Monday, September 10, 2012

Woodstock 50M report

(or) A first timer's account of a 50 Miler

(or) If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball


The original plan, circa January 2012, was to run the Detroit Marathon at the end of this year, and start running ultras in 2013.  That ended when I was informed that Canada wasn't keen on letting me into their country.  So the ultra plan got moved up to this year.
Like everything in my life, my philosophy is "Go big or go home."  I ran the 50M last weekend, am running North Coast 24 hr. 22-23 September, and Top of Michigan 100k 13 Oct.  I also have personal reasons for trying to jam all that into this fall, but that's not why you're here.


I'm the type of cat who has to have a schedule to follow.  Do this workout on this day.  Makes one less thing for me to think about.  It took awhile, but I was able to find a good one online.  Later meshed that with the one in "Relentless Forward Progress."  Mine can be viewed here.  The only hiccup was in the summer when I was running some races on the weekend.  Also tweaked my foot the Saturday before the race.  Took most of the week preceding the race off.  Turned out fine.  
If you don't want to view it, peak week was 77.13, total mileage in training was 942.41.

The Day Before

The Woodstock festival of races is cool in idea.  They have everything from a 5k to 100M.  100k and 100M start at 4 pm on Friday, which is a nice idea.  This way, you're doing your night portion while still relatively fresh.
Got to the campground the day before to scout out my camp site and see one of my friends off for his first 100M.  After meeting his family and giving him a rousing send off, I went back to pick up my fiance (crew chief extraordinaire) from work.  I can't give her enough props.  She's understood my new found love/obsession with running and indulged me.

We settled in that evening.  It rained the entire night.  Hard.  All I could think of was the brave 100 runners.  They did awesome.

Race Time

My preparations were simple.  First was my progress bar.  I'm a computer dork an Microsoft has made me a progress bar junkie.  If I can see that something's happening, then I'm cool.  The 50M consisted of a run around the campground (.2M) and 3, 16.6M loops.  This is my progress bar.  3 rubber bands.

Second was my fuel.  Mr. Jonathan Savage has it on his wiki.  I've found his go juice to be invaluable.  I have a hard time eating after running more than 3 hours, and at almost 300 calories/8 oz., his juice is awesome.  I did miscalculate how much I would need, bringing only 2 quarts when I needed 3, so I had to supplement with pb&j and pringles at the AS.  Everything else was just trust in my training.

And They're Off

6 am start.  In the chute, I found two friends from our local ultra group (RUT), Kurt and Darin.  More on them in a minute.  There were 205 people running the 50k and 50M and both races started at the same time.  After the loop around the camp ground, we entered the single track.  205 people...  It eventually cleared up, but it took us 20 minutes to cover the first 1.5 miles.  This is far slower than I wanted to go.  My primary goal was to finish sub 12, with a secondary to finish sub 10.  Too ambitious for a first?  Read on...
Running with my friends made the first 25 miles the funnest 25 miles I've ever run.  Talking, laughing, running, shouting... we had a blast.  Here we are after lap 1 (16.8M in).  From left to right, Darin, Kurt and myself.  The headlamp is still there because we started in the dark and we hadn't hit my base camp yet.

Loop one was completed in 3:21.

Loop # 2

The start of the second loop coincided with the start of the full and half marathon races.  That made for some crowded single track.There are three aid stations on the course, and one at the start/finish.  They're roughly four miles apart.  After the second AS of this loop, Darin and Kurt started to lag.  I told them adios and carried on by myself.  I had my Mp3 player at base camp with my fiance/crew chief Crystal, and had planned on picking it up for the last loop.  This made the last half of this loop fairly long and boring.  More so after having so much fun the first 25.  I did alot of praying/thanksgiving to God out loud, and that made it way better.  Finished this loop at 6:40.  Negative split!  Here I am, signifying I have just one more lap left.

Last Lap

Allright!  Got my music, and I started rocking!  My Garmin died around 7 hours, but that was cool with me.  I was enjoying rocking through the trails, having a good time.  I was keeping track of my time on my Mp3.  When I hit the AS that's half way through the loop at 3 pm, I knew I wouldn't be hitting sub 10.  I was still going to get it as close to that as I could though.  Did the ol' standing quad stretch then I started running faster.  Because this was my first ultra, I didn't let it all hang out, because I didn't know if I'd be able to make it.  I still turned it up a bit.  
Upon reaching the AS that was 4 miles from the finish, I let loose.  Up until that point, I was power walking the serious hills.  Now I was running everything.  Don't know my 4 mile splits for the last 8, but I did the last 8 in 70 minutes.  Not bad for the last eight of a 50.
Finishing time: 10:10:23.  No AG award, but I was happy.  Sore, but happy.  This is me shooting off the last rubber band, signifying that my progress is now complete.  The following is the profile for one loop:

4,121 ft. total gain for the 50 miles.
Did I mention that I was happy?

Lessons Learned

  • It only hurts.  Ignore it and it won't bother you.
  • Make sure your math is right when you're figuring out your fuel.
  • It's possible to let it all hang out sooner than you might think.
  • Pringles are the awesomest food ever invented.
That's all I've got.  You've been a great audience.  Tune in in two weeks for my next installment:  "How bad does 24 hours really hurt?"


  1. Replies
    1. I'd recognize you anywhere. Even hiding behind a tree portion.

  2. Fantastic ultra debut, Andrew! You make it look easy. All the best in your upcoming races. That's an ambitious schedule, but it sounds like you've got it on lock-down!