I'd rather talk about my upcoming race than last week's boring miles, but here's a little insight into week 11:
Week 11 Mini-recap
40 miles and zero trails.
Back to back weekend runs of 16 and 12 miles.
Good, strong runs overall.
Vermont 50K Preview
I originally intended to run the Vermont 50 miler as my first 50 mile race. I have admitted before that I have a love affair with the mountains of Vermont. Though I've snowboarded down many Vermont trails, I had never actually run on them before. Thus, I thought taking a shot at the Vermont 50 miler would be a great chance for me to do that.
Trail snowboarding in the Vermont mountains
However, after deep consideration and realizing I would not have enough time to train over the summer for a 50 miler, I dropped down to the 50k. I stand by this decision and I'm glad I used common sense. As it stands, I've barely put in the miles necessary for a 50k, but I know I'll be able to finish based on my previous race training and experience.
So here is my strategy for race day this Sunday, based on what worked and what didn't work during my first 50k:
1) Walk the uphills
Some trail runners are strong enough to run all the uphills during long races. I am not one of them. Sure, I can do this during a 10k with no problem. However, when it comes to 30+ miles on trails, I know better than to use up my energy running up hills instead of power hiking them. In the long run (no pun intended), hiking actually saves me time and energy, because I won't crash and burn towards the end of the race. I know for a fact I'll be hiking/walking a lot at the 50 miler in November, so I think it will be good practice to get on hiking bandwagon now.
2) Experiment with fueling
Experimenting is the name of the game for this race. At this point, I know that my body likes real, solid foods over energy gels during ultras. It looks like the aid stations will be very well stocked, and I'm looking forward to trying out whatever my stomach wants at the moment.
The best fuel for me so far has been boiled potatoes and salt, which is a nice treat on race day. (Let's be honest, I'm not boiling potatoes up every weekend for my long runs.) The next best thing is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, washed down with gatorade or flat coke. Besides relying on aid station foods, I'm also bringing my trusty Honey Stinger waffles and energy chews, which have served me well during my long training runs. The mix of sweet and savory fuels throughout the 31 miles should keep my stomach satisfied and my legs energized.
One thing I failed miserably at during my last 50k was hydrating. I never bothered checking my hydration bladder during the race, and though I supplemented with liquids from the aid stations, I still managed to run out of water about a mile from the finish line. This time, I am planning to drink when I'm thirsty, and will definitely check my hydration pack level at the midpoint of the race. I will likely fill it at that point to be sure I do not run out of water again. The weather forecast is calling for a high of 74 degrees on race day, which is still a bit warm for running, so I expect to be drinking a lot of water and Gatorade.
4) Go out slow
I am planning to run around a 12 minute mile pace or slower for this race. Sounds very slow compared to my marathon PR pace of 9:30, but I am a considerably slower runner on the trails, and there is significant elevation gain in this race (approximately 5,000 feet of total gain). Additionally, I am still treating this race as a long training run, and I don't want to trash my legs for weeks afterwards, knowing that I still have training to do for the 50 miler.
5) Have fun and enjoy the scenery
This point should probably be number 1. The whole reason I signed up for this 50k was to enjoy running in the mountains of Vermont during the fall. I thought about skipping it all together thanks to crushing self-doubt a few months ago, but when I thought about missing a weekend trip of running in the mountains, I put in the training and those doubts began to fall away. I also look forward to meeting people and chatting during the run, which I always seem to do, and hopefully will wind up with a few running partners along the way.
Finally, I am beyond excited to race in my Oiselle singlet for the first time! Follow me on Twitter (@TrailsCocktails) and Instagram (@dvmurtha) for race updates and pics.
If I'm lucky, hopefully I'll find a few of these rare Vermont brews this weekend....