Friday, October 5, 2012

The 2012 Bear Chase 50 Mile Race Report...

DNF.  I'm still trying, and struggling, to wrap my brain around those three letters.  DNF.

Normally, I go into mind-numbing detail in my race reports, about pretty much everything and anything.  I have verbal diarrhea when it comes to re-living my ultra running experiences and think of them as kind of blueprint for the newbie ultra runners out there (like me) - and what they can maybe expect in these kind of events.  This time though, I'm going to do things a little differently and focus primarily on the physical and mental aspects of my race, as opposed to every minute detail from start to finish.  Why focus on that?  Because right now I'm angry...  But don't worry, there will still be plenty of verbal diarrhea.

I could talk about what a beautiful morning it was - how the huge harvest moon setting behind the foothills of the Front Range, with dawn breaking at our backs, was simply a spectacular sight to behold as we headed out westward from the start line.

I could talk about my typical race experience of overhearing conversations of the fairer sex's relationship trials & tribulations - this time the story being an "Erik" with a "K" vs. an "Eric" with a "C" mistake almost ending in relationship tragedy.

I could talk about crossing paths with four large doe's - two of them bounding across the trail 15 feet in front of me.

I could talk about the ominous sight of afternoon thunderstorms rolling in over the foothills, or some early morning rain over the skyline of Denver, far in the distance to the East.  And how those sights will be locked in my minds' eye forever.

I could talk about how much I enjoy interacting with the other trail runners; Helping out #31 with an equipment malfunction about a mile into the race, by simply handing over one of my race bib safety pins, since she was down to just one.  Or, helping out a runner who was apparently suffering badly from leg cramps coming into the 33 mile Fox Hollow Aid Station, by sharing a couple of Salt Stick Caps with him.  Or just simply asking others who appeared to be struggling on the trails if they were OK, and trying to give them a little a little bit of motivation and encouragement - "Great job!  You're looking good!  Keep up the great work!"  On second thought, I am going to talk about that, and the mental aspect of it to me, but a little later on.

There are lots of things I could talk about and share and go into mind-numbing, drool inducing, detail about... but I'm not in that frame of mind right now.  Right now I am extremely disappointed, angry, and simply in a state of WTF.  And I've let those things spill over onto the World.

I went into this year's Bear Chase 50 Miler setup fantastically for a great day and a great race.  I'd done my second ever 50 mile race, The North Fork 50 Mile - a relatively tougher race (in my opinion), with with a lot more climbing and at higher altitude - at the end of June, and while I had some difficulties, I finished and ended up with a result I was happy with.  In the middle of August, I paced my buddy Chris for the final 40 miles of the Leadville Trail 100 - a task that took over 12 hours, through the entire night, from sunset to sunrise.  My regular training, while on the light side, had been good.  I'd been feeling stronger than I had ever felt.  My comfortable pace was faster than normal, my HR was down, and my climbing was constantly improving.  I'd busted my ass to get out of bed at 2:45am on Sunday mornings to do my long runs, so that I'd be home for when my girls were waking up and I wouldn't miss out on family time with them.

By mile 23 of The Bear Chase though, still only my third 50 Mile race ever, none of that made a lick of difference.  Mentally, I had reached the lowest of low that I had ever reached before.  The only things going through my mind were; "Why the f*ck am I out here?  I have no business being out here.  I'm not a runner.  WTF was the point of all my training?  It was all for nothing - a waste of time.  I could have been in my nice warm bed sleeping and having morning snuggle time with all of my girls."  I was having a total mental collapse.  I'd gone through low points in each one of my previous races, but never anything like this.  It wasn't supposed to be this way.  Today was MY day.

I personally don't care about where I place in these ultra races that I've come to really enjoy and love in a short time.  I'm out to beat me and my own goals, and no-one and nothing else.  Maybe if this was a lifelong thing that I'd been doing, and if I was actually fast, it would be different.  But I'm not fast, and the 2012 Bear Chase was the one year anniversary of my first ultra - the same race in 2011.  That race almost killed me (or so it felt at the time) but I finished it.  At this point I've been running for less than two years total.  It started out as a way to get fit, that came about because of my Doctor telling me I was a heart attack waiting to happen.  I find it to be a challenge - physically and mentally - and I enjoy that.  I love the solitude, and the immersion into nature and the outdoors, that is trail running. I enjoy the logistics involved in long runs and races.  I enjoy learning about the physiology involved, and what my body can, and cannot, do.  I enjoy the people, the camaraderie, and the brotherhood and sisterhood that permeates the sport.

I have a problem though.  I've let the ultra running community reach an elevated status in my mind and have come to believe that ultra distance trail runners are a perfect example of all that is good in people.  I've allowed the idea to become greater than it actually is.  What I really NEED to do though, is see ultra running for exactly what it is - a microcosm of society in general. What I tend forget, and Chris just reminded me of just moments ago, is that everyone is different, and everyone has different goals. I tell that to myself all the time - but needed a big reminder of that after this event.

I'd set some goals for myself before the race.  1. Finishing in more than 11:00 hours would be a disappointment for me.  2. I'd be very happy with a 10:30 finish.  3. I'd be over the moon with a sub 10:00 finish - and so I did my pace charts with a target of a 9:59 finish.  Last year took me 11:40.  I was looking for a a significant improvement in that time, which I based on my fitness and newly-gained experience at these events.

"When you give it your all, it’s hard to feel comfortable the whole time. Being out of your comfort zone and being OK with that is an important part of running ultras. It’s fairly easy to feel comfortable and want to keep that state all the time. To do great things, you need to step out of your comfort zone and be vulnerable." - Timothy Olson.

I'd read that quote just a couple of weeks ago and it struck a chord with me. Chris and I came up with a new acronym and had been discussing 'JBC' frequently on our lunch runs.  JBC = Just Beyond Comfortable.  This is personally when I feel my best, and typically perform my best, when running - when I'm JBC.  I wanted to put that to the test today, and so I did. I got dialed into JBC fairly early and was feeling pretty good about it all.

The first lap (12.5 miles) of four, I came in 12 minutes under my pace goal (which was 2:10) at 1:58 and was pretty much running a PR for the 1/2 marathon.  Faster than I planned, but I felt good and was running JBC, and not over-extending.  My HR was about 10 beats higher than it had been in training recently, but fueling was on track as was hydration, so not to worry.  My only real concerns on that first lap were a little bit of a sloshy stomach, and the three river crossings.  After the three river crossings, my feet, most specifically the index toe on my left foot and the index and middle toes on my right foot, were feeling some discomfort on the toenails.  It wasn't a big deal and the discomfort subsided before long.  I never really gave it a second thought.

End of First Lap - Feeling good
I was still going strong on my second lap, but dialed it in just a bit.  There was no way I could maintain the pace of my first lap (high 8:00 and low 9:00 mile splits), and my plan was to dial it in by about 1:00 per mile pace each lap.  By mile 15 my legs were getting a bit tired which I expected.  And I hit the standard 20 mile wall a bit early at about mile 19. Again, to be expected, but this felt more like a third lap effort, and not a second lap effort, which it was.  Had JBC been too much?  This is the physical and mental barrier that I've always had to, and was always able to, push through.  But the water crossings on this lap, right around mile 20, absolutely killed me.

My three problematic toes now felt like the toenails were going to rip right off.  The first lap was just some discomfort for a while after the water.  This time though, was much, much, worse.  I'd taped my toes before even starting the race.  My left index toe I'd lost my nail on a month or two prior, and it was still a little bit sensitive.  So, I taped it.  I taped it in training and I had taped it at Leadville - nothing different this time.  My right foot index and middle toes, I'd noticed a few weeks prior, would become irritated just a bit by a small ridge that had developed on the insole of my MT1010's.  So, I taped them.  If they bothered me just a little bit on a short run, they'd probably be toast on a 50 miler.  I'm a big proponent of being proactive when it comes to my feet.  I've read too many horror stories about blisters and toenails ending someones race.  I've always been proactive, and this time should be no different.  I had taped them with 3M Nexcare Absolute Waterproof Cushion Tape.  I've used this stuff tons, and love it.

So, I was hobbled a bit and feeling a good amount of pain in these three toenails.  It only slowed me down a bit but mentally, it destroyed me.  Just three miles later I was deep in the mental pit of anguish I described earlier.  I was at my 20 mile wall, which I've always had to push through, but now I had the extra toenail issue too, which I would not expect to have in a million years.  At the same time, I had the inkling of some pain in the tops of my feet - really minor, but there none-the-less.  Thanks to my deteriorating mental state, everything just seemed magnified and seemed to hurt that much more.  And I'm amazed at how fast it hit me.  Within 35 minutes, the time it took me to get from from mile 20 to mile 23, things had taken a huge nose-dive on me - and the worst was yet to come.

I came in 18 minutes faster than my plan at the 25 mile point at 4:15 elapsed.  I'd shaved even more time off and had those minutes in the bank. I planned on closing out that bank account and use all 18 minutes to regroup at the half-way point - if not physically, at least mentally.  My girls were all waiting for me at the start/finish line cheering me on.  Of course, as is always the case, the tears started as soon as I saw them.  Just like last year, they had made me some awesome signs with the very vibrantly colored words "Go Daddy!" and "Yay Daddy!" written on them, and they had ice packs ready for me so I could cool myself down (they were disappointed that there we no sponge buckets).  It looked like they were having a lot of fun hanging out and playing at the start/finish line.  I told Diana that I was in a deep, dark, pit mentally and that I was majorly struggling.  She made the point of telling me "You said that last year too at this point.  You can do it."  But today, I somehow knew, was different.

I had the fleeting thought of changing into my MT110's that I had in my drop bag.  I opted for fresh tape on the toes, and a dry pair of socks instead.  No shoe change.  I was convinced that the shoes were not the issue, since I'd done 40 miles at Leadville in them, new, right out-of-the-box with zero issues, and that fresh socks and fresh tape would sort things out.  My tired legs I could struggle through on - I did it last year here.  And my feet, well, they couldn't get any worse.  Never once did I think that the combination of cushiony/spongy/stretchy tape, wet feet, wet socks, and wet shoes could be the issue.  I ran this race last year in Merrell Trail Gloves with no socks.  No issues.  But, I'd never tested this exact, wet, combination before.

After my 18 minutes of re-grouping was up, which seemed to fly by in about 2 minutes, off I went - at a trot -  with my girls yelling "Good luck, Daddy! We love you!"  I probably wasn't even out of sight of the start/finish line before I was walking again.  Yes, my legs were sore, and tired, and my hip flexors were screaming, but it was my feet that were the real problem.  Specifically, the tops of my feet.  They were sore as hell.  And not dull, achy, sore, but, red hot poker stabbing sore, right on top of my foot immediately above my arch. WTF is that?!?  Whatever it was, resting at the AS for so long did nothing to help it get anything other than worse.

I was barely doing 20 minute miles, and my feet felt like someone was driving spikes right through the tops of them.  Every step was complete agony.  There was no way I'd finish the race under the cutoff at this rate and I'm really not interested in just finishing.  Been there, done that.  I want to at least be sub 11:00 hours. My left foot was hurting, but the right one was by far the worst.  I'd try to run by compensating for the right with the left but that wasn't working so well.  It was just too painful.  Even walking hurt like crazy.  Never have I ever thought about quitting during a race before.  Today was my first.  I wanted to quit.  I was not having fun, and I wanted to quit.  Before I even got to the Pelican Point AS, only 3.2 miles from the start/finish, I was planning my drop.  I'm not sure why, maybe because I was still clinging to a sliver of hope, but I continued right on through the AS and kept on going.  It was 4.6 miles to the next AS and I would drop there - if I could even make it that far, which I was far from certain that I could.  There were the three river crossings that I was dreading but there was a chance my girls would be there waiting to cheer me on, and I could just ride out with them, tail tucked between my legs.  I was so pissed and frustrated, that every once in a while I let out a loud "F*CK!!!" from between clenched teeth, or pickup a decent sized rock and hurtle it as hard as I could at a nearby tree.  Why don't I have the testicular fortitude to get my sorry ass moving and  to finish this godd@mn race?!?!?!

There was a constant stream of 50 mile and 50k runners passing me on this third lap.  Hardly a one even noticing me literally hobbling and limping along.  And here is where my "problem" from above, about an elevated status of humanity in the ultra community, comes into play.  And I needed Chris, and his seemingly infinite wisdom about trail running and ultra races, to give me a good kick up the arse about, and remind me of.  I'm actually embarrassed now to share my feelings - but I'm going to be brutally honest about how I felt at the time, in the moment, and even for a few days afterwards, and try to show how low I had sunk, and how far south my mind went on me.  So here goes (and if you are going to get bent out of shape, or have easily hurt feelings - just stop reading now);  Maybe everyone else was just buried in their own misery, and that's fine, I've been there in that misery, but never have I not tried to motivate or cheer on another runner, or make sure a runner was OK.  I continued to do that, even now still.  Even cheering on the runners going past me; "Hey, looking strong!  Keep it up!"  That to me is the essence and fabric of the ultra running community - everyone looks out for everyone and everyone wants everyone to succeed.  But my outlook at this point suddenly took a big turn towards the "F*ck you" spectrum.  My mental state had sunk that low.  I'd become the person I never thought I could be out on the trails.  Ultra running is my haven; my fortress of solitude; my escape from the real world of sh!t on the news telling me about people having their wheelchairs stolen, or people beating their grandmothers to death, or bomb threats at a daycare.  Ultra running is where my faith in humanity is intact and strong.  I switched off and talked to no-one, unless spoken to (which would momentarily help restore my faith in humanity, but only momentarily - one time being when I shared the Salt Stick Caps I talked about earlier).  Like I said, I was in the shit, and descending into the bowels of hell (how's that for dramatic?).  My feelings before writing this report, and even in the early stages of writing it, were that I wanted to immensely thank the handful of people that did take the time to slow down and make sure I was OK.  That I wished I had noted your bib numbers so that I could thank you individually by name.  That these good folk, in my opinion, have the spirit of true ultra trail runners.  I tried to chalk it up to this being an 'urban' trail ultra, and that hoity-toity road runners were out here trying to show up the trail runners on a "fast course."  That "city" runners had no class and were too self-absorbed to care about anything other than themselves.  "Mountain" runners and mountain ultras were different, were better.

What a load of nonsense.  It's complete and utter bollocks how I was feeling at that moment of the race, and  even continued to feel for days afterwards.  I feel like such a fool now.  But, that's how I felt at the time.  Amazing how the mind works.  Amazing how I projected my anger and disappointment in myself onto others for my own shortcomings.  I'm sure I wasn't the only person limping along out there.  And, did I really expect every single person out there to ask if I was OK?  It's not like I was collapsed in a ditch.  I was upright and moving.  I was just feeling sorry for myself.

How do I feel now?  Chris put it best - "I just know that putting too much hope/thought/stock/whatever into how people behave during an extreme hours-long physical/mental battle against others/course/internal demons/whatever is a losing proposition that is best saved for the finish after everyone has a couple of beers in them and can laugh about being pushed off a cliff by that one fast guy."

My real problem was that my feet were shagged, and that I was suffering a total mental collapse, and not the fact that someone didn't ask me if everything was OK.  It's a godd@mn race, not a love in.  Just because I'm not out to win it, or place top 10, or top 50, or whatever, doesn't mean others aren't in that situation.  Like I've said a ton in the past - everyone is different - I'd just forgotten that.

The cold water at the river crossings felt not too bad for a moment, being cold enough to numb things a bit, but that was fleeting and things were pretty much just getting worse.  When I arrived at the Fox Hollow AS, and was asked by the volunteer what they could get me I said; "My family.  I want to drop."  Problem was, my family wasn't here.  Casey (sp?), from Fargo, ND, was an angel of a volunteer, texting and calling my wife (leaving voice mails) to let her know I was at the AS and having problems.  I sat on the medical cot there, and waited, wallowing in my misery.  Finally Diana called back on Casey's phone.  I told her what was up and she told me that she'd get a hold of Chris, who was out looking for me along the course, and let him know what was up.  About 10 minutes later, Chris came screaming in on his mountain bike carrying all of his camera gear (he was out and about taking pictures of the race that you can see here).  If there was any hope of continuing, Chris, an ultra-marathon and trail running machine, would help me figure it out.
Not feeling so great at the river crossings.
I explained to him what was going on - basically that my feet were toast.  He was wearing his MT110's and offered those up.  I was reluctant, but I took off my MT1010's, my socks, tore off the useless tape, and  tried 'em.  A few little jogs back and forth... No difference.  He asked me how my arches felt, and it took me more than a few minutes to clue in to what he was talking about.  Just in the past few weeks I'd developed occasional, but pretty intense, arch pain mostly in my right foot.  It was when I was running in my MT1010's.  Today my arches were fine, but maybe it was some kind of clue into the Top of Foot Pain.  We threw ideas back and forth, and brainstormed, and then he came up with the Tylenol idea.  He asked the AS volunteers for some Tylenol, if they had any - and they did.  The thought of taking pain meds hadn't even crossed my mind, probably since I'm not a believer in taking them - at least for events like this.  At least Tylenol isn't an NSAID, which are downright dangerous in endurance sports (hyponatremia, kidney failure).  It was 4.7 miles back to the start/finish and maybe some pain killers would get me through to the "end" at least.  I downed two capsules and wolfed down a ton of PB&J sandwiches, potato chips, coke, etc..  Chris also had the idea of taking a doggy bag with me and so I packed up a Ziploc with chips and M&M's.  So, after spending about 45 minutes at the Fox Hollow AS, off I went (after first making sure they didn't officially drop me), trying to make it to the 37.5 mile start/finish - where my intentions were to drop.

It was rough going and I kept checking my watch and waiting and wondering if/when the Tylenol would kick in.  Eventually it started to help out a little bit, but it took a long time, and wasn't 100% effective.  I'd say it brought down the pain by about 50% though.  Chris would pop-up from time-to-time along the trail, snapping pictures of me as I struggled past.
Credit:  Chris Boyack ©
By the time I got to the Cattail Creek AS (mile 10.1 on the lap) I was told that I had about 20 minutes to make the cutoff for the final lap - 2.4 miles away.  With my pain somewhat under control, and my legs feeling fresh now from all the walking and sitting I'd done, I decided to push it to the start/finish.  I was still planning on dropping at 37.5 miles, but I kind of wanted to leave myself the option to continue if a miracle were to occur.  My last two mile splits were a 9:53 and a 9:08.  At one point coming down the final hill, I checked my watch to see that I was doing a 5:32 pace.  I was fueled by my rage at that point, grinning and bearing the still substantial, but no longer worsening, pain, but knew already that I had just missed the cutoff.  My day was done, and didn't even have the option of continuing on having missed the cutoff by 4 minutes and 42 seconds.  I was an emotional disaster and not to be consoled.  37.5 miles in 8:34:42.  DNF.

Looking back on it now, and going over theories with Diana and Chris, this is what we came up with as the root cause of my feet issues;  I'd probably been favoring my toes, because of my toenails, subconsciously.  In the typical style of a new barefoot/minimalist runner, where you seem to most commonly hear of TOFP (Top Of Foot Pain), people seem to arch their toes up in an exaggerated fashion to protect them more with their new forefoot strike (at least that's my/our theory).  Though I'm not new to barefoot/minimalist running I was probably doing the same kind of thing - moving my toes into some kind of more comfortable, but exaggerated and unnatural position, subconsciously, and causing strain on those top of foot muscles, tendons, etc..  If I feel my way up the tops of my feet, using my fingers, starting at the toes and working towards the ankle, the pain lines up exactly with the problem toes, and none of the other OK toes.  Stopping at 25 miles for so long (18 minutes) didn't help and only caused the muscles, etc., to cool-down and seize up.  And I think my toenails were an issue because of the combination of the tape, and the wet socks/feet.  The repeated soaking would soften my toenails and nail-beds, and the cushiony/spongy/stretchy tape would have a pulling effect on everything, since the tape and socks were now wet and having a clinging effect on each other.  In hindsight, I may have had no problems at all, if I had not pro-actively taped my toes.  I wish too now, that I had tested my MT1010's in water crossings (or at least got 'em good and wet) sometime in training.  That might have been enough to at least clue me into a potential problem.  I wish too that I had given going sock-less in the MT1010's a test, because the 4.6 miles I did do sock-less felt OK, except for a little achilles rubbing on my left foot.  But, as the saying goes, you wish in one hand...

As far as my mental state sinking so low, and not being able to pull out of it...  I really have no idea why that happened.  I was just fixated in the most negative fashion on everything - and I let me beat myself.

I know now that in the grand scheme of things, a DNF is not that big of a deal.  Most people have been through it, and why should I be any different?  I'll learn from it, I'll grow, and hopefully it will provide motivation in the future.  I've got my health, I've got my legs, and I've got the pleasure I get out of running.  It sure could be a lot worse.  I just need to get over it, which the process of writing this report, and the support of friends and my family, is helping me do, and move on.  And, as I always say; what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.

I think I'm going to take a break from running and training for a few weeks.  I'm looking forward to coming back with a fresh attitude and outlook and decide what the future holds.  I'd been mulling over some grand plans for 2013, which I told myself hinged on the outcome of this race, but for now, I'm just gonna rest and let my body and mind heal.  I'll blog in the not-to-distant future with a "Reflections & Plans" posting.

Here is the link to my Garmin data.

Final words:

To Casey, the Fox Hollow AS volunteer from Fargo, ND - if you read this...  Thank you for everything!  I'm sorry I bailed before personally thanking you face-to-face.

Thanks to my friend Chris, for all the support, advice, and wisdom that you continue to provide.

But, thanks most of all to my three girls - I love you - and I couldn't do any of this without your love, your understanding, your patience, and your support.

Training - 09/24/12 - 09/30/12

12.19 miles on this final taper week.  Are my miles TOO low coming into the Bear Chase 50 on Sunday?  Feeling good and feeling pretty strong though.  Confidence is high.

Monday, September 24 - 5.56 Miles, 10:33 pace, 150 HR. 164.8 lbs.  Super easy effort (though it didn't feel super easy) at the Boneyard today.  Spent the whole run chatting with Chris about all things running, and mostly about the fueling/hydration mystery.  Fueling and hydration while training vs. racing, and, to fuel/hydrate a lot, a little, or somewhere in between?  That old chestnut...  Also noticed something with my MT1010's today, post-run.  After 140 miles in them, and being only a little over 5 weeks old, the uppers are showing signs of wear. It's not severe, but we'll see how they look after this weekend's race at which point I'll have almost 200 miles and 6 weeks in them.

MT1010's - 3 wear points - same on the other shoe.
The two upper highlighted spots seem to be 'pucker points' on the shoe.  You know, a place where the fabric bends and flexes a lot.  The seemingly stronger, honeycomb-like, material seems to be intact still though, and might be helping to reinforce and hold things together.  Another thing I've noticed is that now that my feet and toes have made their impression in the liner/in-sole, the ridge that has formed along my toes, has started to irritate the very ends of my toes.  The ridge is in both shoes, but irritates the right foot only.  Any long runs and I'll have to be taping the ends of my toes or their could be problems.  The Bear Chase 50 has 12 water crossings in total and so we'll see how things go with that.  The water will definitely throw a new variable in there.  I almost wish now that I had tested the MT1010's without socks for a period of time, but, based on my sockless MT110 experience (not good), I decided against it.  Testing them out wet would have been ideal too.

Tuesday, September 25 - .  0 Miles - Rest day. 161.2 lbs.

Wednesday, September 26 - 4.05 Miles, 9:03 pace, 158 HR. 160.8 lbs.  An out and back on the High Line Canal.  Faster pace for the first 3 miles and then and easy last mile.  Feeling good.  I ate a Clif bar before the run just to test the stomach a bit.  No issues.

Thursday, September 27 – 0 Miles - Rest day. 158.8 lbs.

Friday, September 28 - 2.58 Miles, 11:04 pace, 159 HR. 158.8 lbs.  Very easy, slow, taper run.  Running this pace seems like harder work and I'm feeling lazy today.  HR is high for such an easy run.

Saturday, September 29 - 0 miles - Rest day. 159.0 lbs.  

Sunday, September 30 - 159.0 lbs. Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race Today!  Here is the race report...

Nutrition - Stayed true to being gluten and dairy free.  Ate mostly carbs and easily digestible foods starting Friday to try and minimize GI issues on Sunday.  That's something I'm going to experiment with more in the future - eating more protein and healthy fats instead of just mostly carbs.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race - Fail...

Epic fail at The Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race, for the one reason that I would not have ever suspected would be the cause - my feet. The New Balance MT1010's really let me down today. First two laps (25 miles) in 4:15. 3rd lap - 8:35 elapsed - missing the cutoff for starting the final lap by just under 5 minutes. I wouldn't have made it the 37.5 miles that I did without the support of my awesome wife and my 'baby' girls (who will always be my babies). And, the support of a great friend that would give you the shoes off his feet (literally) - Chris Boyack.  Race report to follow...

Update: In hindsight, the MT1010's didn't let me down - I let myself down.  Can't blame the shoes.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race Tomorrow...

I picked up my race packet for the Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race today and will be #120 this year.  Race starts at 6:30am MST tomorrow - Sunday, September 30, 2012.

#120 for the Bear Chase 50 Mile
Time to get the drop bag ready and get everything sorted out.

Here are my pace goals - - unlike last year where my goal was to finish, I'm shooting for sub 10 hours this year.

I've been feeling pretty good, and my taper has been good too.  If anything, I'm probably under-trained. But better to be under than over...

You can track the race online here -

If you are an app person, there are these:

iPhone -

Android -

Good luck to all the 10k, 1/2 marathon, 50k and 50 mile runners tomorrow!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pacing Chart for Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race...

The Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race (Sunday, September 30, 2012) consists of 4 x 12.5 mile laps.  Last year, the Bear Chase being my first 50 miler, or race of any distance actually, I managed:

Lap 1 - 2:18 (11:02 pace)
Lap 2 - 2:40 (12:48 pace)
Lap 3 - 3:10 (15:12 pace)
Lap 4 - 3:30 (16:48 pace)

Total time: 11:40.

This year, with better fitness and more ultra experience under my belt (not much experience - only a 40 mile pacing effort at the LT100 and the North Fork 50 mile), I'm going to shoot for;

Lap 1 - 2:10 (10:24 pace)
Lap 2 - 2:23 (11:26 pace)
Lap 3 - 2:36 (12:29 pace)
Lap 4 - 2:50 (13:36 pace)

Total time: 9:59.

Now, there is no way it will ever pan out exactly as planned.  No run, race or not, ever seems to.  There will be something to deal with; weather conditions, hydration issues, fueling issues, spent legs, etc., etc..  And, there is the possibility (definitely highly likely) that I am just over-estimating my abilities over 50 miles.

I'll be somewhat disappointed with a +11:00 hour finish.  I'll be very happy with a 10:30 finish, but would be over-the-moon (a harvest moon at that on September 30!) with a sub 10:00 hour finish.

Training - 09/17/12 - 09/23/12

25.19 miles this week.  Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail Race is now less than a week away. With so much smoke in the air from all the wildfires from Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington, my breathing has definitely been affected.  I’m an asthmatic, allergy induced, but very rarely have to ever use a rescue inhaler.  The smoke in the air has left me short of breath recently though.  The other night I found myself having to take ‘talking breaks’ during normal conversation, just so that I could catch my breath.  On runs, I’ve been consciously telling myself to ‘look up’ and ‘raise your head’.  As a trail runner, I typically keep my gaze fairly low, to watch for obstacles, etc., on the ground.  Lifting my chin up higher seems to help open my airways some and lets me get more air in – albeit crappy quality air.  

Overall I'm feeling good about my training, despite the low miles.  I've been consistent with a 10:00'ish pace on similar terrain, and climbing, as to what the Bear Chase 50 will be.  And my HR is responding better and better all the time.

Monday, September 17 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 163.4 lbs.

Tuesday, September 18 - 7.08 Miles, 10:06 pace, 155 HR. 161.0 lbs.  It was a rough outing again – this time at the Boneyard.  Legs are sore and heavy.  I tried to do some harder efforts occasionally to try and shake things out.  That seemed to work a bit, and was feeling a bit better by the end of the run.  Gotta wonder how much the air quality is affecting me, and my legs.  And, am I still fighting some kind of cold, or flu shot side-effects?

Wednesday, September 19 - 0 miles - Rest day. 162.0  lbs. Took the day off of work and spent the day hangin’ with Diana.  Worst nutrition day in a LONG time.  It all started with Lamar’s Donuts for a coffee and an apple fritter in the morning.  It was all downhill from there.  Lost count of how many Mexican Cokes (natural sugar – no HFCS at least) I drank.  And then there was pizza and calzones.  It was my first gluten or dairy in two and a half weeks – and, as always, I felt like total garbage with some major stomach and GI issues as a reward.

Thursday, September 20 – 8.05 Miles, 9:59 pace, 156 HR. 164.8 lbs.  Stats show a good day at the Boneyard for me.  Besides the lingering stomach and GI issues, my legs and feet were telling me otherwise the whole time though.  Legs were heavy, tired, and burning – though I wonder how much the gluten, dairy, and gluttony on Wednesday is to blame for that, on top of air quality.  But my feet were the worst.  I’ve suddenly developed extremely painful arches, with my right foot being the worst.  Am I possibly over-trained, or maybe under-trained?  I like the fact that my average HR was only 156 at that pace at the Boneyard.  That reinforces that my fitness should be good for the Bear Chase, but right now, the legs and especially the feet are bit of a concern.  Wondering if I should dial back my taper even more – if that is even possible.

Friday, September 21 - 0 miles - Rest day. 161.8 lbs.

Saturday, September 22 - 0 miles - Forced rest day. 162.6 lbs.  Logistics to run today just didn't work out and I was NOT motivated to get up at 3am to get in a 10 miler.

Sunday, September 23 10.06 Miles, 10:02 pace, 149 HR. 163.6  lbs. It's my long taper run day and decided to do the Bluffs, in both directions.  Motivation was very hard to come by and it was rough getting out of bed.  The run felt like a mixed bag to me today.  At times it was very rough, other times I felt pretty good.  That's what next Sunday's BC50 will be like so it was probably a good thing for my mental preparation.  The foot pain in my arches was less of a factor today, and am confident that with a very low mileage taper week, that I'll be fine for the race.  I'm excited, and a bit puzzled, that my HR was so low on this run. Typically I'd be around 155 - 160 on an effort like this with almost 960' of climbing.  I typically down 18oz of H2O when I wake up - today, I only took in 8oz.  And while running, I took in only 24oz of H2O.  The more I read about people's experiences, the more I think about less H2O and less calories in.  I'm going to test that out more this fall.

Nutrition - Nutrition was not good overall, and my weight reflects that.  I’m not going to change anything now, but we’ll see what post Bear Chase will bring as far as my diet/eating plan.

My biggest problems as a food addict are;
*Cheating.  If I cheat at all, it's game over.  I binge and can't stop myself.  I have to be 100% strict to be successful.
*Quantity.  I may be eating healthy food, but my portions/serving could feed three or four people.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Training - 09/10/12 - 09/16/12

32.92 miles this week. Miles have been really low leading up to the Bear Chase 50 Mile, now only two weeks away.  I've been trying to do every-other-day runs since I seem to be best recovered that way. I'd rather be under-trained than over-trained and I've been feeling good so I'm not too concerned about the low miles, which may come back to haunt me.  I've been getting in a decent long run every weekend too - until this one - so that is a positive as well.

Monday, September 10 - 9.51 Miles, 10:14 pace, 158 HR. 163.2 lbs. Boneyard run with Chris. Felt good and strong at first, but was tired after mile 5 from keeping up with Chris on some faster pace stuff.  Did a couple of small hill sprints at the end just for giggles.  Good day.

Tuesday, September 11 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 161.6 lbs

Wednesday, September 12 - 0 miles - Forced rest day. 161.2  lbs. Terrible weather outside so decided on Thursday/Friday back-to-back days -which I typically suck at.  Hindsight - should have just toughed it out.

Thursday, September 13 - 6.10 Miles, 9:16 pace, 161 HR. 161.4  lbs. Plan was for intervals with Chris, and 10 miles, on the High Line Canal.  Got a phone call from my wife that my oldest daughter had had an allergic reaction at school (she has a peanut allergy) and obviously called it a day right way to go see her - but I was 3 miles away from my car.  Fortunately it wasn't a reaction to peanuts, but something environmental, so no EpiPens needed.

Friday, September 14 - 10.20 Miles, 9:54 pace, 159 HR. 161.0 lbs. Great day at the Boneyard today. I was pretty tired by mile 7 but find that when I push my pace to just beyond comfortable, and don't just sit back at that comfortable pace, I tend to have pretty good days.

Saturday, September 15 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 159.4  lbs. Feeling really lousy today so glad it's a rest day.

Sunday, September 16-  7.11 Miles, 11:47 pace, 136 HR. 160.0  lbs. Headed out to get 18 miles on my weekly long run.  Before even getting out of bed (30 minutes late at 4:10am) I knew it was gonna be rough.  Motivation was in the negatives and I was feeling lousy.  By mile 2 I had resigned myself to getting in only 7 by at least completing a single lap of the Bluffs, at whatever pace I could muster.  Fighting a cold or something, plus maybe having some symptoms from the flu shot I got on Thursday afternoon. Two weeks until Bear Chase.  Don't need this nonsense now.  If there is one positive I can take away, it's still doing a sub 12:00 pace, feeling like garbage, and walking so friggin' much.

Nutrition - Nutrition was good, until Sunday. Feeling lousy, I lit it up on Sunday night.  Definitely nothing wrong with my appetite.  I stayed gluten and dairy free (two straight weeks now), but I'm not even trying to do paleo or follow my training diet.  I've been feeling really strong and really good - why mess with it?