I signed up for the Tough as Trails race series this year, to ensure a spot in the Uhwarrie 40. This would be my 6th running in the past 7 years. Add that up as well as my training and hiking out there, and I’m probably well over 500 miles running/hiking this trail. It sure is one of my favorites.
Rather than write much, here’s a quick bulleted summary:
- Friday Kelly and I drove the kids down to my mom’s, grabbed a bite at Cracker Barrel (trout, sweet potato, broccoli, hash brown casserole), and drove home. We were in bed by 9:15.
- Awoke at 3:31, about 15 minutes before the alarm went off. Got up, got dressed, got final stuff together, and were out the door at 4:15, to David’s house by 4:30, and on the road by 4:35. We could probably leave 15 minutes later since we were one of the 1st ones there, but then we may have had lines at check in, port-o-pot, etc., so I’m not apposed to leaving PBO by 4:30 in the future.
- David and I took the 2nd shuttle to the start, hung out around one of the little fires since the big fire was full, hit the port-o-pot, etc. In all, we tried to stay in warm clothes as long as possible (it was a few degrees below 30F), which we did until the last minute when I pulled off my fleece and pants and walked to the start.
- My goal was to not push too hard on the 1st big climb, which is a little over 1 mile. I thought if I was in the top 20-25, that would be good, and then I would not try to pass too soon, but instead relax and know I had 38 miles to pass as needed. Here’s the profile which shows what a tough climb that is to start:
- However, somewhere around half way up the 1st hill, there was separation, and I was by myself. One runner 25-50 meters in front, and a couple of other runners about 50-75 back. It stayed that way all the way until mile 9 or so, when I found the runner in front of me off trail and pulled him back on. We ran within 5-10 meters for a little while but he eventually pulled ahead.
- I maintained a strong pace, power hiking the hills, and running the flats and downs, as best I could. I had a goal of getting to the top of Dennis in under 11:00/mile pace, and the turn about the same. Any time I thought I was pushing too hard, I’d force myself to walk for 15-20 seconds.
- I hit the turn in 3:33 – at least 10 or 12 minutes faster than ever before. I was hoping that wasn’t too much! But I had felt pretty good and you can’t PR if you don’t take some risks. I had counted runners coming back out of the turn and figured I was in the top 10-12. Hmm, that seemed a bit too high up!
- At the turn I had a bit of an issue with my head phones. It was getting warm which meant I needed to drop my vest (as well as gloves and arm warmers), which meant I had to take off my pack. And then my head phones got tangled. There were 4 volunteers helping, and we got it sorted, and I was back out running in maybe 2:30. I had hoped for more like 60s!
- Heading back out was crowded for a while with both 20 and 40 milers coming in, but most of the time everyone is gracious and we make space for each other. There’s not always much space on the “goat trail” section, though! After a few miles it thinned out. I saw Kelly (running the 20) farther along for me than last year, less far along for her. I think she was surprised as she was running better than last year — but so was I!
- Once I passed the last 20 miler, I was pretty much on my own. I saw one 40 miler going the wrong way and I got him back on track, and that was it. I had passed two 40 milers and didn’t get passed at all on the way in.
- I do wish I had been a bit stronger the last 5-8 miles. I still ran as much of it as I could, and probably more than I ever have in the past. But I also walked a bit more than I wanted to. I ended up being about 1 minute per mile slower on the way in vs. the way out (21-22 minutes taking out the turn around time), but overall, I had a great run. Here are the top finishers, with me breaking the top 10! Woohoo! 🙂
That’s a 26 minute PR and a top 10 finish, something I didn’t ever really consider. I had privately thought, and actually hinted to David, that I thought a 7:30 might be possible. But my public goal was always to break 8, and I always said I’d consider that would be a very good day. But this was a great day.
(I’d note that of those top 13, all of them lost at least 15-20+ minutes except two, so my 21-22 minute difference was probably about average…)
So, what gives? What can I attribute such a good performance too? I’d say a few things…. I’ve been averaging more like 35-40 miles per week, not 20-25. I’ve been doing some strength work, though not nearly enough. I’ve been mountain biking (and spinning) more, which I think really helps. And I had solid runs at Pinhoti 100 (16k’ of climbing, 25 hours in tough conditions) and Hinson (83 miles in 15 hrs 45 minutes). So just a good solid base.
History of Uhwarrie results:
|2010||7:57 (short course)||30/71|
|2016||7:31:30||7/101 — 7th!! 🙂|
Here’s some Strava data — note the GPS locked and I had to reboot it. The time was still ticking, but mileage stopped increasing. I saw my pace go from sub 12 to 12:0x, to 12:2x and finally at 12:4x, I figured i out. I knew I was slowing, but not by that much!
- Nike shorts, Nike combat pro compression
- Injinji toe socks
- Altra Superior 2.0 — noticed a huge rip around mile 15, but they held up; only 200 miles on this shoe, so disappointed it ripped. This is the 4th pair of Superior’s I’ve had that have ripped, my 1st 1.0 pair made it 500+ miles, and then the 1st 2.0 made it 400+. The latest 2.0 supposedly has fixed this with a tougher upper material, so we shall see.
- Ice breaker 200 short sleeve; NF arm warmers; ice breaker gloves, icebreaker vest
- Ultimate direction AK pack
- Florida c2c buff
- Garmin Fenix 3 — locked up sometime around mile 35 and I had to reboot it.
UPDATE: Altra took care of the shoes, allowing me to buy a couple more pair at a discount to make up for the lost miles… Customer service was very quick to respond this time around.
- breakfast – gluten free oatmeal with almond butter and cocoa nibs about an hour before the start; about half – three quarters of a UCANN pack mixed in water
- 5 VFuels, 3-4 bite sized date rolls, two half cookies, 2-3 oz mtn dew, 1-2 oz coke, 1 bite of an EPIC bar (decided that wasn’t going to work at this effort level), 2-3 small white potatoes from the aid station with salt, one small handful of potato chips
- About 20 MAPs in the 1st half of the race, my 2nd bag of MAPs didn’t make it into my pack
(In the pack I carried half my food, and had a baggie at the turn around with the rest of my stuff. As I was dropping my gloves, arm warmers, and vest, and getting tangled up in my head phones, the aid station volunteers put the food from my baggie in my pack. I said put everything in except the EPIC bar, but somehow the MAPs were missed. But since these are most important the 1st half, it wasn’t that big of a deal.)
I add that up to maybe 800 calories in 7.5 hours…