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2012 NJ Ultra Festival Summary

This past Saturday was the NJ Ultra Festival at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta NJ. There were five events: 100M, 100K, 50M, 50K and Marathon. I was running the 50M event. This was my sixth ultra at this distance.

The event is a 10 mile route repeated to make each event distance. There were also partial laps to make up the one, six or two mile add-on distances. There was an aid station at the 6 mile mark. After each out and back you returned to the Start/Finish area which also provided aid. Each route started via a fairground road for about 1 mile, then right onto a utility maintenance trail for about 1.5 miles to a turnaround. Then back across the entire trail length subtly downhill for about 3.5 miles to the 6 mile aid station turnaround, then return back subtly uphill for about 2.5 miles to the trail entrance point. At this point, a right turn leads you to a few small hills on the fairground road/field for about 1.5 miles to get back to the start/finish.

Course map is shown below. Base map courtesy of NJ Trail Series here: [Course maps and summary].

The utility maintenance trail goes from the bottom left to the top right. For the most part the course was all runnable. On the maintenance trail there were a number of small stream crossings, mostly old bridges, and a few very wet and muddy areas. The maintenance trail was, shall I say “unmaintained”. Meaning the surface was not like a tow-path or like a single track trail under regular use. So runnable but uneven in a lot of places. Also some water/mud and slippery sidehills.

The nature of the two out and back routes had you crossing runners all day long which provided a nice boost to encourage each other. There were five events and about 250 runners total out there at some point.

Pre-Race:

The 50M event started at 7:15AM and I arrived at about 6:15AM. I had arrived the afternoon before, picked up my packet and stayed locally at a hotel. Some people camped out.

For pre-fuel I had a cocktail of UCAN + Vega Pre-Working Energizer + Nature’s Sunshine Solstic Electrolytes at 6:15AM. I also had about 4 oz of ASEA earlier upon waking.

The Weather:

It was about 55 degrees at the start. I started with a visor, a short sleeve tech shirt, a pair of light arm warmers, short pants, Inov-8 F-Lite 195s, water belt, and a Garmin 610 watch. This was the first time I would run an event with a GPS watch.

The temp probably reached 65 with some sun and a breeze out of the east initially, then turned from the west.

Course Management:

For the first ~3 laps the three leaders ran together and we chatted a bit.

  • The first lap was in 1:23:47. Too fast vs. my target which was between 88-90 minutes. The GPS watch was a great resource … next time I might actually pay more attention to it.
  • The next lap was 1:26:32 after some added aid time. I had two Endurolytes at mile 16. I added some fuel via a UCAN/Vega mix at mile 20+.

At about mile 28.5 I took a little fall and paused to regroup and the 2 others continued on.

  • That third lap was 1:35:40 after I regrouped and walked a bit up the hills just off the trail. I had two oz. of ASEA at mile 21. Plus two more Endurolytes at mile 26. I was starting to wonder if I was getting enough water or taking in too much electrolytes. The sun had come out and it was warming up. I removed the arm warmers on this lap.
The fourth lap added more aid time with some tightening up. I did a little run/walk when needed, but was still comfortable running at a good pace. I started to use a few added focus points to make some adjustments (see below).
  • The fourth lap was in 1:41:46. I had a Hammer Gel at about mile 32 then again at mile 37. I wanted to make sure my brain was fueled and that was not the source of the tension.
The fifth lap added a little more run/walk to manage energy and help let the tension release. Still comfortable running at a good pace.
  • The fifth lap was in 1:44:59. I had a Hammer Gel at about mile 40, 45 and 48. I also had an Endurolyte at about mile 42. I could tell I had too many electrolytes at mile 46 when I noticed salt all over my face.
I finished fairly strong maintaining distance on those behind me. The out and back nature of the route allowed you to see who was where (and what event they were in by bib number).

ChiRunning Focuses:

Aside from my primary technique focuses of position, feeling my core with each step, a light turnover and a efficient arm swing – I started to add in a few more specific focus points on the last two laps:

  • Whenever I paused to walk a bit, I really focused on my ChiWalking to allow me to reset on position, an active core, relaxation and fluidity. Then when I wanted to start running I imagined the video images in the ChiWalk-Run video. This helped me fall back into running while maintaining the relaxation/fluidity. I mainly paused to walk through any obstacles (bridges, ruts, mud, water, etc.) and then tried to run to the next obstacle.
  • Starting on the subtle uphill about mile 32, I focused on Arm Swing synced with Breath using the concept of “Gathering and Issuing”. Although I have been using this concept for some time, it was just published in the new Chi Marathon book (chapter 4 and 9) for the first time. I continued to use this even on the subtle downhills.
  • I focused on a few “Physics” related focuses I have been working on. This is basically considering what I can do to “feel” momentum and reduce resistance, but I will be sharing some details on these focuses in upcoming blog posts. This “feeling” of momentum was a great way to keep me running when I wanted to walk. It helped me realize how effortless (read “less effort”) it was to keep running vs. walking.
  • I focused on my mindset. At one point an affirmation popped into my head. As soon as I did that my I felt myself lightening up and I am sure I was a little taller. Hmmm.

Injury Report:

  • My bruised left foot from December’s 50K was fine. A little tentative on it but it was not aggravated even though there was plenty of opportunity for it.
  • My lower legs and feet are a little sore which is to be expected on the uneven and unstable terrain.
  • My core muscles are sore, but that is actually a good sign since they did most of the work.
  • Otherwise moving around after and the following day ok, but with some overall fatigue. See updates below.

Overall:

Overall my time was 7:52:44 for a 24 minute distance PR. I was 5th overall out of about 50 starters. I was undertrained on distance with only three 20+ runs since the new year, but well trained on technique supported by a lot of core strength focus.

Another great running lesson which transforms the mile 43 “what am I doing here?” question to looking forward to the next test on which lessons you really learned and which ones will provide yet another gentle whack to the head.

Of course a big thanks to the RDs and all the volunteers. This is a great event which brings out the best in the NJ running and ultra running community. We are very lucky to have these events in NJ. I will be back.

[March 25th Update: The day after a did a short run to the gym, a nice rollout/stretch, then a few mile run around town. I was definitely feeling fatigued but moving well. Just some soreness in my lower legs and core as noted above.]

[March 26th Update: Fatigue is lingering, and legs feel very loose and ready to run. Plan to do a normal group run tomorrow.]

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David Stretanski is a holistic health, fitness and wellness coach and Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Instructor. For more information on David, please see his About MeContact page or his website at http://www.eChiFitness.com.

ChiRunning® and ChiWalking® are registered trademarks of ChiLiving, Inc.

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Posted on Monday, Mar. 26th 2012 1:23 PM | by echifitness | in All, ChiRunning, ChiWalking, Events | 1 Comment »

One Comment on “2012 NJ Ultra Festival Summary”

  1. Marian DeSimone Says:

    Dave, Congrat’s on the PR. Great details on the race progress.. inspiring for all distances.. Looking to see you at one of the Chi Clinics.
    marian desimone

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