Dirty Bird 30k
French Creek State Park, Birdsboro, PA
My first race of the new decade!
My first race of the new decade and the first towards my goal of completing 100 races in 2020, was the 2019 Dirty Bird 30k. Yes you read that correctly, my first race of the year was actually a race from 2019 that happened to get rescheduled. The original date for this race was 11/30/19 which was the Saturday following Thanksgiving (hence the Dirty Bird name). However, due to a change that made that the first day of rifle deer hunting season (instead of the following Monday) here in PA, the race director made the decision to reschedule the race due to safety concerns. While I personally wouldn’t have felt to be in danger, I do understand and support the decision. Especially considering he mentioned afterwards when he went to the site on that day to make sure no one showed up for the race, he counted nearly 50 hunters that were spread out near the course! (During my first 50k race which was right in between the original date and the rescheduled date for this race, I did see about 10 hunters along that course and didn’t feel unsafe, but 50 is a whole lot more!)
The week leading up to the race…
The week before the race I didn’t really do anything different or special. I didn’t carb load, but I did try to make better nutrition choices. More whole foods, proper portions, reduce sugar/snacks, and limit the “grazing” that had been going for the few weeks prior. Being consistent with logging everything in MyFitnessPal definitely helps me be more mindful of what I’m putting into my body. It makes me think before I consume those unnecessary, empty calories which don’t do anything to help improve my health or performance. From the 1st to the 3rd my net calories were about 600-900 below my daily target. I was around 150 over the day before the race though because I didn’t want to have a deficit heading into the race.
I averaged right around 7 hours of sleep each night, with just over half of that being “deep sleep.” Overall, I was feeling pretty good; I didn’t have any aches, pains, or other noticeable issues.
This wasn’t a goal race, but it was my first race at this location and my first at the 30k distance. After reviewing the results and some Strava data of fellow runners from last year’s race I figured I would finish somewhere between 3:00 and 3:59, but I was hoping for somewhere between 3:00 and 3:15.
I had gotten my gear and fuel mostly ready to go the night before the race. My gear consisted of: my new Under Armour Charged Bandit Trail GORE-TEX shoes, my UA Storm ColdGear Reactor Pace Jacket, UA Launch SW 7” shorts, UA Truckstop Beanie 2.0, UA RUSH Leggings, UA Qualifier HexDelta Short Sleeve shirt, UA MK-1 Long Sleeve shirt, UA Run Cushion Crew Socks, Aegend Lightweight Running Gloves, Cougar Sport warmup pants, Optishokz, Nathan VaporAir Hydration Pack.
For my hydration and nutrition: I put about 36oz of water in my hydration pack; I filled up 3 various water bottles with about 16-20oz each that I would need to mix my Accelerade (for before and during the race) and Endurox R4(after the race) and put them in the fridge; I also made sure to put my Nathan Fire and Ice Flasks and handheld bottle in my cooler bag with the canisters of powder so that I wouldn’t forget them this time (I had forgotten at least 1 of them for 3 or 4 races last year); I also had a couple of partial packs of Honey Stinger organic energy chews, and 1 Honey Stinger waffle that I packed; I also made sure to bring my Hammer Nutrition daily supplements to take after the race.
In addition to all that I also made sure to pack my Body Glide, and Amp Human PR Lotion, and some chapstick.
I went to bed around 11pm and got up at 6:30. I was aiming to leave by 7:15 to get there 45 minutes before the race started. I showered, got dressed, toasted my bagel, gathered everything up, went to the bathroom one more time, and then left around 7:30. Although I was later getting on the road I didn’t stress about it. I ate my bagel during the drive (as I always do) to save time. After I was finished with that I decided I could save a little more time by putting on my PR lotion as I was driving instead of waiting until I got there. I didn’t have my leggings on yet since I wasn’t sure if I was even going to use them, and I knew I would be putting the lotion on anyways. So, I managed to get my warmup pants and shorts off and was able to put the lotion on most of the places that needed it.
Once I got to the state park where the race was being held I wasn’t sure exactly where I was going but luckily I knew it was by the swimming pool. After a few minutes of not knowing if I was heading in the right direction I started to see both the park signs for the pool and the temporary signs that the RD had placed to guide the way. By the time I parked it was just before 8:30. I had 30 minutes to pickup my bib, go to the bathroom 1 more time, get a short warmup run in, and get everything else ready. First I made sure to put on plenty of Body Glide, then I finished putting on the PR lotion in the places I didn’t get while driving, and I made sure to put a bunch of Biofreeze Professional on my left ankle and foot (since it started killing me halfway through my 50k race a couple of weeks before). Then I decided to go ahead and put the leggings on since it seemed like it was still chilly out.
As soon as I got out of the car and headed to pickup my bib I knew that was the right decision to wear them since it was very windy out! I picked up my race bib and shirt from the registration tent, and then stood in the porta-pottie line. It took about 5-10 minutes to get through the line, but as I was waiting the race director made an announcement that everyone standing in line would have the chance to go. While I normally like to start right on time I was glad to hear that there would be some extra time. After my pre-race pee I went back to the car to put my race shirt away, put my bib on my shorts, and get my hydration vest and flasks. Since it was windy out I decided to just go with my long sleeve UA shirt under my jacket.
I did my stretches quickly and then I headed back towards the starting area. Since there was still quite a line for the bathroom I had some time to get my warm-up run in. I went to start my tunes on the Spotify app on my phone, uh-oh no signal out here and I forgot to re-download my offline playlist; oh well. I got my warm-up in; about 3/4 of a mile with a couple of strides at the end. Then I headed back to the starting area and lined up towards the front. I took my pre-race pics and kept moving around in place to try and stay loose and warm. The race director started his briefing at 9:15 and we were off and running at 9:18.
As usual I started out a little too fast (around a 7:00/mi. pace), but that quickly changed once we started the first climb just before the 1 mile mark. It was a 300′ gain in less than half a mile. During that first climb I felt a little warm in the jacket, and since it didn’t seem too cold out when the wind wasn’t blowing I was planning to take it off and put it in my pack once we got to the 1st aid station. Well, I got there around 26 minutes in and it was right around mile 2.6 so I was average a 10 min pace, but it was on the downhill and I didn’t feel like stopping at that point so I kept the jacket on and continued.
Shortly after that was the next big climb; another 300′ climb but this one was over a mile and a half. I was feeling pretty good though and was able to keep a decent pace. Then came the big downhill. It was almost 400′ down over a mile, and it was a somewhat technical/rocky course. This is when I started to get frustrated. Not because of the course, since I’ve gained more confidence to lean in to the downhills and trust my footing more. The problem was it was hard for me to see! Due to the cold weather (I’m guessing?) my eyes would get very watery on the downhills. It was difficult to have confidence in my footing when I couldn’t see everything clearly.
I got to the aid station on the way back (mile 6.7/1:13) and stopped for a minute to take my jacket off. Well, as soon as I took it off I realized how much I had been sweating, I could instantly feel that my shirt was soaked. That would not have been a good idea since it was still chilly out and the wind would pick up at times. So I put the jacket back on and left it just a little unzipped at the top. That seemed to help and I felt comfortable (temperature wise) the rest of the race.
I finished the first loop in 1:33:13, which would have been a 15k PR for me by about 7 minutes. Granted, according to my Garmin it was only 8.9 miles, but the GPS is always short on these types of trails through the woods. Before started the 2nd loop I took a moment to stop and check out my shoe, because it felt like there was a pebble in it. Nope no pebble, I guess it was just the lacing and how the tongue was positioned. I retied it, probably a little tighter than I should’ve but it was good enough and I headed out.
I was still feeling okay but definitely was slowing down. I was mostly by myself for the first couple of miles, but would occasionally get passed. No big deal, I was just enjoying being out in the woods. Somewhere on that first climb though the front of my left hip starting bothering me as well as my right glute and adductors. I also felt slightly constricted by the leggings, so that might have played a little role in the pains I was having, but ultimately I know those are areas of my body that I need to strengthen and condition better.
I had been taking sips of water or Accelerade when I felt I needed to, and would have a energy chew about every 45 minutes or so. But, around mile 13 I was feeling a dip in energy so I had my waffle, which helped a little. The next 5 miles were mostly a combination of hiking the uphills, cursing at my watery eyes on the downhills, and shuffling on the remaining parts. I got tripped up a couple of times during the race but thankfully I never fell.
I crossed the finish line at 3:33:00 so it took me 2 hours on the 2nd loop. I finished 33rd overall and won the Top Open Clydesdale award (although 2 Master Clydes did finish ahead of me). Overall not a bad race or finish since it was within the timeframe I expected. Yes, it would have been nice to finish on the first page of the results, and it would’ve felt better without the hip/glute/adductor issues. I’m sure I could have dug a little deeper and pushed a little harder, but no need for that on this one.
Ratings based on the following scale:
2- Below Average
4- Above Average
Course- some long climbs, some muddy sections, some rocky/technical sections but still runnable
Course Markings: 4
Aid stations: 3
(# of aid stations on course: 1 at miles ~ 2.6, 6.6, 11.6, 15.4; plus one at start/finish miles 9, 18)
Post race food: 4 (cookies, twizzlers, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, etc.)
Pre-race communications: 4
Start time: 4 (courtesy was appreciated for this one)
Awards timing: 5
Shirt: 3 (long sleeve cotton tee)
Finisher Medal: N/A
Awards: 5 (trophy)
1 race down, 99 to go!
Next race: Saturday 1/11; (Scranton Running Co.) Shiver by the River 10k; Scranton, PA
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.