Monday, June 2, 2014

North Face Endurance Challenge

I know! I’ve been a little negligent in updating my blog. So here is the latest since just before O24.

O24 in Kirtland, Ohio was a little different from the previous year, cooler temps, more runners, but for the most part the same good crowd of runners. So it was good to meet up with some old friends from the Ohio area and beyond.

We arrived on Friday around dinner time and went straight to the race site for our race packets and picked up Dave and Ben’s packets too. Then it was off to Dave’s for dinner and the Morl’s special hospitality. Great to have a place to stay when we go to the Cleveland area for races. Dinner is usually an open invitation to all who want to stop by and I’m surprised by how few do take advantage of it. My only issue was since switching to a low carb, high fat diet recently, pasta and bread really don’t work. But when in Rome…

We were up early the next morning to get ready for the nice 8am start. The race follows a 1 mile trail loop through a park with I hill in the middle. Actually its more or less uphill for the first part and downhill for the second.
I wasn’t sure what my goals were, just to go and have a decent time. Joan was coming off a recently fractured rib, so would be just happy getting in a few loops to see how it felt. For me, in the back of my mind I had to think about next week which would be the North Face Bear Mountain 50 mile race. As the day went on I started to reign in any lofty goals that I may have had. Partially being lazy, partially using as an excuse to stop early. As it was I got in 50 miles, and really didn’t feel like going any further. Although I got in another 5 miles pacing Dave later.
Joan surprisingly got in over 40 miles on the day. Her rib was sore, but she was able to run off and on and do a lot more than anyone thought. Quite a few people didn’t do what they expected to do. Our friend Sandy from Michigan was going for 100 miles, but settled with 100k. Dave managed a repeat of last year, getting in his 100 miles. The winner ran over 120 miles.

As I stated before the following weekend was a trip to Bear Mountain, NY for the TNF 50mile endurance challenge. Gary from Montreal was also coming down for it and would meet at the race hotel on Friday. This would be my first real race while on my new LCHF diet. So far I was feeling good and the food was great. Staying away from sugar was no problem, away from starches a bit more difficult. Not that I wanted the potatoes etc. it was that everywhere you go it is the main option, or fires, or chips, and bread!!!
We had made some pemmican the week before to experiment with snacking options. Although the consistency wasn’t great it tasted good. I would use it in the race to see how that would sustain me as opposed to gels. I would also bring a bag of nuts too. I had been running gel free for the past few weeks and only using nuts to sustain me with no issues at all. The LCHF theory is that after an initial time of getting used to the diet your body would then use its own fat stores to fuel itself, negating the need for carbs during endurance events. I had some special bacon/egg muffins for my pre-race breakfast too. Very tasty!
Friday night we had to drive down to White Plains, NY for the packet pick up and found a place to eat nearby, although not without some difficulty. The North Face store was in an upscale mall and we had a hard time finding our way out of it. We met up with Kent from Niagara Falls and he joined us for dinner.
The TNF race started at 5 am so it was a very early morning/ Up at 3 and on our way before 4. We travelled to the other side of the river to get on our shuttles o the start area. Unfortunately we went to the wrong place, the start area! Luckily someone was there to direct us to the shuttle bus pick up spot. It wasn’t long before we gathered at the start area milling about with others trying to stay calm. This race is advertised as the toughest on the NF circuit, lots of climbing, rocks, routes, water and after last week’s rains mud! And it didn’t disappoint in any of those. To the point that, it really hampered my race. The rocks gave me lots to worry about, due to the week ankles that I have. I made it worse by using some different shoes than I am used to. With the talk of the mud before had me questioning the use of my Hoka’s, which tend to be useless in the mud. Therefore I went bought a pair of Salomon Speed Cross 3’s. This was a very questionable move, knowing what my history with Salomon was. Years ago I owned a pair of XT Wings and they almost broke my ankle, the number of times I turned over on them. So I was very hesitant to buy Salomon shoes. My friend Scott had bought a pair of Fell Raiser shoes and raved about them. When I went looking for a pair they only had the Speed Cross, so I thought I’d take a chance. No don’t get me wrong these shoes are nice and enjoyed them on the trails at home, but they aren’t as gnarly as Bear Mountain was.
To make a long story short I had a crappy race, fell once, turned my ankle an unknown number of times (only the right one) and took it very easy on the rocky downhills. I think also the previous weeks 50 mile run took its toll. It was a tough race, very technical, lots of climbing, water and mud as advertised. Normally I would have expected to run about 10 to 11 hours for this type of race, but I finished in just under 13 hours!! I almost dropped at 40 miles. The aid station at 40 miles was beside the parking lot where my car was parked…. Oh so tempting. I had to lay down for a while before leaving that station and struggled mentally to keep going.
Scott and Gary had great races, although they were only about 45 minutes ahead of me, they were very happy.
So after that what do I do? Sign up for the next North Face Endurance Challenge event in Washington on June 7th. We Ultra runners have very poor or short memories.
Since NY, I’ve been taking it easy, maybe too easy. But I figured I needed some rest. Gary mentioned to me that running a quick half marathon and a decent 30k Around the Bay in the lead up to NY as well as the 50 miles at O24 probably had a lot to do with my lousy race than anything.
The LCHF diet is going good. I’m down to the lowest constant weight that I have been at in many years and feeling good. It’s still a work in progress, but we are working with recipes etc. Also started to see a new Chiropractor/physio/everything guy who is helping me with my ankles and especially my right side issues. Hope this will help the weakness in the right joints and make me a stronger runner.
Since originally writing this posting, I turned my ankle again last Thursday on some awesome trails that I was running with Scott. So I haven't run since an don't until the TNFEC DC race. Hopefully my ankles will cooperate.
.

2 comments:

Crystal Rhyno said...

Ha ha I always sign up for another race immediately after I survive a crap race. Good on you for pushing through.

I am running/walking/crawling my second 50K in September. I am really excited. I ran Blackfoot last year but lost my will to live at about 30K ..

KeithRunsUltras said...

Thanks Crystal. Ultras have a habit of doing that to you. The longer the distance the more times you across that losing the will to live!!!