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Race Report: Mad City 50k

Here are the results: 4th place, 3hr:21:49, 6:29/mile. I finished behind some very strong runners -- Zach Bitter, Patrick Russell, and Chris DeNucci -- and so it was hard to be overly displeased with my placing. I was, however, disappointed with the way I ran the race. Perhaps that's not entirely fair; I'm more disappointed that I wasn't able to maintain the pace that I began with rather than disappointed with the fact that I started the race at the pace I did. My five 10km splits (the course was a 10km loop run five times) were thus: 37:49, 37:22, 38:12, 42:03, 46:21. I really fell apart at around 35km: my legs became very heavy and the pace seemed daunting. If I had ran the first two laps at a minute or so slower, I think that I would have been able to finish with sub-40min 10kms on the last two laps. Part of the issue, I think, was that I didn't fuel as well as I should have. I had more than enough fuel with me: three gels and three packets of GU blocks. But I only ate one gel and less than two of the packets. I was probably consuming around 120-150 calories per hour, but I should have been consuming 200 or more per hour. So, if I had done a better job fueling, I think that my legs would have felt much better and I would have had the mental energy to maintain a decent pace. 

Regardless or my pleasure or disappointment with the race, it was nice to gauge my fitness and my ability to implement a race strategy early in the year. Obviously, I need to work on both these things, but it's good to know exactly what I need to work on. I'll incorporate longer tempo runs over the next several months (10-12 miles), faster speed work (12 x 30sec sprints during a middle distance run), and longer weekends (50+ miles). Moreover, I'll have to reevaluate my strategy in races with big name runners. I don't have much experience against top ultra competition, but I now know (from Mad City) that (a) I need to be in better shape and (b) I need to either sit early and come back later or (b*) gut it out with the leaders for the whole race. In Mad City, I ran with Pat for the first four miles until we caught Zach, but I was already working too hard at a very early stage in the race (in my defense, we ran mile 4 in 5:43), so I lost contact and never regained ground. In other words, I was trying to implement (b*) but I failed miserably. If I had gone out more conservatively, I think I could have finished ahead of or with Chris in third. Anyway, now I know what to do differently. 

The next two races (Crazylegs, Door County Half Marthon) are purely for training purposes, so I'll train right through them. I plan to increase my mileage to 100+ by the end of April. Then, in May and June, I hope to run at least every other week at over 100 miles. The Madison Marathon at the end of May will, in all likelihood, also be used as a training run. In any case, in training for these three races I will continue to do a lot of speed work (shorter and longer distances), which should allow me to improve my fitness and endurance for the 50-mile races later in the year. 

Back to the trails this afternoon!

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