Ultramarathon

43) Kettletown State Park Challenge 50k, CT, 20th May 2017

Finished in 5:03:39 and first place.

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This looked an interesting training race for the West Highland Way as the course was wooded and undulating, and the five loops of a 10k figure of 8 circuit with the main aid station in the middle of the 8. The multiple loops gave a final opportunity to test nutrition.

Race morning

I had my usual PB&J bagel for breakfast and a coconut water, then a second coconut water and banana at the race start.

Registration was straight forward, it was a small race with a nice community feel. There were maybe 15 people registered for the 50k and larger numbers for the 30k, 10k and 5k races.

My race strategy was to run on feel, stopping each time I completed a 10k loop, to resupply.

Race

The race start was a vague point on the tarmac by the lake. Nobody wanted to be at the front of the field and there was no indication as to who was running which distance. I decided to start near the front and focus on my own pace as I had done in previous races.

One person started quickly and I had lost him by the top of the first hill but let him go and focused on getting into a rhythm. The course was a lot hillier than I had expected. I ran all the hills on the first lap but started walking a couple of the steeper ones after that.

10k runners started passing me midway through the first lap. I also caught the person in second place (Jeff), though it turned out he was running the 30k, which meant one of us was leading our race. We ended up running together for the next 2 laps.

I was running well and feeling good, not pushing too hard on the 4th lap as it was starting to get warm, but at the end of the lap as I was coming into the check point I saw the leader just leaving. This inspired me to quickly restock and push on to see if I could catch him, though at the back of my mind I knew I shouldn’t get too carried away as I had the Gate City Marathon the next day. I was surprised to catch him at the top of the hill despite deliberately slowing a bit, and then my competitive side took over and I decided to pass him and try to lose him on the downhill, which I didn’t so I pushed through the aid station and pushed hard on the gentle but technical climb into the second loop. I didn’t look back so pushed longer and harder than I needed too, spiking my heart rate way above where I had planned. Having fought for the lead I then felt I had to defend it so I pushed hard all the way through the final loop, though my pace was dropping off, and I kept expecting to hear footsteps behind.

I finished in 5:03:39, having run fairly consistent lap times of 0:58, 1:00, 1:02, 1:02 and 0:59 (laps 2, 3 and 4 include re-stocking at the check point).

As all the other races had finished the finish area was quiet. There was water and snacks so I had some watermelon and fluids as I was starting to cramp up. A paddle in the lake up to my waist acted as a good ice bath and helped recovery. I hung around at the finish for a bit to cheer in some of the other runners before hitting the road.

Learning points

My training and running on heart rate is meaning that I can finish races strong.

I can control my urge to race to an extent…!

My nutrition is working well so I’m feeling in a good place for the West Highland Way Race.

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