Saturday, June 16, 2018

2018 Run Under The Stars – Paducah (June 9, 2018) Race Report

Steve Durbin and Myself
Having had to miss the Land Between the Lakes race this year due to a number of issues Steve Durbin of Durbin Race Management graciously allowed me to transfer my entry to another of his races.  Due to scheduling with work and other races I was already committed to the only date open was June 9th and thus my entry in the Run Under the Stars (RUTS) in Paducah Kentucky.  There are three RUTS races each year: Oakridge – TN was on May 19th (1-1/4 mile walking trail), Paducah - KY was on June 9th (1/2 mile horse track) and Corydon – IN is on July 7th  (1/2 mile horse track).  All races are 10 hour timed events and are run from 8PM on a Saturday till 6AM Sunday morning.

If you have never done a Steve Durbin race you are missing out as they are all well run and you will be taken care of.  One of the cool parts with this timed event, and others like it, as compared to say a trail race is that you will see all 200+ entrants all night and not just at the start.  Also, you will find that as most everyone is there for the 10 hours, even if they do not run the entire time, that at the end you will also have a crowd at the finish.  This was my second timed event but the first on such a short course and the longest timed event by far as my other event was a 6 hour run on a 1.35 mile trail a couple years ago.  The idea of running so many laps was a little daunting since in college I had a hard time with 12+ for the 5K or 25 for the 10K.  What was 100+ laps going to be like?  How would I deal with going round and round and round for 10 hours?  How about weather as the report was for thunderstorms and rain accompanied by the usual humidity - thankfully that did not happen?  How would my Plantar Fasciitis hold up?  For that matter, how would I hold up as this would hopefully be my longest run distance, and time, wise?  What follows is my look at a race that on the surface - with no elevation, no rocks, no roots or cliffs to deal with – should have been relatively easy – "should" is the key word here.
Trackside Set-up

The Set-Up
The first thing that makes the RUTS races difficult is that they start at 8PM with set up beginning at 4PM.  Thus, if you are like me and get up at 8AM, by the time the race starts you have already been up for 12 hours and by the end of the race 22 hours - let alone anther 4 ours to drive home.  For me I left my house about 4 hours east of the race with a long drive ahead but at least with some time to rest and loosen up.  Once at the track and having driven through some heavy rain storms with showers at the track it looked like it might be a wet night.  I set up an canopy pretty much right at track side with my water, SFuel bars and drinks, as well as a few other essentials.  Then I got some rest till race time, still 3 hours away.  I set about reading a little, some from my Bible as always good to get in a little reading of God’s word then also started reading The Great Appalachian Trail Race which is looking to be a good read.

Apart from that I just tried to stay cool and walked around a little to stay loose.  This pre-race part of things was different as I have my usual “morning race” routine and usually do not drive more than 90 minutes on the day of a race . As this was so late in the day, and not close to home, that routine was hard to follow but I did the best I could.  I ate lunch about 11AM at home before I left with a meal of chicken, asparagus and some broiled potatoes and then an hour prior to the race I took my usual cocktail of: a serving of SFuel drink, UCAN (3 scoops) and water all mixed together.  This usually works to hold me over for 4-5 hours at which time I take another cocktail.  As race time neared more people showed up and were milling around till it was minutes before the start.

The Race
Just Getting Started
I went into the race wanting to run 100k (62.2 Miles) but knew that might be a little ambitious as while my training was going well I still only ran at most 45 -50 on a big week with a long run of 20-22.  Not really ideal training to “race” an Ultra but does fit the larger plan I have to run Boston in 2020 by qualifying next year.  So I set out with my HR monitor set at about 10 beats over my MAF heart rate of 127 (monitor at 137) figuring that would be a good pace.  While it did feel easy it was for sure too fast a start being at around  8:15 a mile as I needed to be nearer to 9:00/mile.  Around 10 miles my HR started working its way up some so I slowed to 9+ pace than at about 17-20 I started having issues.  Not so much physical, even though I was a little tired from being up for a while already, but mentally just thinking about how long time wise I had to go.  Thus I slowed down and then even had a few walk breaks until about 5 hours, or close to 50K.

At 5 hours I decided it was time to walk a lap and then run the rest of the hour.  I used the walk as my drink and refueling break so that I got my SFuel bottle and carried it for the ½ mile lap then put it down and ran a comfortable pace for the rest of the hour and then repeated this up till the lap I walked at 2 hours from the end.  With a little under 2 hours to go I knew I was in 6th place and was not sure where 7th was but knew they were probably close so decided I needed to run for the last two hours and keep a good pace.  Interestingly in the last 2-3 hours, other than on my walk breaks, I did not get passed again as it appears many were slowing down.
Not sure what I was looking at  - Maybe contemplating my feet

As there are no partial laps given you get the mileage at whatever full lap you completed when time runs out.  Having picked up the pace in the last 2 hours I got to 56 miles with the clock reading 4:30, or so, to go.  I decided that I should be able to do 9 Minute pace and went for it.  Funny that someone that was helping mentioned I would have to run my fastest to get the lap so I simply said something to the affect of “well I better get going.”  I picked up the pace and looked to be at sub 8 when I checked my watch and up ahead was a relay runner and anther runner trying to finish his last lap as well.  As I got to the home stretch I could see I was going to make it with about a minute-plus to spare and according to the official lap times I did the last ½ mile in 3:24, or sub 7 pace.  I also found out the person running in front of me on the last lap was the 7th place runner so it was a good thing I kept up the pace at the end as he ran 56 miles.

As far as placings goes I ended up 7th overall and 6th overall for the men.  I know in watching the board that gave out your laps and placing I was in 9th place up until I had the bad spell where I dropped back to about 17th or so.  Once I got to 5 hours and past my mental issues of just wanting to call it a day at 50K  I was able to steadily pick up places and finally got to a 6th place somewhere around 2 hours, or so, to go.   Knowing how I felt with 7 hours to go and waning to quit - ending up 6th was pretty good.

For the men it was clear that Eric Hunziker was intent on putting in some miles as he was gone from the start and ended up with 72 miles and tied the record.  Second and third were Olaf Wastermack with 64.5 miles and Joshua Holmes, who added to his overall lead in the total miles at RUTS, with 63.5 miles.  For the women the top three were Marylou Corino in 1st with 59 miles , Cathy Downs in 2nd with 55 miles and in 3rd Sue Scholl with 54 miles.  You can see all the results here and here is my Strava data for the race.

Women's Winner Marylou Corino
Men's Winner Eric Hunzinger

This an area I am still fine-tuning but think it is getting very close as I never was hungry during the whole race.  I did seem to drink lots of water, but it was humid out.  I find that once I drink water on days like this I have a hard time stopping and thus get bloated.  This happened in the 2016 Boson Marathon as well.  Due to this later in the race instead of carrying the bottle with me for many laps I took advantage of the easy of getting to my drinks a changed to drinking during my ½ mile walk breaks every hour and this helped to curb getting bloated.

As far as what I consumed for the race it was follows:
  • 1 - SFuel/UCAN Cocktail in 20oz of water 1 Hour before the race (1 Scoop SFuel and 3 Scoops UCAN) also had about ½ a 200z SFuel/Cocktail at 5 hours
  • 6- 20oz servings of SFuel Drink
  • 4 -16 oz bottles of water
  • 1.75 - SFuel Bars
  • 2 – 33Shake Gels
  • 3 - S-Caps
  • 2 – GU Roctane Sea Salt Chocolate (took one at 2 hours to go and 1 hour to go)
The above seems to have worked and largely due to my work at getting fat adapted progressing well.  For races I do use carbs but strategically such as at the end of the race with the 2 GUs.  I also had the 33Shake gels just to change up things for taste.

Overall Impressions of the Race
While I cannot say this is my favorite type of race it does have its positive aspects.  For one being able to set up right by where you are running and going by every ½ mile means your drinks and food are readily available and do not need to be carried.  The race did also provide aid but I find it best to rely on my own items to make sure I have what I need.  Also, as seen done by many at the race, if your goal is only a particular distance you have the full 10 hours to do it and you can walk and take breaks as needed to help you accomplish your goal.  Another great feature is that unlike most ultras where you see people at the beginning and maybe some at the end but during the race often can go long spells of being alone at a race like that this is never a problem.  The race in many ways is a 10 hour party with many conversations and activities going on.  The fact that one cannot be stuck out in the wilderness alone leads many to find this a good time to try their first ultra knowing they will not be alone.

What is interesting about this format is that my brain said other than going round and round in circles this should be easy – hey no elevation or getting lost.  While that is true, when you combine the mental aspect of going over the same ground for 100+ laps and, other than changing directions every 2.5 hours, running on the same surface with basically the same stride and foot placement for 10 hours it makes for an effort that is much harder than it seems.  This act of basically having the same motion hour after hour wears on you more than you think it might.  When running trails you are always changing pace and using different muscles but not so on a flat track race.  Also, as I found out, you can easily be sucked into running too fast too soon, as it just feels easy, since the terrain is not an issue and you can, and will, pay for this later.

For me, at least, the part I found to be the hardest was the mental aspect  of dealing with the time on my feet with little else to think of.  While at 10-20 miles I really did not feel that bad but just needed to slow down to get my HR in the right place my mind started to play the “you have 7 hours to go maybe you should just stop at 50K” game.  While I have been running a long time, 45+ years, and have done many marathons running ultras is new to me and the issue I tend to come up against at 1.5 -3 hours is just thinking about how far, and how long, I have to go and harboring thoughts of dropping out.  I have gotten by this urge in trail ultras by realizing it was not easy to drop out and simply not wanting to DNF as it tends to make it easier to DNF later.  However when running on the track this becomes harder since you can just stop at any distance, as many do intentionally, and stopping is easy since your stuff is set up conveniently right by the track and you see it every 1/2 mile.  As I mentioned in the race section I had these mental issues till about 5 hours then when I got to the downside of the time it got easier mentally and thus for me physically.

I also found that unlike most races where you may be able to convince yourself if you run faster you will get done sooner.  That tactic will not work here since if you run faster you just get the reward of running farther.  So you have to play a game to see what is the just the right speed to keep moving but not too slow as to not get in the distance you would like to get.  This is simply a different mental aspect of the timed race.

The goal of the race but you get to see this sign every lap:)
As mentioned before another thing that makes the RUTS races difficult is that they are run from 8PM to 6AM and this makes for a long day of dealing with being tired.  That said this does work to help one get ready for longer races that go into the night.  I am running the Tunnel Hill 100, my first 100 miler, this year, another Durbin Race Management race, and RUTS with running when simply tired from little sleep is good training.  Also, Tunnel Hill is a very tame course, as RUTS is, so this race plays into being a good training run for that as well.  I did deal with a few spells where I felt like taking a nap but in general that was not a too big an issue which was good to discover.
Not sure I will make these shorter course timed races a regular event but I do want to do one again some time to try to do better and work on my pacing.  I will be doing the Backyard Classic in August which is an 8 hour timed race on a 3.25 trail course which will have its own trials I am sure but I am hoping my run at RUTS will help in dealing with the mental issues.

If you want to run your first Ultra the truth is this type of race is a good one to do so.  Not only is everything convenient but also if you do one of the RUTS races you will experience a great race put on by a great race director.  You still have one race left for the year in the RUTS series if you want to do Corydon IN on July 7th.  By the way here is a code for $10 off Steve's races: DRM10.  Make sure to check out his race site for all the races he outs on: Durbin Race Management.

#Zensa #GoLonger #SFuels

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