"I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell." --Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dirty German 50 - Hot and Humid? Jawohl!

Spring is a beautiful time of the year. Flowers are blooming, trees are starting to get green, and you can still feel that nice chill in the morning air. Lacing up your running shoes in the morning fills you with excitement, as you know those first few minutes will be a bit chilly, before the morning sun heats everything up. For this very reason, spring time races are a perfect time to get that PR that you have been training for all winter. With the weather like that, this would have been a pretty boring story. Mother nature had something else in mind for May in Philadelphia. Going from heat and warm gear directly to July like temperatures and humidity was the prescribed cocktail for this month.

Dirty German Endurance Fest
Dirty German Endurance fest takes place in Philadelphia's Pennypack Park. The fest is a creation of Stephan Weiss, RD who runs many other awesome races in the area such as Blues Cruise 50K and the Sloppy Cuckoo. Dirty German is a combination of 3 different races 25K, 50K and 50 mile. While the Dirty German was on my radar for over a year, I was on the fence about doing it this year. After a successful Blue Ridge double, I decided to pull a trigger and sign up for the 50 mile race. I was already in 50 mile running shape and was hoping to improve my Blue Ridge time. After all, Pennypack is fairly flat, and the trails are very runnable. I was hoping to break the 10 hour mark. Amy had a very similar goal in mind. She was very familiar with these trails as she already did the 12 hour race there last year. As we would soon learn, for the reasons mentioned above, 10 hours was not meant to be.
New and old friends
What I love about Stephan's races is the relaxed atmosphere at the start line and ease of getting your race day package. This race was no different. Amy and I had plenty to time to setup our gear, get ready and even socialized with fellow runners (Bryan, Jen, Janna, Kourney, etc). As I said in one of my previous posts, I love meeting new people at these races, but also catching up with old friends, that I really only get to see at these events. After a brief race intro by Stephan, we started off at 7:30 with German accordion music sending us into the woods. The 50 mile race course was a 16 or so mile loop that we would need to do 3 times. I settled into an easy pace with Amy and a group of runners. I wanted to keep it easy and not push too hard as 50 miles is a long way. After about a mile or two Amy started to pull away with one of the lead girls. I really didn't feel like following so I let her be. I figured that I probably wouldn't see her any more and was hoping for that as well.
Feeling good
The first loop was pretty uneventful. It was a good time to get familiar with the course and aid station setup. The loop is mostly single track with about 1-2 miles of paved bike path. There are 3 aid stations that were stocked with goodies and super friendly volunteers. With about 2 miles to go in the first loop, while winding through an annoying forest maze, I saw a glimpse of Amy. Uh oh was my first thought. Was I running too fast and I caught up? I pulled up behind her and asked her, "How is it going?" "I feel like shit," was not the answer I was expecting from her, but there we were with still 2 laps to go. From this moment on I went from caring about my own race to getting us both to the finish line. It was getting hot by the time we were on the second loop, and we started to do more walking up some small inclines and when we felt it was needed. We took our time at each aid station to properly hydrate and refuel before leaving. Soon enough the 2nd loop was over, and we were feeling tired at this point. Dropping absolutely never crossed my mind at all. I knew I had to slow down and just keep going forward. Even though the 2nd loop was 30 minutes slower than the first, we were still on pace to break 10 hours, and if we were lucky, maybe even 9. It was not meant to be.

I carried my sunglasses on top of my hat the entire 2 loops as it was kind of cloudy, and shaded, and I really didn't need them. So what did I do? I left them at the drop bag for loop 3. And what did it happen? The sun came all the way out shortly thereafter. Perfect. At that point, it only got hotter. Now each aid station stop was not only about refueling, it was about lubricating (you know what I am talking about) and staying chafe free (I succeeded). Amy and I would take turns running and walking. I would start running and go ahead of her. Then she would catch up and go ahead of me. Then we would run or walk together, etc. I started having pain in both of my pinkie toes, especially on my left foot. That had never happened to me before, and I was starting to wonder if the shoes I was wearing were a bit too small for me. On my previous races they were great, and while I felt some minor discomfort in that spot, I didn't think anything of it. But this was getting pretty painful. It must have been the combination of heat and 50 mile distance. I sucked up through it, as there was nothing else I could do about it, but I feel that it definitely slowed me down a bit. Right before hitting the 2nd aid station at about 7 miles into the 3rd loop, I could feel my nipple rubbing against my shirt. Sure enough, my trusty band aid had fallen off. My shirt was soaking wet, so I knew I had to do something about it. So off it went and topless I went for the duration. I usually do not like running without shirt. I am not sure why. Probably goes back to having a bad body image of myself. Enough about that.
Getting after it
With about 3-4 miles to go Amy started feeling better and started to pull away, and would soon enough disappear from my sight not to be seen until the finish line. (you can read her awesome report here). Shortly I ended up going down the wrong way for few minutes. Thankfully, I realized that I was headed the wrong way and soon was on the right path. I was so close to the finish, but just could not get myself to run the whole way. So I kept on with a combination of running, jogging and walking. That was good enough to pass 4 people in the last 2 miles and to finish few minutes behind Amy in 10:23:15, 25th male. While we learned on the course that our friend Michael who was leading the race had dropped, we had no idea that over 40% of the field dropped as well. Like I said it was a hot day out there. I would imagine that majority of people were not adapted, nor prepared to run in these conditions.
Amy took this when I finished
While I didn't have the race I wanted, I do not have a single bad feeling or regret about it. It was a great race and I am very happy that I've decided to sign up and do it. You deal with what is given to you on any day, and you make the best of it, and I did. One BIG vielen dank needs to go to Stephan and all the volunteers who worked tirelessly to make sure runners were well taken care of. I did not hear a single complaint from anyone all day, well only about the weather. Uberendurance Sports knows how to put on a good race no matter when or where. Do yourself a favor and try one their races.

I've decided that I need to try a bigger size of the Altra Superiors I was wearing. I love the shoes and they are simply amazing, but I don't want to experience that pain again. There was no blister or anything, so it must have been just pressure against the shoe. Again, Tailwind was certainly a saver for these humid conditions. Highly recommended!
We was done
Next up on the menu is Velebit Ultra in Croatia. This will be the most challenging race that Amy and I have ever attempted going from sea level to top of the mountain and back. We are both super excited about this, and I cannot wait to experience another European race.

Until next time. Go forth and run.

1 comment:

  1. Exercising in hot and humid places can be extremely taxing on the body. There are some things you need to remember when exercising in the heat. Hot and humid


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