Sunday, April 6, 2014

Clinton Lake 30 Race Report

Last weekend I ran the Clinton Lake 30-Mile Trail Race in central Illinois. It's on a hilly 10-mile loop course. Great way to start spring racing season! I know this course (and race) very well. I started the darn thing back in 2007! This is also where I try and do my serious training. Unfortunately, this winter saw me on the treadmill and roads a LOT more than trails. I wasn't ready for a trail ultramarathon. But, you do what you can! I gave it a go...and it worked out well. Better than expected finish time of 5:42. I doubted I could break 6 hours. This has given me a lot of confidence that I can run and race fairly well if I stay patient and controlled. I ran all three loops holding back and running at a moderate pace Walked all the hills too. At the 25 mile mark, I kicked it up a notch to try and catch my running partner Matt...but he was too strong. I lost him by mile 27 and really struggled those last 3 miles to the finish line. That's OK. I beat my predicted time goals, finished uninjured, and enjoyed the day. It was fun catching up with runners I hadn't seen in months. Great family reunion.

Lessons learned at this race?

Stay positive and run under control. There is always time to push harder. Let the first 10 or 20 miles warm you up and see how the body and mind is handling the day. If you still feel great, then push the pace. I'm glad I waited until 25 miles to crank it up...it would have been a miserable day if I tried to go faster at 10 or 15 miles.

Another lesson...eat and drink as needed, but don't force the fluids or food. Take electrolyte pills on a regular schedule depending on heat/humidity. I carried a water bottle with sports drink, but only drank when I was thirsty. I would fill it at each aid station and grab a little food to go. Sometimes we worry too much about nutrition during a race. Do what seems natural--eat and drink what your body craves. If I ate a little more, I might have had the energy to carry me through those last 3 miles, but I may have had stomach issues too. It's a balance.

Even if your training is less than ideal, if you can reach the starting line healthy and injury free, you are ahead of many runners. Do what you can. With inadequate training, the pressure to perform is off so you can run smooth and steady without concern for a specific pace. You might surprise yourself and actually have a good time...both "finish time" and "fun time." I thoroughly enjoyed all 30 miles...and I ended up with a respectable 30th place out of 110 starters (97 finishers). I am happy with that performance...and looking forward to more good ultra races in the future.

7 comments:

David said...


Nicely done! It's always nice to surprise yourself with a fast-than-expected time.

Ok, I'm looking for some advice with racing while undertrained, and figured you had a lot of experience with this :)

I've run a dozen races in the marathon/ultra distances so am not a complete newby, but usually hit at least 50-75 miles weeks with a minimum of 2 or 3 long runs (usually more like 4 or 5) in the 20+ mile range. I've run a handful of well-paced races, but often go out too fast, and run into cramping issues late - a sure sign of racing beyond my training level. I.e. ego > ability

This winter/spring, my mileage has been in more in the 25/35 mile range, with no long runs, save for a weekly 9 or 10 mile mountain run (1300ft to 3000ft elevation gain), but no runs longer than about 1.5 hours. A flat 50K is coming up in a month and I'm thinking about jumping in. I don't see myself getting more than one true long run in between now and then, so am trying to figure out race strategy.

I've never tried a run-walk strategy (i.e. Gallo-walking with 5 minutes running and 1 minute walking), but am wondering if this might be a better plan than trying to run steadily well below my usual LSD pace?

Or is this race simply a bad idea? Note that I know I won't PR, but thought this might be good experience for a high-altitude mountain ultra I have on my late summer schedule.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks! - Dave

Chris said...

I think it's a great time to practice using a race as a super-long training run and try new strategies. The run-walk thing is good, but I'd probably do something more like 10 minutes run, 2 minutes walk or even 20 minutes, 5 minutes.

If nothing else, you'll get in a supported long training run.

ed said...

ALRIGHT!! I knew if you set your mind to it, you'd have a good race. What prize did I win? - Ha!

I imagine you had quite a reunion -- that must've been alot of fun too.

Keep that optimism going!

Chris said...

Thanks Ed. Yes indeed, you were the closest predictor of my finish time. Thanks for the encouragement! Great to be on the upswing. Not exactly looking forward to a ROAD marathon in less than 3 weeks, but it'll be a good supported run. Nice preparation for the RUTS 10-hour race in June!

David said...

Chris - I did end up doing the walk/run thing for my 50K and finished feeling really strong in 4:56. Your 2-bits on this strategy really payed off, and it felt great to be the passer instead of the passee at the end of the race. This has given me ideas on how to run longer and more difficult races later in the season. Thanks!

Dave

David said...

Chris - I did end up doing the walk/run thing for my 50K and finished feeling really strong in 4:56. Your 2-bits on this strategy really payed off, and it felt great to be the passer instead of the passee at the end of the race. This has given me ideas on how to run longer and more difficult races later in the season. Thanks!

Chris said...

Congrats Dave! That's a GREAT finish time. Always nice to pass people in the second half of a race.