Monday, April 11, 2016

Ruck a Chuck "50k" (April 10, 2016)

Ruck a Chuck "50k"
April 10, 2016

I opted out of doing the Lake Sonoma 50 and chose to do the K2 Challenge and Ruck a Chuck 50k that weekend instead.  This is the recap of the second part of my weekend -- the Ruck a Chuck 50k…

Before the Race

After the K2 Challenge, my legs (especially my quads) were definitely sore from all the climbing and descending.  I really focused on doing what I could to get my body as recovered as possible before putting it through another hard day of hilly running.  Being able to rest was not so easy having an active infant who wants to get into everything.  But, I managed to do some Pilates and rolled on the foam roller and lacrosse ball (while the wee one crawled around, and occasionally on, me).   

doing Pilates with the baby
Luckily, she went to bed easily (and early) so I was able to do a nice 30 minute Yoga for Runners video.  That really helped stretch the hips, hamstrings, and calves.  Some stretches (ie Pigeon Pose), I held for a bit longer.  I rolled some more, putting a little extra attention into my sore quads and glutes.

I washed some of my race clothes, re-charged my Garmin, and got my race stuff ready, grateful that my order of additional GU gels and GU chomps arrived on Saturday.  Then, I went to bed at a normal-ish hour, ready for another challenging day.

The Race

The race originally was supposed to go from Rucky Chucky and go up to Foreshill (along the Western States trail) then back down. This would be all on the Western States and Canyons 100k course.  However, the day before the race, they changed the course due to the rain making the road down to Rucky Chucky a bit too hazardous for cars. So, the race started at Driver's Flat instead and the turnaround moved to Cal 1, and the course slightly shortened.  But, the climbing and descending would still be about the same.

I looked at my overall pace at the K2 Challenge and thought I’d try to see if I can be consistent with that pace for Ruck a Chuck.  I made my goal pace to be around 13:30 min/mile as I wanted to finish before 7 hours.  13:30 min/mile is slower than I would normally be running on fresher legs but I knew I would have tired legs and thought this was a good goal.  I’d adjust as needed depending on how I felt out there.

When I woke up, the legs felt okay.  I did a little bit of easy strength exercises in the morning to get the blood flowing.  Then, I headed off to the race.  I got to the race early so I could get parking (since it’s a small parking area).  While waiting for the race to start, I could feel my legs stiffening up while standing around.  I tried to stretch out the legs and hips a bit to ease some of the stiffness.  My quads felt sore and I was a little nervous about the initial two mile descent at the start of the race.

Once the race started, I took it nice and slow at the beginning, allowing time for my legs to warm up. 

 The first two miles descending from Driver’s Flat to Rucky Chucky were slow.  A lot of people went flying down the hill.  At one point, I think I was second to last going down.  My legs were a little achy on the descent but not painful.

Once I got to the bottom, I started running along steadily.  The course eventually hits the Western States trail and steadily climbs up.  The couple miles before Cal 2 (mile 9-10ish) is a big climb along some switchbacks.  I power hiked this section pretty good.  My climbing legs felt decent.

As I was leaving Cal 2 towards Cal 1, I noticed my friend Edd was hot on my heels.  I kept maintaining my steady effort and sometimes, I see him narrowing in on me and other times I wouldn’t.  Knowing he was right on my heels motivated me to keep moving along.  I would run on the runnable sections and power hike on the hills.  

It was supposed to rain but the weather was rather nice and sunny out, a bit warmer than anticipated.  But, the skies were blue and the views amazing.  I really took in the beauty of these trails.  I stopped a couple times to take some pics.  There were some beautiful wild flowers out.  (There was also A LOT of poison oak I saw too.)  As I ran, I thought about how much I love these trails and how fortunate these trails are so close to me.  I think how even though I am not in Western States, I still get to run on the Western States course whenever I want.  I feel grateful for that.

I think because my legs were a little tired and sore from the day before, I didn’t feel the urge to “race” and push myself.  I knew it was a training run and just enjoying getting some miles on the Canyons course.  I think because I wasn’t in my usual focused race mode, I was in a peppier mood and just enjoying myself and enjoying the trails.  I found myself smiling a lot and I smiled at everyone I saw and said “good job” to all the runners that passed me or I passed and “thank you” to all the hikers that let me pass by.  (Sometimes during events, I get into the race zone and not so good about taking it all in and smiling to everyone).

I arrived at the turnaround (at Cal 1) around 11:15 am.  By that point, I knew the course would be a bit short so knew I’d be able to break 7 hours so amended my goal to finish under 6:30 (still keeping a 13:30ish average pace).

Leaving Cal 1, I felt like I was still running at the same effort level but going a bit faster since it is more downhill running. I didn't feel I was going that fast downhill but not going slow either. Then, I started passing a few runners.  Then, a few more.  Then, a few more.

I didn’t think I was running that much faster.  I was a little surprised to be passing so many people.  But, this kind of gave me a boost to push a little more.  Then, I started picking off people.  My friend Roger was ahead of me and I wondered if I’d be able to catch him.  I got into a really good running groove.  I felt good and excited to be running well for the second half.

As I neared Rucky Chucky, the day started getting warmer.  I stopped at couple creek crossings and soaked my buff to help cool my body down.  It felt refreshing having the cool water to splash on my face.  I took off my hat during climbs and just held onto it as sometimes I felt like the hat overheated me.

 I reached Rucky Chucky in good time and started to power hike back up to Driver’s Flat. A few times, I’d look behind me to make sure no one was narrowing in on me.  The last half mile to the top, it’s not as steep so I’d run a minute, hike a minute, and so forth just to move a little faster up the climb.

I finished in 6:21:39.  My Garmin said it was only 28.38 miles, but with about 5000 feet of climbing.  And, I surprisingly finished 2nd in my Age Group.

All in all, I was very happy with how everything went during the race.  I averaged 13:25 min/mile so happy I met my goal.  I did exactly what I set out to do.  My legs felt pretty good ruing the race.  They were tired from the day before but they weren't trashed.  I was still able to run on them.  I had no cramping or stomach problems so fueling went better than at the K2 Challenge.  And, I just felt good out there and had a lot of fun.  :)  

Between the K2 Challenge and Ruck a Chuck, I ran over 55 miles and did over 11k feet of climbing and descending.  I think I made the right choice in opting to do these two events instead of the Lake Sonoma 50.  My quads are definitely spent from the weekend and ready for a couple days rest.  But, this was a good peak training weekend leading to the Canyons 100k.  I felt solid on both days and feeling more confident about Canyons.  I think while I'll taper down the miles, I'll try to add more heat training and I'll definitely be ready for Canyons 100k!  

Three Things That Went Well
1.  Hydrated well.  I went back to carrying my two bottles (instead of the hydration bladder) and put water in one and Tailwind in the other.  This worked much better in keeping me hydrated but also getting the electrolytes in me.  I think I’m getting better at using the soft flasks now too.  

2.  Fueled well.  I carried my usual GU Salted Watermelon gels as well as some GU watermelon chomps (for a little extra).  I ate potatoes, chips, and oranges at the aid stations.  Before some of the big climbs, I’d eat a little extra.  Everything held up really well.  I had no cramping or stomach issues.

3.  Paced myself really well.  Ran a negative split, which was to be expected since the first half is more uphill and the second half is more downhill.  I was happy my climbing and descending were about the same as the K2 challenge.  

Three Things to Improve or Change
1.  I need to be careful not to tie my shoe laces too tight.  I wore different shoes than at the K2 Challenge.  I wore Altra Lonepeaks for both but they were different pairs (yes, I have two pairs of the same shoes, but different colors).  The laces on the shoes I wore were a bit too tight towards the toe and on some of the descents, I could feel the pressure on the top of my foot.  I managed okay during the race but I know in a longer race, it would have become a problem.  I didn’t stop to loosen the shoes laces as I didn’t really want to bend over to do so.

 2.  Managing in the heat.  I'm still playing around with my hydration and such.  But, I need to also play around with how I deal with the heat.  It didn't get too hot but I kept taking off and putting on my hat.  The hat would sometimes make me feel overheated so I'd take it off during climbs.  But, the sun would be bright out so I'd put the hat back on.  I maybe need to try wearing a visor instead.  I did occasionally stop in the creeks to soak my buff, wipe down my face/head, and put it around my neck.  The cool water would feel good on my neck but it'd dry up and my neck would get warm.  It was only mildly warm but I know I need to work on my heat management as it'll be warm at Canyons.  Need to just play around with different things on warm days.  

3.  Dealing with poison oak.  I had a bad bout of poison Oak a couple weeks ago at the Knickbocker race.  The rash was nearly recovered and when I was running at Ruck a Chuck, I saw SO much poison oak.  After the race, I showered with some Zanfel on my legs.  But, I am starting to feel the itch coming on.  I need to be better about treating poison oak immediately after the race before things get bad.

Three Things I Learned:
1.  During the race, before Cal 2, I ran a little bit with my friend Shavinder.  He told me he had run Canyons 100k last year.  He told me his one piece of advice for Canyons is bug spray.  I wouldn’t have thought about bug spray.  After he told me that, during the last part of the race, there were some bugs swarming around.  After I finished, a ton of mosquitos ate me up!  So, I am definitely going to get bug spray for Canyons!

2.    While it can be fun to run with friends, it also can be a fun to run chasing friends.  I told a friend that the race was basically summed up to: Helen trying to catch Roger, Edd trying to catch Helen, and Roger trying to not get caught by Helen.  The three of us ran together at the start for about a mile then we each started running our own race, our own pace.  But, I think near the turnaround, we were able to gauge how far we were apart from each other.  I have some friends that are way ahead and know there’s no way I can catch them so don’t even think about trying.  But, it’s nice having a friend just a little bit faster.  I think I pushed it a little in the second half, hoping to catch Roger.  I think Roger pushed a little knowing I might come up on him.  And, Edd pushed it a bit trying to catch me.  And in the end, even though we didn’t catch each other, I think the three of us had a good races and maybe ran a little faster because of each other.

Roger, Edd, and I after we finished.  

3.  Strength and stability exercises pay off.  When I was running down some of the longer descents, I was thinking how in 2013, I frequently had a lot of knee pain running downhills. I would kind of sort of do some exercises to help it but I wasn’t very consistent.  When I was training for RDL last year, my glutes were often painful or tight after a run.  At the start of the year, I started doing strength and stability exercises on a more consistent basis.  I know I’ve gained some strength as I generally feel stronger.  Not just strength in my legs, but my core and upper body as well.  During the race, I specifically noticed that because I’ve gained some strength in the various muscles around my knees, I don’t have a lot of the nagging injuries I used to have while running downhill.

Some Tidbits about Ruck a Chuck or Singletrack
1.  Ruck a Chuck runs on some wonderful trails and a great training for those doing Western States or the Canyons race.  

2.  Paulo/Single Track Running puts on a great low-key events with some great volunteers.  The course was well marked (thanks Stephanie) and aid stations well stocked with wonderful volunteers.  

3.  The post-race BBQ was fantastic.  I ate two burgers and had some tomato soup after I finished.  There was a Knee Deep beer also.  

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Congrats on a great race. See you at Canyons!