Thursday, April 7, 2011

Regular Man Tries to Finish 50 Mile Race

This weekend is the Potawatomi 50 & 100 mile trail race in Pekin, IL.  It's a great event that I've run several times in the past and volunteered at a couple of times too.  The race is on a hilly, muddy 10-mile loop course at McNaughton Park (the previous race name was "McNaughton Park Trail Race").  Normally, 50 miles wouldn't bother me, but this year has not been good for my running.  One long run (28 miles) on January 29...nothing over 12 miles since that date.  Mostly 5 mile runs.  My calf seems healed, but I'm a little anxious to push too hard.  I predict I'll be fine for 20 miles, then it'll fall apart.  You can follow the carnage on Twitter by searching for, or following me, @chrism42k

I've also put a widget on this blog (top right) to capture my most recent tweets.  The course is out in the woods with lots of small hills and ravines so cell signal is hit and miss. I'll text my tweets and they should go through, but I'm not sure how well I'll be able to follow your tweets of encouragement.  Still, feel free to follow and reply!  It'll be a cool archive of my run.  I remember my first 100 miler at Rocky Raccoon in Texas.  I had an MP3 player with a voice recorder.  I recorded 30 second thoughts every 10-20 miles on the course.  It was enlightening to listen to those after the race.  I went downhill hard after 60 miles.  Barely survived the last 20-mile loop.  Hope the twitter log will be interesting too.

"Regular man tries to finish 50 mile race"--yep, that's me. Normally not a headline grabber, but this won't be easy.  The weather will be in the 80s and the course will be sloppy with rain coming today and tomorrow.  Thunderstorms are possible on race day.  The 100 milers will have even more rain on Sunday...I should be done with 50 miles by Saturday evening.  Race starts promptly at 6am the dark. I won't be running barefoot, and I'll likely shelve the Vibram FiveFingers too, but I will be in minimalist shoes.  Probably the NB Minimus Trail, NB 790s, and Mizuno Wave Universe 3.  I'll have my Inov-8 Flyrocs in my trunk just in case it's super muddy and I'm slipping up and down the hills.  Might even toss in my trekking poles for extra traction and stability on the steeper and muddier sections of the course. Lots of friends have been telling me this is no big deal:

"You've run plenty of ultras, you'll do fine."
"You're in good shape, this will be easy."
"Your body remembers how to run ultras, it's in your bones."
"It's only 50 miles. What's the problem?"
"Haven't you done the 100 miler on this same course?"
Hmmm...I hope they are right.  We'll see.

What is my "racing" plan?  Here's a, walk, repeat.  More details here:

BEFORE RACE = Sit in car tweeting that it is dark and already warm.  Is that rain?  How can I finish this thing?  I'm tired and the race hasn't even begun.

Loop 1 (0-10 miles) = Tag along with one of the 100 milers. Hold back, keep it easy. Enjoy the companionship of other runners. Enjoy the views, tweet good thoughts.

Loop 2 (10-20 miles) = Warmed up and feeling good?  Keep consuming calories and water. Take salt pills. Temperatures will be increasing. Don't pick up the pace, but pick up the effort to maintain a steady pace. Tweet abut my fatigue and doubts of finishing this whole thing.

Loop 3 (20-30 miles) = Pick up Jeff Riddle at Heaven's Gate aid station at mile 26 (marathon!) and go easy with him.  I'll be getting tired, but Jeff will keep me going slow for 10 miles. Tweet about how darn slow Jeff is even though he is fresh and I'm tired!

Loop 4 (30-40 miles) = First part will still be with Jeff until we reach Heaven's Gate aid station again around mile 36. Whole group of buffalo friends with me on the 1-mile HG mini-loop.  During the 5K section, miles 37-40, I tweet about how great it'll be to get on that last darn loop #5.

Loop 5 (40-50 miles) = Rock this race course!  Kick it up a notch, let the adrenaline flow, and rip out some serious miles.  Of course, fast miles at this point will be in the 10-minute per mile range.  It's going to be hot by this time, hope for some light rain to wipe the sweat off my face and keep me cool.  Tweet between the rain drops and pray that I don't get injured.  Thank the running gods that I am not in the 100 mile race.

FINISH LINE = Hug anyone around.  Say hi to my ultra friends.  Cheer on the 100 milers that are still going for another 50 miles and 12+ hours. Thank the volunteers. Call wife. Tweet like a madman. Find Jeff and drive home.  Hit the local Burger King and grab fries, veggie burger, and chocolate shake.  Go to sleep.  Hopefully Jeff is driving.


Suza said...

It sounds like it'll be a good race!
I hope all goes as predicted and you'll be an un-injured proud finisher :)

Chris said...

Come Saturday night, I'll take uninjured and finisher in the same sentence. Thanks.

jeff said...

I been practicing running 10 minute miles...ran 3 of them this past week on 2 different days...
darn right I'm slow and proud of it..hoping to someday be able to run WITH you instead of you running WITH me.

Chris said...

We can all dream Mr. Riddle.

GTI said...

You can make it, Chris. Your body DOES know how to do it. I eeked out a 50K two weeks ago in the same condition. The hardest thing is just checking your ego at the start line and accepting a slower, easier pace. But you can do it! Wish I could make it down there this year to cheer you on and help you out with a loop, but I'll be checking in on your tweets. Have fun!