Sunday, March 6, 2011

More Preparation for the Pinhoti 100

If you saw my training log in the previous post you know how much/little I ran getting ready for Pinhoti, now I will try to remember as much as I can about how I managed all the other preparations.  I registered as soon as I found out about Pinhoti after The Katcina Mosa 100K .  I was then committed.  I think the early registration is important because once you have entered, there is a degree of urgency to training and getting everything else ready.  Not to mention that you will probably not get in the race if you wait.

This would be a lot easier if I could type!  I constatnly reverse letters in wrods and have to go back and fix them.  It is a real pian!!!

The first thing I needed to do was to figure out a pace schedule to determine when I would need to be at each aid station to stay on pace.  Normally, I  simply "guess" about how fast I will run the race and find four or five people that finished about that same time the year before.  I copy their splits on a spread sheet and average the times.  Then I will find 3 or 4 runners about an hour slower and about an hour faster and do the same.  As I am selecting the runners whose time I will use I try to find people that ran at a consistent pace throughout the race.  That is, all the selected runners should run similar splits all through the race.  Some start out too fast and finish slow.   Some will have run a faster pace and took a long bread at some point.  I do not use those.  Most runners that finish about the same time will have hit each aid station at very similar intervals.  These are the runners I pick.  After averaging each groups times between aid stations I transfer the average times to a cue sheet.  If I expected to finish in 28 hours, then I would list the aid stations down the left column.  I would put 27 hours, 28 hours, 29 hours and "Cutoff " across the top.  I then list the averages I calculated for each finish time.  Actually, at Pinhoti, the cut off time was 30 hours,so I skipped the 29 hour time and listed cutoff times.  When you are running that close to the cutoff times, all that matters is staying ahead of them.

This was the first ever Pinhoti 100 so there were no previous years race times to go by.  Todd Henderson, Pinhoti RD, had  created a pace chart for a 15 hour pace, 24 hour pace, and 30 hour paces (30 hours was the cutoff) on his web site.  Here is a link to his pace chart.  He had run all the course in segments and estimated the times based on his runs.  This time I decided to shoot for 28 hours and created a cue sheet with 27, 28 and cutoff times.  I estimated splits by figuring where 27 and 28 would fall between the 25 hour time and the 30 hour.  During the race this all worked great up to Bald Rock aid station #7 at 40.95 miles, the top of Cheaha.  I was on a 27 hour pace and felt great.  The sun would be setting about 30 minutes after I left AS 7 and it would get cold, so I went in the bathroom at the aid station (Cheaha State Park) to change into warmer clothes.  Unfortunately I left a small fanny pak and my arm warmers in the bathroom.

Trouble was, my cue sheet and my flashlight were in the fanny pak.  The flashlight was a backup.  At that time I only run with a headlamp so I wasn't concerned about the flashlight (except that it was expensive and I liked it.)  The flashlight was an Fenix LD20 and I did get it back, but dropped it at Leadville and this time it was gone for good. I did have extra batteries in  two drop bags so I did pick up a set at the next aid station, Adams Gap.  The big problem proved to be running without a cue sheet so all night I had no idea how fast I was going.  I found I could not tell up hill from down hill in the dark and apparently ended up walking way to much over night.  I had been almost three hours ahead of the cutoff at Bald Rock so I just tried to keep that same pace.  As it was getting light I reached Power Line aid station at mile 79.53 and asked how long it was until cutoff.  The guy told me about one minute.  I was shocked.  I had lost three hours over night and never knew it.  I took off and by the next aid station I had pulled back ahead a little.  By the end I had gained back an hour and finished in 29:01.

Tod had created a high resolution topo map of the course showing the aid stations. He also had the elevation profile that I placed in the previous post.  I printed out the profile and pulled up the course map on the computer.  I also printed the cutoff times for each aid station.  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the course was like in sections that I had not seen, and tried to imagine running them.  I don't know how much good that did but it was more of that mental preparation.

Next, I needed to know where I would be as it started getting dark.  I used the 30 hour pace just to be safe.  The race started at 6:00 am, just as it was getting light so no headlamp or flashlight were needed at the start.  I estimated I would need my headlamp at Bald Rock (mile 40.9) but its cutoff was 6:12 pm, so it could be dark before I got there.  I decided to leave a flashlight at AS 5 at mile 27.6 because that was the last AS that allowed drop bags before Bald Rock.  I left a  small LED flashlight at aid station 5.  I placed it in the small fanny pak with my cue sheet!

The run takes place the second weekend in November so the temperature could range anywhere from 20 to 90.  As it turned out, the weather was great, cool days and just below freezing over night.  I ran in shorts all day so I knew I would need to change to warm clothes at night.  I estimated I would be at Bald Rock before I needed any warm clothes so that is where I put my tights, hat, gloves and jacket.  It was cold at the start so I wore my arm warmers all day.  I also stuck a couple of pairs of trail shoes in two drop bags later in the race, just in case.  I knew there were a couple creek crossings, one of which I posted a picture of from the Cheaha 50K which follows the Pinhoti course in the opposite direction.  I placed dry socks and blister tape in each bag.  I will go into more detail about the other stuff I put in drop bags later.  November is traditionally a dry month and it had not rained appreciably for at least a week so the creeks were very low and I never got my feet wet.  It was raining lightly while driving to the prerace meeting and back home but it stopped by race time.

Even though there was supposed to be soup at the night aid stations I put a few cans of Campbell's "Soup-at-Hand" in the overnight drop bags.  As it turned out, all but one of the aid stations I reached at night were out of soup by the time I got there.  I ate some of a couple of the cans I left in the bags.  The rest of the race went pretty smooth although I was afraid I would not make the 30 hour cutoff right up the the last few miles.  I hit the pavement about 5 miles from the end and felt good and then realized I was going to make it.  I had called Marye Jo about 15 miles out and told here when I expected to be at the end so she could meet me.  As it turned out,  I covered that 15 miles a lot faster that I anticipated.  She was going to run from the finish to meet me and I originally expected to see her about 4 miles out.  As it turned out, I met her about half a mile from the finish and I was so happy to see her.  I was afraid I might get to the finish before she even got there.  I was thinking about stopping at the entrance to the track and waining for her. We ran together to the football stadium in Sylacauga (the finish) and while I circled the track to the finish, she ran across the field to get a picture.  Part of the reason I ran so fast is I knew she was going to be there to meet me.  You will not believe what an incentive having you wife or a friend or family member waiting for you is at the end.

I ran Pinhoti with out any crew help.  In a way, it was really satisfying to be able to do it that way.  Marye Jo was at Leadville and met me at all the aid stations that allowed crew access.  She was up all night driving to aid stations and waiting in the cold.  I like that way a lot better because you have an incentive to reach every aid station.  Besides, I didn't want to let her down by not finishing.

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