Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nashville Ultra Recap & More Evolving

I needed a week away from all things running, blogging, and generally healthy after crossing the finish line of my first 50-miler.  I’ve gotten more sleep, eaten more bad food, and neglected any form of exercise more in the last week than I have for the entirety of 2012 leading up to the race … and it has been glorious.

All in all, I consider my first 50-mile ultra to be a resounding success.  My training seems to have been just about the right amount.  My walk/run strategy, and my ability to stick to the strategy right from the start, served me well.  Hydration and nutrition worked out well, although it was close to 80 degrees as a high on race day, so I probably could/should have consumed even more liquids than I did.  No gear issues, no injuries, and no points during the race where I questioned my sanity any more than I do on most every day.  Good stuff.

The Nashville Ultra is a great race, and I would highly recommend it.  It’s pretty small, and spectator support is largely non-existent, but the organizer does a great job with logistics and aid stations, and the participants are very supportive of each other throughout the course.  The race consists of a 16-mile out-and-back through a park, that is very scenic as it winds along a river and through farmland, followed by a 34-mile urban out-and-back that takes you through downtown Nashville and gives a nice little foot-tour of the city.  Unfortunately I don’t really have any pictures, but if you’re looking to buy boots or listen to live country music, then downtown Nashville is where you want to be.

I’d break my race experience down into the first 40 miles, which were tiring but pretty much what I expected, and the last 10 miles, which were mentally and physically challenging in a way that my marathons have never quite achieved.  The last 4-5 miles of the race are a steady set of uphills that are a little soul-sucking, but make the finish line that much sweeter.  I finally crossed the finish line at 9 hours, 42 minutes, and there wasn’t a whole lot left in the tank.  I experienced a few pre-cramp twitches in my calves and left quad, but never actually had any cramps to deal with, which was something I was concerned about based on the heat.  Sadly, my stomach wasn’t feeling that great at the end, so my post-race celebratory beer had to wait until the next day after the 9-hour drive home.

Finisher''s mug ... meet finisher's beer
That beer may have been accompanied by another beer or two after sitting in the car that long.  Details are a bit fuzzy.

I would definitely consider doing another ultra, but don’t feel a tremendous desire to pursue one right now.  I’m signed up for a half-ironman next June, so I need to slowly start transitioning from run-training to tri-training.  I think this is truly a case of ‘Evolving through Running’.  I’ve struggled to come up with anything interesting to post on the blog in recent months, and I’m realizing that with where I am at the moment I’ve said and learned most of what I wanted to say and learn about running from blogging, so now I need to broaden my goals, and broaden my experiences to find a new voice for my training efforts.

I don’t have anything mapped out yet race-wise between now and June, and I’m ok with that for now.  I got back out for my first run post-ultra yesterday morning, and everything felt great.  I was only sore for a couple days after the race, and then I gave myself time to heal since I know there’s more trauma than just what the soreness highlights.  I don’t have a tri-training plan identified, but I’m scoping a few out.  I’ll start mixing in swimming over the next couple months to build a base, and I’m planning to get back out on the bike starting this weekend to make peace between my arse and the saddle again.

I have much to learn about biking and swimming, and I’ll be sharing the learning process right here.  I also need to dial-up the accountability for getting in the pool, and this blog will help to keep me honest.  Looking forward to stretching my boundaries.