It was about 35 degrees and overcast, then got really cold and started snowing at about mile 20. At mile 24 I met my friend Megan at a bike shop on the trail and she rode the last 6 miles beside me. Poor girl was freezing her butt off! She had planned to go on a real ride afterward, but when we finished it was bitter freaking cold and the snow was WET and coming down hard so I gave her a ride back to her car. It was really great to have some company for the last 6 miles. I was able to maintain, and even slightly pick up my pace, rather than finish up with a shuffle like I normally do.
So, here are some technical aspects of the run:
Nutrition: I ran out of my beloved Honey Stingers (chews) and couldn't find any the night before the run so I brought Luna Bars. That didn't work so well. I usually take a Honey Stinger chew every 10 minutes, so in place of that I took a small bite of Luna Bar. The problem is that there aren't enough calories in one small bite, and I wasn't able to eat a big chunk of Luna Bar every 10 minutes because a) it made me want to gag and b) it would have taken too long to eat and c) I would have run out quickly. I highly recommend gels or chews for lots of fast absorbing carbs and calories packed into tiny bites.
I also brought along some potato chips and beef jerky. Salt and protein. I tried Honey Stinger Bars and Power Bar protein bars for other long runs but neither sat well with me. The chips were fantastic. Really easy to eat while running, and being so salty, they made me drink my water right away. It is hard for me to remember to drink water when it is cold and wet outside because I don't get thirsty. The beef jerky sat well in my stomach, but as you can guess is a little hard to chew. I saved that for times that I was slowing down anyway or walking up a hill. It wasn't ridiculously hard to eat on the move, just not as easy as gel or chips. I think having a good protein source is important during and after long runs and this one worked perfect for me.
Gear: The forecast called for rain, snow and a high of 39 degrees. I started out with thin tights, a long sleeved tech shirt and a fleece over it. Also gloves and a wool hat. I had my Nathan Hydration Pack which I love. It doesn't chafe or bounce awkwardly. On my feet, Injinjis with Blister Shield powder. I ended up with a few blisters, but nothing big. I didn't even feel them while I was running. I got hot going through the hilly section and took off the gloves and hat. Then got more hot later and took off the fleece. Then I got cold again durning the last 6 miles, but didn't want to stop for the fleece, so I just put the hat back on and I was fine.
Pace: For my last couple of long runs, I have done a 9:1 run/walk interval. It really helps me feel like I can go all day, but also slows my pace significantly. So for this run, I did the first two 10 minute sets with the 1 minute walks and then decided to drop them. I wasn't sure if I'd regret that later or not. It ended up being just fine. I walked some of the steep hills, and I walked when I needed to fish something out of my pack or take off layers/accessories. Other than that I just ran and felt great. I am torn on the run/walk thing. Having done it on a few 20+ mile runs, I know that it makes the run hurt less in the end. I finish feeling like I could go on, which is what I need to feel because I am going to be running significantly more in the race than I do in training. But on the flip side, it is often hard for me to get going again after a walk break. On my 25 mile run a couple weeks ago, some of those 1 minute walk breaks turned into 2 minute walk breaks because I just couldn't get going again. And sometimes the hills mess with the walk breaks. I would rather walk up the hills, so if the walk break comes once I reach the top and start going down, I get pissed. I think for the ultra, I will walk the major hills and run the rest. There are enough hills there to get plenty of walk breaks! I know that toward the end (or possibly even the middle) I will need to walk more, so maybe I can implement 9:1 or 8:2 then.
Splits: Total time was 4:45:21.
First 10 miles was 1:35 (9:34 pace)
(Halfway, 15 miles 2:24)
Second 10 miles was roughly 1:35 again
Third set of 10 was 1:33:49 (9:25 pace)
So that was my run. The first couple of hours after the run I wanted to saw my legs off! I moved around a bunch to clean the house and make dinner and that helped. I slept in my recovery socks and my legs did not wake me up screaming. They feel ok today, just sore hamstrings. I am getting them worked on today after work so I should be fine. I feel great knowing I've run farther than ever before! I am getting excited for the ultra!