Monday, May 30, 2011

Sulphur Springs 50 Mile Race Report

I have been busy the last year. Since my last post in 2010, I have run 2 marathons, 1 30k road race, and a 50k trail ultra. I have gotten more serious about my running, and hired a Coach to help me along the way - if anyone is interested, Jeff and Diane are amazing!

This past weekend I achieved a huge goal I set for myself, and what follows is a fairly quick race report of my first 50 mile run.

I slept fairly well but only for 6 hours on Friday night. Up at 4am, my Father-in-law picked me up at 4:45 for the quick drive out to Ancaster and the start of the Sulphur Springs 50 mile trail run. Both the 50 and 100 mile races were to go off at 6am, and I had plenty of time to pick up my tech shirt and mill around talking to lots of other runners. My FIL took off to the first aid station where he could park and lay all of my things out in the back of the SUV - I was probably the only 50 miler with a crew that day, and it sure helped out.

It was cool and foggy and the gun went off right at 6am. Down the hill we went and onto one hell of a boggy mess. The trails were decent on the groomed pathways, but through the grassy fields it was wet. I saw people lose shoes in the muck, but once you got used to the idea of being wet, we all just dealt with it.

The course is a 20k loop, and I had to complete this 4 times. My pacing plan was to go 2:10, 2:20, 2:30, 2:47, with about 12 minutes built in at the truck to restock and take care of any issues that arose. The "A" goal was to finish, but I really wanted to go under 10 hours. My strategy had me finishing up at 9:59 or so.

Loop one went very well. I settled in nicely and ran the majority of it with a nice fellow named Scott doing the 100 mile, and another 50 miler named Mary-Lou. We had some nice conversation and the miles ticked by quickly. I was surprised to see a 2:05 on the board as we passed the start line, but I was feeling good and wanted to bank what I could early.

We stuck together for much of the second loop, but eventually I pulled a little ahead of them and was running on my own for a long while. As the day went on, the trails got worse from all the runners, but I was able not to fall down all day.

Having my FIL as crew was great - He was at the 3k aid station which was also the 9k aid station - seeing him twice per loop and having access to whatever I needed was a huge plus. Most times I would pull in and have a huge swig of Nuun, refill my handheld with Gatorade, and munch on a PB sandwich or Clif Bar. I did try to keep the stops as short as possible and stuck with that throughout the race.

Loop 2 ended with a 2:12 - way ahead of where I thought I would be. I was feeling good and headed out for loop 3 quickly. My legs were starting to get tired, but the trails were again pretty slick in parts. Running on my own pretty much the whole loop, I was grabbing trees down the single-track around the 12k mark just to avoid falling to the ditch below. I was still able to get around in 2:28, again keeping me way ahead of the game. I was now realizing that I would shatter my goal of 10 hours, so I was getting excited, as tired as I was.

I had a friend meet me at the start of loop 4 to pace me around the final lap. He has never ran more than 18k, but is a great athlete so I knew my turtle-like pace would be no problem for him. I didn't know what to expect in a 50 miler, so perhaps having a crew and a pacer was a bit of overkill on a looped course, but in the end I was happy to have both of them there.

We talked for the first 5k of the last loop, and then I started to get quiet. I needed to concentrate, and all the hills I had run before were suddenly looking massive. Nevertheless, I was able to keep things together and moving forward the entire time. My fueling and hydration were spot on, and my friend was timely in when to urge me to run and when to let me plod up a bunny hill. Once we climbed up the Headwater loop we took off running and didn't stop until the last aid station. It is a nice gentle downhill of about 4-5k that is groomed and probably the driest on the course. I made up some time here for sure and refilled my bottle for the final climb to the finish.

What a feeling to cross the finish line after running 50 miles. This still is surreal to me and it was a great moment I won't forget. My 8-months pregnant wife was there to greet me, along with my Mom, FIL, and of course, best friend who paced me around the last 20k.

My final time was 9:35:54, well ahead of my goal.

We headed to the parking lots for beer and a sit, cheering for the other 50 and 100 milers as they came into the finish area.

Sulphur Springs is a great event, and the RD Joe Hewitt has done a wonderful job with it. Volunteers were top-notch at each aid station, and the course was marked well. Thanks to everyone involved - it was a fantastic race and I look forward to being back in the future!

Blogging got boring...

I had nothing interesting to say, so I said nothing at all!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Been Lazy... At least with the Blog!

Sorry I have been delinquent in posting. Ran the NOTL Marathon last month and made a mess of it. Absolutely dismal nutrition landed me in a death march at mile 21 or so until I could force enough corn chips into my gut to run it in the last mile. Still a PR by 5 minutes at 4:51 and change, but I was on pace for about a 4:15 on a super hot day.

So what went wrong? Not enough calories basically. The old adage "race how you train" got thrown out the window. I was hydrating nicely with my Nuun tabs and water the whole way, and was taking a gel per hour or so. Where I dropped the ball is that I was not taking any sports drink at the aid stations. Therefore I figure I was only getting 100 calories per hour from the gels and not topping up with sports drink. Dumb ass.

Oh well, live and learn I suppose. Why is it that common sense and a plan gets thrown out the window on race day? I shall vow never to be so stupid again. I am quite happy with my nutrition and hydration these days on long runs, so I WILL carry this over into my next race!

Speaking of that, I am planning the Run for the Toad 50k Ultra in October. Since I can't seem to properly run a marathon, I thought why not tackle 50k? Makes sense, right?

Sunday, May 30, 2010


The long run went ok. It was pretty warm out and by the time I hit the road it was late in the morning, so the majority of the run was in the early afternoon hours. No clouds, so it was tough for a guy like me that prefers colder temperatures.

I ended up doing a little under 21 miles in just under 3.5 hours. Pace was 10:10 per mile, so right about where I probably should be on a long run.

I have decided to do the Niagara-on-the-Lake marathon on June 19th and see how it goes. I will do one more long run on a cool morning and stretch it out to 22-23 miles next week and then take it easy for the last 10-14 days before the marathon.

This race is small and features a 50k ultra as well. All races are run on a bike path adjacent to the Niagara Parkway on an out and back course starting in NOTL. Should be fun, and after running the Around the Bay in March it will be nice to hit a race with under 400 entrants instead of 8000!

As for my hydration and nutrition on the long run, I would say it was improved. I started to get a little tight in my hamstrings towards the end, but I think the electrolyte tablets did help, especially since it was MUCH hotter than my previous long runs where I was bonking bad at 20 miles. Feeling optimistic and hoping to make a few more improvements next week when I go a little further.

Until then, I will get in some hills on the trails, a track workout, tempo work and a swim before trying it all over again.

Friday, May 28, 2010

No Posts = No News

Since the race in March I dove in headfirst with training for a spring marathon. Kept up my mileage and was feeling ok until about a month before the proposed marathon in mid-May.

My long runs were suffering, I felt like garbage, and I decided to take a month to rest up a little. It is clear to me that I was a little over-trained and cutting my mileage down to about 20 miles a week seems to have helped. I also started swimming once a week, so right now I am running 5 days per week along with a 2000m swim.

I set my sights on another marathon in the local area on June 19th. I haven't done a long run in about a month and as I am typing this I am getting ready to head out and try and do about 19-22 miles. I have no idea what to expect, this could go well or it could be a disaster.

I am hoping it goes ok, and I can get in another 24 miler next week and then start cutting back for the taper. Not much of a taper since I haven't been running long much, but this is the plan for now.

One other thing I noticed on my long runs last month - Salt, or the lack thereof. I sweat like a pig and I never really did much in the way of electrolyte replacement other than a bit of gatorade during long runs. I have picked up some electrolyte tablets and am going to do this long run today experimenting with them.

I really am starting to think that my "bonking" in the past has been me running out of salt and not being able to process my fluids past mile 18-20. Today though, it is very warm, but I feel good about having my tablets, lots of hydration, and plenty of goo's to properly fuel me through this run.

Well, time to hit the road, this is the deciding factor for the June 19th marathon - I hope this goes ok...

Monday, March 29, 2010

30k Quick Race Report

Yesterday was the Around the Bay 30k Road Race in Hamilton, Ontario. The weather ended up being quite good and the rain held off for the 9:30 start. It was overcast and about 4 degrees Celsius, and by the end of the race, it had warmed to about 9 and a few sprinkles had started to fall.

My goal for this race was under 3 hours, and a 2:50-ish time would have been great.

The first 2/3's of the race are flat and fast, but the final 10k enters the Northshore section of Burlington and is very hilly. My training has focused on stairs and hills, so I was trying to maintain an even pace. I was running at about 5:35/km pace for the first 20k, and really pushed in the hills to maintain this. I managed to keep enough legs to really bomb the downhills and focus on being in good form for the uphills.

Needless to say, I only started to feel tired at about the 28k mark, and at that point I was past the last of the hills and was in the home stretch into Copps Colesium for the big finish.

I knew I was going well, but was very happy when I passed the finish in a chip time of 2:47:54!

It was a great day and I really benefited from my running group pushing me over the past few months, so I am looking forward to continuing training with them in the next little while.

What is next? Probably a May marathon - stay tuned!

Friday, March 5, 2010


Off to Mexico!

The past couple weeks have been again, super busy. Between work and family commitments, the blog has suffered!

A few highlights though - A great 20k trail run in Kelowna which was a ton of fun. Tonight I broke 50 minutes in a 10k run, I actually finished in 48:50 and I am really pleased!

I need to focus on my long runs and being in Mexico in the heat will make that difficult. However, I hope that at least once in the week I am away I will go over 15 miles nice and slow. I am going to get up early and run most days, so hopefully I can beat the sun a little.

Training is more or less on track for the 30k race on March 28th. I have missed a few sessions with the running group but have really focused on speed work and hills this past week to try and make up. Hence the need to get in some good distance runs in the next 2 weeks prior to tapering!