My pacer

I’ve got a pacer!  Stephen who ran the Tamalpa 50K with me, or technically ran it way ahead of me, is going to be running with me starting mile 28.  A pacer helps keep you going, talks to you, tells you to quit whining and keep running.  I felt like my odds of finishing went up significantly when Stephen said he would pace.

At mile 44, my long time friend Chad will take over pacing duties and run with me to the end.  “I can give you 10 miles” is how Chad put it so I figured this would be right in his range.

Looking forward to running with both of these guys!

Chad and Thad running the final 50 meters with me
Me with my pacer Stephen
My pacer

Prepping for the North Face 50 mile

I went on my last run yesterday, a short and relaxed 3 mile run with the SF Run Chuggers.  I skipped the chugging part this week.  I had a strong lower body workout on Monday and ran three days this week.  I feel ready, not nearly as anxious or excited as I was for the Tamalpa 50K.  I think the experience of having run a couple of these ultras is making me a bit wiser.

Still, we’ve got some bad weather coming in, and they just announced they are rerouting parts of the course due to possible trees falling on the course.  Should be a real adventure.  I bought a waterproof running jacket this morning, the Brooks Essential II.

I went down to the North Face store in Union Square this morning to get my race shwag which included:

  • arm warmers
  • water bottle
  • tshirt

And I dropped off two drop bags filled with changes of clothes and refills of my GU gels and salt tablets and other deliciousness I’ll need throughout.  They’ll have many of these things on the course but I prefer to use what I’ve been training with when possible.

Now all that’s left is to get enough sleep and eat lots of carbs in the next 36 hours.

Picking up race number and dropping off my drop bag
Contents of my two drop bags
Prepping for the North Face 50 mile

Running with an open blister (#eww)

At mile 10 I felt a little, teeny pebble in my shoe firmly beneath by right heel.  I shook my foot while I was running but it didn’t move.  I should have stopped and taken it out but for reasons I can’t explain, I did not.  So for the next 20 miles, I ran with this and soon enough I felt the squishiness with each step as I ran on my new blister.

When I (finally) finished, I removed my shoes and saw this massive 3 inch long blister from my heel to the start of my arch, and the whole foot wide.  It looked kinda funny.  The blister had popped on the outside of the foot and so I had a half inch wide skin opening that was ridiculously tender.  The shower after stung.

Band Aid Blister Cushions to the rescue!  These things are pretty sweet.  They’re designed to  cover open blisters, they cushion the blister so it isn’t painful to walk on, and they stay in place for days even with showers.

I’m going on a run tonight and we’ll see how this bad boy holds up.  More to come…

UPDATE: I went for a 4 mile run last night and didn’t feel the blister at all.  These things work awesome.  It is peeling off now after a couple of showers and the run so time for a new one.

And I got to do the run with none other than Scott Jurek, who was hosting a fun run and book signing.  Awesome!

Me and Scott Jurek

Advanced Healing Blister Cushions

Running with an open blister (#eww)

Now, I’m glad it sucked

I’m glad Sunday’s 50k sucked.  I was tired and under prepared and grouchy for large parts of the second half of the race.  But that’s perfect.  Now that I’ve had a few days to think about it, I think it may have been just what I needed to prepare me for the North Face 50 Mile.

The mental attitude is such a key part of my running.  I experienced a wide range of very highs to very lows in the 8 hours I was running.  The lows suck.  I wanted to quit.  I wanted to sleep.  I’m now very glad I didn’t.  I learned that I can run a 50k and be moderately sore the next day but only for a couple of days.  Now it’s Wednesday and I’m almost fully recovered.

I met this guy Ken during my run that had the best attitude that I wish I could adopt during my runs.  Hell, during my life!  We had over 12 miles to go with most of it uphill.  I said something about how I wish this race was over, and he responded with “Oh it’s almost over.  Once we get down to the bottom of this hill, the only way back is to finish the race!”  Technically hitching a ride and driving up Highway 1 would have been another way but I got his point.

The 50 Miler is going to be killer.  I know it.  I’m going to have some low moments, low periods, low long stretches.  But I’ve surprised myself with how I can bounce back from those moments, how my mood can shift from grumpy old man to fuck yeah let’s run this bitch.  Nutrition plays a big part.  Hydration, all that stuff.

My friend Stephen who will be pacing me during the 50 Miler told me this, in response to my telling him about my long 8 hour finish time: “You are finishing these races, not DNFing (‘did not finish’).  Be proud of that.”

Yup.  I had a hard race, hit some low spots but still finished.  Hell yeah.  Bring on the 50 miler!

Now, I’m glad it sucked

My second 50K

There is something to be said about mentally preparing for a race vs preparing for a training run.  As I have a 50 Mile race in early December, my training schedule called for a 50K ‘training run’.  It’s funny that two months ago running the 50K was THE race.  And the difference in the two race days couldn’t have been bigger.

I felt great during the first 20 km but soon after that I just started feeling sluggish.  I was tired.  I wanted to just curl up next to a tree and sleep.  I hadn’t gotten much sleep during the past week and it was catching up to me big time.  It didn’t help that the race was basically two loops which makes the mental aspect even more challenging.  Finish it once and oh by the way, go out and run the same course again.  Not fun.

It wasn’t all bad though.  The weather was ridiculously nice especially for November.  Sunny and blue skies, albeit a bit cold for large portions of the race as we were under the cover of big trees above.

My goal for this run was to see where my body and nutrition began breaking down over longer mileage and I’d say I achieved that.  I was very diligent with my salt, my protein and my gels.  Nutrition was spot on, it was just my body was so fatigued.  Note to self, get plenty of rest before the 50 miler.

My left knee and in particular my left IT band has been sore to painful this past month so yesterday I made sure to take it easy on the downhills.  While the knee did tighten up and sometimes threatened to break down into full pain mode, it held up very well.  This morning I noticed it was extending out to the left quite a bit.  Not the prettiest site but at least it doesn’t hurt much.

The worst injury and probably the biggest lesson of the day was around mile 10 I felt a little pebble under my right heel.  Not wanting to lose time because…absolutely no idea why I was worried about time but anyway, so not wanting to lose time I didn’t take the 2 minutes to remove my shoe and the rock.  I could feel the blister with each step and when I was finished and finally removed my shoe, I had a nice solid blister from the middle of my foot to the heel!  It hurts a bit this morning but it’s temporary.

In general I feel in better shape than I did after my first 50k.  I finished in 7:55, a full day in the office without the lunch break.  Not the funnest race I’ve ever done by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel like there were lots of valuable lessons from the day.  Now to recover and then start preparing for the 50 miler.  Only 20 days to go!

Oh and I also learned my watch lasts 8 hours before the low battery light comes on.  Need to figure out that situation before the next race too.

Here are the details from the race

My second 50K