Where to start on one of my favorite races, now that I’ve run it three years in a row? Round and round we go, until we stop or the clock strikes 24.
After Bryce I had planned to take a break from “structured training,” but then I had my 1st ever DNF, and I was ready to come back stronger than ever. And while I didn’t quite train like Rocky in Rocky II (I wanted to!), I put in some solid mileage (at least for me). (That 11 mile week was just crazy busy but I did get in a lot of walking and a little riding — that’s the XT bit.)
So, what would Hinson 2016 bring? I so wanted to find the form I had in 2015, when I ran 83 miles in 15 hour 45 minutes. The only reason I stopped then was because I had Pinhoti 100 six weeks later, and thought any more mileage at Hinson would start to jeopardize my ability to run well in Alabama. I’ve struggled with that decision since then — I think it was the right call — but it was so difficult to stop when I was running so well — sub 20 hour hundred in site, possible 115 at Hinson, 2nd place… So I’ve thought about Hinson a lot since then. Going in this year, I just wanted to keep moving for 24 hours. And of course I had mileage goals (105+), but my biggest goal was to finish — meaning make it to the banana lap still moving, without haven taken a long nap.
This year Kelly and I decided to keep the kids with us. They weren’t excited by the prospect at first, but in the end, I think they enjoyed it. We drove down after Reece’s XC practice Friday evening, so we got there a bit late, which meant we had the tent farthest out from the start. The good thing about that is that it was much more quiet Friday evening. The bad thing was how far we had to walk in the gear, and the walk to the bathrooms and start in the morning. Post race we had a dolly to help move things, so that wasn’t too bad, though unpacking after running all day is never fun.
After we set up camp, we headed out to the same place we ate last year downtown – Pattan’s downtown grill. I saw this picture of Hinson snowed over on the wall at the restaurant, and took a photo as we all needed cold thoughts with the predicted heat for race day (90F with heat index of 100+):
We got to bed at a decent time and it was nice to be a bit further away from the noise of the busier camp area — I didn’t even need ear plugs! I still didn’t sleep great, waking several times, but that’s about what is expected if you are not at home in your own bed.
At 6:30 a.m. or so, we got out of bed, I made coffee, and we made the trek to the bathrooms and back. Then it was time to get dressed and walk back over to the start.
Last year, I ran the 1st two loops with Kelly, and that helped me from going out too fast. So this year, I planned to run one with her, and then just use PE to keep it easy (no HRM). After the 1st loop, easy seemed to be about 10:00/mile including stops at the aid station or our tent for water, etc., so I settled in there for a couple hours. As the heat increased, I dialed that back to 10:30, and eventually even to 11:00’s, as I was worried how much the toll of running in that heat would take. It still felt easy, but I was worried it wouldn’t for long and that a drop in performance could be sudden.
My strategy to deal with the heat was to put ice in a buff and put that under my hat. That worked well for a while, but I also started to douse myself with water from the aid station cups, and eventually I started carrying a small hand held of water that I could squirt on my head or on my face. I also started putting ice in a towel, wrapping that up, and putting that around my neck. Those strategies were working well until somewhere around mile 42 or 43, when I felt this heavy cloud of heat around my head that would just not go away. I backed off to a walk for several minutes each on the next couple of loops, and used more ice, and eventually felt the cloud of heat dissipate.
It was somewhere around here that I recognized Leigh Ann from Umstead, who had really pushed Jason there for the overall win in the 100 miler. She jumped in for a loop with me and that helped a lot — I got back to a decent pace and it was nice to have someone to talk to. She’d run another loop with me later, and about half of a 3rd after midnight when she found Ron on the side of the bridge and stopped to help him.
I had a resurgence for a few miles, but then the pace began to slow again. I walked a bit, and after a while finally felt that I was getting back into a groove and picking things up, when the wheels fell off the bus — all of a sudden my feet were shot. I had a huge blister and could put almost no pressure on the left foot, and overall the feet felt hot, swollen, and painful. But it was mostly the blister that was unbearable. I had to call it at 83 miles around 2 a.m. Definitely not the same form as last year when I had the exact same mileage more than 2 hours earlier! But the conditions were so different.
Here’s what the feet looked like in the morning. Besides the big blister on the ball of foot, my feet had several other smaller blisters but also a terrible rash. I’ve gotten the rash before after long events, but this time the feet were very very swollen:
Here’s Strava’s race analysis:
Pretty steady until mile 30 or so, a pick up after the “heat wave episode” around mile 45, then a decrease from 60 on as I began to fatigue, and finally a huge drop when the feet were gone.
In hindsight, the strategy to keep cool in the heat using ice and water over my head worked great for the heat, but the water in the shoes was too much for the feet. Last year in the constant rain at Hinson, I had no blistering. And the grit didn’t bother me. This year the grit seemed worse, and it was drier! Also, I’ve been using a Saucony Kinvara 7 and Nike Terra Kiger, both with 4mm drops, to alleviate some achilles soreness, but neither has the large toe box I like. I started in the Kinvara but switched fairly early (10 or 12 miles) to an Altra One^2, as I could feel the narrow toe box rubbing my toes. I used the Altra’s for a while, then switched to the Nike’s, and those felt tight. I used those for a while before switching to Hoka’s. Nothing felt good!
In the past I’ve never gone through so many shoes, and I could feel the different shoe structures bothering me a bit… My arches definitely noticed the changes, and the feet in general noticed the constrictions of the smaller toe boxes. If I could do it again I probably would just run in the 0 drop Altra Superior 2.0 from the start, which I didn’t even bring to the race, and only switch to the Hoka’s after 50 miles or so.
I should call out that Kelly got in her 50k, all on sore heels, and then she and Riley headed out to a 60th birthday party about 40 minutes away, before returning. Reece-man was an awesome handler — he ran 5 or 6 loops with me throughout the day and one at night, but also always had ice ready to put in my bandana, water or tea to drink, and even made me an iced coffee a couple of times! Now he wants to come back as a registered runner next year, so I’ll be flying solo in terms of crew! 🙂
Here are the splits and other data made possible from the electric timing:
|Lap||Lap splits||Total time||distance||lap pace||overall pace (min/mile)|
I probably shouldn’t compare 2015 to 2016, since the conditions were drastically different, but spreadsheets make it so easy! This does show how much more consistent for a longer period of time I was in 2015… The negative difference shows I went faster in 2016, but a solid 3 minutes of that was from running just one loop with Kelly to start instead of two. I still increased the difference for a short amount of time, but not for long — once the heat started kicking in…
|Lap||Distance||Total time||Total Time||difference|
I don’t think I’ve ever, in any race from 2-3 day adventure races, to 100 miles ultras, to Rogaine’s, or even the MR340 when we paddled for 38 hours — I’ve never said “I’m never doing that again.” But about midnight Sunday when I started falling a part, I really started questioning the whole ultra thing. I seem to have found a sweet spot this year in the 50k – 50 mile range, or even up to 12 hour events. But beyond that I’ve struggled. Yet by Sunday evening the thought of going back to Hinson or signing up for another 100 didn’t seem like such a terrible thing.
I am going to take a break from “structured training,” though, I think that is necessary. I look forward to getting out on the mtn bike, hiking, strength work, etc. And even a little running. But not with the aim of building up to a race. At least not until Uhwarrie 2017 comes around the corner… 🙂