Thursday, February 16, 2012

Race Planning and LED's

Preparing and planning for the Rocky Raccoon 100 was pretty simple.  The course consists of five 20 mile loops that are pretty flat.  I planned to run a 15 minute pace per mile so the basic calculations were simple.  There are 5 aid stations per lap but two primary ones, the Start/Finish area at Dog Wood and Dam Nation.  Dog Wood is at mile 20 and Dam Nation is at mile 6.19 and 12.2 on each lap.  These two aid stations are the ones I planned to pay attention to.  The calculation for arrival time at each as is simple.  Runners first arrive at Dam Nation at mile 6.19.  Multiply 6.19 X 15 =92.85 minutes.  Divide the 92.85 by 60 =  1.5475 hours.  Convert the .5475 hour to minutes = approx. 33 minutes.  Therefore it will take me 1 hour, 33 minutes to reach Dam Nation for the first time.  I added 1 hour, 33 min to the 6:00 AM start and that gives you 7:33 arrival time.  Actually, I set up a spread sheet to calculate each aid station time which is printed below.

Next, I created the same chart for 14 minutes per mile and 16 minutes per mile.  If there had been a mountain between the start and the first Dam Nation, I would have had to guess how long it would take to hike up the hill, but that was not the case in this race.

The next step is to figure what you will need at the two drop bag aid stations, Dog Wood and Dam Nation.  Below is the chart I used to figure what I was going to need at each.

I used the 16 minute per mile pace for safety.  I figured I wouldn't be slower than that.  I used a one gallon zip-lock baggie for each of the 4 Dog Wood Stops (20,40,60 and 80 miles.)  I also used one gallon baggie for each two Dan Nation stops.  (One bag for 6.9 and12.2.  One bag for 26.9 and 32.2 and so on.)  Each of the baggies contained all the supplies I would need for that segment such as Vespas, NUUN tablets, 10oz. water bottles with Carbo-Pro, etc.  These baggies also contained critical items like flashlight, headlamps, hat and gloves for night.  I then put all four Dog Wood baggies ( labeled, 1,2,3, & 4) in one drop bag.  I put extra socks, shoes, shirts, etc in the second drop bag.  Runners were allowed two drop bags at each aid station.

This system worked pretty well for a couple of laps.  I did not take the time to pick up my drop bag at Dam Nation and sit down with it, so I started looking for what I needed and taking it out of what ever baggie I found first.  The problem with this was that by the last lap it was getting hard to find things.  If I run a race with laps like this again, I am going to organize drop bags differently.  I will try carrying a list of what I need at a particular aid station.  Actually, I knew exactly what I wanted at each aid station stop so I probably don't need a list at all.  Next I will put similar items in one baggie.  That is, I will put all the Vespas in one baggie, all the NUUN tablets in one baggie, etc.  When I arrived at the aid stations I knew what I wanted and it would have saved time.

A lot of runners at RR used small plastic bins with snap on tops.  I realized this would work great for a race where you are going through the same aid station over and over.  You just pull the lid off everything is visible and easy to keep in order.  And there is another plus, they are waterproof!  I am going to check to see if Cascade Crest allows plastic boxes as drop bags.  I don't think most 100 milers allow them.

I almost forgot about the LEDs.  Before each ultra I print out a check list for the race like the one below.  The first column (left) and top right items are things I gather days before the race, sometimes weeks before.  As I pull each of the item and lay them on a table I place a small check beside the item, not in the box to the right.  The box to the right is not checked until I actually place the item in my luggage or in a drop bag or in my hydration pak.  

I followed this chart (below) to the letter for Rocky Raccoon.  There were two minor problems however.  First, I thought my hand held flashlights used AAA batteries.  I had a lot of backup AAA batteries both in my hydration pak and in drop bags.  Trouble was, the flashlights use AA batteries.  Both back up flashlights went out within a hour of turning them on.  One in the morning and one that night.  No problem, they were backups.

Personal Items

Race Clothing



Drivers License

Light Jacket – Keep in pack

Race Entry Registration

Running Shorts – 2

Credit Cads

Running Socks – 4


Compression Socks

Lodging Info

Coolmax tops – 2 or 3

Alarm Clock

Fleece Top – Light

Light timer

Fleece Top –Heavy

Clothes to wear home

Fleece Pants

  Extra Shoes and Socks

Hot Chillies – top

  T Shirts

Hot Chillies – bottom


Tape -

  Coat -cold weather

Tape -

  Rain Jacket

Ankle Brace



Sun Glasses

A. Cap

Sun Glasses Strap

B. Sun Cap

Reading glasses

C. Toboggan – Light


D. Toboggan – Warm

Paper Towels


Extra Baggies

A. Light


B. Heavy-Warm

First Aid Kit

Rain Jacket

Extra Running Shoes

Rain Pants

Sun Screen

Tights – 2 Pair

Hydration Pak – 2 Lit

Extra Shoes

Hydration Pak – 3 Lit

Advil PM

Toe Nail Clippers

Day Before Race

Coarse Toe Nail File

Charge Camera

Sports Tape

Charge Phone

Ankle Brace-Old


Ankle Brace-New

Label Drop Bags

Add to Drop Bags


Head Lamps

Extra Batteries

Sun Screen

Coolmax shirts – Light

Hats and Gloves – Cold


Ice chest


Folding chair

Fleece or Hot Chilies


Hearing Aid Batteries


Sun Glasses

Add to Back Pak

Extra Batteries


  A. Lithium – CR123A

Light Rain Jacket

  B. AAA Batteries – 6


  C AA Batteries – 2

Paper Towels

  D. Hearing Aid Batteries

Nathan Hydration Pack –3 Lt

Rain Pants

Nathan Hydration Pack –2 Lt


Hand-held Water Bottles – 2

Extra Baggies

Extra Hand Held bottles – 2


Nathan 10oz bottles

Trekking Poles

Head Lamps – 2

Heart Pills

Flash Light – 2

Aspirin & Advil

Belt (waste) Light

Sports Tape

Stop Watch


Trekking Poles



Camera & Holder

Pace Chart

Sun Glasses & Strap

Course Maps & Info.

Drink Mix Powder in Bottles

Electrolyte Tablets/Pills

  A. NUUN Tablets

  B. Honey Stinger Waffles

  C. Enervit Tablets

  D. Thermalites

  E. PBJ mix & Bread

  F. Tums

Race Morning

Drop Bags

New Hearing Aid Battery

Sun Screen

Fill 2, 10 oz bottles – 

Paper Towels

Nip Bandages


Situate Run Number

Heart Pills



Hat, Gloves


Head Lamp


Belt Light

Mole Skin

Trim Toe Nails

Sports Tape

Apply Glide

Sun glasses

Arm Warmers

Arm Warmers

Road ID Bracelet

Ankle Brace

What I didn't know until I read about LED lights "after the race" is that they get much dimmer with time.  Both of my LED headlamps have been used for five 100 mile races.  Each has a lot of hours on them.  They were also stand-in lighting following several power losses at our house, including a tornado that missed our house by 200 yards in the April 2011 tornado outbreak that struck Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.  We had  no power for almost two weeks.  We have a generator, but it is not a whole-house generator so we just used it to power major items, like the "frig." and TV to keep up with the world. We used the headlamps at night.  

Both headlamps were pretty dim.  I could see but not very well.  I started depending on the hand held flashlight much more than usual.  I needed them to find my way around the worst of the mud puddles, some of which were several 100 yards long. That is, I depended on them for an hour.  After that, negotiating the mud became pretty hopeless.  I plan to amend the check list to note backup flashlight batteries are AA.

1 comment:

  1. This was a great blog David! Planning for these runs were always harder than the run itself. I never got as detailed as you, but after reading this, maybe I should have! Congratulations on getting into cascade crest (I guess). Take a breath, man!