Doing More With Less Since 1972

Category: Self-Supported Endurance

[Insert Your Name Here] 50k Race Report

Wild Hair 50k? Dumb Idea 50k? Never Again 50k?

Again, this isn’t a race. Or wait…maybe it is. Since I was the only participant, it may serve me well to consider this event a race. Look at me–I’m a winner!

The original idea for this run was to wake up on New Year’s Day and see how far I could run. I’d go until I quit or until my average pace was 13:00/mile. I really wanted to make it to 50k and wasn’t interested in quitting before I made that distance. The real idea here was to do something big, but do it self-supported. I did end up getting a little bit of help with a drink mix.

Plans changed–an advantage to doing self-supported events is that you aren’t stuck with someone else’s schedule. During the week of Christmas things were pretty hectic. Lots of cooking, lots of cleaning, and lots of people coming into town. As a result, I got in an 11 mile run on December 22 and didn’t get to work out again until a (pretty hard) bike ride on Friday. I got to sleep in pretty late on Saturday morning and decided about 5 minutes into my first cup of coffee that I’d do the run the next day (12/29) instead of New Year’s Day.

My thinking was that I’d gotten a lot of sleep the night before, and I was about as tapered as I was going to be. I’d taken so many days off that week already, and I wasn’t interested in resting for another three days just so I could put off the run. So I didn’t really do a real and proper taper, but I was reasonably rested coming in and had done a marathon exactly 4 weeks before. Added bonus–this would give me two marathons in December!

The Nutrition

I’ve been working pretty hard on fat adaptation and moving away from fueling on a ton of sugar. This paid off, because I don’t think I could have handled living on Gu for 6 hours. I got a great cookbook a few weeks ago called “Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-the-Go Food for Athletes (The Feed Zone)“. There’s also something really gratifying about prepping your own food before an event. It sort of reminds me of the times I’d spend the night before a rugby game polishing up my boots. Just another added ritual, and I could see this being a really good calming activity pre-race.

There are some really good recipes and ideas in this book, not just for training and racing, but also just to keep healthy snacks around and available for the kids. A great example is the peanut butter jelly rice cakes. The kids love these things, and they work out great for delicious fuel that’s easy on the stomach.


I also changed up the recipe for potato leek frittatas. I just dumped some bagged hash browns into a bowl and added three eggs, some cheese, and some ham left over from Christmas. Mixed it up, filled some muffin tins with it, and put it in the oven on 180 for about 20 minutes. These things were great on (it’s not a) race day!


My plan was to make it as far as I could without resorting to an onslaught of sugar. So I was going to eat pretty often, but not too much at any one time.

The Execution

The plan was that there wasn’t going to be much of a plan. I knew I’d have Neighbor Ben along for the middle part of the run. I also knew those miles would be a little faster than my overall average. I was meeting up with Ben at 6:30, so I left home at about 5:15 am trying to hit 11:00 miles for 7 miles or so. I ate a banana and a frittata before I left the house and hit a couple of water stops while I was out.

I met up with Ben at 6:30, ate some more, stuffed my pockets with rice cakes, and we started out again. His plan was to do 16, and my plan was to run with him for a while and also catch some walking/eating breaks here and there since a big part of this part of the run was going to be in Wickham Park doing loops and trails. My heart rate stayed in control for the most part, except for the sections on the trails. No hills here, but there’s a lot of sugary sand that slows the pace while forcing the effort level. I tried to stay under my LT, but snuck up over it a few times.

I started realizing around mile 12 that even though I was keeping the pace in check, this was going to be a really tough day. As we headed back and I hit 18 miles I realized I was down to about a half marathon left. Any ideas I had about bailing before 50k were out the door. I was still averaging around 11:45/mile at that point, and the walk breaks had paid off. I made it back to the house at mile 21. 10 miles left to go, and feeling pretty good.

I lost a lot of time at this point, but it was worth it. My shorts were soaked–a really humid day out–and my shoes were well on their way. I took a few minutes to change shorts, socks, and shoes as well as get some more food in me. There’s a half mile loop around the house, and I did that 7 times  with the family, then did a quick one mile out and back while The Missus mixed up a heavy-on-the-Gatorade water bottle. I was pretty deep in at this point, and felt no shame resorting to sugar.

With 5.5 miles left, I went out on my usual 4 mile out and back course, leaving myself 3 more laps around the house to finish off the 50k. I planned some walking breaks during the 4 miles, and on the way out I took them. On the way back I started getting a little contrary and denied myself the walks–I just wanted this to end.

I got back to the Gatorade and started on my final three laps–1.5 miles left. I’d run seven of these already, and I knew that there was a headwind on one section of the loop that felt really good. I decided I’d walk that headwind on each lap and soak it up. I did that for the first two, but by the last one I was in “finish this thing off” mode. I ended up finishing 31.16 miles  in 6:23:52, which was a 12:19 pace overall. I was really happy with this, but even happier that it was over.

50k was plenty for me–I quit there.


I’m not sure I want to do this again. Granted, I didn’t really train for this distance. I just figured since I was already in decent marathon shape I’d go out and give it a shot. I don’t know if I’d even want to dedicate the time it would take to really do this distance correctly. Ironically, or maybe not, I’m not nearly as sore the day after as I am the day after a marathon. I’m guessing that’s because the effort level was scaled way back. Time on the feet is a major factor here–over two hours longer time taken here than for a race only 5 miles shorter.

Still, I’m pretty excited about going out and doing a big self-supported event like this.

What’s next?

My Rookie Year On The Tour

I’m doing a challenge run on New Year’s Day, but my next “race” is going to be the Tour of Sufferlandria.

Technically, this isn’t a race either. It’s just a 9 day beat down on the bike.

I got an awesome gift this year–every single Sufferfest video. I can’t decide if that’s because I’m loved, or because people really want me to suffer. I’ll take it either way. They’ll at least respect me when I finish, right? I’ve wanted to try these videos out for a while, and since I’ve been using Trainerroad my interest has peaked.

I’ve been off the bike for a couple of months and focusing on marathon training. But that race was two weeks ago, and I still think my biggest triathlon gains are to be had on the bike. So last night I did a new FTP test, using the Rubber Glove video from The Sufferfest. My old FTP was 305, and I expected that number to fall. (Un)fortunately it went up.

Way up. My new FTP is 399.

I blame it on the hot chick making omelettes.

I’m honestly not sure how this happened–bike setup on the trainer was the same. The only real difference was a slightly cooler environment. I’m hoping this is a true measurement, and that I gained this power with a 2 month focus on high running volume and ample rest going into the test. Either way, I’ve set myself up for some absolutely brutal training rides over the next 6 weeks heading into the Tour.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen over the rest of 2014. I’m reconsidering the self-supported 140.6 because of safety concerns. But I think I’m ready to step up to the big boy plate this year. I’m about 2 years into uninterrupted training and steady improvement–big gains on the bike in the second half of this year and a new found ability to run long distances without bonk.

The two major factors have been Trainerroad and a much cleaner diet with a lot less sugar and grains (thanks Vinnie!). I think I finally have a decent handle on race management as well. That’s probably a fleeting window of opportunity. I’ll start messing it up again soon. But I need to take advantage of this window while it’s open.

So…Great Floridian?

Self-Supported Running Event – January 1, 2014

And I don’t give a ladybug who you are or where you rank in the running world, I want you to get in on this!

I’m really excited about the prospect of doing a self-supported 140.6 in late 2014, but I’m in decent marathon shape right now and I don’t want to waste it. I also don’t want to plop down the money for another winter marathon. So I’ve come up with alternative–something that would be good to do annually.

The way I look at it, this will achieve one of two things every year. It will either keep me out of trouble on New Year’s Eve or make me pay dearly for the fun I had.

It’s a pretty simple event–“How Far Can You Run?” #howfar2014

Here’s the deal…

Wake up on New Year’s Day, take off running, and see how far you can go. The only rule I’m setting for myself is that I have to stop when my average pace for the day reaches 13:00 miles or I just plain quit–whichever happens first. Then the next year I’ll go out and try to run further. Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’ll never do it again because of the pain that ensues, but we’ll see.

No medals.

No t-shirts.

No fees.

Feel free to set your own rules and parameters. Step outside your own door and do the same. Jump on your treadmill. Run your local New Year’s Day 5k and keep running right through the finish line!

It seriously doesn’t matter how far you go. You may make it a mile, 10k, 15 miles, marathon, 50k, 50m…whatever. Just see how far you can go!

“Play a train song!”

[image credit]

Self Supported 140.6 Run Route – First Idea

I’ve been kicking around a few ideas for how to structure the run for the (yet-to-be-named) self supported 140.6 I’m planning on doing next year. There are two basic paths of thought here–one is to do a bunch of laps of the same course. That’s what I’ve mapped out here. This is a 5.23 loop around my neighborhood beginning and ending in my driveway.

There are some big support benefits to this course.  First of all, we have plenty of room in the driveway to set up an aid station for people to put their stuff. We can also rent the neighborhood pavilion for the day and set up aid there. That would give us aid stations at Start, Finish, 3.5, 5.23, 8.8, etc. We could also have some volunteers make sure the intersection between 1&2 and 3&4 have some liquid and food if needed.

The downside of this course is that we’d have to do 5 laps. That would get old after the 2nd lap for sure. Then again, it’s a flat and fast course with very minimal traffic, so there’s really no reason to complain.

Another possibility I’m considering is a two-lap 13.1 course. I’ll post that layout later. There are definitely some advantages there too.

Self-Supported 140.6 – And So It Begins

For the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking a lot about doing a self-supported 140.6 mile race event in 2014. Unfortunately for The Missus, I’ve been talking about it too.

A lot.

First things first–why do a self-supported event instead of an official race?

There are quite a few reasons. The biggest reason is just a matter of convenience. The costs and logistics of traveling to a race I have no hope of winning are hard to justify. I’d also have to tow four other people along with me, and they probably would rather do other things than sit around all day waiting to see if I survive.

There are a few races that are within a reasonable distance like the Great Floridian and HITS Naples that are doable, but anything the WTC puts on is off the table. Actually, WTC is off the table anyway, just because they are so cost prohibitive. Seriously, why pay hundreds of dollars a year in advance for some race nutrition and hydration (and a t-shirt, backpack, medal, etc)?

Ok, fair enough. The WTC perks are pretty nice. And you get to hear, “[Your name here]…you are an Ironman!” announced by Mike Reilly. I get the draw there. Really…I do get it, and it’s valid. And maybe one day I’ll be in a situation where this makes sense.

But my current situation is that I don’t really care about the medal or the t-shirt or whether or not WTC considers me to be an”Ironman”.

I just want to do it.

And doesn’t it make sense to take all that money I’d spend on an entry fee and put it towards a good cause instead? Maybe even use the event as a way to raise even more money for a good cause?

Yeah…that sounds better to me.

That’s crazy talk–where do you get the idea to do something like this?

I know this can be done and be a great event, because Coach Brett does it with the Iron Baby every year. Cruise over to his place and check out. It’s an amazing story, and he’s a true guru of self-supported racing. He’s done 9 Iron Baby events already, and he’s a great resource for information on what it takes and ideas.

I’ve also been inspired by some other events I’ve done (or missed out on) locally over the past year. There are the Bridge to Bridge and John R. Mathers swims organized by Rob Downey (events, not races) and the Wickham Park Ultra Marathon (event, not a race) Matt Mahoney organizes going on just a few miles from my house. These are yearly events with great participation. And they don’t need medals or official timing chips to make them great.

In fact, I’d argue that the absence of all the frills is one of the things that makes them great.

I could go on and on about the beauty of self-supported and non-sanctioned events, and I probably will in subsequent posts. There are lots of other things I’m going to have to figure out and plan over the next year as well, and I plan to document these activities as a go. Just a few of the things that will be covered:

  • Event Date – I’m thinking some time in November
  • Race Course – Will need a few different options I think
  • Sponsors?
  • What charity to support — that one is easy
  • Aid station placement and manning
  • Prizes?
  • Publicity and fundraising

I’m really looking forward to this adventure, both as a (it’s not a) race director, as a participant, and as a guy trying to tackle this distance for the first time. Stay posted for more information!

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