Run Rabbit Run 50 Report

If you read my prior post you know that I was feeling pretty confident going into Saturday’s 50 miler.  The 3am wakeup was a bit tough but after a strong cup of coffee and breakfast I was feeling great.  I walked down to the race start and waited for a few minutes by a nice giant fire pit outside the Sheraton.

My plan going in was to walk the uphills and run the downhills and flats.  I stuck to this plan even though I was one of the last couple runners by the first switch back on the Zig Zag trail about a half mile up the initial six mile, 3,000+ vertical climb.  The uphill went great and I was pleased with my walking pace.  It sure helps to have people to chat with.

From Mount Werner to Long Lake I felt pretty good.  There was some back and forth with other runners as I bombed the downhills and continued to walk the uphills.  Long Lake to Base Camp went pretty much the same although it was around Base Camp that the first twinges from a hernia in my groin started.  The pain started getting worse as I approached Dumont.  The back story on this injury is that I have been using stretching and hip exercises to keep this hernia in place while running for over two years now. Now, in retrospect this sounds totally insane but up until last Saturday I had been able to deal with it even in races and during long runs.

Heading up to the Rabbit Ears I also started noticing how fatigued my legs were which I was not expecting at this stage of the race.  I had been staying on top of fueling so I think it was just lack of fitness.  I got back to Dumont and relaxed with my wife for twenty minutes while I chugged some sodas, ate some nuts, and swapped shoes.  I was still pretty confident as the hernia pain was going away with stretching during the out and back to the Rabbit Ears.

RRRDumont

That was all going to change on the way back to Base Camp after the above picture was taken.  I couldn’t even run the long flat along the lake as I had to take walk breaks and my running pace was barely faster than walking at this point.  Before the start of the uphill I stretched a bunch but for the first time there was no improvement in the pain.  I stopped at least three more times before getting to the Base Camp Road to stretch but there was no change in the pain.  At the road I made the decision to drop.  I know it was the best decision although I have certainly been second guessing what I could have done to go on and finish but dropping was the only choice with the pain and being pretty close to the cut-off.

While waiting for a ride back to Dumont three other runners came through and continued on.  One was a volunteer I worked with at Olympian Hall on Friday and I was pumped to see her push on with about fifteen minutes until the cut-off.

I enjoyed the experience and learned a ton for my next race but now it is time to get the hernia surgery (scheduled for next week) and be ready for ski season and in full health for next summer’s running.  The Run Rabbit Run weekend was a shit sandwich with really good bread.  Friday’s volunteering was amazing and Sunday’s Galactic show in Aspen was incredible.

I am bummed about not finishing and missing out on the Javalina Jundred but I am looking forward to not dealing with this fucking hernia anymore.

Perfect Day

This trailer for a ski film by the Nimbus crew showed up in my Facebook feed.

I was really digging the soundtrack after what an incredible day I had volunteering at the Run Rabbit Run 100.  My favorite part was watching a runner go from basically unable to walk to seconds from dropping to leaving to continue the race over the span of multiple hours.  I really hope he makes it but the balls to continue were inspiring to someone about to start their first ultra in ten and a half hours.  Volunteering at an ultra is amazing and I think I have a much better understanding why many of the top ultras have a service requirement.  I had been thinking about running the 100 next fall but after today I’m gonna do the full volunteer stint because it was just amazing.

I’m feeling really good about tomorrow’s fifty.  I’m hoping the soundtrack to the ski film will feel so in the moment tomorrow evening.

bib

This weekend has the potential to be one of the best three day spans in recent memory.  Volunteering at the 100, running the fifty, and then heading to Aspen to see Galactic at the Belly Up.

But first I gotta finish all the last minute race organizing.

I Gotta Start Backpacking

Just saw this great blog post by Andrew Skurka about his training for the Run Rabbit Run 100.  Pretty interesting training regime including loads of backpacking and hiking with a heavy pack to get loads of vertical per week.  I might have to try some of his ideas (on a smaller scale of course) after this weekend to get a mental break from just running.

It seems that it works for him with his impressive Strava pre-race training on the course.  His Spring Creek to Spring Creek run was one of the most impressive runs I’ve seen on Strava this summer.  Over 6,000 feet of vertical with the slowest mile being 11:25.

I’ll be lucky to run that fast on any mile during the Run Rabbit Run 50.  Hopefully he’ll be up with the leaders so I get a chance to see him while volunteering Friday at Olympian Hall.

More Run Rabbit Run Thoughts

In three days I should be past Base Camp on my way back to the base area.  Since I did run the entire course this summer I spent some time looking at the numbers from those runs.  I should add about ten to fifteen minutes since I begin and end above the actual start and finish lines.

Ski Area base to Dumont Aid Station – 5:14

Dumont to Rabbit Ears and back to Ski Area base – 6:13

I should be able to match the 5:14 to Dumont as I will have fresh legs.  It will be interesting to see the impact of aid stations and the extra calories and water during the entire race.  It will also be fun to see how much time is added to the 6:13 from having 22-23 miles on my legs when I start that stretch.

I would love to break twelve hours in this race as that will give me more confidence when it comes to the Javelina Jundred, but I know finishing this mountainous fifty should give me the confidence I need as long as I stay below the fifteen hour cutoff.

I also need to remember to stick to my race plans, which most importantly means that I need to power hike the first 3,000+ foot climb.  There are a couple short flat and downhill sections that I might run but I need to walk every single uphill grade regardless of how I feel.  I will need the legs for the rest of the rolling singletrack from Mount Werner to Rabbit Ears and back (besides walking the Base Camp and Rabbit Ears climbs).

Self Sabotage

It is five days until my first attempt at the ultra-distance.  My last two attempts in the spring of 2014 did not go too well.  I caught a nasty cold for a 50k training race and then I had stomach issues for the Fort Clinch 50 a month later.  I still wonder if the stomach pains were more mental as I rarely ever have digestive issues.

So everything is going pretty much to plan leading up to next Saturday’s race except for a few training runs.  A few mild pains until yesterday when a hip/groin issue popped up again.  I know how to deal with it but mentally it was not how I wanted to spend my last Sunday long-ish run.  Later in the day I was painting on our deck and subconsciously dragged my toe across the base of the sliding glass door.  The pain was immediate and blood started flowing from the small gash right at the top of the toenail.  All I could think about was how this would impact my race this Saturday.

I’m sure the small gash will heal by then and I’ll be ready as long as I don’t find a way to damage myself between now and then.  Other than fighting my own subconscious I am looking forward to this weekend.  Volunteering at the 100 mile race on Friday and then running the 50 on Saturday.

Summer in the Rear-view

Hard to believe it is already September.  Every year around this time I’m reminded of a quote that says, “Summer is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer it gets to the end the faster it goes.”

With only two and a half weeks left until Run Rabbit Run I’m gonna be a bit crazy til then.  August was a mixed month.  Ended up running more mileage and vert than ever before, started PT to successfully work on a sore Achilles, and ended the month feeling pretty exhausted (luckily feeling much better after a real mellow, flat long run last Sunday).

August stats:

39 hours
22,944 vert
184 miles

I’m excited and scared of what lies ahead.

Time to Replace the Hoka’s

The last couple downhill runs with any kind of downhill have been a little tougher than they should be.  My Hoka Challenger ATR’s have been feeling much looser, especially in the toe box area.  Cranking the laces hasn’t seemed to help the excessive rubbing and have only caused some pain on the front side of my ankle.  I kept looking at the shoes and thinking the seemed wider at the toe box than I remember.  Last week some new Hoka’s arrived so I had something to compare to a pair with 262 miles on them.

The ruler doesn’t lie.

New Hoka’s at just a smidgen over 4.5 inches.

New_Hoka

Old Hoka’s with an additional quarter inch in width.

Used_Hoka

Nice to see the ruler prove what I was feeling on the trails.

Sunday Long Run

For me, Sunday’s seem to be set aside for the weekly long run.  Yesterday was no exception as I ran the entire (+2) Run Rabbit Run 50 Miler course.  It is an out-and-back so I ran twenty seven miles and not fifty.  I started where the Dumont aid station will be located and proceeded up to the base of the Rabbit Ears on FR291 and back.  Then it was simply following the trails back home to the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

Up_To_Rabbit_Ears

I only made one tiny mistake and that was turning right at the junction to Lost Lake instead of Lake Elmo (I had Long Lake on the brain).  Luckily the lake is only around a quarter mile past the junction so I didn’t add much time.

Mount_Werner

Much easier heading back with a net-downhill but those last five and half miles straight downhill just plain hurt.  I had nothing left and could barely keep a ten minute per mile pace when I tried to push the pace.  Nothing like a run showing your deficiencies to get one motivated for the next month of training in the mountains.

After the last two weekend runs on the course I have a pretty good feel for the course and I do expect to be able to finish under the fifteen hour cutoff.  It will be nice to have aid stations and not have to rely on carrying everything.

After running out of water on my recent Mount Zirkel hike and seeing fresh water all along the trail I decided to invest in some lightweight ways to filter water on my day-hikes and trail runs.  I bought a SteriPen and a Lifestraw.  I tried both at Long Lake yesterday and was pleased with how both worked.  Will definitely be a life-saver on some upcoming hikes and runs in the Zirkels.

Strava data below:

Uphill Hiking

There have been some great articles lately about uphill and downhill running.  My favorite was the one on iRunFar.  I know I am going to be hiking the majority of the uphills at Run Rabbit Run so I have been trying to improve my skills in that regard.

One of the main routes on my Sunday long-runs this summer has been the actual Run Rabbit Run 50 race course.  It is about 3,100 vertical straight up from the house.  Most days I have been mixing in some running with the hiking.  Yesterday I walked the entire uphill before running back down.  What I really wanted to see was how much slower just hiking was compared to mixing in some running.  The question was answered after I uploaded the data and started looking back at my previous long runs.  Just power-hiking alone was ten minutes slower than mixing in some running.

Top_of_Steamboat

I’ll keep working on the uphills but I think the strategy on race day will be to walk the entire initial 3,000+ vertical and save the legs for the other forty four miles.