Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Training and planning for Umstead 100

I’ve learned much through the process of training for a 100 mile run, and yet I have so much to learn.

First: Training and Preparation

My training has been inconsistent. I would have a great month, then either school or injury sets me back a month. Back and forth. But there are certainly a few quality long runs, and a few quality speed works. I made the best of my limited training time, every run had a specific focus. I end up averaging around 130 miles per month from December through March, probably one of the lowest among the people registered for the Umstead 100. Through my long runs and quite a few specific pacing runs on the race course, I thought I had my pace strategy dialed in. A few weeks prior to the race, I told my wife Jade and my pacers Dave, Jessie, Sherri and Crystal that I have a best case scenario timing table for the race:

Lap Starting time Lap time

1 6:00 am 2:30

2 8:30 am 2:38

3 11:08 am 2:46

4 1:54 pm 2:54

5 4:49 pm 3:03

6 7:52 pm 3:12

7 11:04 pm 3:21

8 2:26 am 3:32

This will put me at a 23 hours and 58 minutes finish. 2 minutes margin over 24 hours is a joke and I knew it, and I had told everyone as such. But I had to provide something both for myself and for my crew and pacers as a baseline.

I used my 3 lap run on the race course, and the result of Weymouth Woods 100k, to predict my slowdown factor. Both runs gave me a slowdown factor of 5.1% per lap. So based on a 2:30 lap 1 time, I came up with the above table. This pace gave a 21% slowdown between the first 50 and second 50, much lower than the average 30% that Blake Norwood reported at Umstead 100 website. However, the Weymouth result showed that even though I was the 32 among 47 100k finishers, my slowdown factor ranked me 8th in the field. So I was confident that my pacing would hold up over the race.

I kept telling myself and everyone that asks me about the race, that my primary goal is to finish the race, and if that happens, then a 24 hour finish would be lots of icing on the cake. I wanted to make sure I know what is my primary goal.

I focused on some aspects of a 100 mile race more than others. I thought pacing and nutrition was important, and speed through aid station was also important. I have read about other things such as blister management, hypothermia, crew, pacers, etc. But never really know what to do about them except that they’re important in an academic way.

Pacing and nutrition come hand in hand. There is an effort ceiling, below which I can eat pretty much anything and able to digest and keep them in. Above that ceiling, many foods don’t sit well. Too far above that ceiling, nothing stays in.

So in order to run at a decent pace and still able to eat, I had to train to run faster comfortably. I figured a 7 min pace marathoner’s eating ceiling is about 10 min pace. So in order to keep the initial lap at 12 min pace, I need to get my speed up to the point of approximately a 9 min pace marathon, or around 4 hours.

Toward end of training, I ran with the 2 hour ½ marathon pace group at Tobacco Road Marathon. It certainly wasn’t effortless, but it wasn’t hard. I figured on that particular day, I probably could go all out and run no slower than 1:50. So now I feel somewhat confident that I can hit a 4 hour marathon mark, and at 12 min mile pace during the 100’s initial laps, I can keep food in me.

There are also quite a few practice laps around the race course, with 2:30 as the ultimate target and very much trying to get the body to learn that very specific pace on the race course. It’s the home field advantage that will be my not so secret weapon. Toward the last month or two, I was consistently getting within 2 to 3 minutes of 2:30, using the strategy of walking up all the hills, and run 3:1 interval on flats and downhills. Very happy with that.

Between eating mainly PBJ, bananas, and pretzels during my training run, and eating everything in sight at Chattooga 50K, Medoc Meltdown, New River 50K, Weymouth Woods 100k, and Pilot Mountain Payback, I learned that I can handle a tremendous variety of food, and that Mt. Dew really go well with me and keeps me alert.

Hydration and electrolyte plan is using the 22oz Nathan bottle, and take one Saltstick capsule every 2 to 3 bottles, and ease off that schedule a bit if the food are really salty. I need to drink enough to urinate at least once per lap, but any more than that, I’m over drinking like I did at Weymouth where I urinated every 5 miles and was very annoyed.

Nothing else left to do, time to run.

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