Thursday, September 1, 2016

Race Report: 2016 MD Heat Race 50K

Last Saturday, I headed up to Patapsco State Park for the Maryland Heat Race 50K. The race consists of two, 15.5 mile loops with almost 4,000 feet of total vert (there's also a 25K option, which is a very popular distance for this great event!). I'm really glad I got to attend again - the RD does such a good job, and the event is super fun.

Below is my quick recap of the race - feel free to comment with any feedback or questions!

Quick Stats:
Total Time: 5:00:12
Total Distance: 31 Miles
Place: 3rd Overall, 3rd AG
Gear

Before the Race
Despite it being a fun, local run that I was using for 'training', I felt the need to take it seriously. After my debacle at the JIM, I lost a lot of confidence, and have become very frustrated with how hard a time I've been having in the heat. All week I remained focused on my nutrition, sleep, and mental state. I really believed that I not only needed to do well, but that I could do well. It worked!

The First Loop
The goal was to run the first mile hard so I could get in front of the pack before most of the single track, and continue to hammer...within reason. Normally, I like to be more conservative, but with the problems I've been having in the heat this summer, I knew I had to push it while the temperature was still somewhat cool. Of course, I knew hammering the hills and descents on the first loop would have consequence, but I felt it was worth it given my expectation of how the heat would slow me down. This was my plan early in the week, and I think it worked. 

After the first quarter of a mile, there were five of us in the lead, but the front guy was quickly breaking off. I heard from one of the runners that the leader was Michael Daiguean, who I had heard of before, and knew he was pretty much a lock to win. The second place runner was my buddy Dan from DC (we drove up together), who is objectively a much faster, stronger runner than me, so I also felt that he was a lock for finishing ahead of me. After that, I didn't know much about the other two guys in our pack of five, but felt good hanging with them.

Mile 24ish - Hill was steeper than it looks!
Eventually, 1st and 2nd were gone, and it was just me and my new friend Dan (different Dan), cruising along the course. I knew we were moving fast, but as much as I wanted to slow down, I kept thinking about how hot and humid it was going to be later, and kept going. Dan and I ran together for the entire first loop, making great conversation and working together. This is honestly one of my favorite things about this sport!

The Second Loop
Dan got ahead of me about two miles before the end of the first loop, which was fine by me - I just couldn't keep up! When I got to the start/finish aid station, I saw him there, we chatted, and then he headed out. I had to make a quick bathroom pit stop, and then hammered the first mile of the second loop. 

As expected, the heat killed me. I slowed WAY down. I pushed where I could, but I was just SO HOT, and so uncomfortable. Seeing more and more 25K runners helped because I had more human interaction, and they were so encouraging. But, it was still tough. I eventually caught back up to Dan, who at that point was having some cramping issues. We ran together for a while, but he eventually had to drop back because of the cramps.

Not flat, but not too crazy. A little hard to get a rhythm, though.
I did the best I could in the heat - hiking where I needed, hammering downs, and trying to stay hydrated. By mile 27, I was really ready to be done, but I did my best to block out the negative thoughts. I eventually hit the mile 28 aid station where I saw some friends from my local running club, and that was a really great morale booster! Such great people! I chugged some water and Tailwind, and then headed out (I took a hard tumble trying to cross a small mud bridge immediately after, but fortunately did not hit any rocks or roots). 

I look better than I feel
With a 5K left, I tried to stay focused, and just kept plugging away. Eventually, the finish line was in sight, I kicked as much as I could, and finished a full 68 minutes ahead of last year's time, and in 3rd place behind two amazing runners! The best part? As soon as I finished, a little girl gave me an ice towel and ice pop - it was the best! 

Dan and me after finishing - he finished 2nd in 4:48!
 Lessons Learned - The Positive
  • I LOVE the Nike Zoom Kigers. Feels so good to find a shoe that works.
  • My mindset, even during the week, is critical for executing on race day. 
  • A strategy is key in helping me be successful, despite my weaknesses. For this race, it meant a massive positive split, but without that first fast loop, I'd have finished way later!
  • Nutrition remains crucial. I did a good job with hydration and calories, despite not wanted to consume anything. 
  • Confidence is back, and I'm ready to rock Stagecoach 100 Relay (in cooler temps!)
Lessons Learned - The Negative
  • I'm still so terrible in the heat. Amazingly bad. 
  • I really need to focus on hip, core, quad, and lower back strength. Like, really. 
  • I need to climb more. And more, and more, and more. Living in a pretty flat city can't be an excuse...that's what repeats are for. 
  • More mental training.

1 comment:

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