Post-Mortem: Wild Duluth 50K

Race Report
All WD50K Posts

Good Things
Hydration. I figured out how to reduce swelling in my fingers (Endurolyte Fizz capsules, here’s your free advertising) and I never had a sloshing or full feeling in my stomach. Drinking pop at each aid station was really refreshing. My race partner started trying it too, and she is hooked. She texted the day after, “I LOVE POP!!!”

Mental toughness. I had a tough time about a third of the way through the race. I was angry, cranky, freaked out that I was too sleepy/loopy to continue safely, and discouraged. I do credit my race partner with some great in-race therapy, but I also credit myself for refusing to give up, telling myself I could get through it, and putting one foot in front of the other even if I didn’t want to.

Pace planning. Since GPS watches are fairly unreliable for paces on trails, I made this pace sheet with known checkpoints.
I used my A, B, and C standard paces to calculate times I’d need to leave each aid station by in order to be on track for each finish time. It’s not perfect, because it doesn’t account for the difficulty of each section, but it is better than trying to do race math comparing watch distance to aid station distance. This time, I remembered to look at my watch to see the actual time of day we started. We started around 8:05 so I knew to add 5 minutes to each time. Now that I know that it’s easy to run with a charger, I may change the GPS accuracy setting from good to best.

Total rest post-race. I planned for an entire week without running. It just so happens I’m forced into it because I came down with a cold on Monday night, but now I don’t feel as guilty about it. The blisters on my feet and the chafed spots on my back have a chance to heal, my legs and hips and back are taking a break from the pounding, and I’m getting a mental break to relax and avoid the tedium of the same old trails, same old slow paces, and the waning daylight. Since I’m switching to a short 5K training cycle, I didn’t want a jarring transition to harder surfaces (I’ll be road training exclusively) and faster paces.

Bad Things
Simultaneously Overtraining and Undertraining. It doesn’t seem possible, does it? Let’s look at my resting heart rate for the past 3 months (this is a screenshot from my FitBit app, so the graph is missing its title and axes labels, this would not fly in a lab report!).
It’s all over the place. If I wasn’t sick, I would hope it would be coming down again, but it’s been on an overall upward trend since July. Now, this may also be related to me abandoning MAF training, but I think I need to take some more planned breaks.

As far as undertraining, I don’t know for sure, because I got such horrid sleep the night before the race, but I averaged only 36 miles/week during training (averages include weeks where I didn’t hit my mileage goal due to illness or other reasons). I don’t think that’s enough. Most people don’t run road marathons on such low mileage.

What’s the secret? I think better planning, including deliberate breaks to recover, will help me avoid wearing myself down while allowing me to build up my mileage.

Strength training. Again. I know. After the marathon, I started out ok, but once I started to get sick/tired, I abandoned it. I’m going to have to figure out some kind of gold star/reward system.

Pre-race sleep. I don’t know how to fix this, but I’ve got to. I know experience will help, but I also slept fairly well before the Moose Mountain Marathon, so I know it can be done. I do know that I won’t be traveling any exceptionally far distances for races until I have a better handle on my sleep.

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