Today was the Hog's Hunt 25/50K Trail Races in Huntsville State Park. I ran the 25K race this morning, even though I really hadn't quite properly trained for this distance I have been looking forward to this event for the last two months. Last year I ran this race in 4:46:45, a lot slower than I might otherwise have run due to a foot injury which caused me to walk about half the course. My PR for 25K trail runs was set in the Rocky Raccoon 25K (same course for a November race date) at 3:46:26.
This morning I started out walking the first mile with a friend who was walking the complete event. We walked this mile in just under 16 minutes. Then I started running the event on my own. Starting out slow gave me the opportunity to pass quite a few runners steadily during the event. My general goals was to do a run 4 minutes then walk 1 minute schedule, while also walking on the steeper uphill portions. Overall this worked well for me as I ran a comfortable 12-13 minute per mile pace for the first 10 miles. In mile 11 I was running low on water as I got to a water cooler only aid station. Unfortunately, the cooler was nearly empty and no one was around it. I get a few ounces of water and knowing another aid station was about 1.5 miles ahead, I pressed on. (I would later learn they were in the process of bringing water back to the cooler at this time.) As I ran out of water I reverted to my backup plan which was to only walked until I reached the aid station to resupply, which I did after about another half mile. I was feeling pretty good again--for about a half mile--when I get a bad muscle spasm in my inside right calf. I looked down to see a big tight ball of muscle and an "empty" spot between the spasming muscle and the next muscle. I spend some time massaging the muscle and then start walking for a bit, when I feel up to it I start running some more. Another quarter mile and I get another spasm on my inside right thigh. Again stop, massage, walk, and resume running some. I took it a bit easier on my running, but another (maybe) half mile later the calf spasms return stronger. Again with the stop, massage, walk, and start to run. At this point I mix in walking and running based on feel so as to not overstress the right leg muscles any more than I need to and definitely only walk up all hills. That (slowly) gets me to about the 14.5 mile point. From there I try to push my pace a bit to keep up with some runners who had caught me--and I did stay with then for most of the rest of the race until they sprinted to the finish.
I finish in 3:37:48 on my watch, although the official time will be a bit longer as I took my time to pass over the start line (not a chip-timed race), so I figure I came in around 3:39:00. This is a 1 hour plus improvement over last year's injury-affected time and a 7 minute or so PR for me for 25K trail race course.
All in all, I am a bit disappointed in having the muscle spasms keep me from beating 3 1/2 hours, but I can't really complain too much when I set a new PR. Today's weather was fair to warm, but not too warm. The race staff and volunteers did a good job and things seemed to run pretty well. I suppose I am already starting to think about how I can improve for the next time. After the race, I got to sit with some friends (both old and new friends--new friends always add so much to the experience!!, and one special friend who I've known for a short while but only today got to meet in person) from The Woodlands Running Club for a while and root for the rest of the finishers.
To what do I blame my cramping issues? Preparation - meaning I had not run more than 10 miles since February, although it's not like I haven't been training at all, just not for that distance. Nutrition - My race nutrition consisted of taking 1 Cliff Block every 1.5 miles, excepting where I got to an aid station, and then taking in a variety of food at the aid stations. I drank mostly water on the run and Gatorade or Heed at the aid stations. Even with taking in all that I estimate I lost 4-5 lbs during the event. I also chose not to take my Endurolyte capsules with me since it was not quite as warm as I was originally expecting, and in hindsight I expect having them would have helped me out. I suppose I will learn form this and be a little better prepared for next time by keeping more stuff with me (i.e. extra gels, E-caps, etc... in my running bad). I have noticed it seems I bring more stuff with me to each trail event I attend, and if what my friends brought is any example that trend is likely to continue for me as well.