A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Summary of the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Ultra

Summary

Went out very easy in the first 10 miles, but the endless rocks made the run harder than usual. The rocks are so thick for the first 20 miles that I felt I was being challenged every foot of the first 20 miles of the course. After 20 miles I was gassed. But after 20 miles the course finally relented a bit as the rocks were less frequent.

At that point I started getting a bit of energy back as the running got more comfortable. But once I hit the rocks at around mile 30 the wheels finally fell off and I stopped at the mile 34 aid station.

Cons

1) Rocky Terrain - Running in very rocky terrain is the biggest weak point of trail running, especially when the severe stretches go downhill. I am OK when there are some rocks around, but when I find myself in a boulder field, I tend to tense up a lot, which expends a lot of useless energy. So even when the pace was slow I was gassed when I hit the 20 mile mark.

2) Fuel Belt - I had a fuel belt in one of my drop bags and decided to use it. The problem was that I lost both bottles during the run, ending up with nothing for fueling in between the stops. I'll need something a little more robust for running future ultras, especially Vermont.

3) My Back - After taking an embarrassing tumble down a small hill, I tweaked my upper back muscles, probably my rhomboids. It wasn't immediately noticeable, but in the 12 miles since the fall, the area got pretty intolerable. In previous years, I've done back exercises to keep everything strong back there, but I haven't done it this year. I think it's time to invest some time to strengthen up my back again.

Pros

1) Uphills - The downhills were pretty bad, but the uphills were quite good! For the first time ever, I was able to keep up with other runners, or even surpass them up the hillBody weight (or lack of) definitely plays a HUGE part in getting up the hills fast. The loss of 20 pounds is very significant.

2) No Chafing - The duct tape method works. I placed them on both my nipples as well as other likely spots where chafing might happen, and the result was no chafing whatsoever.

3) Minimal Shoes - The more minimal the shoes, the less I twist my ankle. Despite the endless rocks I only had one minor ankle twist in the race, with no pain whatsoever.

Conclusion

If I am ever to be successful in a rocky ultra, I must learn to use a very relaxed style of running over the rocks. If I can obtain a relaxed form, I will be very efficient, and maybe even more comfortable, running in rocky terrain. The best way to do this is through frequent practice.

1 comment:

  1. Peter! I was wondering what happened to you! Sorry you dropped - next time will be awesome, I am sure. Definitely stay minimal - I wore Merrell Sonic Glove shoes today and didn't twist my ankles ever. I have a pair that is 1/2 size big with an extra insole for this kind of rocky stuff.

    Dixon and Kolb ran well. Laura gutted her way through, but was not really happy with how the race felt for her - lots of walking.

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