Monday, March 30, 2015

Clinton Lake Race Report: Pacing Perfection!

This past weekend was the Clinton Lake 30-Mile Trail Run. One of my all-time favorite races...yeah, I founded the race, but it's more than that...this is a local gathering of all my ultra friends. Great volunteers and superb aid stations. It's a special race.

As noted in my last two blog posts, my goal was to utilize Clinton Lake as an extra long, but easy-paced, run in preparation for the Illinois Marathon on April 25. My predicted finish time was 7:59:59 (race cut-off was 8:00). I finished in 8:00:02. Yes, that counts as an official finish (there were still three runners after me that also counted). How many people can run 30 miles on muddy, hilly trails and predict their finish within 3 seconds? Pacing perfection!

In addition to the predcited finish time, I had several related goals:
  • Remain uninjured. Yes indeed, crushed this goal. I cruised through the race and only fell once. No injuries. Only two days later and I'm feeling good. A little tired, but OK. No nagging aches and pains. No blisters. No nothing. 
  • Enjoy the trail with friends. Done! I loved going easy and not worying about a finish time. I hung in the back of the pack, often in last place, and also lingered at the aid stations chatting with friends...and even sampling a little home-brewed beer. One surprise was the lonliness at the far back of the pack...I was often running completely alone. Eventually, on the third 10-mile loop, people started coming back to me...and the fastest racers passed me on my second loop (as they were finishing their 3rd and final loop). The fast people didn't talk.
  • Get in a long run. Accomplished!  I was afraid I might drop out after 10 or 20 miles. Nope, kept at it until the end and managed a nice 30 mile long run. I could feel those mitochondria multiplying in my muscles. I was building extra endurance with every step beyond 20 miles. Let's see if this will carry over to the marathon in 4 weeks. My heart rate averaged 120 for the whole race (that's a 50% HRR). Definitely a fat-burning extravaganza.
  • Finish in last place. Nope. But I was close! I was 88th out of 91 finishers. About 30 DNFs (a few were actually DNS). No matter how slow you run, there's almost always someone even slower. Dang. 
In addition to these stated goals, I also wanted to test out my fueling strategy--basically taking one gel every 5 miles. It worked. No stomach issues and I never had a spike or drop in energy all day. Hope it works during the marathon where I'll be running much harder and faster. I'll test out some gels on faster paced medium-long runs.

So, I completed Clinton Lake in an almost perfectly paced finish. Ultra/marathon #98 is done. Illinois Marathon will be #99. Then Howl at the Moon 8-Hour ultra in August for #100. I'm looking forward to both.

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