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Strava data + post-race interview from Run Rabbit Run 100

A third-place smooch at 8:15 AM after racing (and crewing) for the previous 20 hours, through the night

A third-place smooch at 8:15 AM after racing (and crewing) for the previous 20 hours, through the night

Later this week, once I’m more fully recovered, I’ll post more detailed content from Run Rabbit Run 100. For now, a few quick comments and some easily shareable content:

My finish time of 20 hours, 12 minutes was in line with my expectations, based on how I have historically performed against the 2014 winner, Rob Krar. In general, my times are about 13 percent slower. What I never expected, however, was a third place finish. A high did-not-finish (DNF) rate — including seven of the 14 top-ranked men — certainly helped, but nonetheless I’m ecstatic about a podium finish and an unexpected $3500 payday.

A big congratulations to the winner, Jason Schlarb, and the second-place finisher, Bob Shebest. I saw both at the start, but otherwise we were not even in the same race. A big congratulations to the rest of the finishers, too, notably my buddy David Eitemiller. Running and hiking 100+ miles with nearly 20,000 vertical feet of climbing within the 36-hour cutoff is a monstrous effort and major accomplishment.

My wife and lone crew member, Amanda, was awesome. She greeted me six times — including twice in the middle of the night, at 12:20 AM and 2:20 AM — with water, calories, warmer clothing, and encouraging words. More importantly, this summer she supported the intense training plan that made my performance possible.

Strava data

My Suunto Ambit2 GPS watch plus its heart rate monitor accessory (available at Backcountry.com for 35% off) have been invaluable training and racing tools. They supply me with live data on time, pace, heart rate, altitude, vertical gain and loss, and more. For additional analysis and training comparisons later on, I upload the data to Suunto’s Movescount platform, which I have synced with Strava (follow me).

Some highlights:

  • The official course distance is 102.7 miles with 20,191 feet of vertical gain (and ditto for loss). But unofficial recordings suggest that it’s longer and has less vertical: more like 107 miles with about 18k of gain. The effect on cumulative finishing times is probably a wash.
  • The second mile was my slowest (21:40 minutes), when the course points straight up an expert ski slope and climbs 1,150 feet. Mile 20, which drops 300 feet into the Olympian Hall aid station, was my fastest, at 7:53.
  • Over the final 6.2 miles, which drop a quad-busting 3,400 feet, I averaged 8:26 pace. By this point I had a lock on third and had written off sub-20 hours, so I was merely trying to minimize damage.
  • Thirteen hours and 70+ miles into the race, I missed a turn in lower Spring Creek that cost me 5 minutes and added a half-mile to my race. Thankfully that was the extent of the damage.
  • Many others have commented that I ran a “smart” race by starting off relatively slowly and taking names later in the race. But even I started much too hard: my average heart rate was 126 beats per minute, but I foolishly red-lined it for the first 40 minutes it at 150+, and didn’t really settle in until about 10 hours into the race.
Heart rate overlaid atop the course's vertical profile. Notice the steady drop in heart rate, especially during the first 10 hours, as fatigue set in. My heart could have beat faster, but my muscles couldn't generate enough power. Even though I started off slowly compared to other elites, I still started too hard.

Heart rate overlaid atop the course’s vertical profile. Notice the steady drop in heart rate, especially during the first 10 hours, as fatigue set in. My heart could have beat faster, but my muscles couldn’t generate enough power. Even though I started off slowly compared to other elites, I still started too hard.

Post-race interview

With Jeff Miller of USL.tv shortly after the finish, mostly coherent and all smiles:

12 Responses to Strava data + post-race interview from Run Rabbit Run 100

  1. Denise September 21, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    Fabulous! Congratulations!

  2. Ric R September 21, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    Wow – amazing is the only word I have for that finish! If i I had a 20th of your endurance and speed I would have been the fastest hiker in Olympic!

    BTW, congratulations is in order.

  3. James V Carretta September 21, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

    Congratulations! Astute handicapping of the race on http://runrabbitrunsteamboat.com/welcome/prizes/

    “Andrew Skurka, 32, Colorado – Have funny feeling about this guy, who way back when ran second at Leadville and then took a 5 year hiatus. Efforts since return have been modest but who knows what that means? Would not be surprised if runner gets a piece of it.”

  4. Vadim Fedorovsky September 21, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    Congratulations Andrew – I am not surprised 🙂

    • Mike Lamson September 21, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

      Congrats Andrew! I really enjoyed following your progress. Enjoy your (I am guessing brief) recovery.

  5. Scott September 21, 2015 at 10:11 pm #

    Andrew,

    What heart rate were you trying to maintain for the race? MAF – 5/10? Curious. Great work and race!

    • Andrew Skurka September 21, 2015 at 10:38 pm #

      I didn’t exactly know, which is partly why I wore my HRM — so that I would know more precisely for next time. Based on shorter training runs and race efforts with it, I thought that 130-135 was in the ballpark. If I were fitter, maybe I could keep it higher for longer; if I wasn’t as fit, then I’d need to be lower. As it turns out, I averaged 126. I know I could have gone harder towards the end of the race, but did not need to; and I think I could have kept it higher if I had not burned myself out early in the race with 150+ for the first 40 minutes.

      • Scott September 22, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

        Very cool, Andrew. Thanks!

  6. GZ September 22, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    Not bad for a hiker. From Duke.

    More seriously … I am sort of wondering what you think the HR drop off ought to be for the second half. I have a tough time thinking that most humans would do anything but have such a drop in the second half … because of muscular breakdown.

    And I find it interesting that the 800 meters and ultras, particularly 100s are races we almost expect to positive split …

    • Andrew Skurka September 22, 2015 at 11:32 am #

      Good question. Maybe someone with more of a physiology background can offer a more substantiated answer.

      I agree that HR should drop during an ultra due to muscular breakdown. Basically, late in the race we don’t have the strength to fully utilize our heart, literally like a car running on fumes. But I think this drop should be less than what it is for most of the field. With me, for example, I probably should have kept my HR to about 130-135 bpm early in the race (and never above 140), so that maybe it would only drop off to 125-130 late in the race. Instead, I let it stay pegged at 150+ for the first 40 minutes, and often above 140 for the first 7 hours. Other elites must have been much worse, since they started off harder and finished slower than me. Early in the race, I was probably 30-60 seconds faster per mile by keeping it at 150 bpm. But that lasted for just an hour. For the last 10 hours of the race, maybe I could have been 15-30 seconds faster per mile if I’d not used that energy earlier, which would have saved me much more time.

      It seems that the higher the heart rate, the less sustainable it is. It’s not linear: 10 minutes max at 170, 30 minutes at 160, 90 minutes at 150, 10 hours at 140, etc. So racers do a lot of damage by letting their HR get too high early in the race. It may be like fuel economy in a vehicle: yes, my car can do 100 mph, but I only get 20 miles/gallon at that speed; whereas if I keep it to 65 mph, I get 30 mpg.

  7. Ross Ulibarri September 23, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

    Congratulations!

    What is your maximum heart rate? Seems like percentage of maximum is the key thing here.

    • Andrew Skurka September 23, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

      It has been a long time since I tried for a max HR. Based on my 5 x 1-mile workouts like this one, http://www.movescount.com/moves/move76452630s, where I peak in high 170’s, I suspect my max is low 180’s.

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