Sunday, March 17, 2013

a new norm

The abdominal pain I have is not consistently the same, whether it be when, where in the abdomen or its intensity.  If it was the same all the time, I think the Drs. or I could pinpoint it & figure it out.  I'm afraid my running performance has taken on the same resemblance -- unpredictable (& not pleasant) more times than not.  After my run at Land Between the Lakes (LBL) this past weekend, I believe I need to accept the new norm for my performances, which is inconsistent/unpredictable.  The "good" run I had at Mountain Mist last January seems to have been just an aberration.  My list of things that can go wrong just seems to grow.

At LBL, I had a very unexpected collapse at mile 11 of the 50 mile race.  The boring details:

I cannot blame the pace this time as I forced myself to run at about 12 minutes/mile for the 1st 2 miles -- this was mostly so that I would be placed with others near that same pace when the course entered the single track off the road.  As every year, where you were placed would largely determine your pace for the 1st loop, unless you did something drastic -- like pull off & wait or constantly pass a continuous line of runners.  I felt I did that better than any other of my 7 previous starts in this race.  It was also the slowest I've ever started.  The plan worked perfect & I was patting myself on the back as I felt the 12 minute/mile pace I found myself running on the single track trail was restrained, not pushed like in previous years.  I had run the 1st 18 miles of Mountain Mist 50k comfortably earlier this year at just less than a 12 minute/mile average & finished well so I was feeling pretty confident.

At mile 11 though, I suddenly became very fatigued!  I had just been thinking . . . in a couple more miles I can be free to run my style when most of the runners peel off after the 1st lap.  Really puzzled by this abrupt "collapse", I immediately had to go into my "survival" pace -- a pace that I would be able to finish the 60k race with & not have to walk.  The 50 mile cutoff was now impossible & in no way could I make 50 miles anyway the way I felt.  I had slogged 26 miles at Pinhoti at my survival pace when I was shutdown by the heat at 25 miles, so I thought it wouldn't be a problem -- I was wrong.  With 9 miles left to finish the 3 laps (60k), I just didn't have any more energy.  I should have dropped at mid-lap, but was just too stubborn & didn't want to bother anyone either.  What didn't help was I also lost motivation -- I walked everything, including every downhill.  It took over 3 hours to walk those 9 uninspired miles.  I tried hard to enjoy the beautiful day -- that's the only thing that kept me going.  Still, I was dejected & out of it as I slowly walked down the hill to the finish -- all in sight of the spectators who were cheering? at the finish line.  That was a first for me as I've always at least trotted across a finish line -- pretty sad.

Other notes:

This race always has the most runners that I know and can recognize & I always enjoy being able say a few words with many of them -- whether it be at packet pickup or sometime during race day.  In fact, the highlight of the race was being able to run with Chris & Jeff, at least for a mile or two! 

Scott Breeden, who won LLTH 50k in an INCREDIBLE 4:07, repeated with another super performance with 4:07 in the 60k - WOW!   He lapped me near mile 15 (he was on mile 26).  He was running a sub 3 hour marathon & I know I couldn't keep up with him even if I was sprinting a 50 yard dash.

With global warming, the new norm for late Spring & early Fall (when heat matters the most to me) is that temps will be above average -- I realize that (but still haven't accepted it yet).  This year it started early with the 10 deg above average temps at LBL, but it was certainly not a factor for me this race day.  Had it reached the mid 70's (it didn't) and I was running (I wasn't), it might have been a factor.

My belly hurt a little during the race, but nothing unusual & not a factor.  I've found that my new posture at night & that the liquid diet pre-race (& only gels during the race) has helped (so far).  Based on training runs around home though, I've found that even this can be inconsistent.

Having gone on a diet after seeing my belly hang out at LLTH, I lost 5 pounds in less than 4 weeks and edged below the so-called "obese" weight for my height (I'm still very much overweight though).  At first I thought this diet could have had some effect on my race performance at LBL, but really, I don't think it would have been that drastic.  However, I have decided to suspend serious dieting till the summer off season & to load up with more carbs during taper week.

I came down with some kind of "bug" Monday night after LBL.  Other than a little nagging cough now & then, it appears I'm finally over it.  I'm planning on getting in a good run (in the rain) tomorrow morning.

Next up:

With my new norm, I have dropped all expectations for my 5th Clinton Lake 30m next Saturday.  I had felt I could run better than 6:30 and was hoping to break 6 hours, but that was before LBL.  Weather is expected to be cool (& windy) as it's always been there -- which will be nice.

LBL threw a wrench into my plans, however,  I'm still signed up for 3 long ultra races this Spring:  Potawatomi, Indiana Trail & Massanutten.  Potawatomi had a half price early bird special ($75) last April & I couldn't resist.  I signed up for Indiana Trail as a backup/alternate to Potawatomi (they're only 2 weeks apart).  Also, I'm on the waiting list (#22 currently) for Massanutten in May so I can't count on getting in.


Chris said...

Maybe the bug/illness you had the day after the race was what stopped you during the race too? A lot of times we don't realize we are sick until a day later but then realize we were actually ill the day or two before. If you were already sick during the race, that would explain the lack of energy and motivation.

Wish you well at Clinton and Potawatomi. I'm tapering for Umstead.

ed said...

Thanks Barefoot Chris.

I wish I could blame the fatigue to the bug, but I have my doubts.

I hope you can handle the "pressure" you've put on yourself for Umstead -- be sure to have fun!

Chris said...


Fun? No fun...this is serious business! I need a PR! ;-)

I will try for a sub-24, but almost anything will get me a 100 mile PR (mine is 29 hours).

ed said...

Like I said before, you're more apt to be running sub 22 hours anyway -- so at least when you come to the point in the race when you realize you can walk & still meet your goal, you can have fun then?

Yes, you can always have a lifetime of fun & celebration AFTER finishing 100 miles in less than 24 hrs, but only one opportunity to enjoy the feat while actually doing it.