Capital Cats: DC Trail Running

Junior Trail Cat (Harley) is filing this report for the 50k race at the North Face Endurance Challenge in the Washington, DC area on June 1, 2013.

Starting Line...see you in 6 hours.
Starting Line…see you in 6 hours.

1. Race Results – Holly Finishes Strong!

Holly rocked this one. She was the 9th fastest woman (3rd in her age group), and finished 54th overall out of 427 finishers with a time of 5:47:53. As reference, the women’s marathon on the same course was won in just under 4 hours.

Women 50k finishers
Women 50k finishers

I was able to keep up with her through the 19-mile aid station before losing her. She’s like the Energizer Bunny, and never seems to fade. Here are a few factoids to illustrate Holly’s finishing kick: We were in 86th place with a 10.4 minutes/mile pace at 19 miles. The average pace for all runners slowed down 33.7% after the 19-mile aid station, but Holly only slowed 20% (I slowed 38%). Three runners actually increased their speed, but they all finished behind Holly. Holly had the 44th fastest final 12 miles, and moved up over 30 places.

Holly Energizer Bunny
Holly Energizer Bunny

Holly is so supportive of me that she has typically waited at the finish line in prior races, only to discover that I was an hour or so behind. This time she treated herself to a change of clothes and an ice bath, only to hear my name announced at the finishing line. I finished 97th and a little over 20 minutes behind Holly at 6:10:48.

Men 50k finishers
Men 50k finishers
Ice Bath at finish line...where's Harley?
Ice Bath at finish line…where’s Harley?

2. Story of the day: The Heat

Two weeks after worrying about being too cold after running in the rain overnight at the 55-mile Cruel Jewel, we were shocked by the first real summer run of the year. Temps were up to mid-90s with plenty of humidity. After the 19-mile aid station there was a 6+ mile stretch before then next aid station. I saw quite a few people running with empty water bottles. Heat and dehydration became the big story.

What, me cramp?
What, me cramp?

My challenge was repeated cramping in my calves over the last 10 miles, but was able to shuffle through it. Holly fought through her aches, too, but for the most part the biggest issue was dealing with the shock of summer.

The day before my brother’s bathroom scale surprised me with a three pound loss from night to morning. Several obvious bio events (sweat, etc) could explain that. So when I weighed in post-race, I was shocked to see that I lost 8 lbs during the race, even after noshing and rehydrating at the finish line (= ~2 lbs?).

An internet search returns a study where 2.3% loss was average in the studied marathon. The faster runners lost the most (3.1%), so my 5-6% loss is a lot but less worrisome than I thought.

After a day of Monopoly food binging, I had gained everything back. I also learned a new term as Holly pointed out I was at risk for Rhabdomyolysis. Click link if you want to guess my symptoms…the moral of story is to stay hydrated to thirst.

3. Celebrity spotting: Kean Karnazes

The race celebrity was North Face sponsored Dean Karnazes. Holly and I listed to his audio book last summer that chronicled how he ran 50 marathons in 50 days. A few months ago we encountered another ultra-marathon great Scott Jurek at a Phidippides (Atlanta shoe store) social run/book signing. Yes, trail running has celebrities.

Dean Karnazes - Ultramarathon Man
Dean Karnazes – Ultramarathon Man

4. DC: A Place To Visit™

This DC weekend was a pattern we’d like to repeat—using a race as an excuse to travel.

DC is a great place to nerd-out as a tourist. We fought the crowds of field trips at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. We spent a day at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  We drove by the Lincoln Memorial about 20 times looking for parking (“hey kids, Big Ben”). We were amused at the weird museum security… the guards weren’t even checking the x-ray monitor that was scanning purses at one entry, and there was an x-ray machine and bomb fabric sniffer for Holly’s purse to go into the cafeteria at another. Suggestion: try the food trucks nearby (DC Ballers had close to the best falafel sandwich you can get…as evidenced by how Holly barely shared any with me).

The mid-race turnaround was in the Great Falls Park along the Potomac River on the Virginia side. Check out the pic—we stopped by after the race with my brother to take it in at a more leisurely pace.

Great Falls of the Potomac

June will likely be a quiet month for the trail cats. We’ll go easy in the heat and try to get over some nagging injuries by cross-training or doing short speed workouts.

Just add ice!
Just add ice!


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