Thoughts on fitness, health, good nutrition ... and running.

Welcome to Bald Man Running, a blog launched by Frank Murphy on January 1, 2015.

In March, 2013 I was selected as a contestant for the sixth season of Fort Wayne's Smallest Winner. Through this amazing program, I learned about good nutrition, sound exercise and accountability. By October, I would lose over 88 pounds (almost 37% of my original weight)! One of the many things I acquired through FWSW was a love for running. You can retrace my weight loss journey and discover how I became a runner by reading those entries labeled "fwsw" ...

Note: Many of the blog entries on this website predate 1/1/2015. Prior to launching BMR, I had written articles for various projects, and I have imported many of them into this blog (labeled "retro").

Friday, June 16, 2017

Event Report: 2017 Another Dam 50k

Event Report: Another Dam 50k
Englewood Metropark (Englewood, OH)

Yet another dam event report? Yep. Even if nobody reads it, I'll still write another dam event report.
This is the second event in the Ohio River Road Runners Club (ORRRC) "No Way 200k" ultramarathon series. Information about the entire series can be found at: http://orrrc.org/club-events-and-series/200k-no-way-trail-series.

To learn more about the first event in this series, see my blog entry at http://www.baldmanrunning.com/2017/05/event-report-2017-tie-dye-50k.html.

If I complete four of the races in this series, I win a special award (which appears to be jacket). I probably would not have signed up for another dam 50k if it wasn't part of the series. I love multi-event swag.

ORRRC puts on inexpensive events without sacrificing too much quality. Like the other events in this series, the registration fee was less than $50. I didn't get the "Early Bird" rate, but I think it was about $25.

Also, field size is limited to about 100 runners (as was Tie Dye). I'm glad that I didn't have to wait on another dam waiting list to get in to this event. If you want to run these events, sign up early. It's not a bad idea to start checking the ORRRC website in January/February if you want to run ORRRC events.

Tie Dye was 14 days prior to this event, so I was either in recovery mode or taper mode leading up to this event. I'm not sure which.

I did another dam carb load meal two days before the event. Fazoli's. I was underwhelmed. Why do I go there? I'm not sure any more.

I drove down the day before. I left Fort Wayne around 6:00 p.m. and ate my dinner on the drive to Dayton. On the evening before a race, I usually eat a PBJ, a piece of fruit and some Veggie Straws. I got to another dam hotel around 9:00 p.m. It was very inexpensive... and kind of scary. I was fortunate to get to sleep quickly and I woke up the next morning without any problems. I had packed my own breakfast (oatmeal), which I cooked using the in-room microwave. No fuss, no hassles.

Packet Pickup
They don't offer pre-race packet pickup, so you need to get there early; however the park didn't open until 7:00 a.m., so if you get there too early, you just sit there and wait.

The race started at 8:00 a.m. I wish it could have started an hour (or two) earlier. Before the race was over, temperatures would soar into the 90s and there was little cloud cover on significant parts of the course. An earlier start may be beyond the control of the race director, and if so, I understand; however, a couple of hours earlier would have allowed us to avoid another dam couple hours of heat.

At packet pickup, you get another dam bib and a cotton t-shirt with the event logo. It's not like I needed another dam shirt, but I'll wear it. I like the slightly naughty sound of the event name (perhaps you've noticed).

Pre-race announcements were short, sweet and to the point. Another dam race director actually started the race about 3 minutes early, which just might be unprecedented in the annals of trail races.

The Course
The course is a loop that is almost 8 miles long, which you run four times for a total of 31.7 miles. Several people finished with slightly less than that distance on their GPS devices, but the race director was repeatedly adamant that the course length was precisely 31.7 miles. I finished with just slightly less than 31 miles, but I do know my Garmin dropped signal a few times. I'll take his word for it.

The course is kind of shaped like a warped barbell. You run a mini-loop on the west side of the park for a few miles, cross the dam to the east side of the park to run a few more miles, then go back across the dam again to complete the eight mile loop. This means that the name of the event is misleading. There's no "another" dam... it's just the same dam over and over again. Without shade. It's about 6.5 total miles of running back and forth across that dam (eight times in total). Without shade (yes, I repeated that on purpose).

When you're not running on the dam, you get a decent amount of shade on a well-groomed course. It's quite pretty, and the weather of the prior week was cooperative (no heavy rainfall to muck up the course). The course is not very technical and there are no real hills to wear you out. I did find that the sunlight cast a lot of interesting shadows on the ground which resembled roots and other obstacles. I've not experienced much of this phenomenon, so it was mildly disorienting. I survived.

Course markings were more than adequate. I'm thankful that I didn't wind up making another dam excursion into the great unknown. Any races where I don't get lost multiple times is doing something right.

There is a partial aid station at the start/finish (water and Gatorade only). This is where you can leave a drop bag if you'd like. There is another dam aid station about 2.5 miles into the loop, which you'll hit again about 3 miles later. This is a full-service stop with liquids and food. You're never more than 3 miles from an aid station the entire day.

As far as fare goes, it's adequate. Pretzels, PBJ, fruit, chips, etc. If you're used to running with the IT crowd, you're spoiled (it's not as good as IT runners get during a training run), but it's sufficient. Overall, I'm not a big fan of the "liquids only" stops, but I understand the reasons to do it that way.

Post-race food is pizza, which is fine, I guess. I'm not a big pizza fan, and by the time I finish, it's cold pizza. I wound up getting another dam post-race meal at a nearby Waffle House (which included a little extra attitude from the waitress).

I don't think I wore the right shoes. I chose Salomon Sense Pro shoes, which I have worn in several ultra races. They're great when the ground is a little muddy or otherwise soft, but this was a lot of hard terrain. Perhaps a quarter of the race is on paved or gravel roads, which is a lot of time spent "off trail." By the end of the race, the soles of both feet were significantly more sore than they usually are after a comparable race. I imagine this is what it feels like to run a road marathon in minimalist shoes. Unpleasant.

In retrospect, I probably would have been better off to wear a pair of more heavily cushioned road shoes. Traction wouldn't have been a problem, and I could have avoided some sole-searing post-race discomfort. I need to find a pair of trail shoes that are more suited for this kind of surface.

I wore a belt with a pouch (for my phone) and a holster (for a water bottle). As I neared the end of the third loop, I dropped my water bottle and it broke. I am always breaking water bottles, but this was a bigger bummer because the water bottle is customized for the belt. Fortunately, I had a hand held in the drop bag. I felt pretty smart for bringing a backup.

Finisher Bling
Finishers get a tech shirt. It's different from the shirt you get at packet pickup. As far as bling goes, I was a little disappointed. Give me a coffee cup or a beanie or a medal or a coupon to a running store... but another dam shirt? I've got a ton of race shirts!

Having said that, it's a nice shirt. I'll wind up wearing it more frequently than I do most race shirts. It's the perfect shade of neon yellow to go along with my banana man tights. So, one day soon, you just might see me on the trail in my tight yellow tights while wearing another dam yellow shirt. Feel free to say hi!

The aid station volunteers were quite nice, and the course marshals were a hoot (perhaps the highlight of the event, as far as I'm concerned). I appreciated their encouragement and kindness. Most races brag about having great volunteers, and I think ORRRC is safe to add another dam notch in their belt in this department.

My Performance
The time limit for this event is 9 hours. My goal was to finish another dam race in 7 hours. I finished at 7:14. My splits (per lap) were 1:26, 1:31, 2:02, 2:14.

I felt great through the first two loops. I was moving well, and the heat was manageable. However, the temperature continued to climb and that's when the mind games started.

I had a few flashback memories of my first marathon: 2014 Sunburst (South Bend, IN). It was very hot and humid that day, and I had serious dehydration issues followed by the worst muscle spasms and cramps I've ever experienced. I wound up walking the last six miles of Sunburst simply because I couldn't run anymore. It was a miserable end to an otherwise glorious experience. For a while, I doubted I would be able to make it to the finish line. I did finish, but Sunburst left its mark on me. I didn't want another dam day of serious heat-related problems, so I chose to rein it in, play it safe, and walk a little more than I had initially planned.

I did pray for some cloud cover when not in the shady woods, and I'm thankful for the occasional relief that God provided.

(Random observation alert!) I often start an ultra race thinking that I could spend some of the solitary portions of the race in prayer. For whatever reason, it never really works out that way. I just get too distracted I guess. I wonder if other ultra runners talk to God a lot while running...

When I finished the third loop at 5:00, I knew that 7:00 was off the table, which took a lot of self-imposed pressure off of me. I just enjoyed the last loop and tried to take in some of the sights that I had missed on the previous three loops (except on the dam... there's not another dam thing to see when you're on it... just get to other side). For instance, there are a few waterfalls that I had missed. I am frequently surprised by how many new things there are to see on the last loop of an ultra ...

It was a little slower than I would have liked, but I'm happy with the day. This was my seventh marathon+ race since March 2017, and only two weeks after my previous 50k. I came out injury-free. I'll take it.

Would I be willing to run it again next year? Sure, I'm willing to give it another dam shot...

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