I just completed my first race of the year, the Mt Diablo 50k. I was curious to see how far along I had come with my training and was using this race as a practice race to try to figure things out with nutrition, gear, pace etc.
The race for me was basically 3 parts. Miles 1-16, miles 16-25, miles 25-31. I’ll give a quick overview of each section and put my Things I Did Well and Things I Could Do Better below.
I started off a bit fast as I got caught up in the excitement and ran with Mark and Shyamal at various times who are at a faster pace than me. But I held back and let them go on and then got into a steady rhythm. One thing I wanted to work on was trying to overeat, or at least eat more than I typically do. So starting at the 30 minute mark I gobbled up some cacao date chews that were good when I bought them two months ago, but were now pretty stale. Who cares really. I ate something everything 30 minutes, usually GU gels or pbjs if I had some left from the last aid station. I drank 20 oz water mixed with Tailwind an hour. And 2 salt capsules every hour.
10 miles in I was just under 2 hours, which is great for me. I got a good second wind coming out of the 2nd aid station where a steady 3 mile climb followed. I felt good and just kept a steady uphill pace and passed a handful of runners, which felt great 🙂
The wheels started to fall of a bit here. Miles 16-19 is a steady climb to the first summit. Everyone was walking (hiking?) and I found I was gaining on people while power hiking which is something I’ve never done. Ann has me running on an incline treadmill 30-40 minutes every week and I think this really helped here. All was good until about a mile from the summit when my left quad started tightening up. I knew a cramp was on its way. I slammed a couple more salt pills, and after 15 minutes the cramp was still inevitable so I slammed another one. It helped a bit but the worst thing for a cramp is more uphill and that was what was ahead of me. Just before the summit it got so bad I had to walk sideways just to not use that muscle. I experimented walking backwards to see if that releived some of the pressure but no luck.
I pulled into the aid station and by now the sun was glaring down on us. I was treated to a spectacular sponge ice bath where an aid station volunteer poured freezing cold water on my head. I splashed cold water on my thighs and arms and felt like that helped cool my core a bit. I restocked all the vitals (GUs, salts, pbjs), thanked the volunteers and started back down the way I came up. The leg was still a bit stiff but within a half a mile it pretty much went back to normal.
But not for long. Around mile 20 was the North Peak of Mt Diablo. It was a short but precariously steep climb and return descent. I felt the cramp try to come out and play as I was climbing but luckily the climb was over before too long and it never peeked its ugly head. The descent was very tricky as it was loose rocks on a steep decline. This I’ve found is my kryptonite. I move so slow on this terrain and even with that pace I still managed to slip and land on my butt.
I thought all the climbing was done but it turns out we had one more climb, a 1 mile ascent into the 5th (of 6) aid stations. I felt good power hiking up this and once I got to the aid station I knew that it was all down hill to the finish line. I got another ice bath, drank some Coke (soooo good on a race), ate some watermelon and scooted out of there.
I was happy with my aid station efficiency. I only stayed for as long as I needed to and didn’t linger too long.
I was pretty exhausted at this point but knowing it was 6 miles or less to the finish was pretty motivating. I didn’t exactly fly down the remaining part but it was a strong steady effort. Again I got held up by a couple of steep loose rock descents (grrrrrr) which inhibited my pace. The views from up here were spectacular as we were pretty high up and had a 360 view of the entire area. That made the run that much better. And the final 2 miles was at really low elevation and we crossed our first streams of the day. With about .2 miles to go I saw one runner ahead of me and decided I would try to catch him. I barely missed catching him but I found a gear I didn’t think I had and cruised through to the finish line.
Final time 6:50. Woohoo!
Things I Did Well
* I ate frequently and was consistently over 250 calories per hour. Energy levels felt really strong throughout.
* I didn’t let myself get down at all when I got passed by another runner. I was just happy whenever I wasn’t cramping!
* I kept a steady ‘my race, my pace’ throughout the race.
Things I Could Improve
* I am not sure why I cramped and want to talk to Ann about that. I may have been dehydrated as I only had 21 oz of liquid on me and it was pretty hot out there.
* I need to work on running on a steep downhill with loose rocks. That slowed me down a lot.
* I think my quads could be stronger as that would help me power up hills quicker, maybe not cramp as easily, and finish the race quicker!
Rest! And then back to training.