On Saturday April 16, 2022 I ran the Traprock 50k (32 mile) Ultramarathon. This race is located in Penwood State Forest, split between Simsbury and Bloomfield.
I signed up for the race in January as a way to help keep me motivated to run over the winter. Traditionally I always get in great running shape during the summer, but then stop running in the fall, only to lose most of my gains during the winter. Not this year!
I also typically sign up for one or two races per year just to keep pushing into my discomfort zone. It’s all to easy to slip into comfort and not come out of it!
The course was roughly an 11 mile loop, which started at the bottom of the picture above, went up and on the right, and came back down on the left. Elevation gain per lap was about 1785ft
This dirty little hill was a beast! Pictures naturally don’t do it justice, but the 2nd and 3rd laps you had to will yourself just to keep walking up it!
With the elevation gains came some pretty awesome views!
For the two pictures above, unfortunately most the trails looked like the rocky one on the right. The smooth single track on the left was more rare.
The rocks were the biggest hurdle of the race. They are no issue when your legs are fresh, but once you are 20 miles in and your legs are a little heavy, navigating these rocks can be quite the task! I saw many a runner fall down from them. I stubbed my toes and almost ate-it more times than I can count, but fortunately never went all the way down.
This path was the best part of the race! Hah! Too bad it only lasted less than a mile.
What did I listen to for the 8 hour race?
NOTHING! It’s not allowed.
So what do I do for 8 hours on the trail? I think. I think about my breathing. I think about my technique. I think about my hydration and my fuel. I’m doing math in my head about how much I’ve consumed and how far I have to go until I refill. Every now and then I’ll daydream. Sometimes other runners on the course will be chatty so I’ll engage in conversation for a bit, then its back to my breathing and daydreams.
The race started at 830am, so for breakfast I had two frozen protein waffles and a banana at about 6am, plus my cup of half-caf coffee.
During the race I wore a camelback type vest, which has 2 16oz bottles. In each I would put 50g of Tailwind (carbs and electrolytes). I would also do 3 goo-packs of Spring Energy (all natural goo packet, more smoothie-like than a gel). The plan was to consume the above every lap, which was slated to take about 2.5 hours each.
Generally speaking, it averages out to about 75g of carbs per hour.
The plan was listed above.
However, I’d tell you this is where I fell short and there is room for improvement.
Nutrition-wise I felt my plan was solid. Hydration-wise, I needed more water.
The first lap I felt great. The second lap, about half way through, probably at mile 18 or so, I started getting nauseous, and my legs were cramping going up the hills. Dehydration. Ugh. It was a mental battle just to keep moving towards the end of the second lap. I even had thoughts of quitting! I wasn’t sure how I could do a third lap the way I was feeling. But I figured I could at least walk the whole last lap if needed just to ensure a finish. Always keep moving forward.
Thankfully I realized my mistake, and at the start of the third lap I chugged some water, and refilled my bottle at every opportunity. I drank a ton of water that third lap, and by mile 25 or so I was back to feeling good!
< Feeling good
< Dehydration setting in
< Nauseous + leg cramps
< Recovering from dehydration
< Feeling good again
After The Race
After this race I felt pretty good! To be honest, I felt worse after my last marathon. That was more “intense” as I was going for a PR time. This event was more of an endurance and mental battle. Sure my legs are sore and my lungs feel used, but I wasn’t devastated. I see that as a good sign of my training.
6,650ft of elevation gain
4,781 calories burned
Things got a little crazy here. When I got home, I chugged some water with LMNT (electrolytes) and then took a shower. Then, it was pizza and a cold beer for dinner! That was one of the best tasting beers I’ve had in a long time, hah!
After we got the kids to bed, I was rummaging through the closet and found something Denise had from her early pregnancy days but never used – full sugar ginger ale. Weird I know, but I was craving the sugar and the bubbles. I crushed like 3 glasses of it, along with 2 bagels with butter.
I got almost 8 hours of sleep that night, but it was terrible quality. I was hot, legs were not feeling great, and it was just broken sleep. The data below shows the situation.
Noteworthy – My resting heart rate is normally 42 to 44. This night it was 60! That shows how hard the body is working to “repair” while sleeping. Respirations were also increased. Heart rate variability (HRV) was WAY down. HRV is a measure of how “ready” your body is to respond to a stimulus, so higher is better. When it’s this low, that means it’s not ready, and is busy repairing/recovering.
None. A few minor blisters on my feet but nothing bad.
Tips For Success
I credit being injury free and having a good race to:
– Having a good run training plan to control volume
– Strength training for strong, balanced muscles
– Doing CrossFit / Functional Fitness that has plyometrics (box jumps, etc)
– Having good nutrition to support my exercise routines
– Taking fish oil (reduces inflammation)
– Taking liquid collagen (good for joints)
– Good sleep. I always get 7+ hours, with closer to 8 being the goal.
How I Trained (Workouts Vs Runs)
From January until now (April 18), I’ve logged 424 miles, which includes the race.
So that means I trained 392 miles to run 32.
My general workout schedule:
Mon: 45min run
Wed: 60min run
Fri: 60min run
Sat: Long run (varied, but mostly 90-150min)
If time permitted, I would do strength training in my basement home gym on run days in the afternoon.
For my run training, I programmed my runs in TrainingPeaks software so it would connect to my Garmin watch. This way I would just go out on the run and follow what the watch told me to do (pace, distance, etc).
I also used TrainingPeaks to program my deload weeks to ensure I did not get an over-use injury. I would do a deload about every 4 weeks.
I LOVED IT.
I loved the mental and physical challenge. I crave stuff like that. It was a true test of so many things:
- Delayed gratification and discipline in that you must start training months before the race and really dedicate yourself to the process
- Physical endurance capability in pushing how far your body can go
- Mental fortitude to keep pushing yourself and not stop
- Knowledge and application of nutrition
- Knowledge and application of proper running technique
- Knowledge of your body and proper work/rest ratios to prevent overtraining
- Lastly, sheer will and determination
The best part about racing, in my opinion, is demonstrating the above capacities to my family, inspiring them to push themselves more and achieve the things they want.