Sunday, March 27, 2016

2016 Clinton Lake Ultra 30

2016 Clinton Lake Ultra 30 Mile Trail Run
1st Place Overall  3:33:37 (New Course Record)

What a day. Completed my second 30 miler this morning. Felt great. It was three 10 mile loops, with each loop having roughly 1200 ft of climbing, I think. There were roughly 125 runners. I went into the race with mixed emotions. I wasn't sure my foot would hold up from aggravating it after a trail race in late Feb and that my mileage hasn't been where I wanted it leading up into this race because of my foot. Highest mileage week leading up to the race was a few weeks of 55, with my longest run being 14.

      Good news the foot held up for the race bad news I irritated it again and Im icing it as I type and hobbling around the house. More good news is that I was able to get a new course record. I went into the race with an idea of what the record was (3:35:52) but I was confident I would only be able to go 3:45 on a good day and that if I broke 4 hours Id be happy. I had plans on running with last years winner for the first loop and evaluating the situation from there because he had run the 30 mile course many times before. Right after the start I found myself alone for the first 2 laps, just me and the trail. I caught myself really becoming engaged in the trail and my surroundings and was mentally telling myself enjoy this moment. Theres just something about running on a good trail. Each loop I felt better and better and each lap I was dropping minutes. It was hard to tell what exactly my pace was in the woods b/c my GPS watch isn't too accurate on trails and in tree cover but I knew I was moving pretty well. Its a hard line to run between going out too fast and just enough to keep a good pace but without dying those last few miles. I kept feeling good so I just kept pushing the pace. If I died on the last loop Id deal with it then.

      First loop was 1:14 so I knew I was close to record pace, second loop I dropped 3 more minutes and came across in 1:11 (2:25 and some change) Last loop I was 1:08 which to be honest really surprised me. I was pushing so hard that last lap I knew I was flirting with danger. One thing is I think I ate just right, my intake settled well in my stomach. I had one GU at mile 7 ish and some water at the 5.5 mile aid station the first loop, second loop I had a 12oz coconut water that I carried in my waistband behind me, 100 calorie baby food squeeze thing,(sweet potato and carrot I think), a GU (Vanilla Bean) and an organic fruit roll up type thing, same thing for the 3rd loop. Third loop was awesome, I started seeing runners on their 2nd loop and they were really encouraging which helped lift my spirits.

    Overall I had a blast today and really surprised myself. I also met a lot of new and awesome people, this ultra running community is great. Ill definitely remember what happened on Saturday for a long time it really was a special day. Congrats to all who battled the course and finished. A special thanks to the race directors Don and Ellen for putting on a great event, Ill be back next year. Also it was awesome meeting and talking to Joel Lammers from Wisconsin and sharing an icebath in the nuclear lake soaking in the radiation. Lastly a special thanks to Denise McKinley from Amer Sports (Salomon & Suunto Rep) for the hookup on some shoes, Ill most definitely be putting some miles on them. From here Ill have to take some time healing my foot. Ill be on the bike and in the stairs for a month or so probably and then maybe start running hopefully getting ready for the USA Mountain Running Championships in NH at Loon Mountain in July. Till next time.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

2016 Clinton Lake Ultra 30 Pre Race

2016 Clinton Lake Ultra 30 Miler
Justin Stewart (3/24/16)

Pre Race:
Clinton Lake
 Its 2 days out from the 2016 Clinton Lake Ultra 30 miler that takes place on a 10 mile hilly trail around part of Clinton Lake just NE of Clinton IL. We'll be doing the 10 mile loop 3 times, there's roughly 125 runners that will start the course. There's roughly 1500 ft of climbing each loop which isnt bad but it will be difficult to get into a rhythm with all the undulations this course holds. Ive been on this trail twice before. First time was a couple years ago and I finished one loop in an unofficial course record of 1:06 and some change. Second time wasn't too long ago in January when the course was tore up with frozen muddy footprints everywhere and made for a horrendous run footing wise. Hopefully the course and trail are better than that day.

Anyway I thought I'd reflect on the days before leading up to Saturday. Back in late February at the Castlewood Cup 15k I aggravated a tendon in my foot that hindered me from running for two weeks. I was on the bike for 2 weeks, which wasn't bad but it wasn't running.  Just this past week I was able to finally put in a solid week of mileage, which felt great because I was getting worried if I was even going to be able to run the race. I am still feeling good about going into the race though. We all hit snags in our training and this snag came at a time when I was really gearing up my mileage and this event was right in the middle of the build up. I am still confident in my ability but I will have to be more cautious with my foot to not aggravate it again. So the game plan is to take it lap by lap.  This will only be my second 30 miler. I had great results in my first 30 (2015 McNotAgain 30 Miler, 1st Place 4:01:00), but each race is different and I'll have to take this one just like I did with the first; which is to ease into it and eat early and often to avoid crashing later on. I love this distance right now for me because it still feels like uncharted territory for me. Its a big unknown and I enjoy that, pushing my self physically but more so mentally. I am excited to see what Saturday brings.   

Monday, March 7, 2016

2016 Castlewood Cup 15k Trail Race

2016 Castlewood Cup 15k Trail Race
Castlewood State Park, Ballwin MO
Feb. 27th 2016
1st Place  57:30 (6:11 pace)

The Castlewood Cup is easily one of my favorite races. I first ran it last year and fell in love with the trail and atmosphere. I was able to win the event in 15' so I had to come back do defend it, plus I want to see how much time I can personally cut from year to year on this course. Last year I covered the course on a bitter cold and windy day with trail conditions that were icy in 58:20. This year the conditions were much better with trail conditions that were muddy but the temp was at low 50's. Covered the course in 57:30 this year.

Went into this race confident in my training and ability. I had just been doing strength endurance workouts all winter long and slowly build my miles. I knew the competition would be a little tighter this year. It seems to be attracting more and more talent each year.

One thing I love about this course are the hills. This course has some decent climbs for this area. The gun went off and 3 of us went to the lead. The first 3/4 mile is flat grass which was mud this year. Heading around the tree line I found some footing and found myself side by side sharing the lead with Travis. 3/4 mile in we head up our first climb 300-400 ft ish climb. Once we hit the hill I pushed up front. At the top I threw in an intentional surge to separate myself. From there on I never really saw anybody. I could catch a glimpse of 2nd place every once and a while when the course switched back on a ravine. I could sense I was pulling slightly away over the course of the route but I knew I had to keep pressing and not settle in. The course has some great climbs and some sections of roller where you can really open up. With about 2 miles to go you can fly back down into the river section. Headed into the river crossing and back up into the flat grass section where we started. This section was even more sloppy after hundreds of people ran on it. I felt like I could open up my stride here but couldnt because of the footing. Just did my best to close strong.

After the race my right foot was tight and days after I could tell I aggravated a tendon in my right arch behind my big toe and it was uncomfortable to run on flat hard surfaces. So Im on the bike and stairs for a couple weeks. Hopefully it can clear up come March 26th for the Clinton Lake 30 miler.