Feeling Good: 50k Long Haul Race Report (1-13-2018)

Feeling Good: 50k Long Haul Race Report (1-13-2018)

Background:

I had 5 great years of racing from 2012-2016, but I felt like last year was atrocious. I had a couple of fun races and even a couple of small wins, but had what felt like epic fails on the races that meant the most to me. I had horrible problems last year for the first 5 months of 2017 with anemia. I got sick at the 24 hour World Championship (WC) and didn’t perform even close to how I expected. I took a quick turn after the WC to run Ultravasan even though I knew it was a bad idea and my coach advised against it. I wasn’t recovered and some small foot pain turned into a peroneal tendon tear and stress reaction, ending in a boot and 8 weeks of NO running. Post boot was followed by an uber slow build up to make sure I didn’t re-aggravate my stress reaction. I finally started “running” again in mid to late-October, but  it was initially running 5 or 10 minutes at a time with a higher percentage of walking. Needless to say, mentally, I was a mess. I hadn’t had many positive “running experiences”, so my mind wandered into the depths of suckiness. I thought “I am getting older…maybe I am washed up. What if I can’t get back to where I was?” I was finally back to training, but hadn’t tested my fitness and hadn’t pushed my speed at all. I was basically just base building. I think my fastest long run was 7:59 pace on roads for 27 miles which felt like a push. I needed a goal.

I decided to register for Jackpot 100 miler in February since it is the first USATF 100 mile road championship. Plus, it is an excuse to go somewhere warm for a weekend in the winter. In preparing for Jackpot, I needed some long runs. My husband, MIke and I had planned to fly his Piper Archer (single engine airplane) to the Bahamas in January for a week vacation. I looked at races in Florida (enroute to the Bahamas) the weekend before and after the week we would be in the Bahamas. After searching Ultrasignup, there was one race that fit the criteria: Long Haul 50k in Land ‘O Lakes, FL on 1/13/18. I like to do races for “training” at times, especially when traveling. It’s a great way to figure out where to run long in an unfamiliar place. Plus, it would be nice to run in warm weather instead of snow and ice in Indiana.

Long Haul 50k was a fun, little race with a 100 mile, 100k, and newly added 50k.  The 100 mile course is a 20 mile circuit, repeated 5 times on ~7 total miles of trail. The circuit can be broken down into 3 sections, starting with the start <-> aid station 2, a (small road for ~.75 miles, then ~1.25 miles on single-ish track with some roots, some sand, and a creek covered with a plywood bridge).

16178884_1212943518782796_8894012973127754222_oAfter 2 miles is aid station 2 (AS2). AS2 is thee hub for all crew, as runners come back through AS2 after each leg. The second section is out and back on basically grassy jeep-type tails with some swampy scenery (3 miles out and 3 miles back).

img_1812The third section is a .5 mile section of road to meet up with a beautiful pine section (1 mile) before turning around (mile 10) and heading back to AS2.

15994475_1212921795451635_9033839428443427384_oRepeat section 2 again, and back “over the river and through the woods” to the start (mile 20). To finish the last 11 miles (50K), repeat the first 8 miles and down the .5 mile road to a 50k turn around, back to AS2, and over the creek trails to the finish.

img_1821Mike came out to support me as usual. He crewed me from AS2, like everyone else. I basically ran with my favorite Nathan Vest: VaporHowe 12L vest for the 3 passes up and down section 2  (https://www.nathansports.com/vaporhowe-12-race-vest). On the last pass, I asked for his iPhone to take a picture of the trail. I had to stop and take some pictures. The trail was beautiful and so different from what I usually run. It was a flat and fast course.

2018-01-13-longhaul50k-chris-thompson-pcLong Haul 50k was EXACTLY what I needed. It was a training run, but ended up being the shot of confidence that I needed to know I wasn’t washed up just yet. I was able to test my fitness and realized I was in better shape than I thought. My goal was to maintain 7:59 for 31 miles.  My watch showed 7:49 for 31.82 miles (I had 2 potty stops which may have added to my extra mileage). I ran smiling the whole race. I felt strong. I had fun. It had been soooo long since I felt good running. I was back! Maybe not entirely, but I knew I was headed in the right direction for 2018.

“It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life

For me

And I’m feeling good

I’m feeling good”

Lyrics from the Nina Simone song is exactly how I felt! I accomplished my goals, had a blast, and boosted my confidence. I am ready for a big 2018!

Thanks to all my sponsors for helping me be the best runner I can be!

Altra Running: I love their road and trail shoes! I have been blister-free since running in their shoes since joining the team in 2015! They are a company that truly cares about the sport and their athletes!

Nathan Sports: Nathan’s handhelds are so comfortable that it doesn’t feel like work to carry them and the new VaporHowe pack is so comfortable, I barely know I have it on.

Running Skirts: I have worn their athletic skirts since 2011. They have awesome pockets for carrying gels or wipes and don’t cause me to be chafed.

Drymax Socks: My favorite socks are the maximum protection trail socks. They help to keep me blister-free! I don’t have to put anything on my feet except for these socks and my feet are as pretty as can be (well, for an ultrarunner) 🙂

Hammer Nutrition: I love Hammer gels with low sugar to keep me from getting GI distress. I also use Recoverite after races and long runs.

Squirrel’s Nut Butter: This is thee only anti-chafe that truly works with ONE application. The only time I chafe is if I forget to put is somewhere.