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On Through the Night

Posted July 31st, 2011 at 06:16 PM by Black Spurs
Updated August 2nd, 2011 at 11:59 AM by Black Spurs

It was 8 PM when we stepped off for the night 50k. Basically, this run was a training run to get accustomed to running with a headlamp for a long period of time. My brother and I had just about everything you could want for a run: water, gels, 5 hour energy, red bull, powerade, banannas, pineapple. Of course, we also had pretty much everything you could ever want for a serious case of heartburn and nothing to counteract it.

We started out slowly, and we quickly realized that he had forgotten his headlamp. We weren't starting out too well. Nevertheless, we took off and knew that we would pass by my parents' house after 4.25 miles and pick up the extra lamp. Darkness hit us quickly when we entered the woods and started running along the single track trail. I was listening to music, which I don't normally do on a trail run, but since it was night time, I figured it would help pass the time. My brother ran close behind to benefit from the light. We got a little stretched out on one section of trail when a vine jumped up and grabbed his foot, down he went. I stopped and looked back and finally saw him catching up. "Sorry, dude."

We reached the sandbar and walked in the soft sand. It is really counterproductive to run this section because it takes alot out of you, and you don't gain much time over walking. Your feet sink pretty badly. We reached a food plot on the other side, heading up towards my parents when I first started fighting ants. They got on me like something terrible. I stopped, killed most of them and moved on. I had to slow down a great deal to keep my brother in the light. We were probably 10 minutes off where I wanted to be after the first 4.25 miles, but it probably helped in the long run. He got his light, and off we went. So far, no major problems.

On the way back out, I hit the ants again in the food plot. This time, it was a real problem. I had to run across the sand to the river, which totally destroys my idea that you can't run fast across the sand. When ants are tearing you up, you can do alot of things you didn't think you could do. I got them off and decided to re-do the route to keep us out of the high grass. All during this time, the heartburn is starting to rear its ugly head. It wasn't terrible at first, but with every gulp of Powerade, it got worse. I kept checking on my brother as I went. I could see his light bobbing up and down as he went. But soon, he was out of sight. I made it back to the aid station/ice chest and took in some pineapple, which took the heartburn to full force.

I waited a few minutes until my brother got to the ice chest and told him of the new route. My stomach was not doing very well, but everything else felt fine. I made the alternate five mile out and back fighting the heartburn and wondering if I could go a whole 31 miles. I found some more ants in some high grass and decided that I would have to readjust the route again to a series of 2 mile out and backs, 9 of them to make the distance. The heartburn is just getting worse at this point. From mile 18 to about 22, I was just about as down as you can get. My brother bailed when I was at about 18 or 19. He ended up making it about 17 miles.

Because I ultimately have a 100 mile race to run that necessitates some walking, I decided to do a run/walk strategy and see how things did as far as time goes. I think it was like 9 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking or something like that. It worked quite well, actually. I started to get stronger and forget the heartburn at about mile 24, which is about when I drank a Red Bull. By the time I hit mile 27, I was running pretty darn strong all the way in to the end. By the time I finished, it was 2:33 AM. It took 6 hours, 33 minutes, and 17 seconds to run the 31 miles. I averaged 12:42 per mile over the whole run, which ain't too shabby on a humid night with heartburn, wet feet, and ant bites all over you. I had a lot of gas left in the tank at the end of the run. I had the energy to do a 50 miler. Heartburn was my only problem at the end of the run.

I had no major blister problems. I had absolutely no pains. I had no major cramping issues in my legs, which is something that hit me hard around 18 miles into the MS50 in March. Today, I have a little bit of soreness, but outside of that, everything is fine.

I came to a few conclusions:
1. I will probably have to use water and electrolyte tablets instead of electrolyte drinks. The only electrolyte drink I take well is HEED.
2. I will need to keep alka-seltzer on hand for long runs after taking a pepcid or some such medicine before running.
3. I take Red Bulls well, but they don't help with the heartburn.
4. The run/walk strategy works very well for longer runs out past a marathon distance.
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