Bouncing Soles Running Blog – Covering races and events in the Philadelphia area

10Oct/182

Oil Creek 100 Miler – Mud, rain, and pain…

Posted by Patrick Durante

Why Oil Creek?

Titusville, PA is somewhat close to where I live.  It's about 5-6 hours outside of Philadelphia.  The past few years my father has run my support crew, which consists of just him.

I did the normal distances before the 100 miler.  2 years ago I finished the JFK 50 Miler, then last year I completed Boulder Field 100K (62 miles).

I decided to do something very different with my training.  If you listen to the Jocko podcast you will hear about the benefits of Jiu-Jitsu.

 Jiu Jitsu is a great workout both mentally and physically. You want to be strong for it and flexible for it. You want to have explosive energy and you want to have endurance. So it’s a very good all-around physical conditioning tool. Jiu Jitsu is probably the No. 1 activity that I could recommend to someone to improve their lives overall.

He speaks so highly of Jiu-Jitsu I decided to see if it would help improve my running.  I decided against the 80-100 mile training weeks that would normally leave me injured.  I worked for years on proper running form, now I just needed the mental side of the training.  I was hoping it would get me through the long night.  I would perform less running in the hopes of learning a new skill.  I knew the race would be more mental than physical.  The saying goes, "An ultra is 90% mental and the other 10% is in your head".  I signed up forJiu-Jitsu classes at East Montgomery Martial Arts taught by Mr. Exaros.

Was I was going to jeopardize my racing?  There are different types of submissions you perform. Some of them were painful, and I did get injured.  Like any new activity, there is a learning curve, and I just needed to be patient.  After 6 months of Jujitsu, I did notice more strength and confidence, and mentally I believed I could take on anything!  My race times were also improving.  I took that as a sign that it was working, so I was ready for the hundred!

Earlier in the year, I had a very muddy 50K that taught me a valuable lesson about shoes.  Thankfully, it taught me that I need to train and prepare for the WORST conditions whenever I race. Little did I know that Oil Creek would be the worst race conditions I have ever experienced...

Race Conditions  - What 85% of the trail looked like.

This is what the course looked like.

It rained multiple times you were on the course.  Mostly after loop 2, you were wet the entire time.

What worked?

The aid stations that had food were about 8 miles apart. AS #2 and AS #4 allowed you to have a drop bag. Because the conditions were so poor for this race, having a change of clothes and shoes was critical. I made sure to pack 2 aid station bags with a separate pair of shoes and outfit.  I had to change out of wet socks and clothes multiple times to avoid chafing.  Thankfully, the aid stations were only 8 miles apart for food.  This gave you a chance to recharge and pull yourself together.  I had zero stomach issues and was able to keep eating the entire time.  This was important as it kept my energy up.

Sharing the miles 

My best races have always been with complete strangers and this race was no different. It's amazing how you can create a bond with people you don’t even know.  I guess it is because you are all suffering against the same course. I met Erin around mile 2 or 3 and we ran the majority of the race together. She was a 7-time Ironman finisher and was a WAY stronger trail runner. We talked about everything from family, work, life, and all the things we experience out on the trail.  For her, it was her second time at the race so I looked to her for guidance about the course and what to expect.  Neither of us was prepared for just how bad the weather would get, but we kept going.  We kept moving forward and we didn't stop, even when lighting struck very close to us.

What went wrong?

I could have gone through aid stations a little bit faster. That would have shaved off an hour. It might have come at the sacrifice to my feet. I was very concerned about blisters so I made sure to change my shoes, shirt, pants, and socks any chance I could. I had read that if you take care of your feet you can get through a 100M. It was just a lot harder to do with all the rain.

One regret was I didn't bring my small raincoat for my pack.  Apparently, hypothermia is a real concern and I was lucky the temperature wasn't any lower.  

Are we done yet? Going home loop!

Best race moment?

Sitting on a bench in the middle of the woods with Erin and Gilbert.  We sat there, broken, but we knew aid station 4 was close, and this was our final loop. All that we had left to complete was the “Going Home” loop. The funniest part of the race was when we arrived at #AS 4 and Gilbert’s wife informed him if he completed the race by 10 AM she could see him finish.  She had to be at work.  He sped off, out AS#4 without even saying goodbye.  He really wanted his wife and family see him finish.  I don’t blame him for that.  It made both Erin and I laugh because he kept saying how much pain he was in.  He wanted to quit so bad.  I didn't understand how he changed it around so quickly.  We did see him after the race and his feet were completely destroyed.

Summary of the race?

You will meet all types of people in an ultra. Everyone is struggling through the race. They can make the difference in how hard you push.  They can motivate you, inspire you, and they might even wait for you if you are slower. Thanks, Erin 🙂

Was it painful? Yes, but if you ignore it long enough you get used to it. The pain came in waves so you just needed to ride it out.  Night racing wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. You just need a good headlamp and lots of caffeine!  I also found it incredible, if I kept repeating to myself, “I feel no pain” over and over again the pain would kinda stop… slightly.  This always reminds me of the Henry Ford quote, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”

Would you run the race again?

Yes! I want to run this thing on dry trails!

I have to thank my wife first for watching the kids and parenting all weekend. My father for driving and supporting me during the race. He asked for nothing in return, or maybe he did but I just ignored him. 😉

I would also like to thank Erin and Gilbert for being awesome race companions!  Final race time:

28:57:42.30   #32nd Place out of 70 runners and 170 total starters.  62% drop rate!

Me and Erin coming in for a speedy finish

When you take on challenges like this in life everything becomes a little bit easier.   On the way home, we stopped by a Burger King for some much-needed junk food.  The cashier said that chicken tenders were going to be an extra 5 minutes to the lady in front of me.  I had never seen somebody get so angry in my life over having to wait 5 minutes.  Her response was, "well I guess this isn't really fast food!".  She stormed out of the store while yelling at her husband to wait for them.  It made me think about our expectations, and how we manage them.  If you are able to be understanding, adapt, or change your perspective in life I think you can take on any massive challenge.  Even one like this, where SO many things will go wrong.  It's not about what happens to you, things always go wrong.  It's how you respond!

This is what it was all about! A belt buckle I probably never wear. 🙂

1May/150

Trail Runner Nation – Tips for Racing and Running

Posted by Patrick Durante

My favorite running podcast is Trail Runner Nation.  If you haven't heard of it stop now and go check it out.  I've listened to most of the shows in their library.  There are so many good quotes and tips for training.  Here are just some of the ones I've written down, and my thoughts on the different topics.  I'm sorry I don't know what episode, or who said them, but just go listen and you'll find out.

  • You never know where your last finish line will be. You are lucky to get to do this so enjoy it, smile, and have fun out there.
  • If you plan a quality workout also plan quality recovery. The day following a hard workout needs to be easy. You need more recovery as you age. Listen to the signs your body gives you!
  • Invisible training - it's getting sleep and everything we need for recovery.  That could be lots of rest, yoga, foam rolling, etc...
  • Road and speed require more "invisible training" than trail.  The trail is not as hard on the body as road running and racing can be.
    • ** This made me think about giving up all road racing next year.  I really agree with this. **
  • Work on leg turnover, it needs to be in your schedule. Try the Yasso track workout.
  • If you put miles in the bank you will pay interest on them later. So go out slow in a race.
    •   Don't be an idiot first half, and dont be a wimp the second.
    •  "Run with the mayor" at the start of the race. (Run in the back and work your way up through the crowds.)
  • Cramping occurs from dehydration , low electrolytes, or running at an intensity the body can't sustain.  Train for race and test the pace!!!!!
  • Listen to your body. Take note of what you are doing during training. How much you sweat, pee, and how much food you need. It's all rehearsal for race day. Adaptations happen over time and you need to know what you were doing when things go right, just as much as when they go wrong.  Have a change log if you modify things with your routines/training.
  • Even if it's just 5 minutes a day try to start a routine. A body in motion stays in motion.
  • Save music for later in a race when you are not feeling good, or as a reward at a certain mile marker.  It may give you more motivation.
  • As mileage increases so should rest, stretching, good nutrition, and massage. Take care of the body more so it recovers better from the stress.
  • Have an "A" race and "B" race. Focus the effort and training to the more important race.  Have an "A" goal then "B" goal for the race itself.
  • More supportive shoe on race day.
    • You should have many shoes that work the foot in different ways. Race in a shoe with heel support because of added strain. Train in zero drop if you can work it in slowly.
  • Finish fast on long runs. Simulate what happens in a race. In training test running hard while you are dehydrated and have tired legs.  This will help you train for race day.
  • Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.
  • Drink to thirst.  Don't be waterlogged and wash out electrolytes come race day. You should not be peeing clear come race day.  Don't eat too much fiber. Take S caps before the race will prevent the need to pee. You need electrolytes to process fat and food, if you don't you may have stomach issues. If you don't have electrolytes then water and food that enters the body will be rejected. Take an s cap or hammer tab so you have the right balance.  (Really applies to longer races).
  • Visualize the race and how it will play out. Do it daily up until race day. See yourself successful and running the course to completion.  A good time to practice this is when you go to bed at night.
  • Race specificity - mimic the next race course and conditions during your training.
  • Don't let your feet or arms cross over the middle of your body.  Perform an inventory check while running on your form every 10 - 15 minutes.  This is even more important as we start to fatigue.  When we get tired our form starts to suffer.  
  • Your training should be on a cycle.  3 weeks at regular intensity with the 4th week at 20 percent less mileage/intensity. This allows time for the body to adapt to the training.  The benefits from training come when you take a break.  It gives your body a chance to rebuild.  If you're always going at 100% you never give your body a chance to repair.
  • Mental rehearsal before a big event increases chances of success.
  • Be autonomous!  Know everything there is to know about your body.  Know how much sleep you need, how much recovery, water, and food you need on a run.  You're an experiment of 1.  Use your training to test different methods of fueling and pacing.  Practice!  This comes back to the idea of rehearsal for success.
  • Slow weights - see Phil Maffetone
30Nov/140

2014 Running Notes – Tips for a better season next year.

Posted by Patrick Durante

If I PR in just one distance, or place in a race I say my season was a success. I was second for the Upper Dublin Duathlon, and I took 6 minutes off of my marathon.  These are a few of my lessons from the past year I'll take with me.  I also started a new training method mid-season so I have even higher hopes for next season.

  • Strength is critical late in the race. I have to focus more on strength.  I knew this but still neglected strength training for some reason.
  • Get your feet to the ground as quick as possible. I need to have incredible fast turnover while running. Do not spend excessive time in air.  Vertical motion wastes energy.
    • Over striding causes injury, uses more energy and is the biggest mistake people make with running.
      • I noticed lower heart rate the quicker I get my turnover.
  • Diet can slow recovery.
    • If you work out every day your body is in constant repair.  Eat food that promotes recovery.
    • Focus on more healthy fat / protein.  Train your body to use fat as a fuel source.  You will get less inflammation in joints and muscles depending on what you eat.  Excessive carbohydrates and refined sugar are not healthy and turn into fat.
    • Diet change can help get rid of the nagging injuries.
  • The race profile must match training.
    • You have to match the race elevation profile in training.  You can't just expect to deal with a 1000 extra feet of climbing if you didn't train for it.
  • In the marathon there are no surprises so don't expect much better than training.
    • For longer distance races, you need to have quality training sessions.  There are no surprises that will happen race day, if you haven't had some breakthrough in training.
  • Keeping low HR means quicker recovery, and more quality workouts.
    • This is also a form of injury prevention.  Using a HR monitor helps limit workout stress.
    • Lower perceived effort makes it easier to run faster.
  • When dining out always choose the low carb option and drop unnecessary sugar.
    • Wraps and salads.
    • Do not have excessive sugar with your meals.
    • Our bodies can't use nearly as much energy as we take in with refined sugar.  The rest turns to fat, skip it when possible or have very small portions if necessary.
  • Race pace should be set and maintained the ENTIRE race.
    • Don't fly off the start!
    • Don't chase.
    • Put the ego aside.
    • Have a plan and execute it.

If I can remember these for next year I should have a better season then the last.