An August ultra? hmm. On little running lately, hmm. I may not have been thinking straight but it turned out to great ChiRunning® lesson. Lots of insight into how efficient (and in ways how inefficient) I am running. Almost no recovery today except for a little overall fatigue. I feel like a could go for a run today (the day after), but I won’t … maybe tomorrow.
Here is a brief summary of the 2009 Turkey Swamp 50K Ultra on August 9, 2009:
Two bananas about two hours before the start.
About 80 degrees at the start; about 85-90 degrees later in the day. Very damp and humid after early AM rain. Overcast then partly sunny in the afternoon. I think it drizzled a few times during the AM hours. A breeze at times on some of the meadows.
The location is Turkey Swamp Park, just south of Freehold NJ. It is a Monmouth County Park; and the park system is one of the many reasons I love living here. The course route was new from last year (and 2007 when I ran it). I knew what most of the new route was like, but portions I had not run before. The 50K starts out with everyone else (10M, 25K, 20M events), then makes a turn and adds a 1 mile hitch right at the start. Then you do 12 laps of a 2.5 mile loop. During the race, there were rumblings of a long loop, anywhere from 2.65 to 2.8 miles. Which, worst case, puts us closer to 34 miles vs. 31 miles (50K). An average of all the numbers I heard was about 2.7 mi. per lap.
The loop starts on a dirt park access road, then onto a short double track, then onto single track (rooted and damp) until you get to a meadow. Just down the shaded meadow edge is the aid station about 1.25 miles from the start/finish. Then continue along the meadow edge to a short single track (very damp), then out across the meadow. Then a hitch along the meadow, back out across and up the meadow and follow it all the way around back to a single track which takes you back to the start/finish area and the other aid station. Some of the meadow paths were on a sidehill which made it difficult to stay relaxed. I used a lot of ChiRunning steep uphill technique to get me up these sidehills and a few other short uphill spots. Once you get back to the start/finish you still have not completed the full loop. There is a short single track back the park access road which brings you back around to the start of the loop. Continue from there 11 times …
Primarily go out slow(er), and then negative (finish faster). I did neither. Enjoy the event. In the end; yes, a valuable running day/lesson.
I started out too fast; my initial laps were on an 8 minute pace. I tightened up a bit by lap 6; mostly in my glutes which made it difficult to Chi-Run efficiently by simply bending the knee with the hamstring. This was caused by my inability keep my pelvis level using just the lower abdominal muscle (see below), and the glutes kicked in to help out. It was clear I needed to switch my approach to get to the finish. I ran until I caught up to a fellow JSRC ultra runner about lap 7. She was a lap behind and doing a run/walk. We did the rest of the laps together doing a run/walk and keeping each other realistic about the day/event/weather/challenge and pending success no matter what the clock said. When we ran I really focused on technique. During the walks, I especially focused on relaxing the tension out of my back/hips/legs by just letting my whole lower body swing and rotate freely from the T12/L1 point in my back.
Food on the Course:
The aid station near the start/finish had food and I also parked my car along the route near that aid station. That aid station became my mirage when I saw they had boiled red potatoes with salt for dipping. Those, combined with bananas from my cooler stashed under my car provided a quick, easily digest-able starch and sodium/potassium source. At about lap 5, I started eating a few potatoes and added a banana on lap 6 and 9.
I decided not to carry my water bottle and only drank water at the aid stations. 1-2 cups per aid station, more in the later laps. I think I would have done better carrying my bottle and taking a mouthful every 9-10 minutes.
- I need to work on efficiently Leveling the Pelvis with just the Lower Abdominal muscle. I have not been paying enough attention to this focus. It is the Key to ChiRunning longer and faster. Improving this is done via a number of exercises to help find, isolate and strengthen the Lower Abdominal muscle; and then focusing on keeping the pelvis level while running and walking. This strengthens the muscle in the motion in which it will be used; which is the best way to add ‘use-able’ endurance and strength. Interestingly (funny how these things coincide with what I need to work on myself), I just finished a presentation on the why and how of that concept:
- Another great ultra event, very well run with a lot of support.
- The course is what it is. The event is in the book with a ? and * on distance, and it comes with a lot of mental notes on going with what life hands you.
- 5:32:12 in the end. Not pretty, but the best lessons rarely are.
Blog post update, Tuesday 8/11: Run this AM at 6+ miles at about 8:30 pace; felt very comfortable, body wanted to go. I do need some rest from the heat/humidity. Will run again later this week.
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David Stretanski is a holistic health, fitness and wellness coach and Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Instructor. For more information on David, please see his About, Contact page or his website at http://www.eChiFitness.com.
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