Hill intervals are the closest thing I do to speed work. I do repeats on the steepest parts and this simulates speed work without risking injury. I try to do this workout once a week. It is the hardest and most intense workout I do. I tend to walk down the steepest slope then run up it as fast as I can. The repeats consist of approximately 100 yards of a very steep climb then a level ridge out and back to the steep part. I walk down and then run up it again.
This routine generally helps with hills and general speed work. Since I only run 3 days a week I have to combine workouts. I run a tempo on the roads and a long run on crushed gravel trails.
Brad White's race review was so much better then mine I had to post it. Brad has been there every step of the way in my odyssey with ultra trail running. He Drove me to my first one and worked the aid station. I probably would not be at the level I am now without Brad's help and support. Good job and thanks Brad.
Dizzy Fifties Race Review by Brad White
Since working the aid station at the Black Warrior 50K last year in support of Dan I wanted to run a 50K trail run. Dan mentioned the Dizzy Fifties as a good ultra to run for first timers, so I set that as a goal sometime around this past March. But in the short term I took on the challenge of the McKay Hollow trail run and hurt my Achilles in the process of training. Every since last March I’ve battled some kind of injury related to that Achilles injury. This really hampered my training for Dizzy. I had almost given up that goal but I started feeling 100% around a month and half ago and said to myself, “What the heck, let’s do it!” I know now that’s not nearly enough time to prepare for a 50K trail run.
I tried to eat and drink all the right things in preparation for the race. But I knew that would only help a little. There is no substitute for putting in the miles and I knew I was severely under trained for the upcoming race. I didn’t sleep very well and was wide awake at 3:00 AM.
Saturday, Race Day:
I left the house to pick up Dan and was extremely excited about the race. My stomach was not feeling real good but other than that I felt like I could run 31 miles. Dan and I got to the race about 1 hour to 45 minutes early, picked up our race packets and got our gear ready to go. The race director gave brief instructions on the course (none of which I paid any attention to) and off we went.
I started the race out running in my old Mizuno Cabrakan trail shoes and the single bottle race belt. During the first 2.3 mile loop I could tell right away that the belt was not going to cut it. It was simply bouncing up and down on my back, no matter how tight I got the belt. The shoes felt OK and I thought maybe I made a wise move running in my old shoes as opposed to my new, New Balance MT101 shoes.
I stayed with Dan during the first 2.3 mile loop and was intent on staying with him as long as I could. Everything felt pretty good. The pace felt good and I enjoyed talking with the other runners. After we finished up the 2.3 mile loop I discarded my jacket and headed to the north 4 mile loop. I was still running with Dan and I felt really good. I knew Dan would pull away on the hills and I was going to let him run the hills while I power walked them. But I still had him in sight as we finished up the north loop and proceeded to the south loop.
Before I started the south 5.59 mile loop I decided to get rid of the water belt and go with my hand-held bottle I had packed in my bag. I ate a Gu gel and a salt tablet and headed for the south loop. I still felt strong and was running a good pace. Dan wasn’t too far out in front of me but he was starting to pull away. During this part of the race I took a wrong turn momentarily but quickly realized my mistake and got back on course. It was also during this portion of the race I could feel a hot spot developing on my right big toe. I realized why I hated these shoes and decided when I got back to the aid station I would change into my new trail shoes. After I finished up the south loop and got to the aid station I quickly changed shoes, ate a clif bar and some pretzels. Took a couple more salt tablets and refilled my bottle and it was off to the north loop again.
Miles 11.89 – 15.89:
As I started the north loop I could feel my calves were extremely fatigued and tight. I knew this wasn’t a good sign this early in the race. I took another Gu gel and a salt tablet, hoping to ward off the inevitable onset of cramps. I still felt strong and other than the fatigue in my calves I had no pain. I felt like changing shoes was a good move and one of the factors in how good I felt. I was pretty optimistic about finishing with a respectable time. As I came into the aid station I tried to really drink a lot of water and eat some salty pretzels and a couple of banana slices. I saw Kathy Youngren and she asked me how I was feeling, I told her my calves were not doing real good and that I was fearful I may start cramping at any minute. She told me not to worry about it and that the feeling in my calves would go away. I took a lot of encouragement from her advice, considering she is a world class runner.
Miles 15.89 – 21.48:
Being rejuvenated from the words of encouragement from Kathy and the nutrition I started the south loop at a pretty good clip. I was feeling really strong, until I tripped on a root and both calves locked up. I knew then I would have to battle cramps the rest of the race. I started eating salt tablets like candy and eating Gu gels about every 30 minutes. But I knew that the cramps were from being under conditioned and it wasn’t going to matter what I did the cramps were not going away. I still managed to run the entire loop as long as I was careful how I placed my feet on the ground and I didn’t trip over another root.
Miles 21.48 – 25.48
I was completely alone on the entire north loop. This was when I started having to battle my mind. The cramps were getting worse and I found myself walking much of the loop. I could run down the hills fine but when I started up any sort of incline my calves were trying to lock up. I knew I was not going to DNF but I still wanted to finish up respectably. Other than the cramps I felt good. That last hill out of the north loop seemed endless. I was by myself and if there had been anyone around they would have thought I was crazy. I was cussing that hill like a sailor. When I got to the aid station I saw Trent Dean and Matt Hames which was very encouraging. I knew then I would finish the race. I drank as much as I could hold, refilled my bottle and headed to the easier south loop for the final time.
Miles 25.48 – 31.07
I started out running the south loop but it was in the early portion of this loop that the pain started getting bad. My hips were aching and now my quads and hamstrings were trying to cramp up on me. This was also the longest distance I had ever run in my life. Not only was the distance long but the terrain was much different than the Point Mallard trails. I was using muscles I hadn’t used since high school football. Somehow I overtook two ladies on the trail. I ran by them at a pretty good pace and wouldn’t you know it if one of the ladies started running with me. I was thinking, “Dang, I wish she would have let me pass her, now I’ve got the added pressure to keep running and hold her off.” But it wasn’t long before I caught another root hidden under the pine straw and almost did a nose dive into the woods. Both legs completely locked up and the pain was mind numbing from the cramps. The lady asked me if I was alright and I told her I was fine except for the cramps and she took off like a shot. It was from that point until the finish line that I walked and ran, but mostly walked the last mile or two. I’ve never been so happy to be finished with something in all my life. I finished in a time of 5:57:15 in 36th place.
Although the race was difficult it was also a blast. The woods were beautiful, the weather was beautiful and the company was enjoyable. I got home the night of the race and couldn’t really eat anything. I felt miserable and could barely get up to go the bathroom. My stomach was completely messed up. The weird thing is I can’t wait to run again! I’ll be much better prepared for the Black Warrior 50K and I hope to improve on my performance. I’ll take a couple of lessons away from the Dizzy Fifties; there is no substitute for trail running and don’t attempt another 50K under-prepared. Put the miles in!
I had stuck to my training plan and was able to finish, however not at the pace I wanted to run. There is no substitute for actually running technical trails. I had the distance down, but the extra energy used to run the technical parts wore me down. I will definitely do some real trail running before Black Warrior 50K.
The race re-cap.
The race consists of a series of loops south (less technical and flatter) and north (technical with more relief). The race consists of laps utilizing both loops.
My first lap I started out among friends. I felt pretty strong and ran accordingly. The south loop is easier but seems endless. At the end of this loop the trail run right by a bathroom so I made my one and only nature break.
The 2nd lap wore me down some more, but I manged a pretty good pace. The aid station was looking pretty good by now and I stopped and stayed a little longer each loop through.
By the 3rd lap my legs were on fire and some cramping started near the end of the north loop. Eric Patterson happened along near the beginning of the the north loop. The interaction helped me pass the time and motivate me through this last technical part of the race. I downed a pretzel and salty crackers to help me through the cramps. I was alone most of the south loop but managed to run a fair pace most of the way. Mentally I was able to muscle through the pain in my legs.
By the numbers: Officially I placed 23rd with a time of 5 hours 20 minutes and 30 seconds.
I have a 5K race and the Rocket City Marathon next. Before I run another trail race I will definitely run some trail practice.