Lakefront 50k Race Report - An Experiment in Fuel Deprivation

I won the Lakefront 50k here in Chicago on March 26, in a time of 3:16:55, or 6:20/mile pace.  I hadn't really planned on this race, but I had a 28 miler scheduled for that morning anyway, so I figured I'd hop in.  I figured I could probably run something around 6:00 pace if I was feeling good.  But I wasn't, and the conditions were horrendous.  It was in the lower 30s and very windy fron the northeast, with the "feels like" temperature at start time listed as 17 degrees on weather.com.  However, this was much worse on the sections of the lakefront path that were within 10 yards or so of the lake.  The course was an approximately 10.3 mile out-and-back "loop" that was completed three times. 

I was using this race as a significant training stimulus in trying to get my body to burn fat more efficiently for the marathon.  Not only did I not take any fuel during the race, but I didn't eat anything for breakfast either, having gone since 8 p.m. the night before without food.  I did take some water with electrolyte tablets, but only 12 oz. of this (not enough!).  I thought that perhaps I would fill my bottle a time or two, but that didn't end up happening.  I ran more or less an even pace the whole race, and started out more or less in third place.  I really felt pretty awful from the very beginning and 8 miles into the race I wasn't thinking about winning, but rather about how extremely unpleasant the next 23 miles were going to be.  Somewhere around 12 miles (after a quick change of clothes and grabbing my bottle upon completing the first loop), I moved into second place.  At the half-way turnaround, I was down three minutes on first place (this gap had been steadily growing).  However, from 15-20 miles, I started to feel a little better and was dropping some close-to-six-flat miles.  The gap to first was down to about 45 seconds by the completion of the second loop and at this point I thought I could probably win it.  Between 20 and 25, I tried to throw down pretty hard (relatively speaking) so that when we hit the last turnaround, I would have a sizeable lead, making it pychologically tougher on the second place guy.  My form was not so hot the last 5 miles, but I managed in alright, and ended up winning by 7 minutes. 

To some extent, I'm sure the difficulties I had, especially at the end of the race, were from a total lack of fuel.  But that was the point.  Should serve me well for the marathon.  I liked the race generally (despite the weather), and thought it was well-run.  The same organizers have a 50k and 50 mile in the fall, which I'll consider doing if it fits into my schedule.  I would love to take a shot at running a fast 50 miler (perhaps low 6:00 pace) on a flat course at some point.  Next up, the Shamrock Shuffle—trying not to get beat by Amy Yoder-Begley!

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