Sunday, August 09, 2009

Dirty Girl Race report

Last weekend while doing my 20 mile trail run I decided to run the 6 hour dirty girl race the following weekend. I knew I was going to run that race but hadn’t decided on what distance/time to run. Because my marathon training has been doing mostly speed work, hill training and tempo runs, I didn’t see the need to do Ultra trail races. However, after talking it over with some very knowledgeable runners, I decided to do the 6 hour race.

Last year I managed to do 52.5 KM’s in 5:45 minutes but my goals for this race were to stay healthy and do a minimum of 40 KM’s. Anything above and beyond that was going to be gravy.

The course is one of my favourite in the Ontario Ultra Series. It is a 10KM loop with just enough hills to challenge but also some great stretches where I can really just run.

When I got to the race site just shortly after 7 AM I knew I had made the right decision to run. I was greeted by so many familiar faces and it felt so good to be surrounded by such amazing energy. Some of my friends were doing the 6 hour run like me while others were doing the 12 hour or 24 hour run.

I decided to run with my heart rate monitor for the first time ever in a race just to gauge where my heart rate was in the trails versus on the roads.

As the countdown started I kept telling myself to just go easy and keep checking my heart rate periodically to ensure that I wasn’t going too fast too soon.

I was disciplined enough to complete the first lap in under 1 hour (55 minutes) so the pace was good and I felt strong. I decided to listen to my music every other lap so that way it would really motivate me. Instead of my music, I just focused on running consistent and enjoying the feeling of being in the trails. I was even able to catch up to a few of my running idols and we all ran in together for the first lap.

The 2nd lap was much of the same and I finished in roughly the same time as my 1st lap. My music really helped to keep me going so I was glad that I made the decision to use it every other lap. Towards the end of the 10 KM loop there is a large hill that keeps getting longer and longer as the day goes (LOL). I decided to pop a few Alleve just before going up the hill to avoid any possible pain in my legs. This, as I soon found out, was a huge mistake. I felt nauseas almost immediately and really thought I was going to be sick. It didn’t help that my heart rate monitor, which was strapped to my chest, felt like it was restricting my breathing. I managed to fight through this feeling but when I stopped after the 2nd loop I decided to ditch the heart rate monitor for the remainder of the race.

My 3rd lap started out pretty well and though my pace slowed a little, I was still pretty happy with how I was feeling. Unfortunately about ¾ of the way through the 3rd loop I started to get cramps in my quads. They were so painful at times and it felt like my muscle was being torn away from the bone. I found it hard to stop though so I kept walking and doing some light running at the same time. The cramps would come and go so I just had to fight through it. I haven’t had this problem since I did my last “regular” marathon in 2007. So many thoughts went through my mind and it took me back to that dreadful experience. I made a conscious effort not to think about it because I know how the mind works so I kept going.

Amazingly enough, I finished the 4th lap pretty strong and had now run 40 KM’s. It was now 4:15 so I knew that even if I walked the next 10 KM I would get to 50 KM as I had 1:45 minutes to get there.

I knew that I was going to surpass my goal so I started to walk a little more and run when I felt like I wanted to. My cramps were still coming on from time to time but for the most part I was still able to run. I met up with a friend who was clearly struggling and he was going to walk the rest of the 6 hours. I made the decision to walk with him. Just then, a good friend (Jeff Cooper) passed me and that really motivated me so I decided to start running. He wasn’t running very fast but I decided to run with him and get some more advice for my marathon. At this point we both knew that we were going to reach 50 KM’s no matter how slow we ran. We actually joked that we didn’t want to run too fast because if we got to the start/finish line with too much time left we would have to go out for another loop.

The race is marked every 2.5 KM’s so if you head out for another loop after the 5 hour mark, you must reach either 2.5, 5, 7.5 or 10 KM or you would not get credit for running that distance. Not only that, but once you head out you will have to make it back to the start/finish line somehow (run/walk). Remember, this is AFTER running for 6 hours.

I picked up my pace during the latter part of that last lap and came across the finish line at 5:30. I told a friend who was watching that I was done and wasn’t going out again. Then Jeff came running through the finish line and said, “c’mon let’s go out again.” Of course my competitiveness got the better of me so I decided that I would go out and see what I could do. I managed to get to the 2.5 KM mark at 5:50 which made my total for the day 52.5 KM’s. I was really happy that I decided to run until the end and also happy that I didn’t walk the majority of that 4th loop. I also beat myself up a little because I knew that I could have pushed myself a little more during that 4th loop and that would have given me more of an opportunity to get to 55 KM’s.

In the end, though, I learned quite a bit about myself and I need to figure this cramping issue before my marathon in September.

Today I went out for a nice recovery run of 6 miles and will take tomorrow off to rest and then it’s back to my marathon training schedule.

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