I ran the Helen Klein 50 mile race yesterday, finishing in 7:42:50, eighth overall, second in my age group. My optimistic goal was 7:30 and since the course was actually about 51 miles because of a trail detour around construction, I was pretty much right on my estimate.
It rained for most of the race but that didn't really cause any problems for me. I wore shorts and short RaceReady tights with Vaseline and then wore a garbage bag to protect my torso from getting soaked. That all worked pretty well, especially after I figured out to tuck the garbage bag inside my fanny pack in back. I also wore a Zombie Runner hat.
I made one mistake. I forgot my water bottle in the car. When I realized this at the starting line, I mentioned this to another Southern California runner - Fenton Cross. Luckily, he had stashed an extra 24 oz bottle by the start line - I guess to hydrate on the way to the start - and lent that to me. Thanks Fenton! The aid stations at Helen Klein were pretty close and it was a cool day so I think I could have done without but I was really glad that I didn't have to try.
I was most pleased with my pacing. I started easy, not wasting any energy trying to move through the pack. The trail detour started within the first mile. That resulted in a conga line and some walking. I did pass some folks eventually but without having to spend any extra energy. Anyway, we got back onto the bikepath in short order and then it became a matter of just getting in the right rhythm. I was wearing lighter shoes (Mizuno Revolver) and had a pretty light and quick turnover throughout the race. I pushed a little bit outbound but mostly just tried to stay in rhythm, eat something from each aid station (PB&J or potatoes), and not waste any time. At the turnaround, I started pushing harder but backed off to the previous pace after a couple of miles. I had a couple of little stomach problems in here too. The turnaround is pretty close to the previous aid station so I actually over ate and felt too full. I backed off the food for a bit. A little later, I noticed the fluid just sitting in my stomach so I got a good bit of salt on potatoes at the next stop and that fixed that. Starting at about 20 miles up to about 35 miles, I started catching people who were having problems of one sort or another. My own experience corroborated by race reports I've read led me to believe that if people were going to have problems, they'd probably encounter them by 35 miles. I found that to be true since I didn't pass anyone after about 35 miles and no one passed me. By the same token, I felt somewhat encouraged when I was just running like a clock at 30 and 35 miles. I thought at this point that all I needed to do from there on in was not to make any mistakes in the rest of the race - like failing to eat or pushing hard and getting worn out. That's how it worked too. This was so wierd or at least unusual for me - to feel like I was in control for once.
I had a few injuries about which I was worried. I had a slight strain of something on the inside of my left knee on Thursday before the race (not running related). I also had a start of shin splints about 2 weeks before the race. This enforced a taper since I didn't want those to ruin my race (and waste all the money). Thirdly, my left arch had been a little tight recently. I think each of those little problems cropped up briefly as little reminders in the first 5 miles and then went away for the rest of the race.
Despite being technically a road race, there was plenty of scenery and wildlife along the way. I saw deer, squirrels, wild turkeys (3 times), a pheasant, a coyote - which caught a squirrel, etc. I imagine that the weather cut down the number of other folks who were out on Saturday but we did see plenty of bicycles and other runners.
So anyway, I was very pleased with the result, especially being able to maintain a fairly even pace without much of a problem. It was the first time I had run a Norm Klein race so as a race director I was interested in seeing the organization. In fact, my wife quizzed me about the aid stations when I got home - in case we can learn something for our race. I got a clock for getting second in my age group and was worried about having that in my carry-on. Instead, they dinged me for having a bottle of orange juice inside my backpack. So I'm still getting over the post race wierdness and lack of appetite. My legs weren't too sore today. I think I may run home from work Tuesday so I think I'll recover ok.
P.S. Two more things: 1) I didn't go to the bathroom (number 1 or 2) the entire race. I imagine some people would be alarmed at this but I went right after the race (and everything was pretty normal) and actually had an urge at times during the race. So I don't think I got dehydrated at all. I just kind of maintained equilibrium. I've done this before on a 50k but not 50 mile. 2) I need to do more situps. My lower abdomen was pretty sore after the race. I use my mid-section quite a bit when running.