2013 New River Trail 50k
Training Weeks 16-18
None. This will be my first year participating in this event. This will also be my first timed 50k race as well as my first ultra marathon of any distance.
I intend to do a 20 mile long run at the end of week 16, then follow that up with 2 weeks of decreasing mileage and holding steady to modest increases with intensity.
The NRT 50k course consists of fine crushed gravel along a rails-to-trails former railroad bed. Railroads typically choose the flattest paths when laying out their tracks for fuel efficiency purposes and this course was no exception. Elevation changes were subtle and I only perceived that I was running on a level course.
In my 5 year history with endurance sports I've noticed my motivation seems to wane drastically after about 2 hours or16 miles. I enjoy pushing hard for about 2 hours/16 miles and after that the real workout begins. I have had some success fighting the encroaching fatigue during the 3 marathons I've completed, but I had no intention of fighting it for the NRT 50k, instead I focused my long training runs on staying comfortable, taking it easy, walking at regular intervals, and simply enjoying being outdoors.
I had entertained some ideas prior to the race about how I was going to run it, but as usually happens my training determined what I was going to do more than any last minute enthusiasm. From race start all the way through mile 27 all I thought about was comfort and taking it easy.
I started out in the easy 8's and as soon as that took any effort at all I quickly ditched the 8's and flirted with the 9's for a couple of miles. I didn't have enough experience with the distance to know how much "push" to invest in the effort, but I knew I had a good solid bank of 8's working to keep my avg pace low, and I knew my goal pace to beat from week 5 was in the high 11's, so I decided to place a bet on holding a high 11/low 12 for the remainder of the course.
I used regular walk intervals every mile after mile 12. Monitoring my Garmin closely, I would start each mile with a 1/10th mile brisk walk, follow that up with whatever effort was required to bring my avg pace for that mile back down to a mid 11/low 12, walk again until the avg pace was back up to a 13, then use whatever was needed to pull the avg back close to a 12 min/mile. After seeing two 12's I decided I was selling myself short, so I opted for all 11's after mile 17.
This strategy worked extraordinarily well until mile 27.
At mile 26 I filled my water bottle at an aid station and it was cold and it felt oh so good and I drank the whole fracking thing in less than a quarter mile. I wanted to turn around and go back and drink a lot more water and fill up my bottle again, but that would have devastated everything I was working for.
I was already feeling some fatigue and I had 4 miles to go with no water so I decided to drop my per mile goal pace to a sub 15, which translated to a speed walk with just the occasional light jog. Fortunately some volunteers were monitoring a road crossing somewhere along mile 29 and they had a water cooler. With a fresh infusion of H2O and a full water bottle I was now able to take my mind off conserving energy and instead focus on a strong finish!
Of course a strong finish at that point would still looked like death, but I did kick it up to a 13 for the final full mile and a high 9 for the .27 mile sprint to the finish! As is typical, I was late turning off my Garmin, so final stats don't accurately reflect the effort to the finish.
Garmin Data: HERE
(Note: Garmin only holds roughly 3h45m of geographical information, then starts to erase oldest data first. It does retain per mile pace stats though.)
New River Trail 50k (NT) USATF certified marathon split: 4:37:22
2013-time: 5:43:48, Pace: 10:59, Place 86/128 overall, 25/40 in my age group, 57/79 among men