On Saturday I ran the Dirty Duo 25 km trail race as part of a relay team. My partner Scott McGregor, riding for Steed Cycles, rode the 30 km mountain bike portion.
A few ultra buddies pre-race
This was my first trail race on the North Shore since the 2009 Knee Knacker and I ran into a bunch of familiar faces.
Here I am with Mike, Monty and Craig before the run. They were all doing the 50km version; kuddos to them for completing a tough early season ultra.
My time of 2:55:48 was slower than the 2:45 or better than I had hoped for but considering I haven’t been training on any significant hills until last week’s trail run, I’m satisfied with the results.
If you don’t know the course you may be wondering why it took so long to run 15 miles. Here’s a big reason:
There was a bit of climbing in the race.
The 25 km included some pretty technical trails with 3,538 feet of uphill and 3,352 feet of descent. That’s a fair amount of elevation change for a 15 mile run.
Here’s the race route:
After each race I like to do a review to analyze what I did right and what I need to work on.
Things to Work On
1. My uphill sucks. It was never my strong point but right now my uphill running is pretty poor. Aside from last week’s trail run I haven’t been doing any major hills and it shows. After running the first couple of short climbs I decided to back off and walk the rest of the major climbs as my climbing fitness just isn’t there.
I’ve been doing long, slow road runs with some short speed work at the track but obviously I need to do more long hills on the trails. To that end I’ve signed up for the Club Fat Ass Mountain Highway Madness run next Sunday. It’s been a few years since I’ve joined Action Jackson for this hill repeat session and I’m looking forward to it.
2. Check over supplies the day before. I planned on using Hammer Nutrition HEED for my fueling and hydration but discovered early Saturday morning that I didn’t have any packets left. So I went with Hammer’s Sustained Energy powder. Not a good choice.
Even though it was unflavoured, after mixing it with water the texture, taste and appearance was somewhat milky. I haven’t been able to tolerate anything that even reminds me of milk ever since my Ensure fiasco at the 2001 Knee Knacker race. Needless to say I didn’t take in a whole of fluids between aid stations.
I coach all my athletes to check over their supplies at least a day ahead. Obviously I should try listening to myself once in a while.
3. Drop some weight as I’m still carrying 5 – 10 lbs. of excess weight. I was 191 a month ago and I’ve dropped 5 lbs. since then but still feel like I’m carrying a bit of extra baggage even if it is muscle.
I’m not too worried about this. As my weekly mileage increases the weight will continue to drop off. I only started putting some longer miles in when I began marathon training in February.
4. Eat breakfast. In training I rarely eat breakfast before my long run. I make sure that I’ve eaten well in the days previous to the run but to enhance my body’s ability to burn fat I head out on my long runs without eating anything except having a cup of coffee. I’m out the door within 30 – 45 minutes of waking so this strategy has been working well. I have my nutrition ready to go during the run and begin sipping my workout drink (usually HEED) in the first 15 minutes of starting.
On race day it was a little over 2 hours before I started the run. This was too long to go without eating anything. Combined with the fact I wasn’t thrilled about my energy drink I was taking in too few calories. Since I was using this race as a training run I was experimenting with things so it was a lesson learned.
Things That Went Well
1. I can still hammer the downhills. While my uphill fitness needs work I was really happy with the downhill running. Without a lot of downhill training in the last year my footing was solid and the legs could take the pounding with no problem. I guess the strength training over the last year has paid off. I ran the downhills a lot faster than last week and it felt great. Running fast downhill doesn’t require a lot of fitness. Just lay off the brakes and don’t fall. Simple.
2. Recovery was great. I thought I’d be stiff and sore Sunday morning but apart from a bit of tightness in the calves I didn’t feel much. Guess what I did for my recovery worked great. What did I do?
I began replenishing the glycogen and fluids within 30 minutes of finishing. The spread at the finish line was amazing including salad, bread, lasagna, watermelon and cookies. Water, pop, coffee and tea were available. I ate a heaping plate, drank 5 or 6 glasses of water, a couple of glasses of Coke and a cup of coffee. I ate and drank more water than normal the rest of the day as well; I haven’t been this hungry in a while. After our dinner that night I even splurged and got a DQ Blizzard. I haven’t had one of these since last summer. Two words to describe it; mmmm-mmmmmm!
In addition to the eating and rehydration I did a bit of trigger point therapy with a small rubber ball. I probably spent 15 minutes or so on my legs. I only did about five minutes of static stretching after the race.
I also took an epsom salt bath and got a good night’s sleep. I felt like I ran pretty hard on the downhills so I was expecting a lot more DOM’s (delayed onset muscle soreness). But the strength training and my recovery strategies seemed to do the trick in preventing this.
3. The glutes and hamstrings were very active. After focusing on technique and strength training since 2009 I found that my hammies and glutes are firing well during my runs. I’ve never felt them so much as I do these days. My leg muscles are more balanced now and the loading is much better distributed during running. The quads don’t have to take on the brunt of the stress.
Highly Recommend the Race
I was also happy to see one of the runners I coach run a great race. Tom Craik along with his partner Kim Steed won the relay division. Talking to Tom after the race he said he felt strong on the uphills and was pleased with how he ran the race. The program (including both a running schedule and weight training) I designed for him seemed to be improving his fitness quite nicely.
If you’ve never done the Dirty Duo I encourage you to give it a shot. The race is well organized with great draw prizes and a killer spread afterward. It has a number of different options to challenge veteran trail runners as well as newbies. You can do a 25 or 50 km run and this year there was a new 15 km version. The route is fantastic with both technical and simple trails. And did I mention the hills? It has plenty of those.