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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Race Preview: Vulture Bait (50km trail run)

My first "Ultramarathon"!

Exciting!  And ... slightly terrifying.

I signed up for this while keeping track of the insanely insane Barkley Marathons.  Specifically, Gary Robbins's heart-breaking non-finish.  I don't know what about that level of pain/suffering compelled me to jump on board, but there's some instinct there about figuring out just how far you can go...... I've always had it, now I'll take my first shot at it with running.

Vulture Bait

A 25km/50km race around Fenshaw Lake near London, Ontario.  Almost all trails.

I ran the 25km version of this race in 2009 after my first Ironman - the 50km is two loops of that same course.  8 years have passed so my memory is a bit fuzzy on the course, good thing I have a blog to refer back to!

It wasn't massively technical.  I even ran it in regular running shoes (didn't own trail shoes back then), and I don't recall having an issue with the terrain.  I remember the second half being winding with little sharp climbs now and then, and having to cross a creek.

It also isn't massively hilly - it pretty much follows the lake, so there's some little hills carrying you away from it and back toward it at times.  Nothing that stuck out as particularly tricky - not sure I can trust the GPS elevation, but my watch had it at half the elevation gain of my training runs.

My Preparation

I've been biking about my normal amount, although I've tapered that off into September to be fresher for my runs.

Running - hills and trails. 

For my short runs, hills near my house (regular road running). 

For my long runs I literally ran up a mountain in Banff in August... but that was a bit special!  Mostly I've been heading up to the hilly and technical trails in the Durham Forest area.  My last couple of runs were ~3 hours.

I'm a bit worried.  It's been a hot September, really unusual.  Anything over +10C or so and my running has suffered. 

I had one cooler run (my last long one) and lo and behold, it went amazingly well. 3 hours, 26k, under 7:00/km (on some tough trails/hills) - and at the end I felt like I could have kept going.

So a lot will depend on the conditions....

The Race - Temperatures

Right now the forecast is not looking good - low of +14C in the morning, +21C and sunny in the afternoon.  Very little chance of rain.

I know it doesn't sound all that hot - but for fall running, that's hot!  Any research on marathon performance backs that up - for example, this study shows a significant drop in performance as temperatures exceed +10C. 

The maximal average speeds were performed at an optimal temperature comprised between 3.8°C and 9.9°C depending on the performance level

I'm particularly vulnerable to heat - I sweat a lot. 

Do I sound paranoid yet?

The Race - Pacing

My weight is a lot higher than 2009, but my overall fitness is a lot better.  But I'm older.

I averaged 6:03/km for 25km back then... 50km is a totally different beast.  I'm thinking something around 7:00/km would be decent, but frankly I'm not going to obsess about my pace - it's more about managing the effort.

Bottom line is that I need to really take it easy, nurse the heart rate, and think about the long game.  It's so easy on race day to get caught up in the excitement and blow one's wad - in a 6+ hour race that would be catastrophic.

Walk the steep stuff.  Keep the heart rate low. 

The Race - Nutrition

Last time I relied on the race nutrition, which was a disaster.  I didn't consume enough, couldn't really measure it, rookie mistake.

This time I'm taking my own Cliff Blocks - 200kcal/package, one per hour, plus some water or whatever sport drink they have.  Should do the trick.

Did I Mention Temperature?

Still parnoid.

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