This blog thing is working out for me. Let me explain. I occasionally peruse other ultramarathoner's blogs and read about their training and race reports. I glean what ever information I can to implement into my training for The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler. It had come quite apparent that the details and logistics are a bit more complex in completing an Ultramarathon than they are for running 26.2 miles. A gel pack and Gatorade weren't cutting it anymore, especially on the trail runs where a runner will expend more energy than he would on the road.
So I came across this guy in California who runs 50 mile races like some run 5K's and 100 mile races like some run 10K's. He finished the Kettle 100 miler in about 21 hours (coming in 3rd place) and this weekend he is pacing for the Western States 100. He ran the entire thing in 2006. The Western States 100 is run in the Sierra Nevadas...you think there are any elevation changes?! Anyway, I digress. I start reading his blog Rick and realized I have more to learn than I can teach myself by September about Ultras. So I emailed him. I learn his name is Rick Gaston and I tell him my situation and ask him to read my latest race report Road of suffering. He must have had pity on me because he emailed me back with lots of information and encouragement. He talked about nutrition, hydration, electrolyte balances, training mileage, heat training, blister care...you get the point.
So this brings me to this past weekend of training runs. I had planned to run the Erwin Park Mountain bike trail again. Let's review. The trail is an 8 mile loop. It is not really that technical but there are a lot of tree roots that can cause a face plant if you don't pick up your feet. There are several ups and downs and maybe about 1 1/2 miles of undulating meadows. I am going to run the loop 3 times and I intended to begin implementing Rick's suggestions of nutrition and fueling by placing supplies at the trail head. I begin the run at 0500 with a headlamp which means I am clearing out the spiderwebs across the wooded trail way. After my first loop, I eat 1/2 a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, a gel pack and reload the two 20 ounce water bottles and head out on loop two.
This is the whole reason for writing this blog entry is to tell this story. About 2 miles into loop 2 I pass a couple of mountain bikers through some of the technical stuff. About 30 minutes later they catch up to me and say they had been trying to catch me the last 20 minutes or so. I tell them to go on ahead as they will be much faster than me. Ten minutes later, I pass them again never to see them again. Upon our second meeting they ask me how far I was running. I mention that this was my second time around and I plan on going 3. The look on their faces was worth the 0400 wake up call. Honestly, I am not that fast and I believe they were just beginning to learn some technical mountain bike techniques. They were nice guys out exercising and learning new stuff. My hats off to them. May they continue to push themselves. (still made me feel pretty good.)
The third time around the loop was a bit more brutal as the Texas sun was rising in the sky and the temperature were edging past 90 degrees. The afternoon temps encroached the century mark as it was a hot and humid day. I chuckled to myself during this last loop reflecting back on Rick's email inquiring, "If I was doing any heat training." I am running in the Texas Summer. If it is only 90 degrees, a cool front has moved in....yeah I'm feeling the heat. Let's hope that this heat training pays off in Virgina in September. In conclusion, I ran 24 miles on the Erwin trail successfully following Rick's suggestions. On Sunday I woke up and hammered out another 8 miles before church.
Good luck to the runners in the Western States 100 this next weekend. Good luck to Rick Gaston and his runner he is to be pacing after mile 80. Keep these guys and gals in your prayers as their suffering will know no bounds.