Thursday, April 18, 2013

American River 50 - 2013 Race Report

This year has been a focus of building for me.  I have taken time to make sure my body can take the beating rather than just going out an killing myself week in and week out.  The focus on recovery has had the twofold effect of maintaining happiness and speed.  My average training mile dropped by almost two minutes.  This race was a test of the training philosophy I have employed as well as overall fitness.

Before I get into it I must mention my seasoned crew.  My friend Roberto, who has crewed me on several races, literally had me in and out of the aid stations in under a minute.  Other crews actually asked if he was a concierge service because it looked like a nascar stop whenever I ran in.  He also paced for the last 10 miles which was a huge emotional help.

Headsweats Visor
Oakley Radar Glasses (yes they are white)
RaceAdapt Tech Tee
North Face Flite Series 5" shorts
Pearl Izumi Arm Coolers (white)
Newton Gravity (First ~28 miles b/c of the road)
New Balance MT110 (Granite Bay - End)
Drymax Hyperthin Mini Crew Socks
Drymax Lite Trail Run 1/4 Crew Socks
Garmin Forerunner 910 XT (forgot my HRM !!!)

Nathan Quickdraw Bottle (2013) - (REVIEW) dislike, going to try and return it
Ultimate Direction FastDraw Plus Bottle (REVIEW)
Tailwind (2 scoops (200 Cal)/ 22 oz bottle)


American River 50 2013 Race - GARMIN LINK

Random: at the start I saw a man with a unique hat (wide brim - imagine Bubba Watson's golf hat, but for running).  A hat that I am used to seeing in San Clemente, CA when I was logging most of my miles there.  I saw him jog a bit to warm up and instantly knew who it was.  I walk over and ask..."are you from San Clemente?"  He says, yeah.  I remembered him because of the hat, gait and the fact he always waves when we cross each other on the road.  He told me he is a triathlete and wanted to knock out an ultra before he got too old.  So random to recognize the one guy I run across on PCH hundreds of miles away from home.  I also met Pat M.  I have followed Pat's training for a long time via DailyMile and it was just really cool to finally meet him in person.  Pat M got really into ultra running and the running community.  He is an InknBurn representative and helps out a lot with Inside Trail Racing.  We chatted at the start and I was happy congratulate him at the end for running a WS qualifier.

Start (0.0) - Sunrise (14.61)
Sunrise (14.61) - Beals Point (26.53)

Leaving Beal's Point

The first half of the race was generally uneventful.  I ran in the Newton Gravity and was able to hold a comfortable pace for most of the road section.  I did learn a valuable lesson.  I should have been better about double checking my equipment before the race.  Forgetting my HRM at home in Los Angeles and realizing it 6 hours after leaving changed my time tested race plan.  There is no way I was doing a U-Turn to grab it.  Naturally adrenaline makes all of us move a little faster than we want at the start of a race the HRM is the only way to keep honest.  It is a newbie mistake and I paid for it late in the race.

Around mile 20 when my race plan officially unravelled.  Running based on perceived effort I knew I was moving too fast.  On top of not having the heart rate monitor to ease me; I missed a turn around mile 20 and veered off course for about 100 - 150 yards.  I realized my mistake when I heard; "hey, hey !! wrong turn maaaaannnnn." In order to regain "lost ground" I ran hard.  The adrenaline fueled charge made the next section click off, but I felt something tweak.  My right hamstring/ glut area felt a tug.  At first it was a mild strain and it did not effect my form as significantly, but as the miles wore on it just got worse.

Upon review (joined Strava 1/1/13 for better analysis) I was going to fast and the heart rate monitor would have helped tremendously so this would not happen....
Strava CR and Performance Information

Beals Point (26.53) - Granite Bay (31.67)
Granite Bay (31.67) - Rattlesnake Bar (40.94)
Rattlesnake Bar (40.94) - Finish (50.0)

The single track in the second half, which I normally love, wore on me.  I was fortunate that from Beals to Rattlesnake Bar I was latching onto solid conga lines.  This year the lines of runners were significantly longer than last year.  There was a point where I was in one 11 people deep, when asked if anyone wanted to lead there was a universal: hell no.

After Beal's I really began to feel the pain that surge at mile 20 had put on my body.  My right leg was just not giving me anything.  I began to slow down significantly and people I thought would never catch me were dropping me left and right.  I was pretty disheartened until Rattlesnake Bar when I picked up my pacer.

After picking up Berto my mood lightened.  Running with someone rather than plugging along trying to stay in contact with faster groups was good for me.  It let me ease into it and gain some confidence and energy for the final hill.

Elevation Profile of the last 10 Miles
Surprisingly I was able to actually run sections of this last hill which was really motivational for me.  I was in a really great mood.  Even though I knew I was not going to make my "goal" time, just sharing the experience with my pacer, other runners and just the mutual suffering sort of bonded all of us.

On the last hill a guy came up behind us, he looked really good considering we only had about a mile left.  I told him to get going, because I did not want him to block me and ruin my finishing picture.  He laughed and got going, thats just the type of thing that happens in ultra running.  Even in pain we cheer for each other.

Official Time: 9:13:04
50 Mile Personal Record by over 15 minutes !!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nathan Quickdraw Bottle (2013) Review

Nathan Sports (Link) has been producing some of the best endurance athlete products for years.  They were among the first to espouse the "vest" hydration systems and leading the field in getting athlete feedback regarding their products.  The Quickdraw bottle has been a favorite of many runners for years and the 2013 has some updates.

-22 oz Nathal TruFlex Bottle (BPA Free)
-Zipper 4.75" x 2.75" as gel pocket / or smart phone pocket
-Adjustable mesh hand strap
-design allows for alternative hand positioning

I ran a few times with the bottle on runs ranging from 5-8 miles and it held up fine.  For American River 50 I would be using one handheld between aid stations and rotating them, I knew that using the bottle for the race would give me a real sense of its ability and put it through its paces.
First of all the nozzle portion of the bottle is stellar.  It is easy to use, can be operated one handed and you do not run the risk of knocking your teeth out.  I like the oversize-ness of it so operation is not a delicate procedure but rather a functional one.  However, I did realize I was needing to tighten the hand strap more often.  The bottle would loosen up on the run.  The reason for this may be the reflective tape, a mix os sweat and pressure may have simply been too much; should not be but it is.

Sprint EVO 4G LTE fit nicely inside the pocket
Note the reflective tape which may be the cause of the slipping
Additionally the plastic bottle itself was smooth which felt odd with sweaty palms.  I know that it is being nit picky, but the sliding feeling was unwelcome, especially coupled with the fact the handheld loosened up meaning I had to now grip this sweaty bottle that had no grooves and was too slick for my liking.

The pocket is as advertised, "huge."  The pocket easily fit 4-5 gels (depending on brand).  However the bottom portion of the pocket, which is what will take the load of whatever you are carrying is a very thin mesh.  I understand the need for this material since the pocket needs to expand, but the location of it baffles me.  As you can see in the picture below it is not hard to imagine a gel cutting right through this thing and ruining it.  The mesh expands all around the base, so sowing it when it rips may prove to be a awkward and maybe just impossible.

thin mesh and gel dangerously close to ripping through it

Pros/ Cons
TruFlex Bottle's nozzle - delivers a ton of fluid quickly and is soft enough to use one handed, i.e. you can open it with your teeth and not worry about knocking yourself out.
Hand positioning is great, allows the thumb a place rest and allowing for a natural feel
The mesh bottom of the pocket feels cheap, and would rip quickly with too much pressure
The bottle loosens up while running, forcing you to adjust
Bottle is slippery and uncomfortable when coupled with the looseness of the handheld

I like the concept and I really wanted to like the bottle, but the cons outweigh the use.  If it were simply a slipping issue or a bottle issue I could deal.  Those problems along with the red flags of possibly tearing the mesh from the pocket (i.e. the purpose of the bottle itself) are just not worth it.  Therefore I am returning them and getting something else.