As you might know, I’m currently training for my first 100 mile trail run in a few months (read training phase 1 recap here, training phase 2 recap here, and my time at Health & Fitness Week with my coach). I still need to write my Phase 3 recap – hopefully I can do that soon as this was a big phase and there’s a lot to report! Anyhow, as a part of my training, this past weekend I had a 50 mile beach ultra (my first real beach race and beach ultra) with Trail Racing Over Texas (TROT), the same company hosting the 100 miler that I signed up for. It was my second 50 miler, and my third time to run this distance or beyond (I ran my first 100km earlier this year). Considering what a disaster my first 50m was, I was out for redemption and hoping for a PR and no ER! But this one wouldn’t be without challenge. About two weeks before my race, I suffered a serious back spasm that took me out for about a week. I couldn’t run or lift at all. It was pretty brutal. In fact, even three weeks out, I’m still not completely back to normal. I only got in 26 miles the week before the 50, but I was just glad to be able to run again. Additionally, my ankle sprain from June was acting up and I was nervous how it was going to hold up along with my back over 50 miles. And just to top it off, I had some piercings in my ear become pretty infected the week prior, and I unknowingly treated them with an antiseptic that contained an ingredient that I am highly allergic too and my left ear swelled up to about 150% of it’s normal size, and stuck out like a Mickey Mouse ear. We are talking THROBBING PAIN. I ended up on antibiotics, and I could feel the affect the infection and everything had on my body. I was just feeling a bit tired and worn down. Not exactly how I wanted to roll up for a a 50 mile race with weather projected to be hot and sunny.
Race day came and I was ready though. It was a 10 mile out and back done twice, and then a 5 mile out and back done once, with aid stations at miles 5 and 10. I really loved this set up – it was so easy to do the math and calculate food and water. I had all of my gear carefully planned out and staged where I’d need it. I did the same with my food, delivering, fresh cold fruit in little coolers to the 5 and 10 mile aid stations before the start of the 7am race and I also had a cooler in my truck at the start/finish area.
Long story short, I went out WAY too fast. I really struggle with finding my pace in ultras. 95% of all runs I do, I get faster and faster as I warm up and I negative split EVERYTHING. I almost always have gas left in the tank, which while nice, isn’t what I want. I want to have given it my all and not left anything on the table and had more energy that I didn’t use. Earlier this year I did a 50km in the Arizona desert and I went out way too fast and burned out and that was an awful experience. So I struggle to find that fine line of giving it all I have without burning out. Sadly, I repeated Arizona and went out too fast. I’m sure the back injury factored in here as I wasn’t completely healed. And my body had been fighting infection too, so who knows how it would have gone had I been 100%. Maybe I could have held onto my pace at least a while longer, I’m not sure. The weather was pretty hot – 88-90 degrees and it was pretty much full sun there all day long reflecting off the water. We were lucky that the wind was blowing steady the whole race – it really did help cool us off. However, it was a double-edged sword as it deceived you into realizing how much the sun was actually taking out of you. I knew it was going to be hot, and I had planned on implementing my heat strategies early on as that was a lesson learned in my 100km earlier this year, but the wind tricked me and although I did start them earlier, I don’t think it was early enough or enough strategies early enough. Combating the heat to me is just like pain medications after surgery – you have to stay ahead of it or you’ll never catch up. Anyhow, my burn out began around mile 25, so exactly the half way point. I started a walk/run pattern here and pretty much did that for the entire second half of the race. I was able to pick up a pacer – my friend AJ – after the first 30 miles. Thank goodness for pacers!! It is so nice to have a friend to talk to and help “carry” you mentally. I was hurting pretty badly and it was SO good to have him with me, encouraging me.
Overall I averaged 12:19/miles with the walking, stops to refill my hydration vest, potty breaks, and food, so I was happy with that. I took 3 hours and 15 minutes off my previous 50 miler (13:31-ish) and ran it in 10:16:13. This was fast enough to earn me the first place female and 5th overall!
So what did I eat? The day before I did a half gallon of fresh squeezed raw OJ (hydrate and carb up), and several pounds of fresh watermelon (same theory there). This really isn’t all that different than how I normally eat (fruit), but I focused on hydrating fruits and minimal ingredients for easier digestion. For the race, I had my food already prepped from home, in tiny ziplock baggies of 100 calories. Basically, with the aid stations every 5 miles, my plan of 100 calories per hour turned into 100 calories per 5 miles or per aid station. If I felt extra hungry, I grabbed extra. I ended up eating 9×100 calorie bags of oranges, 3x4oz bags of celery (54 calories), and 2×100 calorie bags of grapes. So altogether that’s 1,154 calories. I didn’t do any salt and drank several gallons of water although I will note that my water intake the second half slowed as I walked some. After the race I ate a ton of oranges and drank some more OJ. I think I had a few grapes too. The day after I did the same as the day before pretty much. I started the day off with a half gallon of fresh squeezed raw OJ. Then I had 2-3 lb of grapes on the way home. Lastly I had about 5 lb of watermelon for dinner. It was perfect.
My recovery was phenomenal. The best I’ve ever had. My mom had rented us this awesome historic mansion to stay in downtown in Galveston (the first senator of Texas used to live there) and we were staying on the 4th floor. I did the stairs after the race just fine! I was blown away! Even the next morning, I did just fine going up and down the stairs to load up the car and everything. I took two days off from running, even though I felt like I could have run had I wanted to, and started back up on Tues with a nice 4 miler (and was able to hold 9:24’s quite comfortably). Since then it’s just been business as usual! I honestly can’t even tell I ran 50 miles all at once less than a week ago. It’s amazing. I credit the fruit and my training.
I’d like to give another shout-out to AJ my pacer for running with me. He’s also doing my next 50km training run with me and will be pacing me for the 100m as well. I am so appreciative for him! Also a shout-out to my mom for spending the weekend with Landri and Rex while I ran all day Saturday. They had the time of their lives and made some great memories. And of course a shout out to Giggie and Papa for helping Scott out with Ty! Thank you so much!! It really was a fun weekend. I still can’t believe how well it went and that I won! Pretty exciting! Comment below if you have questions and I’ll try my best to answer them. Anyhow, I have one more short ultra (50k) in 2 weeks before I taper down for the 100 miler! Exciting times ahead!