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09/17 - 09/23

Mixed results this week following the race. Here's the word:

Monday (Sept. 17): off. Soreness has reduced considerably. Good news!
Tuesday (Sept. 18): off. 15 minute swim at the UW Serf. Feeling back to normal.
Wednesday (Sept. 19): AM 10 miles, 1hr:14, 7:26/mile, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail to the Arb. Some easy miles on a cool morning. I felt some tightness in my hips and IT band on the way back.
Thursday (Sept. 20): AM 8 miles, :56, 7:05/mile, out-and-back through the city to the Lakefront Trail. Started feeling tightness in my knee with some shooting pain. I was able to finish but my knee is feeling sore.
Friday (Sept. 21): off. Knee still sore. Seems to be an IT band issue.
Saturday (Sept. 22): PM 3-4 miles round trip run to the pool, 42 minute swim. More swimming to stay off the knee; a few miles on the feet didn't seem too taxing.
Sunday (Sept. 23): AM 11+ miles, 1hr:13, 6:36/mile, SMR loop with Hank & Fran. A nice up tempo run. Started feeling tightness in my right knee about halfway. A bit concerned. But a 55 mile bike ride in the afternoon seemed to help. I'll give ice and some strengthening exercises a try.

Weekly totals: ~35 miles, ~4 hours. Supplemented with some swimming and biking, still not a bad week from a training standpoint. Hoping my knee will cooperate and the mileage will pick back up in the coming weeks.


TNF Madison: Nutrition and Supplements

Of the three 50 mile events that I have competed in to date, the 2012 TNF Madison was, by any criteria of success, the most successful. This success was due, in large part, to my fueling before and during the race. Unlike my first 50 mile race last year (the only other 50 mile race that I have completed) -- the Voyageur 50 -- I never experienced any extreme lows. I attribute this fact to a change in nutrition and supplements. First, my pre-race consumption consisted of:

Supplements 1 B-vitamin, 2 Hammer Mito Caps, 2 Hammer Race Caps Supreme, 1 S! Cap
Nutrition 1 table spoon of Udo's Oil, 1 bowl of rice chex, and 1 banana about three hours before the race; 1 Hammer gel fifteen minutes before the race
Hydration 20-30oz of water, 12 oz coffee

I arrived on the start line without feeling full, heavy, or hungry. Especially promising was the fact that I felt energized and well fueled as the 5am start approached.

Second, my consumption during the race, perhaps the most important aspect of a successful race, was consistent and well balanced. I consumed roughly 220-240 calories per hour and roughly 20-30oz of half water / half electrolyte replacement per hour. In addition, I continued to take Mito Caps, Race Caps Supreme, and S! Caps. The totals were thus:

Supplements 5 S! Caps, 4 Mito Caps, 4 Race Caps Supreme
Nutrition A total of ~1,400 calories, which included 4 servings of Hammer Perpetuem (~1,080 cals), 3 Hammer Gels (~270 cals), 1/4 of a banana (~25 cals)
Hydration 140oz of half water / half electrolyte replacement, 2 small cups of mountain dew, 1 small cup of pepsi

I started using Perpetuem over the summer and saw improvement in performance. The product has an 8 to 1 ratio of soy protein to complex carbohydrates and a 16 to 1 ratio of fat to complex carbs. The combination gives the body a bit of fat to burn, a lot of slowly digestible complex carbs, and just enough soy protein (the easiest protein to digest quickly) to help muscle repair during the run. The gels served as a quick and easy way to consume calories if I began to feel hungry (this, too, is a complex carbohydrate, but without any fat or protein).

While the second half of the race proved more difficult, and though the pace did diminish, this was largely due to the continuous pounding from the downhills. My performance didn't diminish much, but the decrease in performance did not seem to be the result of nutrition based shortcomings.

Given my success at TNF Madison, I plan to continue to implement this nutrition/supplement schedule in future races.


Race Report: TNF Madison 50 mile

What a day to race! The conditions for the race on Saturday in Kettle Moraine Park were pristine: the start temperature was around 45 degrees, the temperature stayed cool throughout the first half of the race and didn't rise above the the low 70s until the afternoon (at which time I was already done!). With a 5am start time, most of the race was run without the sun overhead and, even later in the morning, the numerous wooded sections of the course kept the trails out of the sun. The trails themselves were primarily packed dirt with some grass, sand, and rock mixed in. All told, it was a day for record breaking (both the first and second place finishers broke the previous course record).

When the gun went off I paced easily and found myself alone in second place after a half mile. The single head lamp ahead was within 100m and on the first (brief) climb, at around the first mile, I pulled up next to a swift moving figure with a British accent. I quickly discovered that this British sounding fellow was Ian Sharman. Yes, Ian Sharman. So here I was, in the middle of the woods in Wisconsin, running with one of the top ultra distance runners in the world (a 5th place finish at the 2012 Western States should, without dispute, establish anyone has a top ultra runner in the world). The pace wasn't taxing, around 7:10/mile, so I figured I'd stick around and chat with Ian Sharman. I managed to do so through the 21 mile aid station, where Ian and I left with a slim lead over the third and fourth place competitors. We then entered the most undulating section of the course and Ian, with his impressive ability to descend lightening fast, put some ground on me. Shortly thereafter I was caught by our pursuers and, suddenly, I found myself in 4th place. But we were only at mile 24, so the race hadn't really begun just yet. I eased back, tried to stay relaxed, and cruised into the 28 mile aid station with a ~4 minute deficit on Ian and Mike (the eventual 2nd place finisher) and a ~2 minute deficit on the 3rd place runner.

After the turnaround I tried to focus on maintaining a decent clip back to the 35 mile aid station. I wanted to save my legs for the flats later on so I ended up power hiking portions of the ascents, and moving gingerly down the descents, on this seven mile stretch (subsequently, I lost a good amount of time on the leaders). When I arrived at the 35 mile aid station, I was trailing the leaders by 10 minutes and the third place runner by 3 minutes. I needed to start moving. I knew that a portion of the remaining course was fast (flat or downhill), so I picked up the pace a bit and, just a mile before the 40 mile aid station, I caught the 3rd place runner walking up one of the steeper climbs. Now in third place, I cruised through the 40 mile aid station and hoped to potentially move into second. But Ian and Mike stayed strong (more than strong) through 50 miles. My legs, which started to feel the effects of pounding descents at mile 20, were banged up and I was reduced to power hiking on steeper sections. Realizing that the leaders were out of reach, and that 3rd place was all but secured, I ran the last section of the course (about four miles) at a leisurely pace and enjoyed what was left of the race.

The outcome: 3rd place, 6:20:57 (7:38/mile), and a $350 prize! In truth, I believe that the course is 1 or 1.5 miles short, so my "true" fifty mile time might have been closer to 6:30:00. In any case, it was a PB by two hours and I had the distinct pleasure of taking advice about ultra running for over two hours from Ian Sharman. Not a bad day!

Final results here.
**It is worth noting that the race was quite a bit closer than the results reveal. The winning time was in fact, and Ian would readily admit, 5:57 rather than 5:47.
**Also, a short report in the Running Times here.

And, as always, thanks to the North Face employees and the many volunteers for putting on an excellent race. The pre-race and post-race activities, as well as the on course support, were fantastic! Lastly, thanks to my lovely mother and sister for crewing throughout the race; I couldn't have done it without them.

Ian and I at mile 16 (Thanks to Wes at the North Face for the photo)

50 mile podium (from left to right): Myself, Mike, Ian, Dean.

09/10 - 09/16

Race week! Here's the breakdown:

Monday (Sept. 10): off.
Tuesday (Sept. 11): 8 miles, :57, 7:10/mile, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail to the Turville Point trails. Relaxed miles. Felt good.
Wednesday (Sept. 12): 6 miles, :41, 6:50/mile, Cap City Trail to Monona Bay loop. A bit up tempo today with 4 x 30sec pick-ups.
Thursday (Sept. 13): off.
Friday (Sept. 14): 5 miles, :38, 7:30/mile, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail. Easy miles and feeling rested.
Saturday (Sept. 15): The North Face Endurance Challenge - Madison 50 mile, Kettle Moraine State Park, WI, 3rd place, 6:20:57, 7:38/mile. See my Race Report: TNF Madison 50 mile for more.
Sunday (Sept. 16): off. I'm feeling much less sore than I had expected. Should be back on the trails by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Weekly Totals: 69 miles, 8hrs:40. A strong race performance and a great deal gained in experience during the race. Back to training in a few days.


09/03 - 09/09

Monday (Sept. 3): off. Taking it easy.
Tuesday (Sept. 4): PM 9.5, 1hr:08, 7:10/mile, out-and-back on Cap City trail to Turville Point trails, Madison, WI. I'm starting to feel more rested. Nothing special here, just some easy miles.
Wednesday (Sept. 5): AM 8.5, :59, 6:55/mile, out-and-back on Cap City Trail, Madison, WI.
Thursday (Sept. 6): off. Two hours of sand volleyball!
Friday (Sept. 7): AM ~11 miles, 1hr:30, 8:15/mile, loops around the Arb with Hank, Madison, WI. Some easy miles and good conversation with Hank starting at 5:30am.
Saturday (Sept. 8): AM 10 miles, 2 x 1 mile @ 5:21, 5:24, 2mins rest between miles, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO. I did an easy three and a half miles with my sister and then ran over to Forest Park for the repeats. I was breathing a bit heavy after the second mile but the pace felt pretty smooth throughout. I needed a little speed today for a mental boost.
Sunday (Sept. 9): PM ~10 miles, 1hr:08, 6:45/mile, 8 x 30sec pick-ups, Wydown Rd. to Forest Park Loop to Hoover Ave, St. Louis, MO. My legs are feeling good and my body is starting to feel rested.

Weekly Totals: ~49 miles, ~6 hours. Last week my legs were a bit heavy and I felt generally fatigued. This week my legs were feeling much looser and I felt more rested. More rest and some mental preparation should have me in great condition for TNF-Madison.


08/27 - 09/02

It's time to take it easy. TNF is three weeks away and I want to be rested for this one. Here goes:

Monday (Aug. 27): PM 1hr:25, 11-12 miles, out-and-back on Schultz Creek Trail to the Arizona Trail, Flagstaff, AZ. I felt surprisingly good, and the pace was surprisingly brisk, after two hard weeks.
Tuesday (Aug. 28): AM 16 x 200m @ 35 - 38 secs, 110m jog in between, ~7 miles, Flagstaff High School track. Very smooth 200s followed by a day of kayaking on the Verde River!
Wednesday (Aug. 29): PM 1hr:20, ~10 miles, out-and-back on Rocky Ridge Trail to Old Oldham Trail, Flagstaff, AZ. A final run in Flagstaff before the 1,400 mile trek back to the Midwest. A pleasant ending to an altogether spectacular month.
Thursday (Aug. 30): off.
Friday (Aug. 31): off. Very tried from travel and little sleep.
Saturday (Sept. 1): off. 12 hours of sleep over a three night period due to travel, visiting with family and friends. Yikes! I'll need lots of sleep the next two weeks.
Sunday (Sept. 2): AM 17 miles, 1hr:54, 6:45/mile, Wydown Rd. to two times Forest Park loop and back down Wydown Rd, St. Louis, MO. I certainly was feeling tired the last 10km or so but I maintained a brisk pace throughout. The air is so breathable near sea level!

Weekly Totals: 5hrs:45, roughly 45 to 46 miles. Although the mileage and time training was considerably less this week, I still felt fatigued from the travel and socializing. I'll run between 45 and 50 miles next week and, will plenty or rest, should really start to feel ready for the race.

August Totals: ~61hrs:30, ~400 miles. Quite a month!