R2R2R Report

  • Creator
  • #52760

    My first goal for 2021 was to do R2R2R with my son. This would be my first ultra. My first running event in over 10 years. Prior experience was a few half marathons (~1:55 range), an Ironman (13+ hours) and some half IMs (5-ish hours). That was all back 15 years ago.

    I started training in earnest for this in December. Really got started in January. Did 490 miles and 63k of vert January till 3/31. The canyon run was scheduled for 4/19 and I had one more big build block scheduled. But I got some nasty knee pain that caused me to miss a week. That went away, and rather than risk another short build, I turned that into a 3-week taper and ran the canyon 4/2. Too much taper, for sure. My CTL (training peaks) dropped from 90 to 68. (the knee is fine and came through the run unaffected)

    I expected to do the 40.5 mile route in about 13 hours. 12 was a stretch goal; I figured 14 was safe. Couple things pushed final time out to 15 hours. Moving time was 12:15.

    First, it’s 4 miles longer than advertised, and on the hardest part of the North Rim. (We had three Coros watches and an InReach, and compared with three other folks at the turnaround. 44-45 miles)

    Second, we went downhill a lot slower than expected. I’d been training on smooth fire roads. The rough canyon trails with water bars every 4-6 feet were different. “Real” runners (Walmsley, Krar, etc.) can just bound on each one, one step at a time flying downhill. I was skipping and shuffling and running with no rhythm. It is what it is. Barely managed 15 minute pace on the ~13 miles of steeper downhill.

    Third, this was my first real distance run. Carried 2800 calories and cold weather jacket/shirt/hat (in case we really screwed up and were out there at midnight). So a lot of futzing with a new pack and spending waaaay too much time at water stops. The Strava file said we spent almost three hours not moving.

    Fourth, the rest of that “not moving” time: We were feeling pretty good arriving back at the river and starting the 5,000 foot climb out. But the temp had risen to over 90 degrees. 20 minutes into the climb, I hit a heat wall. Nauseous, couldn’t eat or drink. Ended up stopping in the shade a lot. Laid down in the middle of the trail for 20 minutes at one point till the sun got low. My charming son posted a pic of me laying down on his Strava :-). The final two hours out were heinous. Calves cramped up first. Then hamstrings. Was taking stiff-legged steps the final two miles. Nauseous. All my training was in 50-65 degree weather and I just wasn’t ready for the heat.

    Some takeaways…
    I have to get better at managing water and nutrition. Packed 2800 calories. In the hotel room the next morning I dumped out my pack. I still had 1,000 calories in my pack. Yikes. I screwed that up. Didn’t drink enough before the final climb, which made the heat reaction worse and then I was in a downward spiral.

    I did all my vert work by parking at the base of my local mountain, going uphill fresh, then running down and getting in the car. I need to drive to the top of that mountain now and then, run down and up. Or something. I need to work on going uphill on tired legs. The first climb to N. Rim went fine. We averaged 17:30 miles over 14 miles and 6,000 feet. The climb out at the end — I was DONE.

    Pacing…we let the longer-than-expected first descent get into our heads. We were “behind schedule.” So we probably did the next 9 miles of moderate uphill a little too fast.

    All in all, it was an awesome day! My first ultra, and I got to do it with my son. I think he was reasonably impressed with his 60 year old dad. 🙂

    Next up is Leadville, and I have A LOT of work to do.

  • Keymaster
    Shashi on #52791

    Wow! Congratulations on your first ultra and thanks for taking the time to share a detailed report. Wish you the best for Leadville.

    lionfish90 on #54416

    Great story, thanks for sharing it!

    Scott Semple on #55126

    Nice work. That sounds like a great challenge for sure, and it’s incredible that you did it on only 1,800 calories…

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