2010 Mountain Masochist Trail Run
Mountain Masochist Trail Run is a pretty trail race through the mountains of Virginia. It has some technical single track, but is mostly on fire roads. Some of the fire roads are gravel and broken rock, which I found tore my feet up a little and dramatically slowed me down through some sections. The race is well organized, with well stocked Aid Stations and outstanding route marking. There are some steep sections in the race, with 9200' of ascent and 7200' of descent. The best estimate is that this is about a 54 mile race, making the 12 hour cut off difficult for many runners. There is a pre and post-race dinner, both in the race hotel. The hotel was comfortable and well-priced, so most runners seemed to stay there, making it a sociable event. I finished in 8:24 for 12th place, which is slower than I would have liked. I was slow and cautious through some sections to protect my feet, but in other sections I felt like I ran well. More at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/55904981
1 What Worked
- Modified Nike Free Trail. Because of my skin condition, no trail shoe offers sufficient protection. I have been pleasantly surprised by the combination of protection and flexibility that the Nike Free Trail shoe offers. See Modified Nike Free for a description of the modification.
- Vitamin C. I experimented with taking Vitamin C on the race. There is some scientific research that Vitamin C prevents oxidative damage to muscles, which in turn prevents endurance adaptation. I've been modifying my Vitamin C intake during training and found that there is some impact. The goal of racing is optimum performance, not fitness adaptation. Therefore I took 500 mg Vitamin C over three doses through the race. It's hard to be sure of the effects, but I feel that there may have been some protective benefits. I'll write more on this in the future.
- Hill Week. Two weeks ago I did a week where all my running was on my local hill. I think that this helped prepare my legs for the long down hills at MMTR.
- 2XU Tights. This is the first race that's been cold enough to wear the 2XU Elite compression tights. I think there is a slight benefit from these tights over just calf sleeves, but it is a small benefit. The only downside is that they tend to slide down due to the compression, which is a mild distraction.
- GPS Profile. I downloaded a GPS track for MMTR in case of problems with navigation. The course was so well marked that navigation was not an issue, but I discovered that I could have the GPS display the course profile, which let me know how long and steep the hills work. The GPS also shows that I spent 13 minutes not moving, which is more than I expected. Some of that time may be when I was picking my way over rocks and moving so slowly that the GPS decided I was stationary, but I may have spent longer at the Aid Stations than I thought.
2 What Failed
- Stubbed Toes. Normally I check out a hotel room to make sure there is nothing to fall over if I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. This time I failed this simple exercise and did not realize there was a luggage rack to fall over. I stubbed my toe quite badly, and I thought it might be broken. When I examined it in the morning, it made walking painful, but did not appear broken. It was mostly okay on the run, and some Ibuprofen at the half way point kept pain under control.
- Modified Nike Free Trail. One unexpected downside to the MNF Trail is that cutting the heel reveals some cavities. One of these cavities got a sharp stone embedded, but not visible on casual inspection. When I hit another stone on the trail under that part of my foot, the sharp stone pushed into my heel. Each time that happened, it was painful enough to cause me to shout expletives and has left my heel quite sore.
3 Other Lessons Learned
- Rocky Trails. It should be obvious to me, but I'm never going to do well on rocky trails. They tear my feet up too badly and slow me down. I do best on Asphalt, and can do okay on smooth trails.
- Pace and hunger. On one part of the course (the loop) the trail was rocky enough that my pace dropped below a casual stroll. This drop in intensity coincided with acute hunger, which makes me think that I do well on just my Go Juice when I am running at a reasonable intensity.
4 Next Steps
- More Hills. I need to do more hill training, even if this reduces my mileage. I think that 20 miles of hill repeats is more valuable than 26 miles on the flat. Putting this into practice will be harder than writing it down.
- Body composition. Since Hinson Lake 24 hour, I've lost some muscle mass and put on body fat. This is probably only 1-2 pounds of each, but enough to have a noticeable impact on performance.
- Vitamin C. I will continue to experiment with Vitamin C intake.
- Modified Nike Free Trail. I need to work out how to block up the holes in the sole that are revealed when the heel is cut down.