Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Mule Trail 30km - Race Report

On November 21st, I ran The Mule Trail 30km race, sponsored by Rogue Running at Muleshoe Bend Park.  This was my first 30km race, and what follows is my race report for the event.

The Logistics
The race started at 7:30am on Sunday morning at Muleshoe Bend Park, which is roughly an hour's drive from my apartment.  I had never been to the park before so I was nervous about getting lost and therefore woke up at 5:15am, ensuring myself plenty of time to get there.  I got ready pretty quickly and headed out the door at 5:45am.  I had both printed driving directions and a Garmin GPS.  Fortunately, I had remembered to print and bring directions, because the Garmin seemed to be completely unaware of not only the park I was headed to, but also all of the roads nearby.  The only issue I had with the printed directions was reading them effectively in the morning darkness.  Luckily, I rose to these challenges and arrived at the starting area at 6:45am.  This race was pretty small, so I got a very close parking spot and had plenty of time to stretch, visit the porta-potty (twice!), and pick up my timing chip.  The timing chip was designed for an ankle bracelet.  This was the first time I had worn an ankle timing device and I was concerned it would be uncomfortable, but it was actually quite nice and cushy.  Unfortunately the weather was not ideal.  While it had been cool and dry all week, things had warmed up considerably during the past weekend, and it was in the mid to high 60s throughout the race with significant humidity.  I race better in cold weather, so I was particularly disappointed.  Fortunately for me, there was a cool breeze coming off of Lake Travis and cloud cover, which helped a little bit.

The Start
With about 45 minutes to kill, the lead up to the start of the race was very leisurely for me.  There were about 50 people that had turned up for the 30km race (closer to 80 for the 10km, which started a half hour later), and I chatted with a few while passing the time.  Just before 7:30am, the race officials called us over to the timing mat, gave us some directions and got us on our way.  With so few people, I was right near the front and was able to run unobstructed the entire race.

The Course
This race was a triple loop course, with each loop being 10km in distance.  The start of the loop is about a quarter mile on dirt trail taking us from a camping area to the head of the main trail.  At the end of each loop, we had to retrace our steps along this dirt trail back to and across the timing mat.  The main trail was one large loop encompassing the majority of the park.  It was very technical, almost entirely single-track, with highly varied terrain.  There were tree roots, large rocks, small rocks, ledges, deep sand, long grasses, ruts and loose gravel.  Most of the loop was rolling with about six decent size hills.  There were a few flatter and faster sections where I was able to pick up my speed, but the majority of the course was a lot slower to run on than road.  Spaced in three areas along the course were water stops, stocked with water, Nuun (an electrolyte drink) and snacks.  On each loop I used two of the three water stops, varying which one I skipped.

My Performance
I headed out on the first loop at what felt like a comfortable training pace.  My intention was to pick my pace up on the second and third loops, once I was more familiar with the course.  Unfortunately, that wasn't what happened and I ended up slowing down on each loop.  I ran the first 10km in roughly 56 min.  The second was 58 min and the final loop was just over an hour.  My final time was 2:55:40.  I think the heat and humidity definitely slowed me down; my legs felt sluggish and tired and I was definitely sweating more than I had hoped I would.  However, seeing as how this was my first 30km race, that was a PR and so I can't complain too much.  At least I have something to improve upon now.  On a positive note, I was the third female finisher, second in the open division and 12th overall, including the men.  That is definitely one advantage of doing smaller races!

The Aftermath
After crossing the finish line, I was both sweat soaked and salty.  I felt dehydrated, but I think it was mostly an electrolyte balance that left me dragging towards the end.  When I got home, I got into the shower to wash away the dirt and grime, at which point I discovered significant chafing from my champion tank bra.  The chafing was the worst in my armpits and the middle of my back.  Washing salt and sweat away from chafed areas is extraordinarily painful, and I did not enjoy it!  However, everything is now healing quite well.  I then ate a healthy and hearty lunch, drank lots of water and continued eating well throughout the day.  While I felt quite sleepy, the soreness was minimal.  The next morning, though, when I tried to walk down the stairs, my calves immediately cramped up, which was very painful.  I carefully massaged them with my hands until I could walk comfortably again.  Because I hadn't eaten anything since dinner, I think my electrolytes were again imbalanced, because I felt much better after eating breakfast.  At work, I skipped the stairs and used the elevator instead.  This morning I felt great, and went for an easy 6.7 mile run at an 8:45 pace.  I'm recovering nicely and I expect I'll be able to get a tempo run in on Thanksgiving morning.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to finish well on a very tough day and course! Texas weather provides runners a real crap shoot, where our frequently high humidity is the silent killer. As you'd experienced maintaining an electrolyte balance under such conditions for such a long-duration run is especially difficult, and I first learned of Succeed S-Caps (buffered sodium/potassium pills) on my first 50K trail run, and I haven't run a long distance event since without them.