NJ Ultra Fest 50 Mile Race Report

As a writer, I'm struggling to make this race report interesting. You see, bad races have agony and disappointment and a writer can cling to them for good lines like a poor comedian clings to f-bombs. And races where you overcome bad spots and are triumphant; who doesn't love that? But if you have one of those rare days where everything just lines up and you knock it out of the park? Man, it's a great race, but I'm not so sure it makes for good writing.

Still, it's important to record these days so that we remember them on the days that suck, so let's do it, shall we?

The official tale of the tape will say I ran 50 miles in 7:55:47. It also says I finished in 6th place, 5th among men. Recause first and and third place overall were in my age group, I was also technically the AG winner for 40-49. And finally, everyone who recorded the race with Garmins (including me) found the course to be anywhere from .4 to .7 miles long. All of which goes to say that if you account for the longer course, I beat my reasonable time goal by 40 minutes and my stretch goal by 25 minutes. How the hell did that happen? Like I said, everything lined up perfect.

Rather than detail the race mile by mile, instead I'm going to try and answer the question above. How did I beat my goal by so much? What were the factors that made this a better race than I had envisioned?

1.) A great training plan. When I went to coach Missy about 14 weeks ago, I told her that I wanted her to put together a long run plan for me. I was in a great place of doing steady 40 mile weeks, and wanted to continue to do 5 seven mile runs, plus the long run she dictated. Though I have had builds with lots of cross training, truth is I'm in a good place right now just running, so that's what I wanted to do. We basically did 3 build of 3 long runs each, with a week recovery in between. They went something like: (2.5 hours, 3 hours, 3.5 hours)(3.5 hours, 4 hours, 4.5 hours)(5 hours, 5.5 hours, 5.5 hours)... after a recovery week, we did a very very very slow 5 hours 1 week prior to the race.

Missy had told me that the secret to getting through your first 50 miler is at least 2 5 hour runs... As you can see, we did much better than that. Still, I would never say those 5.5 hour runs were easy. In the end, I struggled in them quite a bit and was fairly surprised the race went so well.

2.) A great diabetic day. When I woke up, my BG was about 160, which isn't too surprising when I'm keyed up for a big race. I took a little insulin to correct to 100. Just before the race, I ate a Clif Bar (43g). Throughout the race, I would sip HEED all day and eat an energy bar every hour. I kept my basal rate the same on my pump all day. As I recall, I was about 150 at the 1 hour mark, but was 187 at the 2 hour mark. At that point, I took 2 units of insulin. From there on, my blood sugars hourly were between 78-116 the entire day. I ate tons of food and drink and needed no extra insulin. At the end of the race, I was 100.

3.) A great supplement plan. I sent the following account to Hammer:

“I’ve always been a fan of Hammer products and have consistently used HEED and Perpetuem in my previous marathons. But without ever tackling the 50 mile distance before, I wanted every advantage in my corner. For that reason, I went 100% to Hammer supplements in the weeks before my ultra.

For starters, I went on Premium Insurance Caps, simply because I’d never done so much distance in a plan and wanted to make certain my body got what it needed. While I didn’t expect much of a difference, I detected a noticeable energy boost from the very first dose.

While this was one of my healthiest builds, ever, I also kept Tissue Rejuvenator on hand for a few achy periods, and particularly after my long runs. The combination of those two brought me to the starting line healthier than in any of my previous long distance races.

But the long run plan was really where I stepped up my Hammer game. Following the recommended allowances, I faithfully dosed Anti-Fatigue Caps, Endurance Amino, Endurolytes, and Energy Surge on every hour of my five-hour long runs. To minimize break times, I pre-planned my dosages in the mini zip-lock bags, also provided by Hammer. Finally, I used Race Day Boost in the four days leading up to my race.

Though many of the Hammer supplements were new to me, HEED definitely isn’t, and I was thrilled to sip it throughout my ultra. As a diabetic, I also tested my blood sugar hourly throughout the event and during the times when I was going too low, I took an extra shot of Hammer Gel, which I carried in a flask throughout the race. While Hammer Gel is vital for any athlete, it’s a literal life and race saver for diabetics.

As if that wasn’t enough, I accidentally forgot my hand-held bottle and was forced to carry my traditional Hammer bottle for the entire race! While not as comfortable as my hand-held, it fortunately did the trick. Here’s hoping Hammer comes out with a hand-held bottle sometime!"

4.) Amazing shoes. If you watched my video, you learned that I had only done 1 previous long run in my Newtons, but these shoes are amazing. They wore great and were outstanding the whole day. While I had another pair available on stand-by, I wasn't tempted once to switch. I can't say enough about how these shoes force me into a natural gait, devoid of knee and shin pain.

5.) A good night's sleep and a great support crew. In addition to seeing me at aid stations, my wife insisted on adjoining rooms at the hotel. This was a brilliant idea... the kids had a blast and even though my wake-up time was 4am, I got real close to 7 hours of sleep.

6.) The team factor... This is the reason my wife thinks I had such a great race. The nature of the course meant that all day long, I was passing other Team Type 1 runners on the course, and rarely did one of those interactions happen without a high five or an encouraging word. Because we were the only team there, it almost seemed like the other runners adopted us as their own, too, and cheers of, "Way to go, Team Type 1" were common. Given all this, I can't say my wife is wrong. I was majorly stoked to be with these guys in this situation.

So, that's that. My first 50 miler. It was a blast... far more fun than I imagined and far more successful than I ever dreamed. If you are a split person, here are my splits for the first 47 miles, after which my Garmin died. The slow miles were mostly all aid stations, at which I would refill my bottle, eat my supplements and open my energy bar:

10:16 (We were in the dark and literally, got lost on the trail for a minute!)
10:57 aid
10:53 aid
11:10 aid
12:43 aid
12:49 aid
12:10 aid
13:05 aid
8:40 for .81 then battery died


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