Double Trouble 30k Race Report

The first thing I got when I opened my car door at French Creek State Park yesterday was, "I should've brought bug spray." Within seconds, I was bombarded by gnats. The good news, however, was that the car beside me included 2 runners in the process of bathing themselves with OFF and were happy to share. Crisis #1 averted.

Aside from the bugs, though, I felt ready for 18.6 miles of trail mayhem. My blood sugar was a very nice 121 thirty minutes prior to the race. 15 minutes prior to race time, I had a Clif bar. Rather than set my basal rates to 50%, I get them normal for this race, as I wasn't sure if the trails would allow for a full-out effort. Some of my recent trail training runs had left me a bit higher than I wanted and I didn't want that to happen here.

Five minutes prior to the race, the thunder rolled in and at race time, the rain was coming down. For better or worse, however, the sun was out within 5 minutes.

I had read online that the first 2 miles of the course would have some backlogs with 400 people crowding onto single-track so I went out fairly hard. It wasn't quite hard enough, however, as the first hill found me walking. Before long, however, things opened up and the pack didn't really prevent me from doing what I wanted to do.

What I "wanted" to do was fairly simple: keep my heartrate in the 140-144 range and maintain good bloodsugars. For the most part I did that with the HR, though the nature of trail running meant I had some awful uphills where I was 150s and some technical downhills that were 130s. My average heartrate for the total run was right at 140.

It wouldn't be a trail race without a fall and I went down at about the 5 mile mark, ripping my knee open, but otherwise only scratching my hands. I was more scared about a stumble I took around the 17 mile mark. That one happened on a very technical downhill with rocks all over the trail. I was lucky enough to catch myself and prevent what would've been a very painful spill.

Despite never having run these trails before, I had put an approximate goal of 3 hours for the race, likely because that's where 3rd place in my AG was last year. Whether I was overly optimistic or not, I don't know, but when I came through the mid-point at just under 1:34, I knew that goal was out the door. Instead, I reset my goal for sub 3:10, deciding that I'd be happy with a strong second half.

Blood sugar-wise, I had felt pretty good with taking a single 27g. gel every 40 minutes. But when I took my last planned one at 2:30 into the race, I realized that I was feeling a little low. My CGM still showed 105, but it's not uncommon for the CGMs to be off, so I decided to trust myself and pounded my emergency gel. I was on the last big uphill of the course and knew that if I totally bonked now, I'd have a long walk in front of me. Instead, the second gel was exactly what the doctor ordered, and within a couple minutes, I was running strong again.

When I went through the final water stop with a little under 2 miles to go, I knew I'd have to stretch to hit 3:10, but I also knew that I had 2 downhill miles, so I let loose as much as I could, passing my last runner of the day. (On the second loop, I think I passed about 3-4 runners and only recall being passed once.) I finished strong, but missed my new goal, coming in at 3:11 and change with a blood sugar of 120.

At first I was dismayed coming in so much slower than I'd hoped, but then I noticed that my finishing place (24th) last year would've been right at 2:59. While trail conditions vary year to year, it's possible that the heat or trails were worse this year than in 2011, so I'm taking that as comfort that my training for the the fall is going well.


  1. Anonymous1:42 PM

    How do you deal with insulin for fueling during your runs? I know you've said that you cut basal by half and a gel every few miles. Do you bolus for the gel or accept that your numbers will go up and then come down before the next one? I ask because I've ran for years but have only recently started to take carbs on runs and am trying to experiment with different techniques to find out what works for me.

  2. The answer for all of these questions is always, "It depends."

    I only cut my basal in half for long runs for marathon training: 15-20 miles. For shorter runs, I don't cut it because I don't go low, and when training for ultras (long runs up to 35 miles), I don't cut it because I increase my food intake for energy. In my case, however, I consume about 30 g. of carbs every 30 minutes or so and can usually do this with no insulin simply by burning it. I typically test every hour on very long runs and will take a correction bolus if I need to.

  3. Anonymous6:41 PM

    Thank you so much for the help. I've got similar different strategies for different length runs and I'll keep experimenting to figure out how I want to handle keeping good control during my long runs. Thanks again for sharing your strategies.


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