Sunday, October 13, 2013

Farmdale 2013 Race Report

The race that almost wasn't. This was to be the 8th running of the Farmdale trail ultra. It's always been one of my favorite races. I've done it every year. Unfortunately, this year, the race was in jeopardy--due to the government shutdown, it had no course! Farmdale Reservoir, being Army Core of Engineers land, was closed and the race needed a new venue. The week of the race, the race director found a new site at Jubilee College State Park (in west Peoria instead of east Peoria). Formal approval was obtained, insurance received, trail course drawn up, and the race was on! We would do four 7.5 mile trail loops for the 30-mile race. Nice. I would have my chance at ultra/marathon #88. And a chance at redemption of my poor performance at Evergreen Lake 32-miler last month where I ran out of steam at 22 miles and walked much of the last 10 miles to the finish.

I woke up at 3:30am so I could eat, shower, pack running supplies, and be ready to hit the road at 4:30am. I had a 90 minute drive ahead of me and still needed a second cup of coffee somewhere before Peoria. On the way into Jubilee Park, there was rain and lightning. Things were not looking good. I felt sorry for the 50-mile racers that started at 5am. Turns out, rain was never an issue. It was extremely humid at the start, but it never rained on us. In fact, the trail was dry and hard packed. I know, I hit the ground twice!

Loop 1: Easy. I really took this loop easy and simply hung with a group maybe in the 25% top 25% of runners. Listened to runners chatting and told people about my past Farmdale races. It was fun. I felt good for the whole loop. Not sure about my exact loop split, but it was about 1:25. Refilled my bottle with Tailwind sports drink and headed out for loop 2. Optimism reigned.

Loop 2: Still easy. I tried to keep certain runners within sight (bandanna man and his bald running partner)--my goal was to simply maintain a steady pace. I had energy, no stomach issues, and my feet and legs were strong. Finished the loop with a total time of about 2:53. Still under sub-6 finish pace!

Loop 3: This loop went OK. I kept telling myself "hold on, stay strong, not too hard, not too easy." It was a combination of holding back and staying strong. Push just a little, but not too much. I kept my "nemeses" in sight--bandanna man and baldy--we had been running within a minute of each other all race. That continued on this loop. I took a hard fall around the middle of the loop. It woke me up. My only goal was finishing the loop under 4:30 so I would still have a chance at a sub-6 race time. I barely made that goal.

Loop 4: I was cautiously optimistic when starting the final loop. I left the start/finish aid station at 4:29 and felt I could push to a sub-6:00 finish. I had been running sub-1:30 loops all day and while tired entering this final loop, I figured I would be able to leverage my sub-6 goal for extra motivation when needed. I was wrong. The first 2-3 miles went well as I pushed hard to maintain a reasonable pace. But things turned nasty quickly. I could barely walk the last hills into the 3.5 mile aid station. I walked out of the aid station knowing my day was done. It was difficult to even walk fast. I slogged up and down the twisting course back to the same aid station (only about 1/2 mile from the finish line). I finally started to run that last stretch--mostly to keep two runners behind me at bay. Finished in 6:23 (16th overall out of 61 starters). I did beat bandanna man and baldy, but that wasn't my goal entering this race. It was a good training run, but a terrible race performance. When the race started, I thought a sub-6 would be easy. Nope. The only positive to walking so much at the end of an ultra is that you recover quickly. I feel fine as I write this post the morning after the race.

What went wrong (again)? I definitely bonked. I needed more calories. I was also dehydrated. So, eat more and drink more next time. Also, I need to keep my training consistent every week. Between Evergreen Lake and Farmdale, I had 3 good weeks and one poor week. I need 4 good weeks between Farmdale and my next race--McNotAgain 30 miler on November 9. With cooler weather, my training should go well. If we have nice race-day weather at McNotAgain, I may just finish the year with a good race. Hope springs eternal!

Congratulations to fellow Buffalo ultra runners Rob, Melissa, and Letitia. They ran well and took home extra awards--in addition to the regular finisher rocks! Well done. Hey, at least I now have 8 Farmdale rocks. Looking forward to #9 next year.


David said...

I'm impressed they were able to throw together a new course on such short notice. It sounds like you had 2/3 of a good race - I bet those last 10 miles felt longer than any of your 20 mile training runs! But you hung in and didn't cave to the temptation to drop. Kudos.

I managed to have a satisfying first 80% of a race this weekend (33 miler), but was dogged by a hamstring cramp for the last 7 miles. That one muscle has been my nemesis for years. Perhaps this is the year I actually start stretching. Nahh... I don't know if I could put up with all the "I told you so" comments from my wife :)

Chris Ⓥ said...


No stretching for me either!

I was very impressed that the RD found an alternative race site in close proximity to the original race course (~15 minutes away). This new course was harder! More hills.

Even though this past race didn't go as planned, I'm already looking forward to my next ultra--Nov 9 in Pekin, IL (McNotAgain 30 miler).

Hope your hamstring behaves.

ed said...

Glad you got your race in, though I knew you'd figure out a FA or something if a new location wasn't worked out.

You shouldn't have too much trouble with yet another sub-6 at McNotAgain!

Chris Ⓥ said...

Thanks Ed. I'll be trying for that sub-6 at McNotAgain.