I managed to run more miles this June than any previous June. Another PR, but one with as much to do with the calendar as with any special extra effort on my part (5 vs. 4 weekends for long runs).
Weekly mileage totals for June were:
My weekly mileage fluctuated a bit, but that was mostly due to all the races I ran: a 50K, a half, a 50 miler, and a marathon. I'd tried to keep my 3-week average hovering around 50 and took things a little easy leading up to a race and in the days following a race (which were generally also the days leading up to a race!).
Total elevation for the month: 45,458 ft. That's just a couple of hundred feet shy of my monthly record (set in July of last year).
All in all, a very solid month of training. Probably in the top 3 of all time, I think.
I'm actually looking forward to only having one race to plan for in July: Leadville's Silver Rush 50. This year will be the third time I've run it. I have to be honest and say that I really want to set a PR for it. I feel like I've got a ~10 hour run in me on that course and a positive 50-mile experience would be a great confidence boost heading into the 100 in August. Towards that end I may take it a little easier on my runs this week and next-- not in terms of mileage necessarily, but in terms of elevation gain. I really focused on my power hike leading up to the SJS50, but now I think it's time to return to long, steady miles. Of course, you can't really run 20 miles around Leadville without getting 4,000 ft of elevation gain, but I'll try to minimize what I can. My calves need a bit of a rest, I think.
Even though I'm focused on setting a PR on what should be just a training run for the 100, I truly believe that if I just concentrate on proper hydration/nutrition during the race everything else will take care of itself. I've never been able to run the Silver Rush without a serious blow up in the final miles. If I can survive Iowa Gulch in the heat of the afternoon, I'll easily set a substantial PR. (Unsurprisingly, I feel that this same, simple strategy will get me to the finish line faster in the 100-- my true focus race.)
After a few recovery runs last week, I decided I was in good enough shape to run the Leadville marathon on Saturday. This year, the marathon always had a question mark next to it since it was only one week after the SJS50. (Last year there were two weeks between the two races.) I think because I was moving so slowly at Lake City, my legs didn't get quite as battered as I expected. I was also frustrated with my performance-- specifically the fact that it seemed almost all due to stomach mismanagement on my part. I needed some redemption. So, on Friday afternoon I walked up to the Lifetime office and signed up.
And... the race was awesome! I'm so glad I ran it. It's just a great hometown event-- I saw folks I knew at almost every aid station (all locals). Everyone was friendly and chatty and full of energy. It was a really uplifting experience and reminded me why I enjoy racing so much.
I felt surprisingly good throughout the race. Most importantly my nutrition was totally solid. I don't think I've ever felt that consistently good during a 6 hour race before. After breaking down my SJS50 performance, I felt like the most likely explanation was simple dehydration. Get behind on fluids and everything becomes harder. So, my mission during the marathon had nothing to do with time: it was to eat a solid breakfast, pre-hydrate, drink 120+ oz of fluid during the race, and eat 1,800+ calories. (That's ~20 oz/hour of water and ~300 calories/hour of food.)
Early in the week I had replaced the nozzle on my hydration pack with a more easy-flowing one. It made a big difference. I was gulping down Clip2 throughout the race. That seemed to keep my stomach at a happy baseline and then it was just a matter of pausing every 30-40 minutes or so and slurping down a gel, or eating a Honey Stinger waffle, or even a PB&J sandwich. I was packing away the calories. I was in a minute or two of my PR splits for the first 16 or so miles of the race, but then I had the most ridiculous aid station resupply experience of my racing career at the bottom of Mosquito at the Resurrection aid station. It was comical. I was fighting to re-fill my hydration bladder and spilling water, with the other hand I was trying to dig the packets of Clip2 out of my pack, I forgot to add Nuun (extra electrolytes) to mixture, when I finally got it full and sealed, my tube was clogged with Clip2, as I shook the pack in frustration gels flew everywhere, etc. I was smirking and shaking my head in disbelief as I finally ran off. I must have lost 5 minutes and looked like a complete idiot.
During the grind up to the Venir aid station, I could feel my calves complaining. They were done. No more uphill legs for me. My downhill legs (i.e., my quads) felt great the entire race, but I had nothing left in my calves. It was honestly a strange feeling to be totally on top of nutrition so late in a race and to be completely limited by leg strength. I don't think that's ever happened to me before. In the past, my stomach has always been the major factor in any significant late race slowdown. But this time I just had nothing left for the final uphills. I bombed the last downhill section into town and finished in 5:53. The second fastest time I've ever run this race and just 5 minutes slower than my PR last year. I ran the 63rd fastest final split (which is all downhill) even though I finished in 195th place.
I was psyched. I ran great on Saturday and I really couldn't have asked for a better race. It was so refreshing and confidence-restoring to run a race where my nutrition wasn't an issue. Man, it's all about staying on top of hydration! Everything flows from that. I saw three other racers who I recognized from the SJS50 the week before. I gave each a hearty hello and chatted with all of them. What makes folks run a 50 miler one weekend and then a marathon the next? All of us were training for a bigger race later in the season (Leadville, Wasatch, and UTMB).
For the record here's what I ate:
- A solid pre-race breakfast of coffee, a fruit smoothie (OJ, yogurt, a little protein powder, Udo's Oil, a banana, frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and mango), and a boiled potato (with some olive oil, Parmesan, and salt). Drank about 16 oz of water before the start.
- 1 gel at the starting line (100)
- 4 oz of gel during the race (360)
- 2 Honey Stinger waffles (320)
- 2 PB&J quarters (200)
- 6 oz of Coke (70)
- 6 packets of Clip2 (900)
- 150 oz of water
- 2 S!-Caps and 1 Nuun tablet
Total: 1950 calories
It was so great to be out there on the course, enjoying the race, and grinding out the miles on tired legs, a smile on my face.
On a final note, I should add that July will bring much more than just another 50-mile race. Our second child, a little boy, is due on July 25th! Now that's something to truly celebrate! July is going to be awesome. And I hope to make the little guy proud when I toe the line at the 100 come August.