2014 Umstead 100

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A picture of me early in the Umstead 100, showing the Under Armor Heat Gear Top, Race Ready Shorts and my handheld bottle. Picture by Ben Dillon, used with permission.

I was hoping to be competitive at the 2014 Umstead 100, but I had not recovered sufficiently from Graveyard 100 four weeks earlier. Umstead is eight laps of the 12.5 mile course, and my first lap took me two hours. That was right on pace, but my perceived effort was too high, and my legs felt empty. The second one was similar, but the third lap took me 2:20 and it was obvious that it was not my day for being competitive. The next two laps took me about 2:40 and I was sorely tempted to drop out. It was a close call, but I decided to suck it up and finish the race. I picked up the pace slightly on the final three laps to around 2:30, mostly by cutting out some lollygagging, and finished in 19:10.

1 What Worked

As always, I like to write up thing that worked and didn't work, both to help me remember and to share with other runners.

  • Downhill Training. Umstead has some fairly serious hills, but they are all very runnable. I believe that my Downhill Training not only prepared me for an efficient downhill running style, but it also gave me lots of resistance to DOMS. While the soreness of DOMS typically occurs mostly after the race, the weakness is immediate, so this resistance helped me preserve my remaining strength. In addition I had remarkably little DOMS after the race, and I've been able to walk up and down stairs normally.
  • Nausea. This is another race where I avoided any nausea problems, which was great. My current thought is that I'm avoiding the nausea by hydrating better. I made sure that my fluid intake was sufficient to maintain regular urination.
  • Fuel. I experimented with some slightly different fuel and fluid. I modified my Go Juice to include a lot more fat which worked quite well. (I used macadamia nut oil combined with soy lecithin to emulsify the oil, and I'll post on this soon.) I also used some Ensure, and plenty of my DIY Electrolyte Drink. I also made up a version of my DIY Electrolyte Drink using de-fizzed Coke, which worked well. It also raised some laughter when I walked into the main aid station carrying a 2l bottle of coke.
  • Handheld bottle. As you can see in the picture above, I'm using an unusually shaped handheld bottle. These are quite common in Europe, as but I've rarely seen them in the US. I find this style of bottle much easier to carry, as it doesn't put any rotational stress on my forearm. Of course, carrying a water bottle for 19 hours will make your shoulders ache, and I was grateful to Umstead's massage therapist Denise for working out the kinks after the race.
  • Morton Stretch. The Morton Stretch helped during this race, but not as much as I'd have liked. It's a great stretch, but it can't compensate for the lack of recovery since Graveyard.
  • Mood State. My Mood State was reduced by my lack of performance, but overall was much better than many other races. Mentally, Umstead is vastly easier than Graveyard. For lap seven I used a pacer for the first time, and that helped me mentally. My pacer Cam was a great guy and I enjoyed running with him. Thanks Cam!
  • Heat. Running in the Heat is always harder, and this year's race was quite warm. In fact, it was a dangerous, insidious warmth that tended to creep up on people. I found that my Under Armor Heat Gear Top was wonderful, and I regularly tipped water over it to keep me cool. I think the heat did impair my performance a little, but it was not my main problem.
  • Altra Olympus. I the entire race in my Altra Olympus Shoes and they seemed to work remarkably well.
  • Running uphill. Yet again I experimented with running up the steep hills at Umstead. My approach was to run up the hills with my Heart Rate at the same level it was on the flat. This means my pace is barely faster than walking pace, but it was faster, so it was more efficient. Later in the race I did walk up the hills because walking uses slightly different muscles which has other benefits beyond efficiency. It was also good to walk so I could drop my arms down and try to relieve the stress on my shoulders from carrying the water bottle. (This experiment between running and walking only applied to the steep hills in the "saw tooth" area; I ran up all the other hills.)

2 What Didn't Work

  • Graveyard recovery. I was in surprisingly good shape after Graveyard, but 4 weeks is just not enough time to recover between hundred mile races. This was a simple mistake on my part, as I did not calculate the dates between the races when I signed up.
  • Fenix 2. I used my new Fenix 2 on this race, and I liked having things like the temperature display. However, the battery only lasted 10:40 rather than the claimed 15 hours, which was a little disappointing. The watch also lost satellite reception for over an hour, something I've never experienced with another watch.
  • Dust & Pollen. Unless it's raining, dust and pollen is always an issue at Umstead. It's a particular problem on the short section of the course that carries cars, as they kick up a lot of dust. On my final lap I was passed by a car moving more quickly than most and I was engulfed in a blinding, choking cloud of dust. I think the combination of dust and pollen got under my contact lenses and annoyed my eye, but it healed up in a day or so.
  • GI Bug. After Umstead I came down with a GI infection, and I suspect I picked it up at Umstead. I used the hand sanitizer after using the portable toilets, but that may not have been enough. The symptoms did not develop fully until a day or so after the race, so I don't think it impacted my performance.
  • Taper Psychosis. It's quite common for runners to suffer or to mood swings and stress when their tapering for a race, something I referred to as Taper Psychosis. For this year's race, the symptoms were particularly bad for me, possibly because I was not running much for the four weeks between races. Given the evidence that running can improve mental health, I wonder if part of my problem was more the removal of something that normally keeps me sane (running) rather than the increase in stress.
  • Heart Rate Variability. I've been experimenting with measuring my Heart Rate Variability as this is often claimed to be a good indicator of Overtraining. I found that my HRV went dramatically down the morning after Umstead 100, though that might have been due to a higher heart rate. After the race there was no noticeable change from my baseline.
My HRV using the ithlete app.