Monday, December 17, 2012

2012 Seashore Nature Trail 50k Race Report

Oh gee where to start? Um, how about with the usual warning about this being a long report. Big surprise, I know. Okay, my race weekend started with a trip to the car dealer to get an oil change and tire rotation. Nothing too exciting there except that the customer service has been getting exponentially better there. Kind of odd but in my line of work I'm hyper-sensative to it. From there I headed down to Virginia Beach.

The Start.

I drove past the hotel where packet pick-up would be and went to the park, First Landing State Park, to scope out the trails. I walked down to the beach and was pretty confused about how we'd be able to run 30+ miles on sand dunes. I went into the office to get a map and the lady working the desk was nice enough to explain to me that the race would be on the other side of the street where the trails were. So I drove over there, got an idea of where to park and where we'd be running, saw a few other runners doing the same thing, then headed to packet pickup. At packet pickup I noticed a DRHT 50k shirt, lots of runners, and nobody I knew. So I headed to my hotel to check in and find dinner.

Some fellow DailyMile members out on the course and at aid stations.

I got checked in, ditched my bag, and ate some grub before turning in and getting a decent night's sleep. Race morning came soon enough and I was up and out the door in plenty of time to drive to the nearby Panera for breakfast. I knew I had made a mistake with my dinner the night before so I figured what the hell, a larger breakfast can't make things worse. Turns out, I was right. My dinner choice wasn't so good and that's what I paid for. Chips, salad, and a creamy lobster and shrimp mac & cheese wasn't a great idea. Way too much dairy. My breakfast, a egg and cheese sandwich and bagel, was pretty normal and I didn't pay for that.

Spanish moss and great views of the sun and swamps.

Anyway, I parked at the park, got out, walked around, went to the bathroom, saw Danny W. , Michael N. , and Steve S. before the start. We all chatted a bit here and there, I got my timing chip, and went to the bathroom. Nothing too abnormal other than I should have worn my kilt since there was another guy there wearing his. Damn. Oh, and I saw Tammy, aka Chatty Cathy, aka Tab's best friend. We call her Chatty Cathy because she talks. A lot.

Yet another view along the course.

The race started at the parking lots, went about 3/4's of a mile up the road, then headed onto the Cape Henry Trail. The route was a funny double out and back. The funny part was the first section on the road was only repeated twice; once at the start and once at the finish. Everything else you got to see four times. From the Cape Henry Trail, we headed south-east with a detour onto the Kingfisher Trail and White Hill Lake Trail. Cape Henry is flat and wide. It's very much like a fire road but instead of gravel, it's dirt and pine needles. Kingfisher and White Hill Lake were both single track with some small hills and plenty of roots. This would be the theme of the day. Flat, roots, and dirt. The Cape Henry Trail heads to 64th Street where we got our first aid station (unless you count the one we passed right as we started). From here Cape Henry becomes more single track and much more twisty. Nothing too major and a nice change of pace. We ran along the water line, through a short section of sand, turned around, and repeated everything (including the detour on the side trails).

This tree was labeled as the Giving Tree.

Once we got back to the area where we left the road and got onto the Cape Henry Trail, we took another detour onto some side trails. These were like the others, but had much more roots and boardwalks to cross over. They also had a few more rolling hills but again, nothing too major. The Bald Cyprus Trail was pretty short and easy to navigate but the Osmanthus Trail sucked. Lots of roots, lots of boardwalks, and lots of rollers. It makes a loop and on the return side of it things got bad mentally. It felt like you were running the same section of trail over and over again. I've only had this happen to me once (at Oil Creek) and I hated it. It was like I was on a treadmill and couldn't get off. Once I saw the little sign on the trail, I knew I was close to the end. From there it was a short section of the Bald Cyprus Trail again then back to the Cape Henry Trail. From here, we repeated everything all over again for a second time. At the end of the second time through, we headed back to the road to the finish line.

Some punk running in a race.

A couple of things to know about the race. First, there are no hills. Any hill you run over is going to be shorter than 50 feet. And of those hills, there aren't many of them, maybe just a handful. There is elevation change along the entire route, but again, not very much to speak of. There's just enough elevation to give you a chance to walk or use different muscles but overall, it's a flat course. The weather for the race was great so the trail conditions were great. This meant that it was dry and fast. It also meant you had plenty of chances to trip on tree roots. And there were plenty of them. Plenty. No rocks to speak of and only a short section of sand along the water's edge. On the second loop the tide shifted so there was a water crossing. If you could call it that. The water was maybe 2 inches deep and you could jump across it. The finish is also not exactly where the start was. Pretty close though and it's well marked so you won't get lost. However, the rest of the course isn't marked as well as I expected so there was a chance that you'd get lost. But in all honesty, that chance was pretty damn slim. They had a person at every turn you make on the trail and they were pretty vocal about where you needed to go. And after you run the route the first time, it's easy enough to remember the second time around. The aid stations were great and even though there were two of them, you passed them many, many times. Very strategically placed for the runners and volunteers for easy access.

The same punk running on one of the many boardwalks.

At the finish, the volunteers were all great. Congratulations and help with anything you needed. You get a sweatshirt for registering and a long sleeve tech tee when you finish. All in all, a great deal for a great race. I'd certainly recommend it for first-timers and old hats. It's also a great race for those coming with family as there's plenty of places to see runners go by many, many times.

Temps started out around 40F to 45F or so and warmed to 50F or 55F. There was a breeze in some of the sections as you neared the water or the trees thinned out. The sun came out once or twice but was generally blocked out by the haze and clouds.

Fluids and Fuel:
So, my dinner the night before would eventually catch up to me. But breakfast before the race was a power sandwich and bagel with an iced latte. During the race I had three magic bottles for fuel (one scoop of Hammer Perpeteum and two Hammer Gels mixed with water). I spaced these out to about one every 5 to 8 miles. I wanted to use them every 10 miles but couldn't quite stretch them that far. I also had a bottle of Hammer Fizz about every 5 to 8 miles. Again, I tried to stretch this to every 10 miles but again, it didn't work. I did have a bottle of plain water that I used as well but I only refilled that two or three times. For the last 10 miles or so I had to survive on Mountain Dew and Gatorade. More on this in a bit. Recovery was hot chocolate, two donuts, water, then some Hammer Recoverite when I got back to my hotel.

Aches and Pains:
I tripped once early on and stubbed my toe on a root. I managed to not fall but still felt awkward for a half mile or so. Around Mile 10 or so I fell. And it was quite the spectacular fall. Just ask the two guys that got to see it. I tripped, tucked, rolled onto my back, and then laid there like a damn turtle on my back. My bottles in my pack dug into my back but beyond that, nothing hurt too bad. After a few miles though my left elbow and left calf began to hurt a bit. I only ended up with a bit of road rash on my left calf so it all worked out okay. My right heel was also hurting int he final 10 miles or so but not bad enough to stop. Same with the ball of my left foot. It hurt even more after my fall but I was able to block it out and keep running. The worst of my pain was my gut (and this is where things get a bit graphic). Around Mile 8 I started to feel some cramping in my gut. Things got better and worse in cycles and I even tried to purge my system a few times with no luck. It was during these false alarms that I noticed my urine output wasn't what it should have been and was much darker than normal. Around Mile 15 I started to push fluids and my legs stopped feeling tight. But my gut still annoyed the hell out of me. Then around Mile 20 I was finally able to exercise the demon in my gut at the aid station. This left me feeling so much better for the last ten miles. Not only did I feel like I lost 10 pounds but I also had no more stomach distress to deal with.

I started in my thermal top but stripped that off around Mile 12 or so. I also stripped off my winter hat around Mile 2. Wore my orange T-Star Running shorts, calf sleeves, gaiters, 3 Non Joggers t-shirt, headband, and my hydration pack. I also tested out a new piece of equipment, my quarterback gauntlet. Well, technically, it was more like a vambrace, but only the fantasy nerds out there would know the difference. It helped me know the exact distances at each aid station, how far to the next one, and gave me a map of where I needed to go. I loved it but it was a bit uncomfortable to wear after Mile 20. I got compliments on this as well as my shorts. I also got some comments on my color choice (blaze orange) and my DailyMile headband. Turns out this is also a great race for DMers to meet their peers. A few even knew me although I didn't know them.

Codename - Racing Stripes
When I was a kid, I never could get the hang of wiping my ass just right so my mom would always comment on the racing stripes in my underwear. This race wasn't that different except I didn't have racing stripes. I sure felt like I was going to earn them the way my gut felt but I was able to gamble safely and not lose. And thankfully I didn't need to use a sock.

My splits are by aid station so I'll give the mileage to give some perspective.
Time to cross Start - 00:37
64th Street Aid Station - Loop 1 Outbound (Mile 5.17) - 01:00:39
64th Street Aid Station - Loop 1 Inbound (Mile 8.34) - 39:45
Time spent at 64th Street Aid Station - 1:56
Cape Henry Aid Station - Loop 1 Inbound (Mile 12.05) - 52:35
Cape Henry Aid Station - Loop 2 Outbound (Mile 15.75) - 42:32
64th Street Aid Station - Loop 2 Outbound (Mile 19.95) - 59:40
64th Street Aid Station - Loop 2 Inbound (Mile 23.12) - 50:00
Cape Henry Aid Station - Loop 2 Inbound (Mile 27.44) - 1:03:47
To the Finish - 58:49
Finish - 7:09:43 (13:50 per mile average pace)

Forgot to mention that this is a new PR by 27:55.


Kim said...

27 minute PR??? I would have led with that comment!

Congratulations, nice race report!

John Zeleznik said...

For one of these races you will wear a SEASONS OF DESTINY house shirt. It'll from the PBJ triad.