Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No Training = Poor Racing

Who would have thought that a lack of training would lead to poor racing?  I entered the Farmdale 30 mile race with exactly zero miles run over the last 15 days.  I had been suffering from a bad cold for the last 2 weeks and figured running would just delay my recovery...or turn the cold into something worse.  My cold seemed to finally get better on Thursday, so I figured a short 30-mile trail run on Saturday morning might be possible.  With a dearth of training, but a well-rested body, and a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes (my new TrekSport model), I drove to East Peoria and waited to start the "race"--it would be more of a training run than a race.

Pre-race socializing was great.  I caught up with Mike and Adam, the co-race directors.  We chatted about course changes, the IL Grand Slam, and upcoming races.  I stumbled across many old running friends and grand slam runners. I saw Juli and Val Aistars--the only married couple ever in contention to complete the Slam.  My wife made them a piece of stained glass to reward their perseverance as a couple...I'm happy to report that they both finished Farmdale and the full Grand Slam.

It was cool, but not cold, as I stood at the starting line waiting for the 10 milers to head down the trail (they started 10 minutes before the 30 milers--the 50 milers had already been on the course for 3 hours!).  I was happy to be wearing just a pair of shorts and a short sleeved running shirt...and my Vibram TrekSports with toe socks! I figured I would do one loop with the five finger shoes...then see how I felt.  I had other minimalist shoes in my car trunk so I could swap shoes after each 10-mile loop if needed.  As we started the race around 8:05am, it was sunny and the coolness was already giving way to warmth.  I was sweating by the time I reached the first mile.  It was going to be a long day in the sun and heat.

My first 10-mile loop went rather well. The RDs changed the course again this year--it was hillier than usual.  And there was more single-track in the forest and less wide-open meadow areas.  My pace was slow, but that's what I wanted.  The minimalist nature of the FiveFinger shoes had me focusing closely on each foot plant.  I took it nice and easy as I surveyed every undulation in the trail.  I didn't want to stumble over a rock or trip on a root.  My running stride was short and quick.  I could feel all the rocks and debris on the trail, but it wasn't painful, just "in tune" with nature.  The TrekSports have a little more protection than the other Vibrams, but not a lot.  You are still well-grounded and mindful of the terrain.  As I like to say, you run "in nature" rather than "through nature" when wearing Vibrams.  You feel like you are really part of the whole scene...not just running through it.  I finished the first 10 miles in a time of 1:53.

After the first loop, I was already feeling a bit sore---not sure if it was the minimalist Vibrams or my lack of training.  I swapped the TrekSports for my Nike Frees--the original Free 5.0 that came out a loooooong time ago.  They must be around 8 years old and have hundreds of miles on them.  They were beat up, but still usable. This second loop didn't go as well as the first.  I started to not pay attention to the trail and stubbed my toes a few times.  Maybe I was just getting tired and not lifting my feet...or maybe I was just lazy now that I had more cushioning and protection from the trail.  One root caught my big toe pretty good...I was lucky not to break it or fall hard to the ground.  The adrenaline flowed and I made it through loop 2 with an accumulated time of 4:01.  Twenty miles down and not feeling too bad.  A little thirsty, a little hot, and starting to get tired...but not too bad.

Again, I swapped shoes.  The Nike Frees gave way to my New Balance 790s.  They are advertised as a trail racing flat.  In reality, they have quite a bit of cushioning and protection--nothing like a "normal" trail shoe, but still much more than Vibrams.  At the start of this third loop, temperatures were already in the 80s.  I grabbed a few pretzels, an electrolyte pill, and splashed cold water on my face and back. Adam, the co-RD, said "Don't listen to those other people, you look great!"  Adam must have known something...I was about to hit the wall...hard.  I took off down the trail and passed about 7-8 people in the first mile.  I was feeling great in these new shoes!  I couldn't feel much of the trail, but hey, I was running hard and care free.  Until around mile 22...I was hot, tired, achy, thirsty, hungry, and beaten down.  I didn't have anything left.  I began my ultra slow shuffle and was resigned to walking most of the remaining 8 miles.  Fortunately, within a mile, a group of young women caught and passed me (one of them was Michele Hartwig--a very good ultra runner).  I figured, what the hell, I'll try to stay with them. I shuffled and walked as fast as I could and stuck with them for the next 5-6 miles.  When you are hurting, it really helps to have company.  Then, with about a mile to go, I kicked into high gear and "sprinted" to the finish...I was probably going at 9:00 pace...but it FELT FAST!  I passed a few runners in that last mad dash to the finish. I was happy to see that chute.  I was done.

My final time was 6:25.  One of my slowest for a 30-mile race.  The day was sunny and hot...but my slowness was mostly due to lack of training and residual "weakness" from the lingering cold virus.  I survived, but was extremely sore for 2 days.  I felt like it was my first marathon...instead of my 60th ultra.  I plan on getting back to regular running within another day or two.  I'll be ready for my next race: McNotAgain 30 miler on October 30 in Pekin, IL. It may sound trite, but training is important.  Train more, race better.  Well, at least train a LITTLE!  My new motto: " does a body good."

No comments: