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!
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 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.