Dabbling with my second Ultra-Marathon Derby 50k

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Last year I did my 1st ultra at the Derby 50k and this year I am back to complete my second one official one. After a somewhat successful NYC Marathon three weeks ago, I knew that this event was going to be a challenging run if I want it to improve my time based on the performance. Like always, getting good fuel the days prior to the event and watching my sugars levels was key for a good race. Same fuel preparations as last year for the event, couple bottles ready with E-fuel, have gels ready in my hydration belt, extra banana, couple snack bars to pick from (Epic, Cliff bar, Kind and others) and my protein shake for post-event.  For training plan, I focused more on the long runs instead of speedwork. For the long-distance training runs, I completed a 31 mile hilly run with many 24 plus mile runs including the NYC Marathon in preparation for this event. This year I also missed the Skinny Turkey Half, since the morning of the event was just couple days after Thanksgiving, and just took it easy with an easy pace run, since I want my legs to feel great at the start. The morning routine, as usual, hot cereal, latte and a banana to eat about 45 to 1hr before the start.

Derby 50k 2018 community building signThis race, like last year, is low key, about 60 runners this year compared to the 80 last year. Given the weather conditions and forecast, I understand the smaller runner participation this year. Still, with not too much fanfare, very humble, down to earth event, it has all the qualifications for a good race and running event. The Community Center at the start/finish provided shelter from the cold, rain and have nice bathrooms that were always available. Did I mentioned rain, yes, rain. Although the temperatures were going to be excellent for running, there were going to be a lot of water in the forecast, hours of rain. A runner friend, Laurie, Ultra veteran, and Genno, that paced the Umstead Half earlier this year, were part of the runners at the starting line. It was great to see some familiar faces. Even with the rain, it was a beautiful morning with great temperatures and great farm fields around us. After some announcements, we all head out to complete the 3 loops to complete the 50k (31 miles) event.

Derby 50k 2018 staging area

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Loop 1: The Wet Loop – As we headed out in the rain, it was clear that it was going to be a long good day. I decided not to have my gloves, and use my windbreaker from the Rock and Roll Marathon series I got a couple years back. I took it very easy the 1st couple miles as I was warming up and finding my groove. Talked to a few runners but quickly the group thinned out. By mid-mile 3 I found myself running at a good solid comfortable pace, was not looking at my watch with the fear that it will let me know that I was running to slow to improve last year’s time. I was trying to run by a comfortable effort for a long run. I took a few sips of my energy drink once in a while. Sugars were on the high side, but I was feeling good. The area and the views were very familiar. At the 1st water station, I refilled my bottle with some water and spotted sugar cookies. I asked if I could have one since I was planning to test fueling again for an ultra. They were in the shape of running shoes, a very nice detail. I have to say that the volunteers were great, given the weather conditions and the rain. I left the station and continued the journey. I took my time eating the cookie even with the continuous rain I covered with my hand to prevent it from getting soggy. Found myself quickly once again running at a comfortable pace and tackling the rolling hills without major issues. At the second water station, I grabbed some cold water, it was refreshing. The temps were in the low 40s but with the rain, it felt like they were even lower. As I was approaching the last couple miles of the 1st loop, I was amazed at how great I was feeling. There is a very long hill by mile 9, that was not a problem at all, compared to last year even at the 1st loop. As I got close to the end of the loop, I pondered with the idea of continuing the second loop without stopping at home base. I check sugars with my CGMS and they were ok and stable. I knew I had plenty to drink still in my bottle and had the energy gels with me since I ate the cookie earlier and did not use the 1st loop gel. So, I went for it, slowed down a bit for the station to see my number and continued onto the second loop.

Loop 2: Semi-Dry Loop – Basically same story as the first loop, feeling great tackling the rolling hills and found a steady pace around 9:50 per mile. I stopped at the 1st water station, asked for my other running shoe (cookie) and continued. I was feeling great all the way, the hills did not provide any problems as I tackled them at a steady cadence and pace. My sugar was holding ok now but this time on the lower range. I decided to in addition to the energy drink and the cookie to also take a gel around mile 16 and more water at the 2nd station. At mile 17 I turned on the music since there were not many runners around me and it felt that I needed to concentrate on keeping the effort going. Once in a while, I will see a runner in the distance, which I targeted and slowly catch up with them and pass them at a steady pace. By now the rain was just on and off and by mile 18 it was mostly gone. As I was closing to the finish of the second loop I came with the same question as before, can I continue without stopping? I felt great, just a tad warm. I decided to stop and drop my windbreaker, grab my second energy drink and drink some electrolytes. It took me around 5 minutes to do all those tasks, which it was something I needed to keep an eye on since next year is going to be a factor for my future event.

Loop 3: Dry Loop – Once I started the third loop I knew I was going to finish the event. The rain has stopped by now and the sun came out for a little bit. I was very happy that I made the call to drop my jacket and replenish fluids at the home station. One last time at the 1st water station, stopped drank some water, talked to the volunteers and continued. I saw a few runners ahead of me walking, as I pass them, taking my time approaching and passing by at a steady effort. Carlos Candelaria with medal at Derby 50k 2018That gave me another burst of energy and an internal smile that I was doing much better than last year. I tried to cheer and encourage them to hang in there and to continue. By the time I got to the second water station, I caught up with a group of four runners, talked to them and the volunteers as I drank some more water. They asked me if I was on the third loop, I responded with a shy yes, realizing that they were on the second loop. I could not believe it and I was feeling great and that gave me another shot of energy to continue. I kept going, trying to take it easy. After a while I could not see anyone behind me for at least 1/4 to a 1/2 mile, so by mile 29, I walked a bit. After a few minutes, I looked behind me and still no one. As I was walking I asked myself if I was in pain or suffering or if my legs were done, the answer was a solid NO! So I started to run again, maybe at a slower pace than the 1st 28 miles but decided to continue to run. I passed a few other runners, walked a bit with a mile to go and finished very strong and with a great smile.

At the finish line, there was a very warm welcome. There were only a few people outside given the weather conditions but inside the community center, everyone was cheering, talking, happy for the runners and having a great time. I got another beautiful medal, talked with the few runners that finished ahead of me and other volunteers. Food plate after run at Derby 50k 2018Similar to last year, they had great food and dessert for the runners. I ate some spaghetti with meat sauce they were offering to the runners, plenty on my plate. While eating I checked my CGMS again and I was happy to see how well my sugars behaved during the whole event. From starting close to 220, holding steady for a little while and a drop to 90s. Still, a few things I need to adjust given that my next event is more than triple the distance. But extremely happy with the run, finally a PR since it has been a very long time since I had one of those. And by close to 20 minutes better compared to last year’s performance. I will definitely recommend this event for a 1st Ultra and for not 1st Ultra, rain or no rain.

UPDATE: With the final results out I was hoping for a Male Top 10 finish. I was so surprised to see a Top 5 Overall, 4th Male category and 1st Male 40-49 age group (Not that the event had those determine ranges) I am so, happy with my performance and the finish.

Derby 50k top finish table results 

[vtftable cols=”{0}0-4:c9daf8;{/}”] {f1}Month/Year;;;{f1}Event;;;{f1}Location;;;{f1}Type;;;{f1}Time;nn;
Nov-18;;;Derby 50k;;;NC;;;50k;;;5:21:22;nn;
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[vtftable cols=”{0}0:c9daf8;{/}”] Event Highlights ; Learning Points;nn;Highlights:

Course: Looped 3x coure with great ample road right of the start. Rolling hills, not challenging until last loop hill might look steeper than the begining loops. Around 85 runners. With the ample road there is no problem starting and finding a comfortable easy pace.

Venue: At a Community Center, good bathrooms and seating area to rest before and after the event. At finish, good food, plenty to drink and snacks.

Expo: No Expo.

Weather: 41º at the start with 100% humidity and hours of rain.

T1D: Sugars with in running range and stable troughtout the event.

Fueling: Pre-Race: 1 serving Hot Cereal, latte and banana.

Race: E-Fuel two bottles, water, Powerade, Cliff Bar at T1 and a Gel during Loop 3.

Post: Spagetti wityh a protein shake with in an hour of the event.

Learning Points:

    • Getting many long long runs are key to be ready
    • I can use different items for fueling, during training and events
    • Second Ultra is as much or even more fun than the 1st time

;nn;
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Derby 50k 2018 pond near start area