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100K ultra Adam Culp Race Race Report ultra running

2011 Iron Horse 100 Endurance Run Race Report

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Due to a pretty harsh cold virus taking advantage of my bodies weakened state after this race I am just now able to focus enough to get this race report out.  I know many of you have wondered what happened to me.  I have not been blogging actively, or commenting on other people’s blogs for quite some time.  Well, February 19th 2011 and the Iron Horse Endurance Run has finally came and went and I  survived  This race was to be my first 100 mile ultra-marathon for which I had trained hard over the past 22 weeks.

It was a very challenging 22 weeks with a total of 101 runs for 1,183 miles over 187 hours and 158,500 burned calories.  THAT is why I have been such a quiet blogger this past 5 months.  It sure was hard to put in this much training, work full time, and still have family time.  But  somehow I managed, and really loved it in the process.

Virus Lurking

I did everything I could think of to ensure I was ready as could be for this race.  I ate right, trained hard, rested when needed, cross-trained, tapered for 3 weeks, and managed to keep motivated the entire time while training alone.  The one glitch was a work related conference one week prior to the race where EVERYONE WAS SICK with the sniffles.  Then 3 days before the race I came down with a cold despite HUGE amounts of vitamin C.  I did not catch if full force, but it was enough to drain some of my reserves. (more on that when describing the race)

The night before the race I ate everything in site to ensure I had enough calories to load up as much as possible.  Now, I am not a fan of Golden Corral, but it served the purpose that night.   I always feel slightly out of place when I go to one of these places since I am not over-weight, and don’t really qualify as a “full” red neck. (I see your head nodding, so you know what I mean.)  I know not everyone in that place fits my description, but I was very much in the minority.  As I walked around the trough to get some food I could feel the eyes on me as if to ask, “Why are you here? You don’t belong.”  I was like a Chimp surrounded by a group of Gorillas who are wondering why I am eating their bamboo.

My Fueling Plan

My plans for the race were pretty simple.  I planned on running the full 100 miles in 21 hours, and would take in 350 calories/hour and about 15 ounces of fluid/hour also.  To do this I was drinking HEED from a CamelBak, eating GU gels, and also drinking Perpetuem from a 20 ounce bottle.  The idea was to refill the CamelBak every 3 hours with HEED, eat one GU every 45 minutes, refill the Perpetuem every 4 hours, and drink water at the aid stations every 6 miles.  I also planned to eat 1/4 PBnJ (peanut butter and jelly) at each aid station.  Also, each lap of 25 miles I would try to eat something solid as I rested for about 20 minutes.

The Race

The morning of the race I ate a decent breakfast, and headed to the event which was only a few miles down the road from the hotel.  It was in the mid-50 degree range and the forecast called for mid-70 degree temps in the afternoon.  I started out with shorts and short sleeved shirt, and was very comfortable except for my fingers which got a little cold in the first few miles until I put my running gloves on

The first 25 miles went pretty well, and I completed the lap in 4:40.  I stayed on time with my fueling and hydration, and all felt pretty good.  The day was starting to heat up though, so I felt I should slow down a bit.  I refilled the CamelBak and Perpetuem bottle, picked up more GUs and headed out for the second lap feeling a little hot but OK.  Looking back I realize I should have put on sunscreen at this point also.  About half of the course was not covered, and I did get some slight burns.  A non-Floridian would probably get fried.

Mile 28, heat taking a toll

The second 25 felt OK as my wife and son ran with me for the first 3.5 miles and commented that I was starting to look tired.  This became much more obvious about mile 34 when I realized I had not urinated for awhile, and my fingers were a little swollen.  I realized the temps were in the 80’s and were taking a real toll being higher than I had planned and I needed to increase my fluid intake quick.  To handle this I started drinking from my CamelBak more often, and drank more plain water at the aid stations.  While I caught it in time to get my fingers swelling down, it was still awhile before I had enough surplus to urinate.  I finally had the urge to go again around mile 43., and noticed that my body really didn’t want to accept any fuel.  The damage was already done as I finished the second lap at the 10:44 mark.

As I took a break at the 50 mile mark I knew my body needed fuel, but I had no appetite at all.  Nothing sounded good, I was not feeling pleasant because of my slight cold, and I still had 50 miles to go.  I forced down 1/2 PBnJ, and an orange half, and drank some plain water.  At this point I contemplated dropping out.  If I could not fuel up properly I knew I would not last long, but decided to head out and see how I felt after the first 3.5 miles.  As I headed out I felt pretty bad, and my condition did not improve even though the sun was down.  After knocking out the first 3.5 miles I decided to sit for awhile and force down a sausage sandwich as my wife prepared the CamelBak and Perpetuem.  I was completely beat, but was not ready to call it quits yet.

After about an hour (may have been less, but it felt like an hour) I was feeling pretty good so headed out to continue the 3rd lap.  It was dark at this point, so I was running by the light of my headlamp.  My wife ran with me for the first mile, then turned and returned to the aid station while I continued to run in the dark.  It was kind of creepy running through the woods, in the dark, and hearing leaves rustle all around.  The most spooky thing was running along, and then hearing little footsteps in the dried leaves that sounded like they were following you. (Tshhh, tshhh, tshhh, tshhh.)  So I would shine my headlamp in the direction of the footsteps and they would stop.

I was still feeling pretty good and made it to the first aid station about 4 miles later.  I was hopeful they would have some soup because I was still not able to take in much fuel except for drinking HEED.  At the aid station I was in luck and they did have some lentil soup.  I sat long enough to finish a cup of soup, and then headed out.  I was thinking really hard about turning at the 100K marker and finishing the race in 4.5 miles, but was not sure.

My body made the decision for me when I started shivering from head to toe.  Here I was running and feeling warm, yet still shivering.  I realized my body had nothing left, and made the decision to follow my gut and call it quits at 100K.  I managed to run the last 4.5 miles back to the finish line.  I completed the 100K in 14:40 (my Garmin time).  The official results are not posted yet, so I will come back and edit this after they are posted.  With all of the stops, and time spent trying to recover enough to complete the 100 miles, it caused the last 12 miles to take me 4 hours.

While technically this was a DNF, the race coordinator was kind enough to let me still claim a 100K finish.  So I have my first belt buckle.

100K finisher buckle

Lessons Learned

  1. Last year I did not notice how sharp, and how many, rocks there were on the course.  I believe this was partially due to wearing ‘cushion’ shoes last year, and this year I was wearing ‘stability’ shoes.  By the end of the race my feet felt like hamburger, and were swelled up for 3 days.  I think the fact that my shoes were also due to be changed helped in the matter, with less sole to protect my feet.
  2. I should have drank more fluids earlier on at the rest stops to make up for the added heat.  By the time I realized this I had already blown the race.
  3. My wife offered to run with me more than she did, and because I was already miserable I refused.  Next time I will inform my pacer to just run and not ask me if I want them to.
  4. I should have forced down some more food after mile 25, rather than wait until 50 when my body was more worn down.
  5. Be more careful NOT to catch a cold virus a few days prior to a race of this magnitude.  Not sure how I could have been more careful of this, but I do know that having a cold sucked.
  6. Take more salt tabs or Endurolytes each hour in heat.  I had forgotten that during the cool months of training.
  7. Change my shirt each 25 miles.  This will cut down on my bodies usage of energy to stay cool/warm.

Thanks for reading.Adam closing

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Adam Culp Marathon Race Running

2010 Space Coast Marathon race report

Adam Culp (Crazy Floridian) after the marathon

OK, sorry for the hold up on the race report and leaving you hanging in my last post.  Finally, here are the details. 🙂

As you know from a previous post my family and I went to the Smoky Mountains for the long Thanksgiving weekend and some mountain trail hiking.  We had a great time and did 3 very long hikes totaling 12.41 miles with an average climb of 1,300 feet for each hike starting at 2,000 feet and climbing.  The weather was awesome, and the scenery was amazing. I encourage you to click the link above to view a few pictures I took.

Normally hiking and running shortly after is not an issue, and I love how hiking helps my running.  However, on this occasion I had the 2010 Space Coast Marathon the DAY AFTER hiking.  And this was the marathon I had high hopes of running a 3:30 BQ (Boston qualifying) time.  While I knew realistically it probably would not happen, I was still willing to try.

The morning of the race I felt pretty good.  No muscle soreness from the previous 3 days of hiking in the mountains, and my energy levels were very good despite waking very early a couple days in a row, and my hydration was exactly where it should be.  I had a nice breakfast and orange juice, made sure all of my gear was in place, and race number and timing chip were attached correctly.  Overall that morning I felt my 3:30 goal was very reachable, and I was very pumped and ready to try.

Adam Culp (Crazy Floridian) at the starting line

I lined up with the 3:30 pacing team and the race started right on time with the launching of the Space Shuttle on the LARGE screen over the start line.  The crowd size was very nice, and everyone was very friendly.  Temps were in the mid 60’s and you could feel the electricity in the air as everyone waited for the final “GO”!

As the race started we made our way around the first few turns around downtown Cocoa, Florida right.  The pacer was excellent and kept us on pace very well.  I was feeling very good, and the pace felt pretty easy.  My HR (heart rate) was hovering right around 149 and everything was according to plan.

At 6 miles I took in my first gel at 49 minutes into the race.  I had slowed to a walking pace at each water station to make sure I stayed properly hydrated, and casually caught back up to the pace group each time.  At 1 hour I noticed we were at 7.5 miles, so everything was looking great.  I hit 12 miles and took in my second gel at around 1:35, and was still feeling OK, but was starting to feel the distance.

Mile 13.1 passed by and we were about to pass the downtown cheering section, and the finish line for the half-marathoners. (My half marathon time was 1:44:55, still on pace.)  It was here I started to feel fatigued and was starting to fade a bit.  I was surprised by the rapid decline between mile 12 and 14.  I was really finding it hard to catch back up to the pace group after the water stops, but I kept chugging along and was still keeping up.

Adam Culp (Crazy Floridian) halfway

From mile 14 to 19 the water stations seemed to multiply.  I would get a drink, and just as I caught back up to the pace group another one was there to set me back again.  I was in a constant battle to keep up with the pace group.  Finally at some point between 18 and 19 I simply could not catch up again and was defeated.  My stomach was starting to become angry because it was not able to digest fast enough, and my strength was totally zapped.  I decided to walk a little allowing my body to regain some strength.  I was still clinging to the illusion I could quickly regain my strength and catch up to the pace group.  It was right there in front of me after all….right?

Well, my strategy failed.  As I felt some strength returning I started running again, then stopped shortly afterward when I realized I had not gained enough strength to run for long.  I did this for 3 or 4 miles before I finally came to the realization that I was not going to catch the 3:30 pace group…this was as the 3:40 pace group passed me.

On the fly I re-calibrated my goals and decided that I could still stick with the 3:40 group and still get a PR out of this race in any way.  But that idea was short lived as I soon was not able to keep up with them either, and I watched them pull away from me and disappear up ahead.

Adam Culp (Crazy Floridian) trying to keep running

With only a 5K left to go in the race there was no way I was going to be beaten, and I kept pushing forward.  The least I could do was stay under a 4 hour time and salvage some dignity after missing my goal by a full 30 minutes.  I had no strength, and was surviving on will power alone at this point.  Even if I was crawling I would make it to the finish.  This area of the race was deserted, quiet, and painful.  In the distance I could faintly hear the music and cheering at the finish line.  I was so close.  CAN. NOT. STOP!

I am not sure how I did it, but I found some last bit of energy left to make my legs move as I made my way around the pavilion for the final stretch before the finish line.  I could no longer hear the crowds, or even see them, as I focused on keeping my body moving.  I could not even lift my eyes to look ahead further than 10 feet in front of me as I crossed the finish line in 3:59:40. (I did manage to raise my arm to cross the finish line.)

Adam Culp (Crazy Floridian) crossing the finish line

So there it is, another marathon under my belt with more lessons.  Am I upset because I missed my goal?  Sure.  But the time spent with my family on the beautiful trails of the Smoky Mountains was well worth it.  There will be more marathons in my future, and I am convinced I can achieve my goal with the proper amount of rest prior to the race.  For now my focus will be on my next goal of completing my first 100 mile ultra in February.  Stay tuned.

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Adam Culp Race Race Report Running training

Global Warming, My Ass! 6.66 Mile Run Virtual Race Report

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Today Saturday, March 6th, 2010 was a beautiful day for a virtual race.  (See Razz’s blog for details.) Here in Boynton Beach, FL the tempurature at 9:43 AM was a balmy 57 degrees as the sun was shining brightly in clear blue skies for as far as the eye could see.  As the runner (me, Adam Culp) lined up at the starting line there was a slight 15 mph wind coming from the WNW.  The course is a very simple square around the neighborhood:

As the start button on the timer is pressed the race began without fanfare or cheering crowds.  With all of the excitement I started out a little faster than I intended, and was forced to recalculate after the first mile.  I was running much better than I thought I could, and quickly realized I felt pretty damn good, so continued at the same neck-breaking pace. (Well, it was fast for me since my previous marathon pace was 8:45.  Or was supposed to be.)

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50 mile ultra Adam Culp Race Race Report Running ultra running

2010 Iron Horse 50 Endurance Run Race Report

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On the day before the race (February 12th) it was cloudy, cold, rainy, dark from no moon, and just plain ugly.  I was very nervous that I had signed up for the worst day to run 50 miles through a cold version of hell on Earth.  My muscles were growing tighter by the minute, and butterflies had been taking control of my stomach for hours prior to the race briefing at 6:00pm the day before the event.  This was to be my first time running a 50 mile endurance race along the trails of Florahome, Florida where there had once been a rail road track converted to trails for walking/running. (I understand that over the next year or so they are going to pave them over and make it a bike course.)

The race briefing was short and sweet.  Watch out for alligators, panthers, bears, dogs, and even the “Bardin Booger”. (A local tale of a big foot like creature that roams the woods around the town of Bardin at the turn around point in the run.) Oh, and when crossing one of the three trestles (bridges) don’t step off of the newly laid down planks because the old wood of the bridge itself will crumble. (That makes me feel much better since the new planks are nailed to the old dead wood that can crumble!  I guess it was safe enough though because no one fell through.)

Afterwards I had a quick meal of ribs, baked potato, mac and cheese, texas toast, then off to bed where I actually managed to sleep fairly well.

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Adam Culp Marathon Race Race Report

2010 ING Miami Marathon Race Report

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Above is a picture of my wife Tanya and me after completing our races.  She also completed the half marathon in a stunning 2:10:48 making me so proud of her accomplishment.  She has been running for about a year, but has trained very hard for the past 10 weeks specifically for the half marathon.  It has been an exciting time, and has brought us closer together in the process as we shared in the daily learning and struggles along the way.