Monday, July 30, 2012

Training - 07/23/12 - 07/30/12

35.37 miles this week running.  11.2 miles mountain biking.

Monday, July 23 - 0 Miles - Rest day.  165.0 lbs.

Tuesday, July 24 - 7.32 Miles, 9:50 pace, 156 HR. 163.4 lbs. Did a couple of short intervals early in the run (High Line Canal) which trashed me - by mile 4, I was pretty toast.

Wednesday, July 25 - MTB - 11.2 miles, 134HR.  161.0 lbs.  Late night mountain bike ride with Chris, Rich, and Javier on the Douglas County East West Trail and the Highlands Ranch Back Country.

Thursday, July 26 - 6.04 Miles, 11:18 pace, 145 HR.  160.8 lbs. Brutal day at the Bone Yard.  No energy, no legs, totally fatigued.

Friday, July 27 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 161.2 lbs. After a great Monday through Thursday of nutrition, I totally blew it today. Started with a business lunch and then dinner party carnage.

Saturday, July 28 - 0 Miles - Rest day.  165.2lbs.  Up 4 lbs from yesterday.  Let's see how fast I can take it off - which won't be easy after yet ANOTHER day of eating carnage.

Sunday, July 29 - 22.01 Miles, 10:45 pace, 154 HR.  167.8 lbs pre-run, 162.2 post run. The usual Douglas County East West Trail and the Highlands Ranch Back Country. I had a real hard time seeing for the first 3 miles or so - like I had been staring into the sun and had that weird 'aura' obscuring my vision.  My calves, hams and glutes were on absolute fire for about the first 9 miles too. Despite all that, I actually did a decent pace. Overall a very positive outing being sub 11:00 pace. Took 24oz, 150 calories of Amino Vital pre, and 70 oz, 300 calories, Amino Vital during plus gels every 45 minutes. I really like the Amino Vital stuff since it seems I have decent outing whenever I use it.

Nutrition - With the exception of Friday and Saturday (which were horrible) I did OK, and still had a net loss of weight (still 162.2 lbs on Monday morning) of 2.8 lbs for the week.

Diana and I created a new coffee smoothie on Sunday too.  I'm going to try that out for a little while, in addition to my normal green smoothie, and see what results I get.  If it's good, I'll post it...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Training - 07/16/12 - 07/22/12

34.14 miles this week. It's been a busy week with the wife spending a long weekend in the mountains. Plus work has been crazy, and Diana's brother and family flew in on Friday for an extended visit.

Monday, July 16 - 0 Miles - Forced rest day.

Tuesday, July 17 - 0 Miles - Forced rest day.

Wednesday, July 18 - 10.06 Miles, 9:11 pace, 161 HR.  A very hot, and little longer lunch run today on the usual High Line Canal route.  I felt really good starting out and so pushed a bit harder.

Thursday, July 19 - 0 Miles - Planned rest day.

Friday, July 20 - 8.05 Miles, 10:11 pace, 158 HR.  Felt decent today exploring the new Douglas County East West Trail section that comes off the top of The Bluffs Regional Park in Lone Tree. There is about 3.1 miles of new trail. Very hot and very exposed.

Saturday, July 21 - 0 Miles - Planned rest day.

Sunday, July 22 - 16.03 Miles, 11:30 pace, 147 HR. I wanted to get 18 in today out on the Douglas County East West Trail and the Highlands Ranch Back Country, but called it short. It was an awful outing. It was super dark, with no moon and no clouds, my legs were total crap, and I was super tired. Days like today make you really appreciate the good runs.

Nutrition - I hang my head in shame. I'm going to start posting my weight with my stats too.  Maybe that will help motivate me.  A terrible week of nutrition - again.  I'm just having massive cravings for junk food since the North Fork 50 Mile, and I have zero will power to go with it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Training - 07/09/12 - 07/15/12

26.37 miles this week with mixed results. Felt good early in the week, and not so good towards the end.

Monday, July 9 - 7.79 miles - 9:34 pace - 157 HR - Felt really good until about 6.5 miles, though my right leg felt kinda off, weak and tired, at about 4.5 miles. Overall, a positive run. Not expecting any endurance to be back just yet.

Tuesday, July 10 - 6.27 miles - 10:11 pace - 150 HR - Tried something new with breathing today after reading an article on Another positive outing, but legs were tired after about 5 miles.

Wednesday, July 11 - Rest day.

Thursday, July 12 - 6.04 miles , 11:10 pace , 148 HR - No energy, no legs, no motivate - and starving.

Friday, July 13 - 6.27 miles, 9:37 pace, 156 HR - Run started out OK, but deteriorated rapidly after about 4 miles. Oh, and I'm starving still. Won't get a chance to run now until next Tuesday.

Saturday, July 14 - Planned rest day.

Sunday, July 15 - Forced rest day - parenting.

Nutrition this week - with the exception of the weekend I was very good. Until the weekend, I stuck to my plan the whole time, and shed a few pounds. I've been craving salt like crazy since Friday's run though. Really craving...

I was totally starving starting Thursday and wonder if that's just because of sticking to my plan and my body is going through withdrawls. Satuday night was kinda ugly with me putting down an entire bag of Terra Sweets and Beets. Oh, and topped with Pita Pal Jalapeno Hummus. Would have been OK if I had only had a handful - but the whole friggin' bag with a 1/4 of a Costco sized container of dip!

Sunday - carnage. Totally caved. Authentic Mexican and beers with my neighbors. Did get a huge nap in with the kids though, followed by pizza for dinner. Lots of pizza. And lets not forget a second bag of Terra Sweets and Beets in there (with hummus again) too. And shall we end the evening off with ice cream? Yes, I think we shall.

A great nutrition week left hanging in taters - again... Why do I totally struggle with weekends?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Training - 07/02/12 - 07/08/12

Ha! Ya, right! I ate my face off all week and did one 3 mile 'recovery' run on Thursday.

Though I did only one easy run of 3 miles this week, I felt totally great. Legs felt good, and strong - but am going to take it easy since I still remember getting back to training after my first/last 50 mile run. I was actually good to run on Wednesday, but forgot my shoes at home ( I usually run during my lunch hour at work). I really can't believe how good my legs are feeling so soon after the North Fork 50 Miler - probably because I had to walk 8.5 of the last 10.2 miles of it...

The food addict in me is SUPER happy with the carnage this week - the rest of me - very disappointed in myself. Need to get back on track...

That is all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Reflecting on the North Fork 50 Mile...

Over a week has now gone by, and I've eaten myself into oblivion.  I don't even want to step on the scales.

I've eaten countless pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, pizza, pasta, burgers, brats, donuts, and so on and so on...  All stuff that is definitely not on my training diet, and I'm definitely feeling worse because of it.  I'm 100% convinced at this point that I am a food addict.  No joke.  I have a food addiction.

On Monday, I started getting myself back on track though. I'm finally not feeling ravenous anymore and I'm back to good eating and to training.  I'll be back into the swing of things in no time (I hope).

So, The North Fork 50 Mile Trail Race.  With more than a week to reflect and research, what could I have done differently or done better?

#1 - Hydration - My symptoms (which I think started somewhere between 35 - 40 miles) were confusing to me. My pulse was normal, but my breathing was rapid and painful. I was dizzy and light-headed, but my mouth was not dry and I was sweating normally. I didn't have a headache. My fingers were swollen - which I thought was because of taking in too much salt (salt caps on the hours).

Even though I was taking in about 60 oz or so of either HEED or H2O between every aid station, I don't think it was enough. If I was taking in enough, then I would have been relieving myself regularly, and I think that would have controlled my salt and swelling. I thought that my difficult, and painful, breathing was a sign that I was retaining water in my lungs - and I might have been right - except that it was due to dehydration and not from taking in too much salt. Everything I've read in my research indicates that dehydration leads to water retention so that the body can protect itself. On I found this statement: "Drinking water will increase urine production, and the excess salt retained in the tissues will gradually be removed through the urine. Thus, increasing your intake of clean drinking water is a high priority for eliminating water retention."

I'm 99.999% sure that my symptoms were all due to dehydration and maybe the early stages of heat exhaustion. I never suspected at the time that I had heat exhaustion because, even though it was a hot day, I was never suffering from the heat - I was never of the opinion of 'Holy crap -I'm dying from the heat.'

What I believe now, is that I should have been drinking even more from my CamelBak, basically completely draining all 70 oz by each and every aid station, and downing a couple of cups of HEED and coke with each stop too. And my salt - I think I'd dial that back a bit and take maybe a cap every two hours instead of every hour, and again, adjust as needed.

#2 - Fueling - Again, I'm scratching my head on this one a bit, but I don't feel it contributed nearly as much as my hydration issues. I started off fueling every 30 minutes, when in training I had done only 45 minutes.  I thought that with all the race-specific variables (altitude, terrain, effort, etc.) that it would be a good idea to increase my fueling. I figured if I was over-fueling, that I'd just puke everything up - and a couple of times I thought I was going to.

I probably should have stayed with 45 minute fueling at the start and adjust accordingly - especially with the availability of the aid stations and all the goodies they provided. I did start adjusting my fueling, but then after time, I just totally let it slip and lost track of time and my schedule. At times I was probably fueling only every 75 or 90 minutes.
With the exception of my hydration and to a lesser extent my fueling, I'm pretty happy with how things went overall. My taper and lead-up training/rest was spot-on I think. My diet was good the week before the race, including pre-race morning nutrition. I didn't suffer from blisters, or chaffing, or sunburn. And despite the dizziness and fatigue, my legs were really pretty good. I never seemed to reach a point where my legs, or feet, ached and were outright crying like in my first 50 miler - The Bear Chase. And, I believe my pace and my strategy with walking/hiking/running were good too. I always tried to keep my HR at 160 or below, and my 2-2 breathing was steady (except during the rapid breathing / suffer-fest portions). Cadence and stride I was able to adjust and adapt well to terrain and grade.

Where to go from here? Well, I must have had a good time despite my struggles, because I've been combing the calendars for my next 50 miler, or 100k.  I believe that with one more 50 mile or 100k run, I'll be ready to attempt a 100 miler. I want to do the Bear Chase 50 mile again at the end of September, but I'd really like to do something in early/mid August. Problem is - there is nothing near me that I have a shot at doing. Grand Mesa is at the end of July, but schedules won't allow it. So, I'll probably just have to wait. Right now, 50k's don't even look like they'll work for me.

Well, until I find something, or the Bear Chase comes around, I'll just keep at the training and good eating.

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Green Smoothie Recipe...

Some days, this can be more purple than it is green. Depends on the cherry : blueberry : kale ratio.

1 cup frozen organic blueberries - 80 calories
1 handful of walnuts (1/4 cup approx) - 190 calories
1 medium organic banana - 105 calories
2 tbsp milled organic golden flax - 70 calories
1 tsp salba (heirloom chia) - 22 calories
1 tsp raw maca powder - 20 calories
2 - 3 cups organic green kale (substitute organic spinach (7 calories a cup) or do a combo)  ~100 calories
1 cup frozen organic cherries - 150 calories
2 cups unsweetened, unflavored, almond milk - 70 calories
1 small steamed baby beet - 16 calories

Makes about 40 oz (5 cups) typically.  Total calories:  ~893 max or 179 calories / 8oz (1 cup).

Maybe one day I'll try to figure out the actual protein/carb/fat/fiber/etc ratios and the vitamin and mineral contents but I think, just from ball-parking things, that I have a pretty good thing going on.  And I actually like how it tastes.  The more kale and/or spinach you put in, the thicker it gets and I just keep mine in the fridge to keep it cold.

It usually takes me about 20 minutes to make from start to finish, including clean-up.  I just pack it all in to our Cuisinart food processor/blender and let 'er rip.

I'll drink 8 oz of this 1 hour before a run.  And, 12 - 16 oz immediately after a run, usually along with a nice 6 - 8 oz of medium cooked sirloin or flank steak.  That's my recovery grub, and I find it works much better for me than any kind of whey protein isolate (or similar) recovery beverage (GU, Hammer, etc).  The rest of the 16 - 20 oz augments my breakfast and multiple snacks throughout the day - along with a ton of fruit.

On days that I don't run, I treat the 12 -16 oz of smoothie and the beef as lunch, and again, the remainder of the smoothie augments my breakfast and snacks.

Something I'd like to try adding to the recipe is pumpkin seeds.  Love me the pumpkin seeds.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

North Fork 50 Mile Trail Race 2012 - Report

39.6 miles down, and I struggle into my third and final stop at the Buffalo Creek aid station right on the 9:00 hour mark. I started feeling pretty crap a few miles ago - probably somewhere around the Homestead aid station at 34.2 miles - and I've been getting steadily passed by other runners ever since. My lungs hurt, I have lower and middle back pain, bloated fingers, and while my HR is low, my breathing is rapid - way too rapid, and now I'm starting to feel dizzy. 10.6 miles to the finish. I'll walk it in if I have to. Quitting is not an option.

I rolled into the parking lot at Pine Creek Valley Open Space in Pine, CO at just about 5:25am, for a 7:00am start, and scored a primo parking spot. This early in the morning the only people around are volunteers, early-start runners, and people who are super keen, like me. Actually, I just didn't want to bugger around with the logistics of parking a few miles away in town and riding the shuttle. I like to putter around with my gear, listen to music, and generally just try to keep things as simple as possible. Plus, I'm pretty forgetful, so if my car is right there I have way less worries that I've left something important behind.

There's an hour and a half until the start so there's plenty of time to people watch, hydrate (I took in 24 oz of H2O and 24 oz Hammer HEED plus an S! Cap before the race), use the bathroom multiple times, and cheer on (or is it 'off'?) the early-starters at 6:00am. I was running today in my New Balance MT110's (which I love - except for the durability of the uppers) and had decided on using my CamelBak Octane LR pack with the 70 oz lumber bladder, over a single or double bottle belt and/or handheld. The Octane LR would allow me to carry more liquid, and more fuel and gear, much more comfortably than any other solution.

I took my 31.5 mile drop bag to the start/finish area (we'd pass through this spot one time during the race since there was a 50k being run simultaneously) and loaded my drop bag that would be used at the 9.9, 19.9, and 39.6 mile markers into the SUV that would be shuttling those to the Buffalo Creek aid station.

I enjoy watching and listening to the other racers and it's interesting to watch their prep routines - you never know what little pearl of wisdom you might glean. One guy had his camp chair setup at the back of his vehicle with what looked like a tackle box full of who knows what, going to work prepping his feet. Other people were just standing about chatting, and others doing static stretching (which I thought was a big no-no now), and others doing running warm-ups in the parking lot. It amazed me too how warmly some people were dressing. With highs forecast for the upper 80's, I didn't expect to see any tights, long sleeved tops, or dark colored gear - but there was plenty of it. I took notice too of the multitude of different shoes everyone was sporting and all the different number-bib placements. Damn!!! My bib!!! It's in the Buffalo Creek drop bag that I loaded into the SUV! See - forgetful. Luckily the drop bag SUV was still there and I was able to get it with no problem.  Jeez...

I did some short warm-ups of my own and I hadn't long finished up the nipple band-aids, lanacane anti-chaffing gel, and sunscreen when at about 6:55am, and still a chilly 48 degrees, we were all ushered to the start line. It was hard to hear over the drone of the 150 or so runners all packed together, but the Race Director gave a short speech, mostly about being smart and safe with a hot day in store for us, as far as I could make out, and then she sent us on our way.

North Fork 50 Mile Trail Race - Course Map

I knew that there were 5 really big climbs to look forward to in this race;
North Fork 50 Mile Trail Race - Elevation Profile

It was slow going out of the gate with only enough room to go about three people side-by-side, and then we quickly reached a single choke-point where it was single file only, after which the real uphill stuff started. I'm not really sure where I was in the pack but probably around the 3/4 of the way back mark. I knew the climbing would pretty much start right away and my plan was to be conservative and walk a lot. Listening to the chatter around me, most people had the same plan.

I kind of get into the mentality sometimes of hooking on with other runners to keep a kind of pace group - and I have to do my best to not do that. Everyone is different. These races have people with all different levels of experience, fitness, strategies, and goals. On top of that, there are 50 mile and 50k competitors running the same course at the exact same time. Unless you can see their bibs (red = 50 miles, black = 50k) then you don't know what race they are even in. And I just assume a 50k person is probably moving faster than a 50 miler, but that is flawed too. I'll say it all again; Everyone is different. These races have people with all different levels of experience, fitness, strategies, and goals. You just have to stick to your own plan and trust in it.

There was a fair amount of jockeying for position in the first 3 miles of climbing - even on the tight single-track trails. I'd pass some people, some people would pass me. There was a fair amount of hiking in that first 3 miles too, but I was feeling really good. At times I was even telling myself to slow things down. 50 miles is a long way - save some.

After the first 3 miles, and 1000' of climbing, there is a mile of some nice downhill, followed by yet more uphill for about 2.7 miles. It was interesting during this time, listening to some chatter about how yoga class is a great place to meet single guys. As interesting as that was, I was really more interested in how beautiful the course was - with the early morning light filtering through the tall pine forests that we were running through. I wish I had taken some pics, but it was early in the race, and I didn't want to stop just yet for picture ops. It was a goal to soak up and enjoy as much of the scenery as possible though.

I cruised right through the first aid station (Homestead - 4.5 miles) without stopping, but still yelling a big "Thank you, volunteers!" on my way through. My initial strategy for aid stations was to try and refill my 70oz bladder with either HEED, H2O, or a mix of those only every 10 miles. I was carrying enough fuel with me (GU Roctane, raisins, S! Caps and Salt Stick caps) to get me to any of my drop bags - which I had access to basically every 10 miles - while supplementing with aid station goodies along the way. I would fuel with GU Roctane on the hours along with a salt cap, and Hammer Gel from the aid stations on the 1/2 hours. I'd play it by ear with solid food (potato chips, watermelon, cookies, PB&J, etc.).

During training, I practiced taking in fuel every 45 minutes which worked great over training/marathon distances. For this race, because of distance, altitude, terrain, and effort, I planned on fueling every 30 minutes. That may have been the first of my poor decisions.

At mile 9.9, an hour in and having completed the first big accent and descent, I hit the Buffalo Creek aid station for my first of 3 visits to it - I'd be back again at mile 19.9 and 39.6. I really only needed hydration this stop, so ignored my drop bag, and topped up with HEED. Something I was never able to practice in training was refilling my CamelBak 70oz bladder on the go. What a pain in the arse. At least during my first fill up I had a volunteer help me out. I unzipped the two zippers holding the bladder in my pack, unscrewed the large-mouth cap, and had her pour HEED into it until it was full. I grabbed a single gel for my upcoming 1:30 fuel, and I was feeling great when I left Buffalo Creek stop #1. I relieved myself shortly after leaving that stop (there are no toilets / port-o-johns on the course, so find a bush off the trail!). 10 miles done and urine is good. Perfect. Next stop - Shinglemill aid station at 15.7 miles.

At about a mile out from Shinglemill, after a big climb up to over 8,100' but now on the descent, a runner about 40 feet in front of me trips and takes a massive spill. He bounced up pretty fast as I yell up the trail - "Dude! Are you OK!?!" By the time I reach him I can see he's got a bloodied elbow but appears to be alright. I stop for a quick second to make sure he's OK, which he assures me he is and seems more worried about not slowing me down - so off I go. In the early stages of the race, and the still low sun filtering through the tall pines, casting a lot of shadows, ground obstacles are pretty tough to make out sometimes. I kicked hard-to-see roots and got my adrenaline shooting twice in the first 10 miles alone. At mile 6, I was right behind a guy who did the same thing and manged to get his hands out and save himself. Concentration on the ground had to be extra high in order to avoid any accidents.

I had a huge surprise waiting for me at Shinglemill (the only crew accessible aid station in the race). My wife and my girls were there waiting for me! I though that I'd only get to see them at the 31.5 mile mark (Pine Valley start/finish area) and again at the finish but this was an awesome surprise! My 3 year old came running at me yelling 'Daddy!' as I ran in. I had a touch of emotion come over me briefly but did a good job of holding it together. My wife told me that my 5 year old was over by the water bucket waiting to sponge water over my head. We talked a little bit while I tried to fill up my pain-in-the-arse bladder by myself from a big Gatorade cooler. The HEED wouldn't flow nicely straight into the bladder from the spigot, but instead ran down onto the table and then into bladder, and all over me and my pack, in a 6" wide waterfall.

Shinglemill Aid Station - 15.7 miles

Shinglemill Aid Station - 15.7 miles

Shinglemill Aid Station - 15.7 miles

I told my wife that I was feeling good, which I was, and after hugs, kisses, and goodbyes, I headed out. It was pretty much all downhill from here back to a second stop at Buffalo Creek at 19.9 miles. During this stretch, I took some time to take some pics. We were running in a burn area and the devastation is pretty amazing, but the views are epic.

Somewhere around 19.5 miles I started to get a bit tired. I was still averaging about a 12:00 pace and I was wondering if I'd hit the 20 mile wall or not today. I did, but it was not a huge wall at least. This was by far the best I've ever felt after this distance - and I've never done the terrain and climbing this race was offering up before. My mental state is very good.

I took some extra time at the 19.9 Buffalo creek station after coming in at about 4:04. I had a volunteer fill my CamelBak this time while I sat on a big rock, emptied my shoes, and taped my left big toe. I was getting a slight hot-spot on it and needed to nip it in the bud. Again, I never touched my drop bag. There were some people in bad shape at the aid station this time. I think heat was a big factor and some people looked absolutely wiped. I didn't pay attention to number bib colors, but if they were 50k runners, they could probably make it. If they were 50 milers, I'm glad I wasn't one of them.

Leaving Buffalo Creek, I had an uphill climb of about 1000' over 2.5 miles waiting for me.  I took the pace easy here and averaged about an 18:00 pace to the top. This stretch was very quiet and I think I remember seeing maybe one other runner. Not far after peaking out at the top, the Miller Gulch (unmanned - water only) station lay in waiting at mile 23.8.  Amazingly, about five or six of us arrived at about the same time and there was the choice of H2O or HEED. Like the Waterboy, I took H2O, which I had switched to at the last aid station.  One girl complained of having very tight hamstrings, and asked me how mine were, but most of the others looked just generally very tired. I'm sure I was looking pretty tired too, but at least my hammy's were OK.

Things are a bit foggy for me timeline-wise from here on out, but I think it was somewhere between Buffalo Creek and Miller Gulch that I noticed that my fingers were starting to swell just a bit. I also felt like I was over-fueling. It wasn't nauseau, but I just felt over-full - like things would overflow and come back up if I took in any more. Time to cut back a bit and go to 45 minute fueling. I had also been taking either S! Caps or Salt Stick caps on the hours. Time to cut back on those too. More mistakes I suspect.

Somewhere in the midst of these three aid stations a couple of us running together for a short time experienced a rapid darkening of the skies and the deep rumble of thunder. Rain!?!? "Rain would be sweet", I thought. And so down it came, not real heavy, and not for very long, but enough to cool things a bit and give us a little refreshment without a complete soaking.  I most definitely welcomed it.

After Miller Gulch, Homestead awaited once again at 28.6. I think it was here that I took on some real food for the first time; watermelon and some potato chips.  After that it was all downhill to the Pine Valley start/finish station at 31.5 miles (this is where the 50k runners would finish their races and partake in the post-race festivities). On the way down I started to cross paths with the leaders on their way back up at the 6:00 mark. The Ultra-Running community is so cool. Here are these guys kicking ass at the front, about 2 hours ahead of me, and each and every one makes a comment of "You're doing great" or "Great job".  Awesome people - very humble.

I rolled into Pine Valley at 6:35 elapsed, and well within the 8:20 cutoff (if you don't make it there by 3:20pm, your race is done). As far as I was concerned, I was doing pretty well. Since my girls met me at Shinglemill, I wasn't expecting them to meet me here as originally planned. I had the aid station volunteers fill my CamelBak as usual, with H2O, and downed a few cups more - but no food.  The picnic shelter was packed with people and I finally found my drop bag. I pretty much just emptied my shoes, slathered on sunscreen, grabbed a Clif Bar to slowly snack on, and hit the trail again. But not before downing some more water and pouring some of that icy cold goodness over my head. It was about 1:40pm by the time I headed out, yelling my thank-you's again to the volunteers, just like at every station, and man it was hot.

From here we went a different route back up to Homestead (stop #3 of 4 there) at mile 34.2. We had to climb this monstrous set of 'stairs' up out of Pine Valley. I wish I had taken pictures because it was a tremendous view looking down over the parking lot from way high up - and I was certainly moving slow enough to have done so - but I was too tired to bother. I was walking/hiking with two other runners, of which one was an early starter. He actually had a digital thermometer on him. 89.4 degrees. Damn. I left those two behind me and forged on ahead.  Eventually the trail merged with the one I had come down from Homestead on, and I encountered a steady stream of both 50k and 50 milers on their way down. I averaged well over a 20:00 pace getting up to Homestead and arrived at 7:43 elapsed.  2.7 miles took me over an hour.

I plunked down in a chair at Homestead.  My breathing had started to get very rapid and my lungs hurt. My HR was not abnormal at all though - it was right where it should be. The volunteers asked what I wanted and I just wasn't sure. I joked about a beer and they said "We have beer if you want it". "Really?" was my retort.  "Uh, ya. Do you think we're stupid enough to be out here, as hot as it is, without ice cold beer?" I told them that maybe the next time around I'd take them up on it. They did explain that the Race Director didn't want them handing it out, but if I really, really wanted it, it was mine. Again - the Ultra scene = awesome people.

I had to really take stock of my situation now. Things had deteriorated much further than I thought. My legs weren't so bad - I mean they were tired, but I was doing WAY better than I had in my first/last 50 mile race, which was much less difficult of a course. I was on pace to easily break the 12 hour mark today - which was my stretch goal. But, I had lost focus on fueling. It only takes so many GU and Hammer gels, along with electrolyte drinks to get you overdosed on sweet. And, my over-fueling feeling had me fueling only about every hour now, and I was drinking only water - though I was pounding that back pretty good. I'd fill my almost empty 70oz bladder with water at every aid station, plus I'd down a couple of extra cups too. I certainly didn't feel dehydrated. I told one aid volunteer that I hadn't urinated since mile 10 - an hour into the race - and almost 7 hours had gone by since then and nothing. And I showed him my now even more sausage-like fingers. "I've got too much salt in me." (mistake #???) I said. His advice; "You have to pee.  You have to get it flowing out of you. It's going to be tough and you have to just relax, but you have to get it out."

Before I left Homestead,  the same guy told me - "You're still doing OK. You're in the top 10."  "What?!?!  No way...".  He tells me that if not top 10, then I'm close. I head out after many thanks to the volunteer crew and we yell back and forth about seeing each other again soon (still one more stop here to go).

Now, I'm pretty sure he was just trying to pep me up a bit, but then I get thinking, holy crap - what if I am that close to the top 10. I've really only been passing people, and no-one has been passing me. But there had to be way more than 10 people that were coming up when I was going down. And right about then the tears started flowing a bit and I got pretty emotional. I was thinking about my family waiting for me at the end, and about possibly having that strong of a finish. Hold it together, man - you have to take his advice and pee.  Concentrate on your situation and don't even think about things out of your control.  There is still a long ways to go.

I stepped off the trail and I managed only to get a trickle out, but now I actually do feel like I do really have to go. But it's very dark yellow, and nothing more is coming out. I'm now remembering my buddy Chris (Agile Fox) telling me stories from his races. Once you get going, you're gonna have to go every two minutes. But, dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration. I'm not showing any other signs of that, but my fingers, and now I realize my feet, are swollen. I was just crying tears two minutes ago. My mouth is not dry. I don't have a headache or feel dizzy. How can I be dehydrated? I'm just confused about what's happening and what I can possibly do to fix it - and now I'm obsessed with peeing, as well as the fact I think I have too much salt in me.

I decided to try turning on my phone at this point, and could hardly believe it when I actually got a signal! I had a bunch of texts from my good buddy Kev cheering me on  I texted him back while I plodded along and also sent my wife some texts too explaining that I had completed 34.4 miles and would probably be another 4 hours. Then the signal went dead.

It's about 2 miles of yet more climbing from here and then the longest downhill of the day starts down into Buffalo Creek and beyond; about 1200' over 6 miles. From there is one last big climb and then downhill to the finish - it's still 16 miles but I've got over 6 hours to do it if things get REALLY bad. I could walk and make it.

On the way down to the final Buffalo Creek stop (39.6 miles), I got passed by at least a half dozen other racers. And, even though it's pretty much all down hill, I'm walking a lot more and people are catching me. My lungs are hurting me badly now, my breathing is very rapid, and my lower and mid-back are screaming for a chiropractor. I stop about every 5 minutes - obsessed, trying to relieve myself with no luck. I half jokingly curse my prostate. I chat with another runner from Durango, who I actually catch up to and who might be in worse shape than me. He's struggling with cramps and is walking a lot (I know he's walking a lot because I have him in my sights for about a half mile out going through an old burn area). I ask if he's been taking any salt and he says no - the only thing he is taking is HEED. I offer him up a couple of S! Caps which he gladly accepts and downs. He's thinking that I'm moving a lot faster than him, but I tell him I'm in no rush, and we arrive at the Buffalo Creek station together. I grab my drop bag and hit a chair. He, and others, head out well before I do. 39.6 miles down in 9:00 hours which has me ahead of even my stretch goal of a 12:00 finish. But, I'm about to learn that the final 10.6 miles are going to really suck.

The volunteers fill up my 70 ounces, yet again. Did I mention yet how awesome all the volunteers are?!?!  You could never pull off the logistics of a race like this without them. I hope that every single one of them heard me when I yelled out at every aid station "Thank you volunteers for being out here!"

I grabbed another Clif Bar from my drop bag, emptied my shoes and grabbed fresh socks. I really wanted watermelon bad, but it was just hot soggy bits and pieces that were still left. Bah. I need to get going - so I stand up from my chair - and almost fall completely down. I'm dizzy as all hell now. One volunteer asks me if I'm OK and a couple of them look a little concerned about me. I tell them that I just need to walk for a little bit (a mild understatement) to get my legs back.  One aid worker asks if I want ice for inside my hat and I stupidly decline before heading out.

Sandy Wash aid station is at 42.3 miles - a mere 2.7 miles from where I am right now. I walk the whole way averaging about a 19:00 pace. I'm munching on a Clif Bar and drinking lots of water but if anything I'm getting worse. My breathing is really rapid and my lungs, and what I now suspect could be my kidneys, are hurting. I'm dizzy and at times find it difficult to walk in a straight line - which I'm trying to do in order to use the tangents and cover the shortest distance that I can. I'm still stopping every 5 minutes to try and pee but only getting small amounts of really yellow stuff. Keep moving. Don't stop. Keep moving, but take it really easy. I'm emptying my shoes again, while standing in the middle of a dirt road, when another runner comes around the bend. He sees me struggling with this simple task and sticks around to make sure I'm all right. I don't know that I am alright, and I'm still confused about my situation, but I'm not giving in now. We chat a bit and he goes on ahead. I arrive at Sandy Wash a short time later and they are expecting me. "Too much salt?" the one volunteer asks? He's got on a red Hardrock 100 shirt - he's going to know his stuff. I guess the runner I talked to filled them in on what I had told him. The two volunteers there check me over and are of the opinion that I'm OK. They didn't think I was retaining that much water, and they had me do a lick test on my arm - "Does the salt taste good, like you want more?" "Nope." The last time I took a salt cap was 6 hours ago - even if I initially was having a salt issue, how could it possibly be too much salt this much later?  I'd become convinced that I'd taken too much salt, and that I really needed to relieve myself. I was fixated on those things. All mistakes I think.

Just before I head out on my way out, the runner I previously chatted with came running back to the aid station. He asks the crew "Did you say it was 5 miles uphill to the next station?"  "Yep - 5 miles - uphill." He responds with; "I'm going to need two full bottles for that I think." That conversation was NOT something I needed to hear at that moment.

The final stop before the finish was again to be Homestead (stop 4 of 4 there) at the 47.3 mile mark. It was agonizingly slow and I averaged only about 22:00 pace while climbing about 1200' over those 5 miles. And, I was all alone now. I saw no-one in front of me and no-one behind me that entire 5 miles. I kept checking for a cell signal the closer I got to Homestead, hoping to catch that intermittent signal, but no luck. I was hoping to text either with my wife or my buddy Kevin to help give me some kind of boost. Man, where the f*@k is that aid station!?!? Right about now I'm wanting, no NEEDING, an ice cold Coke and a chunk of juicy watermelon! I take it as a good sign that my body is actually starting to crave something. Much better than trying a handful of raisins and spitting them out because it tastes like a glob of High Fructose Corn Syrup. I take cravings pretty seriously as I figure my body knows what it really needs, and this is how it tells me - with murderous cravings!. Where is that bloody aid station!?!? I talked to myself over that 5 miles more than the rest of the entire race combined. Mostly of the derogatory sorts, like; "You stupid a**hole - I can't believe you did this to yourself!!!" And, when am I going to get a cell sig... wait! I got one!!! The next few minutes I spent texting with Kev and he gave me some encouraging words. My wife however was not responding, so I tried calling her. Immediately to voice mail. Her phone was probably dead and she'd already be waiting at the finish line. In one of her earlier texts she explained that they missed me by 40 minutes at Pine Valley - so she's probably thinking I'm way ahead of schedule. I already know that I'm not making my 12:00 stretch goal anymore. Then, finally, I can hear something in the distance - people talking - it's Homestead at last.

2.9 miles to the finish. I arrived at about the 11:45 mark and immediately hit a chair. "Coke please..." "Uh, we're all out of Coke. All we have is a half can of warm 7-UP." "I'll take it. And I'll take one of those beers you were talking about earlier." They were insistent that they weren't supposed to be giving out beer - but they obliged, probably seeing how badly I needed it. I managed to get half the beer down and a couple of handfuls of potato chips, since there was no watermelon there either. Interesting that I could handle, and actually really enjoyed the salty potato chips - since I've had it in my stupid head for about 25 miles that I've got too much f'ing salt in me. Mistake after mistake after mistake. I chatted with all the guys at the station about my 'situation' of too much salt, not peeing, etc., etc. once again. One guy said that he ran an entire 50 miler without peeing once before. Huh - that jogs my memory of my My first/last 50 miler - I did that exact same thing!!! It's amazing how the mind gets confused and foggy in conditions such as these horribly hot, 50 mile endurance events. I must've stayed there at least 5 minutes and finally knew I had to get going. They topped off my water, and I headed out, but not before getting passed up by the tight hamstrings girl from Miller Gulch. It's all downhill from here they told me...  And I have to say that Homestead aid station was by far my favorite stop. It was a party there and the whole crew was awesome!

I started away from the aid station still at a slow pace, but it didn't take long for the 7-UP, the PBR, and the potato chips to kick in, and I was suddenly feeling much better. The dizzy head was gone and sore lungs and back were starting to improve. Even the sausage fingers were stating to improve, even though I still couldn't relieve myself. I quickly realized I needed to empty my shoes though, as I forgot to do it while sitting at Homestead. So, I found a rock to sit on and emptied them out. I carried on a little further and realized that I needed to stop again and shake out my socks this time. I found a comfy log and did just that. As I was tying up my last shoe, I took a peek up the trail, and I saw a runner coming. "Meh - whatever", I thought at first. My goal has always been just to finish, even though I thought I had 12:00 in the bag for much of the race. But then I don't know what happened. Maybe because I felt I had done so well, through the first 35 miles or so at least, that I was now thinking - "No friggin' way am I getting passed again." So, I took off running. It's probably fortunate that the runner's pace didn't push me too hard, as I was always able to keep a comfortable lead on them. Those last couple of miles seemed long but at least I was able to actually run the last 1.5 miles. So much better than the previous 8.7 miles or so of walking.

I finally hit the concrete sidewalk and knew that in about 30 seconds I'd be a 2-time finisher of a 50 Mile Trail Race. I crossed the little pedestrian bridge, took a right turn and could see the yellow shirts of the volunteers at the finish. And, as I approached the finish line, my oldest daughter was off to side of the trail waiting to give me a high-five just before I crossed the line where my wife and my 3 year old were waiting for me too.  Hugs, kisses, and maybe just a few tears, all around.

Official Time - 12:21:48 - 40th out of 53 official finishers - Garmin Connect Data

Me, my oldest daughter, and Janice O'Grady (RD) at the finish line.

Pace (blue) and Elevation (green)

HR (red) and Elevation (green)

HR (red) and Pace (blue)

North Fork 50 Mile Trail Race - Finishers Award

To close - I have to say what a great race this was. All the personnel and aid stations were top notch.  The trail markings were very well done as well and there we no problems navigating the course.

In hind-sight, I think my strategy at aid stations should have been to pound down Coke and HEED as much as possible since I was probably just dehydrated - though not really showing many of the typical symptoms, or at least cluing into them. And I never ever did 'break the seal', leading me even more to believe it was dehydration. I probably should have just stuck to my 45 minute fueling plan throughout as well and been more conservative with salt caps.  Other than that I really had no problems.  No blisters, no chaffing, no sunburn.

Again, this was a fantastically well put on race, and I've come out with much greater knowledge and wisdom that I went in with - and next time I'll do even better because of it.

Thanks to Janice O'Grady, and all the volunteers and crews that were involved.  Amazing job by all!

But my biggest thanks are to my family who put up with all my training; day after day, week after week, month after month, and all the race day craziness. I love you.

Training - 06/25/12 - 07/01/12

6.26 miles on this final taper week leading up to Saturday's North Fork 50 Mile Trail Race. I'm feeling good about my taper and my nutrition this week.

Monday, June 25 - 0 Miles - Rest day.

Tuesday, June 26 - 4.09 miles, 10:44 pace, 151 HR.

Wednesday, June 27 - 0 Miles - Rest day.

Thursday, June 28 - 2.17 miles, 10:16 pace, 143 HR.

Friday, June 29 - 0 miles - Rest day.

Saturday, June 30 - Race!

Sunday, July 1 - 0 miles - Recovery.

Nutrition - I was a good boy all week. Stuck to my nutrition plan. I wasn't able to get a final weigh-in before the race but suspect I was about 156 lbs. The final two days before the race I tried to maximize my my carb input and tried to keep fiber and protein to a minimum. Saturday's pre-race nutrition was quinoa and brown rice 2 hours pre-race with a banana a 1/2 hour later. That worked well.