Saturday, July 18, 2009

2009 Buckeye Trail 50k: Third Time’s the Charm!

The BT50K, as it is known to by the locals, is pretty much THE ultra event in Northeast Ohio. Pretty much everyone runs it. Over the years it has grown from an almost FA event to a full blown race which caters to seasoned ultra runners to folks running their first ultra.

In 2005, that was first ultra. I was in process in training for my first 50 mile race and figured this was an important step. Up until then, it was the toughest race I had run. And I loved every miserable mile of it.

Again in 2006, it gave me another first. My first DNF. For non-runner types this stands for Did Not Finish. It beat me down like never before. I went into the event and had not trained like I had should. Plain and simple…didn’t give the distance the respect it deserved. This is still my one and only DNF.

After 2006, I have volunteered mostly on the course. From Aid station caption, to trail marker. I even measured two of the three sections of the old course.

Now back in 2009, I was really looking forward to running it again. The date being so close to my first 100 miler, I didn’t want to push it too hard. However, I had a good base and was feeling really good and had been running pretty well.

The trick now was, run it hard, but not too hard that I jeopardize running Burning River 100 in two weeks. So, based on that, I figured around 5:30 would be a good pace and also allow me to test out some of the gear I was planning on using during BR100 this year and also test out my nutrition plan I was going to use that day as well.

The Course

The course is an out-n-back which almost entirely on the Buckeye Trail. The BT in this area (close to and in the CVNP) is mostly single track trail with a little road. The course is surprising tough due to in part three factors: Hills, Heat, and Humidity.

The Hills – the course is always doing something, going up or down. Very little flat. Some of the climbs are big. The total elevation gain/loss is about 8,000 ft.

The Heat – July is one of the hottest months for Ohio. Tough thing is it is one of the first HOT months. Most people who train for this, train in June which is not usually as hot. Usually just before the race every year, the weather steps up.
The Humidity – Same as the heat, mid-July can be bad. Also jumps just before the event each year.

The best way to breakdown the course is with the major or “manned” aid stations. There are a few newer water drop spots, but those don’t count. The major aid stations are broken down like so:

Aid StationApprox. Miles
Boston Store5.5
Boston Store5.5

The Race
This year the forecast was looking really good. I was getting bummed I knew I had to hold myself back, but really wanted to race it as it would have been THE year for me to break 5 hours on that course. But, BR100 was more important. However, Mother Nature still got a good jab in. She rained on the course for two days before. Most of the course was still in good shape, but the first section to Snowville was a mess.

Things went really well this year. I maintained a very consistence pace and felt great the whole way. I hit the half way point at about 2:22. On for a Sub 5 even though I wasn’t looking for it. Hit Snowville just under 4 hours on the way back…still on for a sub 5 and never really felt like I pushed it. However, the mud at some point jacked up my quad a bit and I ended up walking in the last two miles for a 5:12.

Best part, except for the quad, I didn’t even feel like I ran 10 miles let alone 30 miles. I KNEW finishing that race I was ready for BR100. Being my last real training run…that had better been the case!

As for my splits, I think this is good for a sub 5 race plan there. The goal would have been to hit Ottawa Point by 4:40 and running the rest in. These are about as accurate as I can get them from my Garmin…

Aid StationSplit Time (min)Clock Time
Boston Store431:40
Pine Lane422:22
Boston Store393:01
Ottawa Point504:45

Being more of a training run, I wanted to keep things fairly relaxed and even paced. Hitting the split a little fast than expected, but felt great the entire way. I spent more of my time in Zone 3 with an average heart rate of 153. The time spent in zone 2 is from my last miles back where I really backed off with having some quad muscle issues.

Now, from a nutritional aspect, I basically executed what I am planning on doing at Burning River. I ran with my new Nathan double bottle pack which worked out GREAT. I love it. I kept one bottle filled with water the other with Hammer Perpetuem. Ths was a little much for a 50k, but again, wanted to get some time in with it on before BR. Along with water and Perpetuem, I also had a flask of Hammer Gel which I sipped on along the way. This seemed to fuel be pretty good. In hindsight, I should have drunk a bit more water. The day was a bit more humid than how it felt.

Two weeks to the big day…Burning River 100!