Sunday, June 3, 2012

Buckeye Buster 50K, 2012

Buckeye Buster 50K – June 2, 2012

Summary:  Great race!  I finished 4th overall (highest placement in any race for me!) with a time of 5:04, a great time on a difficult course, and also a new trail PR for me. First over 40, I got the Grand Masters award.  Best part: No issues, perfectly even splits.


We arrived at the Salt Fork State Park OH Lodge with Liz on Friday. The room was very nice. We like the Ohio State Park Lodges...

The 50K course is a 10.4 mile loop, which we do 3 times. This is nearly identical to the course of the Bigfoot 50K that I did back in December (a small section of the road was replaced with grass, slowing the course down by 1-2 minutes/loop). I wrote a report for this race:

As it turns out, there was also a 10 mile race (running one loop) and Joe and I talked Liz into signing up for the 10 miler. Her longest trail race before this was 5 miles.  Here Liz is handing her credit card to Kate Koewler at the on-site registration.

Spending the night at the lodge, I had 2 beers and a glass of wine, and we ate at the Lodge restaurant. It was a low-carb dinner (steak for Liz, salad for me) without bread or fries, but we could not resist the Buckeye Pie that we split. So, almost low-carb (minus Beer and Pie! :))

Saturday morning I got up at 6 AM and had breakfast, which I brought from home: two boiled eggs chopped, with pieces of cheese, a few chopped pieces of carrots and lots of olive oil, plus sunflower seeds. It looked disgusting but tasted good. I estimate that because of the amount of oil, we are looking at ~1000 calories, and on a very small volume of space. Contrast that with carbohydrates which have 4/9 the calories of fat and tie water like crazy. I ate my breakfast at 6:30 AM, only half an hour before the race started. During the race I had nothing to eat! Only water and a few sips of Gatorade/Coke, which I could have easily skipped. I remember thinking that the fat-loading for breakfast was enough to keep me satisfied for the entire race, without giving me a belly ache. It is like I had not even eaten; I felt light but full.

Race Director, Vince Rucci, giving the last minute instructions:

Race timing was done by Jim Chaney:

Here is a group of fast runners:  Shaun Pope (1st overall, left) and Brian Polen (2nd overall, right), with Joe Jurczyk in the middle:

At the start line and ready to go!  I ran with my water bottle and my Panasonic Lumix 3D1 camera.

The 50K started at 7:00 (7:30 for the 10 miler), conveniently right outside the Lodge. The temperature was 50F, rising to 70F and it was sunny. It had rained hard the day before, but because of the dry Spring we are having, the ground was not too bad: soft with some patches of mud-- a lot drier than in December!  It really was perfect running weather!

The trails were well-marked with red blazers. Liz was nervous but I told her that it is almost impossible to get lost.  There was a variety of running surfaces, technical trails, some asphalt, lots of grass (the least favorite part for many runners). I enjoyed parts of the trail when it was running along the lake.  It reminded me of Greece. If I were not running a race, I would have stepped out of the trail to sit by the water and enjoy the view.

In this race, I ran an amazingly even pace! My time splits for each 10.4 loop are: 1:41, 1:41, 1:42! It cannot get any more even than that! (The one extra minute in loop #3 is due to spending more time at the aid stations...)  Compare this with the Bigfoot 50K in December (1:40, 1:50, 1:54) or with what other runners did.  A big difference!  Running the 3rd loop as fast as the 1st loop is not something you see often.  Compare my splits with the first 3 runners. My Lap 3 was faster than both #2 and #3 runners:

Place    Name                Age   Lap1     Lap2       Lap3      Finish      Pace  
===== ===== ===========================================
    1    Shaun Pope         23   1:19:24   1:28:30   1:35:21   4:23:15    8:27  
    2    Brian Polan          32   1:27:25   1:32:26   1:43:31   4:43:22    9:05  
    3    Micah Scott          22   1:28:07   1:34:21   1:55:01   4:57:29    9:33  
    4    George Themelis   52   1:41:22   1:41:04   1:42:26   5:04:52    9:47  

Except for the few short encounters when I passed other runners, I ran the entire race alone. I was thinking that this is the curse of leading runners... They run alone. I enjoy company, so running alone is not fun... :(  I did, however, run 5 miles with Kevin Martin.  Here I took a picture of Kevin, at the road stretch leading to the mid-course aid station:

Just before finishing the 1st loop I was in 11th place and gradually worked my way to 4th place, passing runner after runner. Early into the 2nd loop I caught up with runner no. 6, Ron. We chatted. He looked strong so I am surprised that I passed him. Right after I finished loop 2, I caught up with runner no. 5, chatted for a while, then I moved ahead.

Aid station volunteers were very helpful.  Pam Pickel is filling up my water bottle at the mid-course aid station, at about mile 15:

Finally at mile 23.5 I caught up with runner no. 4, again chatted, and pulled ahead. Looking at the results, if I had a few more miles, I would have caught runner no. 3 who had slowed down considerably.

So by mile 23.5 I knew I was in 4th place. That's when the race started for me :) I did not want to lose this placement so I started running faster, pushing myself harder.  As a result, I built a 10 minute difference from the runner behind me! Half a mile before the finish, I realized that I had a chance to PR! So now I was racing against the clock.

I finished in 5:04:52, which is only 7 seconds (!!) faster than my previous 50K best time (5:04:59, at the Buckeye Trail 50K in 2009). I was 4th overall, first over 40.

Complete results at:

After the race, I talked to Shaun Pope (1st place winner, 23 yo) who said that, for him, this course is 20 minutes slower than the Buckeye Trail 50K and he said that if I run BT50K that strong, I can finish at 4:45. My dream has always been to break 5 hours in the BT50K. I came close to this 3 years ago when I was heading for a 4:55 finish, but crashed and finished at 5:04 (the report for this race is here:
That was back when I was carbo-loading and I hit a terrible wall 3 miles before the end when my glycogen reserves were exhausted. This cannot happen today when my run is fueled mostly by fat.

Overall, I am very pleased with my performance. I ran strong with even pace, like a well-oiled machine :) I had no issues, and now I feel no pain.

[However, the next day I went for a 17 mile training run for Burning River and my quad on the left leg was hurting, forcing me to stop 2 miles before the end. I hope this goes away with no lingering problems.]

Next test: Mohican 50M race in two weeks.  If I continue to run strong and avoid injury, I am hopeful for a decent first 100 mile appearance.

Liz did well in her 10 mile race, under 2 hours (her goal), finished 5th overall woman, 1st over 50 (Grand Master award, just like mine :)) But it was a small field, only 38 runners :)  Results are at:

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