Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Howl at Moon Race Report: Long Runs Do Matter!

This past weekend I ran my 13th Howl at the Moon 8-Hour ultra race (and my 93rd overall ultra/marathon). Thirteen was not a lucky number for me. I botched this one. And it was all my fault. Managed to run 40.48 miles in 8 hours (actually, only 7 hours, 55 minutes). The race results show 39.98 miles--they missed one of my out and backs at the end. That was not my fault. I really did run 12 full loops (3.29 miles each) and 2 out and backs (1/2 mile each). And they were reported to my scorer correctly. They just didn't get into the final results correctly. Not my bad. I reported the discrepancy to KRR.

Running 40.48 miles in 8 hours isn't too bad, but it's not very good either. We had great weather for this event. Mostly overcast, and a high of only 80 degrees. There was some humidity in the air, but it could have been much worse. This was a potential high mileage year. Unfortunately, I wasn't ready. I should have been able to run 45+ miles. Maybe even break my personal record of 47 miles. Why did I barely break 40 miles instead of pushing close to 50?  I didn't do the long runs. They matter. Let me repeat this important fact. Long runs really do matter. If you plan on running an ultramarathon, you must get in the long runs. My last long run was 8 weeks before the race. And it was only 13 miles long. No runs longer than 8 miles in the last 8 weeks. I needed multiple 15-20 mile runs in that time period. Oh well. Considering how under-trained I was, I'm proud of my effort. Knocked off 40 miles with most training runs in the 5-7 mile range.

So what happened during the 8-hour race? I ran well for about 4 hours, then things fell apart. I started having pain in my left foot and knee. My left calf was tight. I ran out of energy. Basically, I reached my limit, based on training. Poor training will only get you so far. For me, that was around 4 hours and about 23 miles. By the time I hit 5 hours, I was walking a lot. Whenever I tried to run, pain came back and lack of energy took over. It was a slow and sad last 3 hours. Still, walking will get you a lot of miles. Keep moving and you keep accumulating miles. I wanted to stop several times. Especially when I finished 10 loops (32.9 miles). In past years, when I felt bad and walked, I recovered. Not this year. Walking did not revive me. 6 hours, still bad. 7 hours, still bad. 8 hours, done. My only sense of pride is that I didn't give up. I went for the full 8 hours. No DNF for me! Also, at least I met my "B Goal" for this race. It would have been worse if I quit.

Positive take-aways from this year's race:
  • No chaffing
  • No blisters
  • No quitting
Things to change for next year:
  • More long runs before the race
  • More calories during the event
This was not a fun race for me. I plan on being back next year for my Howl #14. I hope it goes better. It's up to me...if I train better, the race will go better. Running is simple that way.

Updated statistics on my 13 Howl at the Moon races:

Total race mileage: 551.31
Average mileage: 42.41
Lowest mileage: 33.9 (2010)
Highest mileage: 47.06 (2006, 2008)
Best placing: 12th (2005)
Worst placing: 99th (2010)


David said...

Pretty solid result if you ask me, especially considering your training. It's funny though how the way you feel at the end can sometimes trump your actual quantitative result.

You have me some advice which really helped me with getting through a 50k earlier this year while terribly undertrained. I'm back for more free (?) advice. My wife and I are doing a two person 100k relay on a 7 mile loop course. She's an experienced marathoner but has never run an ultra. Should we do one lap before switching, 2 laps, other? Also I assume I can go faster than my usual 50k pace with rests between laps, but how much? Have you ever done anything like this?

Thanks, and congrats on#93

Chris Ⓥ said...


I've never done a relay like that. I'd like to--there's a neat one in KY run on a 1-mile horse track all night. People can swap miles whenever they want. If I did that with another person, we'd probably switch every 3-4 miles. I think you and wife should swap each 7-mile section. I'd run faster than 50K race pace since you have breaks, but not 10K pace. Maybe something around half-marathon pace since you'll have a good break and it's only 7 miles each time. That's a lot of rest in between relay legs. You'll still need to hydrate and take in easily digestible fuel. Good luck!