The spring ultra racing season is now in full swing. I ran a slow, rough trail 50K just a week ago, this fast 33.5 miler and then a 100 in two weeks. This would be a fun race with me trying not to bust my butt, which honestly, I don’t do much anymore anyways
This race is a point to point affair along the beautiful kal haven bike trail (Kalamazoo to South Haven) and since I didn’t want to wait for a return-to-start bus ride, my lovely wife accompanied me which is always nice. We left our house about 5:20 am and got to the race start about 70 min before the gun. Misty rested while I checked in and chit-chatted with a few runners. I finally got to meet a running facebook friend, Melissa, and also saw Katherine, her bf, and my other running friend, Brian. Misty woke up in time to meet them and say good luck and I wandered over to the starting line.
Brian and I decided to start out together and took off in a gentle 7:40ish pace. We ran together for the first 7-8 miles together talking about all sorts of stuff. I have run with him around Jackson before and he is a really nice guy. We differ greatly on politics and religion, so we decided to avoid those subjects today, wanting to enjoy the run. He has been struggling with some health issues the last 16 months or so and has tried all sorts of stuff including a 14-day water fast. I have read about the positive health benefits of such a fast and I think about doing one every once in awhile. Maybe after racing season, who knows.
There were reasonable sized aid stations every 2-3 miles during the course but the weather was so perfect, I was fine with mostly water during the race. I got terribly dehydrated just a week before, so I was paying much closer attention this time. Race temp was in the high 50’s all day, which was awesome. It technically was an ultra, so they had two aid stations for drop bags, at mile 13 and mile 27. The second one was sortof close to the finish and I didn’t quite understand that. I made throw-away drop bags with coke, chips and cookies for each of them. When I got to the mile 13 aid station, the drop bags had literally just been driven there so I had to root around in the box for my bag. I ended up just grabbing the coke as that was all I wanted. It is only a 33.5 miler, so I didn’t need spare shoes, or real food. My bags were more ‘just in case’.
At about mile 8, a group of fast people from the Grand Rapids area came up from behind us and I was feeling good, so I went out with them, picking up my speed, doing 7:15-7:20/min miles up until about mile 20. At about mile 20, the tiredness in my legs from the previous week started to pop back up. Knowing that I had a 100 mile in 2 weeks and not wanting to ruin that by over-doing it this day, I dialed back just a bit. with my overall average pace for the race going a little above 7:35, which is still faster than what I did the first 8 miles in.
With less than a mile or so to go, my friend Brian who I left behind 2 hours before actually caught back up with me and passed me along with another runner. He was flying and when i talked to him later, he told me that mid way through he just got a boost, and it felt good, so he dropped the hammer. I wish that happened to me when -I- raced, but sadly, it never does.
This race was the Road Runner Club of America Michigan UItra Championship so there were some speedy guys in the race which is why my placing was not that awesome. I however was very pleased with my time, being 2.5 miles longer and 30 minutes faster than my 50K the previous week. I rolled into finish and my legs tightened up pretty quick so I drank lots of water and walked around for a while which really helped.
My mother in law, living very close to the finish, decided to come out with Misty as well to see me cross the finish line. We decided to go out to lunch and my stomach was not very happy. My post race meal was actually some french onion soup and a nice cold beer. As long as I ate it slowly, it was ok.
I recovered much faster from this race than the previous week when I ran a lot slower. This is not a huge surprise because if you run slower than usual, you use different muscles than normal and hence are sore for a while afterwards. Last week I had little choice due to the nature of the trail, but this week I got to get more into my normal stride. What I need to do is more trail runs in training. That would help.