The Interval, 2/14/17

Front-runners ruled the races I followed this weekend.  Anthony Jacobs and Shaheen Satar at Rocky 50M and Jim Walmsley and Camille Herron at Tarawera 100K all led from the start and ran solo at the front en route to impressive wins.  In ultrarunning it takes courage to run away from the pack and then talent, training, and grit to make it count.
The Rocky Raccoon 50 mile and 50 kilometer races by Tejas Trails took place this past Saturday at Huntsville State Park.  About 350 people finished one of these races, battling the unseasonably warm and humid conditions.  Shaheen Satar repeated as the women’s 50 miler winner, nearly an hour ahead of Jessica Turner.  Anthony Jacobs ran away with the men’s race, finishing 32 minutes ahead of Paul Terranova.
Jacobs, who, like me, runs with TrailRoots, provided the picture above and kindly answered a few questions by email:
1.  Was it your plan to lead from the start?  The first split has you up on other top finishers by several minutes.  What was the first loop like with other racers?
Well, before the weather forecast turned hot and humid, I had a plan for pretty even splits and just focusing on that- hoping to go sub 6:30. Once I learned that we’d be treated to late spring weather on race day and Paul Terranova was registered, that kind of went out the window. Knowing him as a cerebral but tough racer, I knew if we were close by at the end, he’d reel me in no problem. The fact that Rocky had a few out and back sections also played to that strength, so I decided early on I’d try to put a gap on and just hold on the last loop when he’d inevitably begin reeling me in. Paul, Wade Barrett, and I started out together on the first loop at a pretty decent clip. From what I recall, a little before the first aid station I surged a bit to create that gap. From my estimates on the Damnation out and back section on that first loop I had a few minutes on Paul and Wade, but nothing to feel comfortable about. 
2.  How did the weather affect your race?  It was warmer and more humid than ideal…
Well, with warmer weather that I wasn’t yet acclimated to, the PR on even splits idea was shot, so it kind of turned into a tactical gamble. 
3.  Did you have any low points?  If so, how did you get past them?
Once the sun came out about 50K in, things got predictably rough. When things get really low like that, I try to game-ify the run, whether it be reward myself with walk breaks after running X distance or time, or something similar. Also, the out and back sections where I crossed paths with everyone else kept me motivated in the low… couldn’t let them see me walking! 
4.  What was your nutrition plan?  Did you go with the “Zach Miller” belt and soft bottles?
Not this time, I wanted to keep aid station transitions as quick as possible, sometimes soft flasks get in the way of that. I carried a 16 oz. Amphipod handheld, mostly with TailWind, gels in a Spibelt and Bearded Brothers bars when I needed solid food. Nutrition and calorie budgeting went quite well until the heat began, after that it was survival mode. Each aid station I had the amazing volunteers pour ice water on my head and stuff some ice in my buff. 
5.  You must have recovered quickly, I saw on Strava that yesterday (Sunday) you ran 6ish miles at sub-7 and another 15 today (Monday) at 7.  What’s next?  Any thoughts of a Golden Ticket race?
Pacing 3:05 in the Austin Marathon this weekend, then Tinajas 100K next month. I’ll build up to The Bear 100 this fall for a Hardrock Qualifier. No more golden ticket attempts this year but I’ll probably be at Bandera again next year- still need to nail down the 100K distance. 
The Rocky 50K race was also fast, with Matt Smith winning in 3:56, that’s 7:36 pace for 31 miles!  Matt was just 10 minutes faster than William Lupino.  Maria Sylte won the women’s race in 4:28, with Rachael Blair from TrailRoots 16 minutes back in second place.  Rachael won the 50K at Bandera and has been hampered a bit since then with a turned ankle, so this was a great performance at Rocky.
Camille Heron, who was second place in the women’s race and fourth overall last month at Bandera 100K, was in New Zealand for the Tarawera 100K.  This race is part of the prestigious Ultra-Trail World Tour series and always attracts an elite field.  Herron led from the start and finished in 8:56, a new course record by 8 minutes.  Magdalena Boulet was second in 9:20.
As many had predicted, the men’s race was dominated by Jim Walmsley.  Another race, another course record.  This time, he led from the start and won by 47 minutes in 7:23, breaking the course record by 21 minutes.
Excellent coverage from iRunFar, with interviews of both Herron and Walmsley.
Interesting News and Articles:
Running in the United Arab Emirates, Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya set a new world record in the half marathon.  She negative split the race, with 5K splits of 15:37, 15:27, 15:24, and 15:10 through 20K, finishing in 1:05:06, a record by 3 seconds.  Race article from Runner’s World.
I’ve been following the Wired series on the Nike Breaking2 program.  The entry this month was especially interesting in the description of how elite runners treat their “easy” days.
Read this iRunFar article on running in Patagonia.  I hope to make this pilgrimage in the next couple of years…
Upcoming races:
Sunday is the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon.  The race between the local women in the marathon should be exciting.  Allison Macsas, Des Ficker Berry, Chris Kimbrough, Hannah Steffan, and Jen Harney have all been running well.  I’m pulling for Mark Pinales to win the men’s marathon and be the winner of all of the ARC Distance Challenge races.
Several of my friends are pacing:  Paul Salazar, Matt Fletcher, Joel Stanford, Anthony Jacobs, Steven Moore.  Pacing groups are a big benefit to runners, especially those going for Boston qualifiers or PRs.  In talking to pacers for the Austin marathon, they are striving to hit even mile splits and it is a bit of a competition between them to see who is the best at that aspect.  Joel recently posted a 21 mile run on the course where he was close to +/- 1 second from 7:15 pace, so my money is on him.
But are even splits the best way to approach a hilly course like Austin?  Would it be better to normalize your effort by speeding up slightly on downhills and slowing on the ups?  I’ve had only one marathon where my race went as planned and it was essentially even splits, but that course was a lot easier than Austin.
I’m still planning on emailing The Interval, so sign up in case I get my act together…

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