Coach Nikon made the point today that the first half of the American River 50 Miler is on the bike path and that even though we ran three and a half hours last weekend in Auburn, three and half hours on the bike trail is an entirely different beast. He may not have used those exact words but I do believe I got the message he was trying to deliver. Even though the terrain changes and you're running a nice flat surface, a nice flat surface for THREE HOURS or more can definitely take its toll on you let alone when you realize that those three hours are only a small portion of the American River 50 Miler. You have to learn to tone it down and run conservatively on these flatter sections and bike trail portions in order to have enough steam to make it on the trails up to Auburn. At least that is how I understood it.
You always hear the advice "never experiment with anything new in a race" and today, since I wasn't racing, I tried a lot of new things. Most of what I tried was in an effort to tone down my stomach issues that I have been having lately. I changed my breakfast from oatmeal to a can of Ensure (vanilla if you were wondering). I have never had Ensure before and lord knows I have never consumed that much fat or calories in a DRINK but I do believe it truly helped. Liquid digestion seemed much easier on my stomach than food. I also never took any form of Advil or Aleve before or during the run (minus one Motrin pill about 10 minutes from the finish). Finally, after researching online for other tips and tricks from ultra runners who experience tummy issues, I took one Imodium pill an hour before my run. Now it may have been a combination of all of the above or just one or two things but I had zero stomach issues on this run. None what so ever. Which is good as I had other things to focus on.
I did bring my camera but the sights were not nearly as exciting as last weekend. Sorry.
There may have been clouds at the start but the day was gorgeous otherwise.
We ran as a group around Lake Natoma, across Hazel and up to the bluffs. The trails were still quite muddy from our week long rain but runnable and fun.
Climbing up the bluffs
Today I ran conservatively and found myself in the company of Coach Nikon, Captain Kirk and Billy Idol (not the real Billy mind you). It was a great pace and since I found my heart rate was a bit higher than last weekend I figured it was a good thing I was running nice and easy.
The top of the bluffs
Things were going well for me most of the day. My tummy was in check and my legs felt okay. Last night I had decided to try a little "real" food on the trails and boiled some small potatoes and doused them with salt to consume while running. They may have looked completely unappealing but damn they tasted good.
Eventually we came back onto the bike trail after having spent about an hour and forty minutes on the trails. Our goal for the day was to run three hours and forty-five minutes. When we regrouped at a water stop I realized we still had quite a bit of running to do. I tossed aside any negative thoughts and just started running. You gotta do what you gotta do and the group was running.
Quite some time was spent running on pavement or the side of the bike path and this is when things started to ache. First my problem ankle really started barking at me followed quickly by my opposite knee. I was happy to hear I wasn't the only one who was experiencing some aches and pains. You know they say misery loves company right?
We were able to dip onto some trails on our way up to Beal's Point. We even passed the famous Folsom Prison (for all you Johnny Cash fans out there).
trailmomma with Folsom Prison in the background
We arrived at Beal's and regrouped again and then the group split up. Some of us had enough and were starting to get achy and some were gunning to run more miles. I knew I would not make the three hour forty-five minute goal but I was okay with that. I could feel my ankle swelling in my shoe but not enough to make me stop.
On the way back I found myself running with Garmin and Hawaii Mark (formerly known as Hawaii Mike). It was nice having company and it was also nice knowing I was not alone in feeling aches and pains which at points reduced me to a runner shuffle. Hawaii Mark even had a stash of drugs (all legal) in his pack and he offered me a Motrin. I accepted despite my inner warning to stay away. My knee and ankle thanked him immensely.
We made it back to our cars and I was greeted by a wonderful surprise . . . the Peant and Vans had driven down to meet me!!! It was so nice to see their smiling faces. I was honestly quite surprised because the Peanut had a very rough night (as did Vans and myself) but she was thrilled to see me and meet my runner friends.
She particularly likes to carry around some Cliff Shot Blocks and of course snag a muffin and a cookie from Karen's Bakery across the street.
The Peanut stealing Captain Kirk's Shot Blocks (cola flava)
Overall we ran about three and a half hours for a total of 19 miles. I felt good minus the aches and pains I mentioned earlier. I consumed 2 gels, a bag of potatoes and 2 SCaps on my run and never felt hungry or like my body dragging. Now if I could only carry around an extra ankle and knee in my pack I'd be in business!
See Coach Nikon, Garmin's not afraid of the mud anymore!