Pain is Fun, Right?

The Post Oak Challenge 25K is complete with the 1/4 marathon surely days away because running on these legs right now just seems comical. In all seriousness, today was brutal. I just ran 9:15 pace for 16K in the snow/ice on Sunday, and I came out of the Post Oak 25K with a 10:46 pace. I added a buck-30, and it started long before I reached the 16K mark. While it’s fresh on my mind, I thought I would run through what went right and what went wrong.

Post Oak 25K Finish

Ankle Braces

So the ankle braces paid for themselves in spades, but I think they also cost me some time. Of course, if I didn’t finish, that would cost me a lot more time, wouldn’t it? Anyway, I put my foot on some bad rocks several times in the first 3 miles. I might have been alright without the braces, but the braces gave me the confidence to keep pushing through technical and muddy trails without too much concern for my ankle.

The bad thing about the braces is the weight. These braces weigh 6.4 oz. each, and my shoes weigh 12.8 oz. That seems like a small amount until you think about lifting and setting it down some 30,000+ times during a race. I also added trail gaiter weight plus the weight of the mud I picked up off of the trail. Still, though, I don’t know that I could have finished without them.


For this race, I went with my pack and the following fuel:

  • 2 16 oz bottles of water with 1 scoop each of BCAA powder
  • 2 6 oz gel flasks with EFS Liquid Shot and 3/4 scoop of EFS Prerace in each
  • Kelp

Instead of wasting time at aid stations like at Trail Madness, I only stopped once for a refill and some salt. That said, the extra weight wears on you, not as bad as the additional weight on my feet, but you still feel it after a while.

Unfortunately my gel mix didn’t keep me very well hydrated. I was losing tons of salt through sweat and was covered by the time I finished the race.  The problem was I didn’t really know it was a problem until it was too late to fix.


Salty Sweat, Not Dry Skin

Worst of all, I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT MY KELP. Just a few bites of kelp around the 10 mile mark would have made the last few miles of the race go so much better. Apparently I just need to tape a sign to my forehead or something.


Due to injuries, my training has been less than ideal, and it showed today. My hamstrings, glutes, and especially calves were wasted. Around 20K, my calves started cramping just below the knee. It was the kind of cramp where you can feel your muscle rolled up inside your leg, and it just kept happening if I tried to run very much. Again, the kelp might have helped some, but I wasn’t the only one experience severe cramping.

I think there are several reasons for mine and other runners’ difficulty with the course today:

  • Elevation: Post Oak nearly doubled the elevation gain/loss of Trail Madness, and I was carrying a lot more weight.
  • Mud: I train in mud about as often as I train on snow and ice…never. It’s amazing how much energy you waste dealing with soft, slippery landings and then carrying around mud with you until it falls off of your shoes.
  • Too Many Corners: I have never run a course that featured so many frequent, tight turns. This was especially true during the first 3 miles, and it wore me out much more than the mud, but the mud made it worse as I was often bracing for a slide at the corners.

I’m not sure what I would do different preparing for this race since my preparation was limited by injury. If I had been doing my full triathlon schedule for the 3 weeks leading up to the race, I like to think I would have performed better, but it’s impossible to know. One thing I do know is I’m getting back to calf raises and squats as soon as I recover from tomorrow’s race. It’s clear I need more power and endurance in those areas.



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