Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wildcat 50k Race Recap

Going in this last weekend (ok, 2 weekends ago...yeah, it's taken me that long to get this finished) I kept thinking of Wildcat 50k as just a run and not really a race because my goal was to just finish the miles.  It's a great run, put on by a great person for a great cause, not to mention being surround by some really great people all day.  This was going to be my third year in running this course.  If you want to read my previous race reports you can do so 2012 and 2011.  Even though it's outdated, my slideshow is worth reposting to give you an idea of the trail that I ran on.

You can also see a bunch of pictures from the race director HERE or just check out the event facebook page:  Wildcat 50k for lots of other info on the race.  I tend to stress the type of course that this event is run on because it's not easy & very challenging.  I'm fairly certain that I could run a flat course in a much faster time.  However between my lack of training on trails (a gravel country road is about as trail-ish as I ever get) and trails with this type of elevation and incline, not to mention stairs thrown in there mid course, it really impacts my performance.  On one hand it's nice to challenge myself and change things up, even if for 1 or 2 races a year.

So going into this race time was not a goal or issue.  Mostly because I just wanted to run and also because I can't expect a good finishing time (at least not compared to my best known paces which are often completed on flat courses).  Run & have fun...I can do that.  The weather was absolutely wonderful that day.  It did start out chilly.  I was prepared with plenty of keep me warm layers.  In fact, even though I knew I'd warm up once I got running I had a hard time taking off those extra layers in the beginning.  In a effort to embrace comfort and not take myself too seriously I left the layers on to start with even though after 3ish miles I had the first one taken off.  As the weather warmed that morning so did I & I eventually ended in a tank top & my capri/skirt bottom.  Wonderful November weather!

Prior to the race I had told several people that I was hoping to complete the whole distance which includes 5 laps of the course.  I was actually pretty skeptical if I would run it all simply because my legs tend to have funky days and just don't cooperate like they should.  So should this be a funky leg day I knew that not finishing was going to be ok.  I'm all for pushing myself, but at some point I do stop & say ENOUGH.  However race day ended up NOT being one of the days and as I completed my loops my legs felt really good & strong.

I think having run my previous 2 - 20 milers had really helped my legs to prepare for this 50k.  Thankfully, unlike those long runs the weeks before, my legs held up the entire time.  Previously at about 15-18 miles my legs started to really give me problems & hurt.  While I certainly began to have some aches & pains they were more indicative of having run 20+ miles and yet the pain was never so bad that I wanted to stop or not finish or even walk.  I would think in all normalcy what I felt was completely expected.

When I came back from each loop I made a note of what time the clock said.  Here is what I had written down:

Loop 1:  1:09:30
Loop 2:  2:17:17 (1:07:49)
Loop 3:  3:26:50 (1:09:33)
Loop 4:  4:40      (1:14:10)
Loop 5:   5:52:50 (1:12:50)

The above times are not only reflective of my running time, but also the time I took a break in between each loop.  Kind of like my transition times.  I also made mental, yet vague notes of how long I had taken a break in between each loop.  Each break was a little longer than the previous.  At first, just grabbing some hydration, then hydration plus fuel.  The next loop I know my break was several minutes longer due to the needing all the previous stuff, plus to get some drugs Ibuprofen into my body.  I was seriously like a drug addict rummaging through my stuff trying to get my next fix.  Not a pretty sight.  But I was also trying to avoid coming to a complete stand still and loose the momentum I was flying high on.  While I desperately searched for my drugs it was suggested that I just stop if I needed said drugs so bad.  Uh, heck, no....that is just stupid talk.  Finally getting my fix I headed back out.  Normal aches & pains, yes, but not bad enough to stop me from finishing.  Mentally I was doing very, very well.

So to drag this post out even more analyze my times listed above I must say I'm very pleased.  No, I realize those are not blazing fast paces.  You do have to realize that this is a very challenging course.  Nobody runs their fastest times at Wild Cat Den.  Nobody.  What I'm even more pleased with is the fairly consistent pace that I kept.  In past races my times & my paces tended to slow waaaay down.  Almost to more of a shuffle.  However on this day I felt I had a good solid pace the whole day.  I did at times have to really slow down or walk, but only during times of a steep incline.   I do remember on my last loop though I was heading up a hill.  Another group of runners joked as I pass "make room for the real runner".  I actually hate when people label me like that so I tried to counter with "hey, we're all runners, just going at different speeds!"  They laughed then said "yes, but look at you tear up that hill" and that is when I realized that on my last loop going up a pretty steep incline I was still holding a fairly good & consistent pace.  There is a 5ish minute difference between my fastest & slowest loop.  But that could also be reflective of my transition time.  I know in the end your finish time is your finish time.  It doesn't matter if you were taking a break or running.  But when it comes to analyzing your pace it does make a difference.  My mental vague notes told me that my shortest break was 1 minute, my longest was 4 minutes.  That right there can make up the difference between my fastest & longest loop.

Ok, enough analyzing.  You can tell I don't get to talk running too much because here I just run my mouth non stop, even if you just don't care.  It's my blog, right.  Anyway, I know when I started my last loop I was super motivated to just get it done.  The faster I finish, the faster I can stop and take a break for good!  This was probably my shortest  break as I grabbed some fuel and hydration and consumed it on the go.  (I'm telling you I can eat & drink just about anything on the go!) 

I forgot to look at the clock when I headed out, but remember what the time said when I came in (4:40).  While I couldn't recall my Wildcat time from last year, I knew my 50k PR is 6:09.  Doing some quick math I knew if I ran this last lap in less than 1:29 that I'd have a new PR.  More motivation to not slow down and stay consistently on pace.  The thing about me & my pace is that I tend to run solely based on feel.  I run with the Nike+ GPS on my phone, but once it's on it's in my belt & I don't look at my stats.  The tricky thing about doing this on longer runs is that my sense of pace can be funky.  Sometimes I feel like my pace hasn't changed at all, but in fact it has.  While it's greatly improved, it's not perfected.  Mentally (a lot of it does seem to be this) I worked to stay focused, on task and keep moving at a good & manageable pace.  It was tempting to check my phone there toward the end to see if I needed to push myself harder, but I resisted.  I came out of the loop and when I saw the clock I let out a big whoop & hollered, adding in some leaping and jumping, taking note of my finished time: 5:52:50. 

I was on the verge of tears because I was so proud of myself.  Ok, a new PR is freaking awesome, but I pushed myself and kept focused and had such a great run.  Every bad run I've had recently (which is a lot mind you, for a lot of different reasons), every day that I have to work SO. HARD. to continue my streak, every mile I've had to push myself to keep working at my 2013 goal, it all paid off right then and there.  Such an awesome feeling!!

Ok, I know.....shut me up.  Let me share some pictures from that day.
The crowd that showed up to run.  Doesn't matter if they ran 1 loop or all 5 (actually there was a handful of people who ran 50 miles that day!) they are all one great group of runners!!

 Just getting started

 I was saying "I'm eating trail mix on the trail"!

 Apparently I like to show off my tough muscles.

A very special to Larry Sandhass for putting together one of the best 50ks in our area.  Special thanks as well  to Larry,  Mark Stegmaier Photography & Phil Pancrazio for taking pictures through out the day & posting them free of charge for our enjoyment.  Everything about this race is top notch and wonderful !  I could write a whole other post about the many other details & happenings of this day, but I'll spare you.  If you ever get the chance, come on out & run the Wildcat 50k!

1 comment:

  1. Great job - you totally rocked that run!!!
    I'm amazed at how consistent your loop times are!