Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Day in the Hills

Ran the Berryman Trail Marathon last Saturday down in Missouri. The race started early Saturday morning at the remote Berryman Campground in the Ozark hills.

Air temperature was chilly at the start, mid 40's, but would warm to the 70's by noon. Berryman is a 25 mile loop out into the Mark Twain National Forest. We started on a 1.2 mile out and back on a dirt road, then onto single track trail.

The trail itself is beautiful--rolling hills, lots of switchback climbs and creek crossings. And rocks, lots of rocks. I'd compare it to the Glacial Trail in North Kettle Moraine, WI. but with MORE rocks and bigger and more frequent hills. Similar feel.

My plan was to start conservatively, mixing walking into my customary slow running of the flats and downs. The trail is very runnable, despite the hills. My hydration strategy was to finish both of my 1/2 gatorade, 1/2 water mixed bottles between each aid station, refueling at the each one. I did this, and supplemented with table salt, fig newtons, and bananas at most stops.

This overall strategy worked well for me on this day. I had zero cramping issues, something that almost always surfaces on a long run. Berryman was as perfect a run as I've ever had. I felt like I ran a smart race and the usual leg-weariness never came, in fact, I got stronger as the day wore on, even completely ran the mostly uphill final two miles at a hard pace and passing 7 or 8 folks.

In short, everything went right. I feel like I could have done the 50.

Finishing time was 6:11, a time that I think could have been a half hour faster if not for the conservative early pace and stopping to stretch every half hour. But, I'm happy with the time and ran negative splits for the half marathons. The hips didn't hurt, no injuries peeked out from under those dark rocks.

The RD's do an outstanding job with this one. Home brew and brats at the finish, a nice finisher's medal, great stocked aid stations. Well worth the awesome drive.

Lessons Learned:

-Conservative starts are good. I was reeling people in by the end, and felt like trail experience helped with just being mentally focused and aware of myself. Continue to hone these skills.

-I really need to run these things at a lower weight. Dropping 20 pounds in three months has done wonders. Drop 10 more pounds and maintain until next ultra is the goal.

-I'm being a bit smarter about fueling. Continue to learn. Table salt is my friend.

-Tempo runs on pavement count. Doing them back-to-back on non-long run weekends was huge for me.

-Under Armour bike shorts prevent chafing. It took me four years to learn this one. Crucial.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Training for Berryman

My last long run was the weekend before last out at McNaughton. Ended up doing about 18/19 miles in 4 hours flat. Conditions were ideal, dry, creek crossing just about right. This was one of those perfect runs. I felt strong the whole way and actually picked up speed on the second loop.

Did 15 total this weekend on roads, feeling ready for Berryman; the only small issue is some slight left hip pain from, I think, doing the road thing. On alternate weekends I've been shooting for back-to-back mid-distance tempo runs, something I've neglected for too long, but is paying dividends through added endurance and helping to cut weight. I have been enjoying running around town, have a route that heads down past Bracken's Branch and back through town out to the lake area.

Trail marathon this Saturday.