critical stepping stone to your 50 mile race, and it looks like you did it in fine form. You looked pretty good and upbeat in the videos you took (and I thought the videos were a great idea too.) Reading this post and watching those videos makes me want to go do my own 31 mile run :) I give you lots of credit man - you planned, executed and delivered. Insanely great job! I hope to see you at the Rutgers Half, otherwise... Onward to the Dirty German!

    1. Thanks, Frank! I was definitely hurting near the end, although it's true when I watch these video maybe it wasn't so bad. It's always like that. Whenever I look back I think it was fine. I'm not feeling too sore today surprisingly so I'm going to do a few miles and hopefully be ready to go for the Rutgers half! See you then.

  3. Awesome report, thanks man. You did great. I have to laugh at your all PB&J strategy, it is freaking hilarious. You are a man who loves his PB&J's, gotta respect that ;) I personally don't do any "real" food because I don't see how anything but sugar and a faint amount of protein is helpful to your running metabolism.

    1. Thanks, Mitch! Yeah, I think I mentioned this strategy of all pb&js earlier on reddit and you thought it was crazy then. You were right. This is not going to work for me. Problem is I don't like gels too much. I only have a couple more long runs to experiment with. Hopefully I'll find something that works. I can't believe you do only gels. You think you'll be able to do that for leadville?

  4. YOU ARE THE MAN! I hope to be able to run with you soon. I really want to be there for you on the 50 Miler! Keep up the great work.