This past Sunday I participated in the Sloppy Cuckoo 12 Hour Trail Run at Pennypack Park in Philadelphia PA. I had my eye on this event ever since running the Dirty German 50K Ultra (summary blog post) this past May on some of the same trails. The same RD also does the Blues Cruise Ultra in Reading PA; another great event and a very fun group. Leading up to the event I did my normal weekly mileage and added some long training runs, including back-to-back 20s. My “taper” was about a week; shorter runs early in the week and then resting later in the week. My objective for this event was to enjoy these fun trails again and test a few new fueling approaches.
Race day morning I arrived early, checked in and fueled up. My pre-race fuel consisted of:
- About 6 oz of ASEA(*) about 90 minutes before
- UCAN mixed in water about 60 minutes before for muscle glycogen, plus Vega Electrolytes to top off the minerals
- A vFuel gel about 30 minutes before, low glycemic and high in MCT oil for brain fuel
The weather was cool to start but temps climbed into the low 80s by late morning. The course is mostly shaded with a tight canopy so the sun was not really a factor. I opted for shorts, a singlet, visor and Inov-8 F-lites 195 (3mm drop, minimal cushioning) shoes.
As above my goal was to enjoy the trails and test fueling. The course is a 6.5 mile loop which you can do as many times as you want in the 12 hour time limit. The first half of each lap was relatively flat single track with some technical spots and obstacles. The second half of each lap added some short inclines, some very tight single track and became more technical with more loose rock fields. Overall the course was dry so reasonable footing.
Course Map (clockwise):
The course map really does not depict how back and forward (ie. windy) this single track is in places, particularly on the second half of the (clockwise) loop. The elevation change is reported as 1351 feet per loop.
I was carrying a handheld water bottle, even though there was water at mile ~3 of each lap. I was trying to keep hydrated but probably got a little behind on the first two laps. The trails are a lot of fun so once in the zone it was too distracting (and dangerous at times) to take your mind off the trail. My fueling was:
- Mile 13 (after lap 2): UCAN fuel mixed in water
- Mile 15: vFuel gel
- Mile 17: Hammer Endurolytes Cap x2
- Mile 19.5 (after lap 3): 6-8 oz ASEA(*)
- Mile 22: vFuel gel
- Mile 26 (after lap 4): Magnesium Cap x2 and a vFuel gel
- Mile 29: vFuel gel
At the start none of the 100+ runners wanted to lead so I set the pace for the first 3 miles or so. I was in 3rd or 4th or 5th place until I stopped after the 5th lap for 32.5 miles. This was right around six hours total; I might have continued for up to six more hours but I had my lessons for the day, it was heating up and I could not find an upside to continuing. Many runners continued on for more laps; and the results show 20 runners did 6 laps and 25 runners ran 7 or more laps – so some long days put in by many runners.
I knew my day should end early as I was accumulating minor mishaps: 12 stubbed toes including 3 falls and 2 almost falls plus 2 right ankle rolls. The trails were just so fun and inviting BUT … I was a bit distracted. I was distracted by a lot of mental life changes lately. My “lesson” of the day was a new (non) answer to the question that seems to come up at some point on a run like this: “Why am I doing this?” At the start of lap 5, as I started to walk out of the aid station – this question popped into my head. In the moment, I could not come up with a good answer ((…hears Mom cheer in the distance…)). I kept walking because I knew could sense there was a lesson coming; and was waiting patiently for it.
I have been learning a lot lately about why I do what I do. It comes down to needs and, per Tony Robbins, there are six primary needs (certainty, uncertainty/variety, significance, connection/love, growth and contribution). We are pulled by our own unique combination of them. Recently, I have learned that what pulls me is out of balance – and so my combination has changed. They have changed because I have learned that an imbalance can hold you back and that only some needs lead to fulfillment. They have changed because I have let go of some old stories; and because I have adopted some new empowering beliefs and a new identity. What I realized on the first part of lap 5 was that – the “need” to participate when I signed up a few weeks ago was not as significant now. And this void had me upside down mentally. A piece of the habitual puzzle was missing. And sorting it out running on a potentially dangerous trail would not be smart.
So as I walked I started to think about all the other reasons to run the event. The fresh air, to honor to gift/free choice, the fun of the trail run, the connecting with other runners, the time to clear my head, the daily healthy disciplines that are required to consistently run these types of events year over year, the test of efficient running technique, the presence needed, etc. Once my focus was reframed away from the “puzzle” on onto more valuable purposes, I started running and finished the lap with a solid effort. At the end of the lap I decided to call it a day.
My first two laps were the fastest with no breaks, the third lap slowed a bit with some aid/fuel taken. The fourth lap was a bit slower as I was a bit more cautious. And the fifth lap slower still with my walking puzzle at the beginning of the lap.
My primary event outcomes are almost always a) learn something and b) do no harm by being mobile/functional the next day. I definitely learned something big. And my post race definitely indicates I did no (serious) harm.
Immediately after I had 4-6 oz. of ASEA(*) and kept walking for 10-15 minutes. I had a 2 hour ride home so I wanted to make sure I drank, ate and walked enough before getting into the car. I had another 4-6 oz of ASEA when I returned home, and had good energy on the phone and video calls until late in the evening.
A few slightly dented toes and my feet felt a little beat up. Overall, no injuries or major aches/pains to report. First thing Monday I ran a few miles to/from the gym to loosen up and assess any issues. Overall just a little tension and fatigue, but moving well.
Overall it was a great run on some fun trails and terrain. And once again I learn about life through my running experiences. Fun plus life lessons while maintaining mobility for the next experience; Thank you ChiRunning and ASEA(*).
(* Please contact me if you would like to learn more about ASEA, or check out the resources here: http://www.amazingmolecules.net –> suggest the ASEA Breakthrough video on the left or the Athletics/Sports video).
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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 Me, Contact page or his website at http://www.eChiFitness.com.
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