Monday, May 5, 2008

40-year old aversion

I turned 40 on Saturday. Some people think milestone birthdays like this are bad. Not me. I'm in better shape than I was at 30 and 35, so I say "Welcome 40, bring on 45!" In an attempt to drive this positive thinking home, I ventured out for a 40-mile birthday run on Friday.

I drove about an hour from my home to Draper, VA to run on the New River Trail. The NRT is a rails-to-trails path that runs through the New River Valley for 57 miles, give or take a few. It is a mostly flat, scenic run on a forgiving surface. I love to go there for long, fast training runs.

I filled my 64-oz pack with nuun and took off. I knew very quickly that it was going to be a warm day on the trail. After a few miles, I decided to return to the car, change into lighter (faster) shoes, and drop the pack in favor of a handheld bottle.

With just over 10 miles under my belt, I headed back down the trail, bottle in hand. As the miles started to build, I knew 40-miles was asking too much. I was experiencing a bit of soreness from the punishing Promise Land 50k just 5 recovery days prior. And my mind was just not in it. To make sure I got at least 50k I decided to run out 10 miles from the car, forcing myself to come back 10 miles for a total of 31 on the day. At the time I made this decision, I was drinking conservatively, and although I knew it would be close, I thought I'd have just enough water.

Now that I had decided to cut the run short, I picked up my pace. I was running 7:45-pace down the trail, loving every minute of it. Visions of a 50k PR were dancing in my head as I drank to keep my body fueled. But I was about to get into trouble. By the time I got out 10 miles my bottle was almost dry and I was fatigued from the continuous running. I turned around and began the 10-mile slog back to the car. Within a mile or so I was out of water and bonking fast. Mentally I was okay. But physically, my body was beginning to shut down.

Water water everywhere, not a drop to drink. That was the challenge for the next hour plus as I tried to keep up my pace along the beautiful yet unclean New River. Drinking out of the river was not an option. I did dunk my head a couple times, but resisted the strong urge to gulp it in.

Moderate running turned to slow running turned to walking. I asked myself, "what would Survivorman do?" Slow down to conserve energy and keep body temperature under control. That's what I did. That, plus another dunk in the river (now the upper neck of Claytor Lake), and before I knew it, I was at the car.

I quickly chugged 12-20 ounces from the tepid hydration pack. Then after eating some fruit, I crossed the street and bought some cold water and a Pepsi from the local store. Those were gone in minutes. On the way home I stopped to refuel at ye olde local "Omelette Shoppe" where I chased down two eggs, sausage gravy and a biscuit with 2 glasses of water and 2 cups of coffee (Noakes recommends drinking coffee or beer after a long run to stimulate the kidneys -- beer was out of the question with several driving miles yet to go). When I got home I weighed myself, and I was still 3lbs down from where I started the day. It took me a couple more hours to get my plumbing back to normal, but luckily I suffered no ill effects.

Lesson learned -- Current thinking is that it's better to drink too little than too much, but there is a difference between "drinking to thirst" and "going thirsty for 2 hours." I made an unwise decision to run further and faster than my hydration plan allowed. And I paid for it.

Saturday was a recovery day (very lovely birthday hike with my family), Sunday was a great 12-mile trail run with one of my best running buddies. I was a bit tired for the 12-miler, but nothing unusual for 2 days after a hard 50k run.

On a positive note (I guess), I've just about been talked into running the Old Dominion 100 for the first time. More on that later.


Buddo said...

I wanted to do that as my first 100 as well, but slacked off over the winter. Next year. That's a historic race. Hopefully this weekends FA taught you a lesson that you can use during the OD.

Hart said...

sounds like a great learning experience/training run. glad you took nuun along with you.

when i head out i try to drink as i feel which leaves me a bit dehydrated by the end usually, but not severely. for long sessions i always have "more than i'll need", just in case.

good luck with your training for Old Dominion 100. that's on my list at some point too!

Neal Jamison said...

Thanks for the comments guys. I did learn a lot from that run. I've been doing this stuff for a while, but always managed to learn something (good or bad) when I venture past 20 miles.

Buddo, come on and run OD. What's your long run up to these days?

Buddo said...

Oh-hoh, easy for you to say! I ran 15 miles on Saturday. 15. That's it. I have my eyes set on the Cheat Mtn. 50 in August and the Pinhoti 100 in Alabama in November. If I were to completely throw all sense and caution to the wind I would do Laruel Highlands in 5 weeks from now and OD over the summer, and, what the heck, a 50K or 50 miler or a 100 monthly thereafter. I am working towards being able to do at least a 50K every month to a 100 monthly, but trying to build there gradually. If you keep pressing me though I could tell my superego to shut the hell up.

Neal Jamison said...


I've found throwing all caution to the wind results in wind damage. Your plan is conservative but sound. I wanted to do that Cheat Mtn run, but that is the week of my family beach vacation. It would be great training for Grindstone, or any hundred for that matter, due to the night running involved.

I'm still undecided about OD100. I have until Saturday to get the entry postmarked before the fee goes up. Still thinking...

ncultra said...

Neal happy birthday, the 40's are a great time of life. I'm interested in OD100 but not sure I want to trash my body in June, I'm trying to peak in August for ccc100, and I also want to complete another smokies traverse in July. I'm not yet at the same conditioning level I was when I last finished a 100, but making good progress.

Neal Jamison said...

Thanks Mike. I'd love to see you at OD (If I do it -- must decide by tomorrow), but you need to pace yourself in training. A lifetime of ultras should be approached like any race. If we go out too fast, we burn out early. So far the 40s are fantastic.