The biggest reason for wanting to incorporate a 50 mile training run into my plan was to test out my fueling/ gear. I am very used to 30 mile runs and can tough one out after no breakfast with nothing but water and maybe a small snack. Not good for a hundred miler according to pretty much everyone. The hard and fast rule I have been told (by many people) is: "Eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirst and walk before you have to". So I knew I needed a nice long run with a focus on going slow and steady and really paying attention to fuel.
VESTS/ HYDRATION I had two vests set up:
Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest and a Nathan Zelos Vest I recently purchased as a back-up because it had a flask in front AND a hydration pack for water, it got really good reviews (and I'll admit it, I like the colors). The UD vest has two bottles in front and and storage in the back, but no built in hydration pack. I have thrown one in there, but I feel like it throws off the vest and takes up all the storage space. I had used the Nathan vest last weekend on a long run and was kind of irritated by the lack of lower chest strap. The UD vest has an upper chest and lower chest strap which helps manage bounce and balances the weight, the Nathan vest has only an upper chest strap so your shoulders bear most of the weight of the vest and because there is only a flask on one side, it feels kid of uneven. That being said, I decided to pack both, start with old reliable (the UD vest) and switch if it became uncomfortable.
To make a long story short, I never even used the Nathan vest. The UD vest was perfectly balanced and comfortable and I like seeing both bottles so I can monitor hydration and they are top of mind. Plus, I don't have to fiddle around with the sip tube or worry about it freezing (which has happened to me many times). The one good thing about the Nathan vest is that it has so many storage pouches and pockets, plus the resevoir, and bright colors for road safety, but since I'm only doing 10 mile loops on the trail, the UD vest will probably be my first pick.
Because the weather was comfortable (upper 20's) losing fluid was not really an issue - I drank about 65-70 ounces of water, 32 ounces of HEED and took 1 SCap every hour or so. This is totally aproximate as I basically followed a "drink when you think about drinking" and "take an SCap when you can't remember when you last took one" motto.
SHOES I had two pairs of shoes:
Solomon Speedcross 3 - these are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. They feel soft and cushioned with a large toe box, but you can still feel the ground under you - which, to me, is important on the trail, especially on New England rocky/ root covered trails. This particular pair I have worn down the sole from road running, so it's more road than trail shoe now anyway. The second pair I took were my new Hoka Stinsons. I actually have Hoka road shoes, but for some dumb reason grabbed the wrong ones.
I recently bought the Hokas because of all the great reviews and every time I have run in them I just don't get it - they feel like I'm running on foam... which for me doesn't feel right probably because I'm pretty used to minimal shoes. That being said after mile 40 I was feeling a little stiffness in my legs, so I decided to switch from the Solomons to the Hokas. Okay... I get what all the buzz is about. While I would never wear those shoes to just "go for a run" - after 40 miles, the bouncy, foamy feeling was real nice. I guess that is why they are marketed as an "Ultra shoe"... duh. Anyway, I will certainly be bringing these along to the race but will delay wearing them until I feel like I need to. I got them a size too big to make room late in the race for foot swelling, so they will be my relief shoe. The Hoka Stinson's have a really large toe box and are very roomy - so I probably should have only gotten them 1/2 size bigger, I will have to watch for rubbing/ blisters with them. I will probably start off in my Solomons as they just fit so nicely. No blisters from either shoe on this run.
Fueling went pretty well overall. I don't do gels because every time I have ever taken gel I bonk due to stomach issues - they are so gross to me. Over the course of the run I ate: 2 PBJs with salt on them, 1 Clif Bar, 4 big fig newtons, HEED and SCaps. I probably could have taken in more calories - but that was really all I took with me. My stomach does best with solid food on runs so I will stick with that.
I have never run with electrolyte drink before recently. Every run I had done in the past was H20 only, primarily because of the issue I have with gels... I have with electrolyte drink. They make me sick and nauseous. I recently started trying HEED because it doesn't have simple sugars (which I think is my problem) and so far it has been working out great.