Saturday, May 2, 2015

Greenland Open Space 50K: A Serious Wake-up Call!

Burning River for Ben: Today’s Greenland Open Space 50K (31 Miles) race was a very humbling experience with lots of time in the pain cave as well as many lessons learned. First it was humbling. Since I’m training for a 100 mile run I came to this race with a very arrogant attitude thinking “it’s only a 50k, it can’t be that hard”. This kind of thinking is not only arrogant it is stupid. I had run 30 miles two weeks before and felt really good and finished strong, however there is a big difference between a run and a race. With that arrogance I didn’t taper properly. Mistake number 1: On Thursday, just two days before the race I did a 4.5 hour mountain bike ride, including two hours of hard riding with the fastest kids on the High School team I assistant coach. On my ride home, as I was on the verge of bonking, I thought “this is pretty stupid, ride yourself into the ground two days before a 50k running race? You call yourself a coach?” I certainly would never recommend this to anyone!

So mistake number one left me with tired legs right from the start. At least I had the sense to hold back and let the lead group go. Max ran the first lap with me and this proved to be lesson number two. Max and I do the majority of our running before daylight when the temps are still in the mid-20s to mid-30s. The temperature was already between 45 and 50 at the start. The race consisted of 4 laps of approximately 8 miles. With the heat, Max was done after one lap. He is also not used to running on a leash, so he was dragging by the end of the lap. As the race went on it continually got warmer, climbing into the 70s. This took its toll on me. Burning River is going to be exponentially worse; time to start running in the daylight hours.

At the end of one lap Max was done!
Lesson three became obvious by the third lap. I have not been doing enough hill work. This race had about 3000 feet of climbing with the altitude between 7,000 and 7,300 feet. All the climbs were gradual so very runnable. But this really wore on me after 18 miles or so. 3000 feet in 31 miles extrapolates to just over 9,000 for 100 miles which I believe is pretty close to total elevation gain for Burning River. Got to work on rolling hills!

Lessons 4 & 5 were just stupid mistakes. I didn’t bring any bandages to cover my nipples not thinking I was going to sweat that much. By the end of the second lap my nipples were rubbed raw and I had to do the last two laps shirtless. I also had some pretty serious chafing in the crotch area, but I don’t think it would have been a good decision to go short-less, so I just had to endure it - made for a VERY painful shower afterward. Lesson 5 was even stupider. I didn’t bring any electrolytes or Perpetuem. So I did the whole race on four gels and water. For the first time ever in a race I got nauseous, but luckily didn’t have to puke.

With Bleeding Nipples was Forced to run Shirtless
So despite all these blunders I finished the first lap somewhere in the top 30 or 35 and even though I was on a death march the 3rd and 4th lap I whittled it down to 22nd overall and won the 50+ age group. I was told about half way through the last lap that I was winning the masters. With a long climb and 4 miles to go I didn’t really care. But then a guy that looked to be 50 passed me. Somehow I found something inside me and I picked up the pace and stayed with him. Approximately two miles from the finish I made a move and was able to go by him. This was incredibly painful and I had to dig with everything I had. Turns out he was 50 and I beat him by 25 seconds. The race was designated the RRCA Western Region Ultra Championship so I was named the 2015 “Grand Master” Ultra Champion.


Deep in the Pain Cave & Somehow Finding It within to Finish Strong

This race was certainly a wakeup call. I think I was beginning to get cocky since training has been going so well. This is why these training races are so valuable; they present a nice reality check. I’ve got some adjustments to make for Burning River!

Very Happy to Cross that Line!