13 March 2021

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The Lost Falls 50K at Desoto State Park in Ft. Payne, AL was an inaugural event put on by Running Lane, a local Huntsville running event and coaching outfit. It was my first local ultra of the year after traveling to Moab, Utah in February. While I had started a new training cycle in mid January, I was still in the midst of my base building according to the MAF method following a strict low heart rate training zone protocol for every single training run while slowly building up my weekly milage. While I had tried to keep my heart rate low at the event in Moab, the Lost Falls race was going to be the first event of the year where I would not worry about anything other than running a steady race pace. 

I figured if I could finish the race in under 5:30 hours then it would have been a success. After all, I had only run low HR miles without any hard efforts, so this would be a real test of my early training so far. I lined up with the rest of the 50K runners and at 8AM sharp, we were off. I had made the 1:30 hour drive from Huntsville at 5:30AM, so I had a full hour to get my kit ready, so by the time we went off, I was rearing to go.
I settled into an easy pace right from the start and lost contact with the front of the pack very quickly. Just as well, it allowed me to run my own pace. But that comfort quickly changed to discomfort as I realized that my new untested(!) pack had already started to rub my right collarbone. It is a fantastic pack, BUT unfortunately, I had ordered it too large. As a result, I had to cinch it extremely right, which in turn caused the shoulder straps to sit too close to my neck cutting into my collarbone. This presented a fun little puzzle as I relied on my own nutrition rather than any aid station supplies due to my WFPB diet and I had to figure out how to carry at least a minimum of supplies...and my GoPro. 
I wrapped the buff I had used as a mask at the start around my wrist and shoved 3 Spring energy gels in there. I took two small ziplocks with my Silver Star Nutrition drink mix and put them in the back pocket of my shorts. that left my left hand free for my soft flask and my right hand for my GoPro. Unfortunately, I realized that I left my salt only after I dropped off my pack at the 8 mile aid station. So now I was left with only half of my nutrition and zero salt. This was gonna be type A kinda fun:-)
I accepted my fate pretty quickly. This was just part of my buildup for a huge summer of racing and things are sometimes out of your control. The quicker you accept it, the sooner you can move on and make room for problems you actually can solve. I kept listening as my watch indicated each mile with a beep, but I never checked my pace until I got about halfway though the race. My watch showed 2:33 hours which put my right on track for my race day goal. As I continued to move, my pace slowed and I decided to set another goal. Even if I continued to slow, I would attempt to run the entire race, i.e. no walking at all other then when refilling my water bottle at an aid station. 
I was stoked to manage to run until mile 31, when the race finish still wasn't in sight, but my quads finally started to cramp. I kept moving with the knowledge that I had at least manage to cover the advertised distance of 50K without walking. I crossed the finish line in 5:34 hours and called the day a success. I overcame some challenges, I was close to my minimum goal time and I managed to meet a secondary goal I set mid race. The summer race training buildup continues...

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