About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Preparing for Jemez Mountain 50 Mile Trail Run

In this last week of preparation for my 50 mile trail run in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, I’m mostly resting and taking care of logistics. Resting is harder than you might think because I’m used to running all the time, and now I have all this extra time on my hands. My dogs are not usually happy about it either so I will take them on some leisurely walks. Rest is very important before a run of this magnitude so I will do my best to just “chill” this week.

See related post, Countdown to the Jemez 50

I’ve purchased all the fluids and supplements that I will need for the run and am calculating how much I will need to bring. I should consume 20-24 oz of fluids per hour which will equate to 2.5 to 3 gallons! Have you ever tried to drink that much in one day? My fluids will consist of water, Hammer HEED (High Energy Electrolyte Drink), and Hammer Perpetuem. Heed is quite sweet, but contains complex carbs instead of simple sugars. Perpetuem contains complex carbs, protein, and fat. An all-in-one liquid meal.

Other calories will come from Hammer Gel and solid foods like PBJs, boiled potatoes, pretzels, and bagels. Hammer Gel is another type of complex carbs in a syrup like form that goes down easily. My favorite is Montana Huckleberry and, like all flavors, is made from natural ingredients. I carry my gel in a flask that I wear on a fuel belt around my waist and just sip as I run.

In addition to water, I will be taking Hammer Endurolytes (sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium), important electrolyte capsules to stave off hyponatremia. This dangerous condition, also known as water intoxication, comes from drinking too much water without electrolyte replacement. Symptoms can include nausea, muscle cramps, slurred speech, confusion, and frequent urination.

I learned about this condition the hard way in the Great Eastern Endurance Run in 2004. Because I sweat a lot, I lose more sodium and drink more water than average. This is a double whammy, because I lose sodium through sweating and then, by drinking water, dilute the sodium left in my system, a perilous recipe for disaster. I finished the 50K, but unknowingly had warning signs of water intoxication like peeing every 15 minutes for hours after the race, my body’s way of getting rid of excess water to balance my sodium level. I’ve since learned the importance of electrolyte replacement and have been able to keep a balanced body chemistry through many hours of prolonged exercise.

Running an ultramarathon is a mood roller coaster. At times I am on top of the world while at other times I’m asking myself, “why am I doing this?” For those really low points I like to have a few Espresso flavored gel packets with 25mgs of caffeine. That little extra boost helps keep me going like that cup of Starbucks brings you out of your after lunch slump.

Other gear that I will be sure to have is my headlamp for the 5:00am start in the dark, my camelbak, handheld fluid bottles, Panasonic Lumix camera, and crocks for after the race. The first thing I will want to do at the finish is get my shoes off. Layers of warm polypropylene tops will also be part of my wardrobe. The temperatures will be varied since the run starts in the morning and will continue through the hottest part of the day. Elevation gain and loss will also add to the temperature extremes. So far the forecast is calling for 60% chance of showers and fresh snow has fallen on Pajarito Mountain as of Friday, 14 May. This should make things interesting, so I better take my wind shell too.

See live webcam of Pajarito ski area

I’ve also been studying the maps and elevation profile of the 50 mile course. The route should be well marked, but every time I’ve run a trail race I’ve had the unsure feeling of not knowing if I was lost or not. I’ve never strayed from the course, but the doubt in my mind is unnerving especially after running 40-45 miles. The last thing I want is to have to back track uphill to get back on course. The route promises to showcase some of the most spectacular scenery in the Southwest.

I must also carefully plan where to position all this gear throughout the course. The race organizers allow “drop bags” to be placed at various aid stations throughout the route. I’ll drop extra shoes, clothes, socks, headlamp, fuel (in powder form), blister supplies, and sunscreen. I may also leave my camelbak to pick up later in the day when it heats up.

I’m hoping to finish the run in the 14-15 hour time frame and will have a cutoff time to make at mile 36. I have 12 hours to arrive at this point or I will not be allowed to continue. If it takes 11 hours runners are required to take a headlamp because they will not finish before dark. I should make the cutoff in under 10 hours if all goes as planned. I’m feeling ready to tackle this 50 mile course, my toughest yet, and will post a complete report of my adventure soon after. See you on the trail.