Monday, March 7, 2011

Sylamore 50K trail run: Race Report

This was the only pic of race day I have.
                     First off let me stress how much I love this race in northern Arkansas. This is such a beautiful area of the country and despite what people may think; there are some knarley climbs and fast descents. Not to forget the creek crossing which is my favorite part. Every year you pay attention to the rain fall, melted snow ect. you just never know how deep it's going to be. It builds mental toughness right off the bat. I would also like to shout out to New Balance for the MT101. This is my shoe of choice from now on. It has rid my stride of bouncy, sloppy trail running, as well the turned ankles and braces are nonexistent. So thank you New Balance, I can't wait for the Minimus to hit the shelves.

            Training for Sylamore went so well this year, I got in quiet a few long runs, and by suggestion of my ultra running doctor I took up daily yoga sessions. Top all that off with a twice a week crossfit work out, I was stronger and lighter than I have ever been. I paid close attention to my hydration and diet. opting for a lower than usual calorie count, I felt light and fresh every morning. For pre race dinner I roasted a chicken with thyme and olive oil, accompanied by a roasted sweet potatoes and a salad of grapefruit and point Reyes blue cheese. Two of my weekend race buddies Jake Edge and Adiel Looney joined me for dinner at the pinewood cabins and offered a nice red wine from Chile. My number 3 and consistent training partner Ben Mansur was long behind and I am not sure how he made it out of bed. I am however very proud of him for pulling out a 6:40 for his first 50k and I think first race period.

            On the morning of, I woke about 4:30am and prepared breakfast for Ben and I (egg whites, whole wheat toast with apple butter). after the pre race foot greasing ritual we headed out. We arrived at the anglers restaurant at about 6:30 and hung out and I was anticipating a morning movement. Unfortunate for me it never came and this will go on to haunt me all day. We all lined up at around 5 till 7 checking watches, chit chatting, bouncing nervously awaiting the horn, and then at 7 on the dot, we were off. I am sure we all were thinking the same things (do I have everything?, do I want to do this?, are my shoes tied the way I like, and is that a pain in my groin?). Taking off heading up to the trail head Ben and I were feeling really good trotting along at a slow comfortable pace. Our plan was to make that first 6.4 miles feel like 2 miles. We settled  into a group that was run-walking and it was hard to control ourselves from jetting around and flying past the 15 people in the trail conga line. Once we reached Blanchard springs A.S. I asked Ben if he wouldn't mind filling my two water bottles while I give the morning movement one more try. With a little success and Ben waiting right outside door, we were off up the steep climb on the way to gunner pool.

            On the way to gunner pool we hike/ran up the hill and then we flew down the opposite side. Staying a course with my hydration and nutrition plan all of this felt flawless. Our Plan was a Power gel and Hammer nutrition electro tab per hour washed down with 2-8oz btls of water. At the aid stations I dined on oranges and Gatorade and a few handfuls of M&M's. It was fueling me just right. Gunner pool had wonderful views of the creek down below and great fast downhill sections. I did not stop to enjoy the view as much as last year because this year I was shooting for a time of 7:30:00 a 30 minute improvement from last year. as we push along, we began passing quite a few people. I also noticed that we were making the aid stations in about 1 hour. this felt really good but a little uncomfortable, seeing as how I felt like shit at this point last year and a race volunteer jokingly let me know that at the turnaround.

once we hit Gunner Pool I was feeling so good. we were at the aid station for about 4 minutes then back on the trail. this was a killer for me last year it seemed like a long slow accent to a rolling section that involved a lot of walking. but not this year we ran 90% of this I was feeling very good minus the stomach discomfort.

            once we reached the turnaround I hit the bathroom once more, just in case the sun aligned with the moon but no avail. I filled my water and a handful of M&M's and headed back to the finish. I took long enough in the bathroom to have to catch the 10 people I had lead and caught 3 times before. I was feeling amazing so I took off and pulled off a 6:00 minute pace down into Blanchard springs (thanks to gravity, of course). I felt strong until after I left Blanchard springs where I started to cramp a little due to a miss calculation of my water needs, running out 3 miles before the finish. once I hit the road with 1 mile to go I rallied and pulled off a 7:30 pace all the way across the line for a 6:20:07 finish. 1 hour and 43 minutes better than last year.

I would love to thank all the volunteers for a great race support and Steve Appleton and Greg Eason for putting on a great race yet again. and thanks to all the people who pushed me into this wonderful sport and all the friends who run alongside me and support what I am doing. I have chosen my nest race and I will be running the Terrapin Mountain 50k in Sedalia, VA



  1. Great job! What an incredible time improvement from your training & careful hydration/fuel strategy. Way to go, I'm inspired to run it next year.

  2. That is great. I will be there even though I am living in md now. It will be a birthday present for me each year. My next installment will have to be how to move back hone and not get fat and lose all your training. Only the results at the terrspin 50 k will tell.

  3. Congratulations, John! Glad to see your blog.