Monday, December 30, 2013

Huff 50k Recap-A Monster New PR

2013 I will have to say has been one heck of a year for me.  I started off training for my first 100 mile ultra which I finished in April at the Indiana Trail 100.  I went on to run a total of 8 full marathons/ultra's this year and several half marathons.  Crushed my PR's in several races, ran back to back marathons, qualified for Boston for the first time not once, but twice in 2 weeks, and now have an over 2 year running streak that dates back to November 23, 2011 where I have run at least 1 mile, outside, everyday for over 2 years.  All that leading up to my final race of the year.  The Huff 50k was the final race on my race schedule for 2013 and I was really looking forward to ending 2013 with a bang.  I ran this race last year in 2012 and I was very impressed with how well organized it was.  It is definitely a race worth doing and the race directors do a fantastic job of putting this race on.  It is one I will come back to every year.  In 2012 I finished in 5 hours and 33 minutes.  I was pretty happy with that time then but ever since the Indiana Trail 100 and the crazy course conditions with waist high water crossings, the mud pit and the freezing temps that was handed to us on that day I was seeking some sort of redemption on that course.  The Huff 50k race was going to be the redemption I was looking for.  My goal in this race was to break 5 hours which would be a 33 minute improvement for me.  I thought it was definitely do able considering the improvement I had made over this year.  The temperature was 50 degrees the day before in Greencastle, IN. and it had been dry all week so I was looking for pretty favorable conditions for this race.

I had taken a pretty light running schedule the week leading up but did my normal 10 miles on Sunday, 1 mile Monday, 6 miles Tuesday, 5k Wednesday and then 1 mile each day on Thursday and Friday leading up to the race on Saturday.  The week leading up to the race I had a combination between beef and noodles and pasta and the day before I had some more pasta for lunch and then a Subway Club from Subway which is what I do before leading up to any race.  My wife and I headed up on Friday night with the kids and stayed the night at my father in laws house who only lives about 20 minutes away from the course.  The plan was for me to race on Saturday and then have Christmas dinner with her family that night.  I got a not so good night sleep because let's face it.  I can never sleep very good the night before a race.  The morning of I had my normal 2 nutri grain bars and about 20 oz of Gatorade for breakfast.  We drive to Chain O' Lakes State Park and arrive around 6:45 am.  There is always great parking space here and the start is relatively close to the parking which makes it nice.  Upon entering the park I notice some snow along the road.  Where did that come from?  I really wasn't expecting that but who cares.  It just makes it that much more fun.  I pick up my packet without a problem.  They offer race day pickup and also offer packet pick up the night before with a pasta dinner option.

Amanda(Too Tall) Fritz and I after the race
Before the race I got to see a couple friends of mine.  Adella who paced me during my first 100 miler and got me through the night during that race, Amanda from TooTallFritz.com and Toni.  Melissa has know Adella and Amanda since High School and I met them a few years back after I got into running. Amanda was doing her first ultra here and was using this as training for the Dopey Challenge she will be running that the beginning of January.  Toni is just as crazy an ultra runner as me.  Melissa and I met her last year at the Huff and have become good friends with her as well.

Pretty good temperatures for the start of the race.  Lower 30's so it was time to race.  I had decided in this race as I have in my past couple marathons to just take Cliff Shot Mocha Gel and water.  It has worked amazingly well for me in the past few.  I would carry them on me and get water at the aid stations provided upon the course.  The plan was to take one about 30 minutes into the race and then about every 35-40 minutes after that depending on how I felt.  The aid stations were spread out pretty well and there were 4 along the course.  I would have to do 2 loops of approximately 15.5 miles to complete the race. 

Toni and I after the race
First mile in and I'm just trying to work my way around some of the other runners and get my pace
established but end up with an 8:27 that first mile. The next few miles I get established and have a 7:58, 8:12, 7:59.  Running strong and feeling pretty good but wondering in the back of my mind if I am going out too fast.  My current pace would have me finishing right around 4 hours which would destroy my PR by 1 1/2 hours.  I think to myself, I'm feeling good, just roll with it and see what happens.  I take a Gel at the first aid station in which most are stocked quite nicely with all the essential foods you would expect to see at an ultra like chips, cookies, PB & J, fig newtons, water, Gatorade, M&M's, Coke.  Yep, I run so I can eat!!  :)  I decide not to walk any of the hills in the first loop and just attack them.  Like I said before, I was looking to tear this course up because of the conditions we were dealt with at the Indiana Trail 100 but that's Ultra Running.  You don't make excuses.  You go with what you are dealt with, smile, have fun and go for it!!  Running really strong the first loop and halfway done with the race I'm at 2 hours and 2 minutes (7:50 pace).  I'm feeling good and strong and in the back of my mind I'm thinking maybe under 4 hours if I just pick it up a little bit?  Well reality finally kicks in about 4 miles into the 2nd loop and about 11 miles left to go.  I'm starting to tire from the blistering pace I took off at from the first half of the race.  The hills are are starting to wear on me and I am paying for it now.  My pace starts to slow but I am still not walking any of the hills yet.  The course is still in pretty good shape, a little snow and ice here and there and a little mud plus one little water crossing you had to get around which I got wet on my first loop around but nothing terrible.  I keep running but the legs are now starting to feel like lead and it was all I could do to move them.  With about 5 miles left I decided to walk the hills to conserve
energy.  It worked pretty well.  At the final aid station I drank some Coke.  That is always my reward for finishing a marathon or ultra.  My last mile was a 8:55 pace and I finished strong with a smile.  Overall time was 4:34:14 (8:50 pace) which crushed my previous 50k PR by 59 minutes. I placed 30th overall and 4th in my age group.

This race gave me a little bit of redemption on that course and still has me thinking in the back of my mind of running the Indiana Trail 100 again this year because in the back of my mind I really want to run a sub 24 hour 100 miler and know I could do it with the right conditions.

One key race for me in 2014 is the One America 500 Festival Mini Marathon (Indy Mini Half Marathon) where my goal is a sub 1:30 half marathon and top 500 finish. The other key race for me is the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November which my goal is a sub 3 hour marathon (3:09 this past year there)  The IT100 is the week before the Indy Mini so if I do the 100 miler again this year it gives me no time to recover before that race.  I did it this year and still ran a 1:33:45 at Indy Mini after the 100 but I want to give myself the biggest opportunity to do well at that race.  For now I am satisfied and we will see what 2014 brings.  Maybe another 100 miler?  Maybe a 100 mile run with my good friend Leigh Ann from Get Fit with La?  You just never know.

I couldn't do this without out the tremendous support I get from my awesome wife and my family.  Thank you all for all your support.  You Rock!!

Mike