After a poor performance in the heat and humidity at the Luna-Tics Trail Series 50k earlier this summer, I was looking forward to a fall race in cooler temperatures. Since I felt my fitness wasn’t the main issue with my poor race, I followed the same training plan that I used this summer. I like the way it’s structured, and it fit’s into my schedule well.
I was also very excited that my wife would be running that 25k event as her first trail race. With two young children, we don’t get to race or train together very often. Unfortunately, there was a staggered start so we weren’t able to run with one another, but it was nice to enjoy the pre and post race with her.
The race takes place in Lowes Creek County Park in Eau Claire, and is organized by the Chippewa Off-Road Bike Association. The course is a 7.75 mile loop consisting mostly of very runnable single-track.
My plan for the race was to run the first three laps at a steady pace, and then hope to push it hard the final lap. I settled into a nice 10:00-10:30 pace for the first few miles. While I didn’t wear a heart rate strap, I knew that effort was in the 120-130 bpm range and very sustainable. It was tempting to go out faster because I was feeling good, but I wanted to make sure I could have a strong finish.
The race has one aid station just past the half-way point, and then again at the start/finish area. Since it was cool (32° at the start), I knew I didn’t need a lot of water so I used one handheld water bottle. I also took some S-Caps with me to avoid cramping issues that did me in the summer. My nutrition plan was to eat my trusty vanilla Clif-Shot gels every 3-4 miles, which worked out well. The only thing I took at the aid stations was a mini cup of M&Ms on the third loop.
I was happy that I was able to execute my plan well. My lap splits were very consistent, and I felt very strong on the final lap.
Split 1 > 1:18:02.880
Split 2 > 1:21:57.394
Split 3 > 1:26:40.373
Split 4 > 1:22:17.807
Looking back, I think I was too conservative. Since my last few races had strong starts and poor finishes, I had some self-doubt that I could run an entire long race at a faster pace. This race was a great confidence boost. I set a 50k PR by over an hour, but I know I can run faster with continued training and more speed work.
The race was very well organized with a great low-key atmosphere. The course was well marked, the volunteers were friendly and it was inexpensive. Instead of medals, we received a “bear bell” since there is a bear that has been seen in the park.
Merrell Bare Access Trail
Injinji RUN 2.0
Garmin Fenix 2
7 Vanilla Clif Shot Gels
M&Ms at aid stations
The Fenix 2 had a difficult time with the winding nature of the course. From looking at other peoples’ data, the actual distance was 31 miles.