Sunday, March 4, 2012

AC100 Training Weeks 7,8,and 9 of 27

Racing a long distance, no matter how many miles that means in your current training, is a big commitment. At minimum, it takes priority for three weeks in your training calendar including tapering, executing the race, and allowing adequate recovery. This blog entry describes my experience at the 2012 Ray Miller 50 which was on February 25th. Race start photo above was taken by Coyote Running teammate Natalie Kintz.
I took a cross-training approach in tapering for my 3rd 50 miler (2nd actual race). I was invited to participate in this year’s Triabetes Captains triathlon training camp in Tucson, AZ over the long President’s Day weekend. It was a lot of fun to get to know the current club captains. They are well on their way towards proudly representing Triabetes at Ironman 70.3 Boulder in August. We went on a few rides as long as 5 hours in the scenic desert landscape and swam at the University of Arizona facilities. The highlight of the weekend was riding Mount Lemmon. It's a very long, but gradual climb. The descent is fast with turns that are wide enough that you can safely blast down without tapping your brakes.

The camp was led by Cliff Scherb of Tri-Star Coaching. He is an elite age grouper aiming to break 9 hours which will make him the world's fastest diabetic ironman. The most valuable lesson I learned from him this weekend is regarding insulin sensitivity in the recovery phase after hard workouts. He explained that returning to normal insulin sensitivity is an indicator of recovery.

We also had the opportunity to train with another extraordinary type one diabetic athlete, Bill Carlson. Bill has been racing in endurance sports for decades, even when medical technology was nowhere near what we have today. In the 1983, he was the was the first diabetic to race Ironman. Later, he would finish Western States and Angeles Crest in under 24 hours. He describes bolusing with fast-acting insulin during a race as "juggling chainsaws with your hands greased up with vaseline." In this picture, Bill did 50 pushups while we waited for some teammates who got stuck at a red light.

We also toured the Tri Sports warehouse, flagship store, and headquarters. It's a growing company centered around the sport we love, triathlon. Retail Manager Eric Mellow  led us through a history of the company's operations, culture, and amazingly green building that they have built in Tucson. Besides awesome perks like race entry fee reimbursement and bike commuting incentives, the building's solar panels generate the majority of its electricity, their water is mostly captured from water harvesting tanks, and the building itself is largely constructed of recycled materials.

Finally, on February 25th, I ran the Ray Miller 50 Miler. Here's my race report:

It’s a good sign when your biggest concern going into a race is waking up early enough to make it to the start line. The 6AM Saturday start in Point Mugu north of Malibu, CA is remote. The closest hotels in Camarillo are still at least 30 minutes away. Camping at nearby Sycamore Canyon is a good alternative, but I would have to rush after work to check-in before the campground curfew. So I went with the third option, which was to sleep in my own bed at home and set the alarm for 3:30AM.

I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep on Friday night, but the biggest benefit of “Plan C” was having my typical home-cooked big breakfast of eggs, toast, oatmeal, juice and/or fruit, and coffee. I sipped on Gatoraid and a Red Bull during the 1:15 drive.

With nearly 11,000 feet of climbing and almost entirely comprised of single track trails, Ray Miller is a very challenging course. My primary goal was to have fun and finish within the 14 hour time limit. Beyond that, I hoped to beat my previous 50 mile time of 12:20 from October’s Firetrails. Better yet, I wanted to beat 12 hours. 

The race started promptly at 6AM and I have to thank the volunteers for quickly checking me in and helping me pin on my race number. Lots of familiar Coyote Running teammates volunteering throughout the course today. I taped shut my drop bag which I stuffed with a jacket and my preferred race food which is non-caffeinated gels and Honey Stinger Waffles. I threw it in a pile as the gun went off and both the 50k and 50 mile races started together. 

The prevailing advice on running 50 miles is to think of it as a 35 mile warm-up and 15 mile race. I ran a steady effort until mile 34 when I stopped at the Yerba Buena aid station and spent a couple of minutes looking for my drop bag. I was frustrated it was not there and I would have to deviate from a nutrition plan that had worked flawlessly up until that point including very stable blood sugars in a tight 140-160 range.

Unfortunately, I ran out of water during the 11 miles between Yerba Buena and the last aid at mile 45. Without water for nearly an hour, I skipped a couple of gels since I had no chaser. I told a runner that was running behind me about my situation and he offered some of his own limited water. Then, an idea occurred to me that if I pulled off the bite valve from my hose (it had accidentally fallen off earlier), I could probably drink the water trapped in the hose. Knowing my new best friend had an emergency sip if necessary, I popped two gels and successfully drank the last bit of water and did not need to take him up on the offer.

Once those two gels started to kick in, I came out of the dark spell. In a moment of clarity, I realized that I had probably thrown my drop bag in the wrong pile earlier.  I later confirmed that this was exactly what had happened in the pre-dawn darkness.

Mile 45-50 went perfectly. Training on the course a few weeks ago, I learned that it would be key to drink and eat enough on the last climb in order to finish strong on the long downhill at the end. I did just that and ran miles 48, 49, and 50 progressively faster to finish in 11:54, my new 50 mile PR. Here's the Garmin gps file:

In the eight days since the Ray Miller race I have only run a couple of steps, but done plenty of riding. I got in a couple of good indoor stationary bike rides during the week and walking on the treadmill. Two other things I have done to promote recovery are getting plenty of sleep and spending time stretching. I have done a couple of soaks with epsom salt, too. Icing and massage would help, but I admittedly have not incorporated these methods lately. This weekend brought back sunny, warm beach weather to Southern California and I enjoyed riding outdoors. On March 17th , I am participating in my first true bike race: the Camp Pendleton Bulldog Road Bike Race. This is going to be a short, intense 32 mile race.

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