First, I must congratulate my good buddy, Kevin (the Goat), for running his first ultramarathon in great style. Kevin finished 39th in 9:39 having previously never run a race of more than 5 miles or so. Congrats dude!
Stone Cat is a very good race. The weather was perfect for an ultra. The temp was comfortable enough at the start to wear shorts and T-shirts, yet it never go much warmer. It was cloudy all day, but no rain until after we finished. The course was rolling with a lot of single track. I wish I would have trained on single track because my body sure paid the price.
A couple weeks before the race, I started having some right knee issues which I chose to ignore. Since this was Goat's race, I really wanted to be there to support him. Even 2 days before the race, my knee was feeling really bad - pain below the knee cap, ITB tightness, etc. I reminded myself that I usually have some ache or pain before a race, and it is never an issue in the race.
The race started around 6:20AM and it was already light enough to run without headlamps. The course is 4 laps of 12.5 miles. On the first lap, I felt like I was going a bit too fast, but settled in to run with the eventual women's winner, Christine Daly. We finished the first lap in 1:50, and I thought it would be awesome to hold that pace for 4 laps. Unfortunately, I could feel my knee causing problems already. The ITB was starting to ache. From what I could tell, we were in the Top 10 and likely in the Top 5 or so at that point.
On the beginning of the second lap, I saw Mark, Scott, and Keith less than 10 minutes behind me, and then Kevin right behind them. Wow, we're all going too fast, I thought...or maybe I'm just out of shape (yikes!). I ran a good portion of the second lap with Christine, but started to pull ahead after awhile (I should have held back). At the end of the second lap, I was at around 3:50, but I was really feeling beat. My ITB was really hurting and my quads were sore. I felt like dropping, but knew I had to finish. My pace was slowing. I went back out for the 3rd lap, and saw Mark still less than 10 minutes behind me. Damn! He's running strong.
I really struggled on the 3rd lap and started taking ibuprofen for my knee. Mark caught up to me about 7 miles into it. At this point, I was doing a lot of walking especially on the single track. My knee was really getting bad. As long as it didn't lock up, I knew I could deal with it and finish. Mark tried to run with me a bit, but I told him to go ahead. My energy level was not great either. I had taken a minimalist approach to this race to see if it would help my stomach ailments. I used Heed and hammergel on the first lap, and only hammergel on the second lap. I wasn't getting the fuel I needed. Time to start eating some fruit.
I had been wearing a lighter pair of Asics (2100s) for this race because it worked well for me at Pineland Farms. Unfortunately, I think these shoes added to the knee issues. At the beginning of the 4th lap, I changed into the Kayano's and it seemed to help some.
The 4th lap was all about finishing. My energy level was improving since I decided to experiment with different foods to see what tasted good. I ate bananas, cantaloupe, and PB&J. It was all good. I also took some salt pills. Keith caught up to me about halfway through the last lap. We ran together a bit, but I told him to go ahead. He looked strong and I didn't want to slow him down. There were times that I just had to walk due to the knee pain.
He went ahead for awhile, and then I caught up to him with less than a mile to go. I tried to push him to finish ahead of me, but he was having a rough patch. I ended up finishing a couple minutes ahead of Keith in 8:43 (19th and 20th overall). I was just happy to finish.
Mark was waiting at the finish. He placed 10th in 8:07. Amazing run! Scott finished at around 9:15 with a PR. Goat, of course, was 9:39. Everyone seemed happy.
I learned a lot from this race:
1. I didn't respect the distance or the course and paid the price. I need to train more seriously if I'm going to try to run up front.
2. I wore the wrong shoes.
3. I need to train more on single track. I've gotten lazy about running the same old course at the reservoir.
4. I need to pace myself better and hold back during the first half of the race.
5. I do better with some solid food especially fruit.
6. I still need to figure out the right mix of salt for me.
7. Need more strength training for this course.
Lots of good data points from this one. I'm excited about finishing my 3rd ultra of the year. It's another first. It was great to see so many runners out there, and great to see Jamie (The Maine Runner) after each lap as he was volunteering on this day.
I'm heading down to Mexico in a couple weeks to climb 2 of the big volcanoes (Ixta and Orizaba). We'll see how my body handles serious altitude (19,000 feet). It should be fun!