Rocket Man…

Charles Corfield
The biggest buckle ever was Charles' award.

I’ve got some of this Mendocino Rocket Fuel, that’s supposed to be really… ~ Viv Savage

Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Charles Corfield – LT100 3rd place finisher, Everest summiter, and all-around great guy. Charles took the time out of his busy schedule (I get the impression that he runs at 4 in the morning every day) to meet with me to discuss some ultra tips and tricks, his experience running and his famous Rocket Fuel mix.

Charles placed third at the 2007 Leadville Trail 100 race after being talked into running it by some friends. He had no real intention of running the LT100 and so just jumped into the fray and treated it like running two consecutive 50s. Apparently that worked pretty well as he finished without a crew or pacers in 19 hours 42 minutes. Solid effort.

During the course of our conversation, I learned a lot about how to approach racing, training, hydration and nutrition and discovered that Charles really thinks things through, does extensive research and, perhaps most importantly, experiments to find out what works. He is practical as well, often offering simple solutions to common problems vs. recommending expensive or cumbersome alternatives. He asks questions and then thoughtfully presents solutions. For example, when he inquired about my ’07 LT100 attempt and what, in my opinion, went wrong, I mentioned that blisters were an early issue that then escalated to other, larger problems. His solution: Superglue a sock into my shoes to work as a gaiter and superglue the tongue to the upper to keep dirt and grit out. Not particularly elegant but cost-effective, light, and efficient.

One item I really wanted to discuss was his hydration and nutrition regimen. Charles is very scientific about his nutrition needs and calculates exactly what he will need during any given race (or training event) to be sure that he is able to consume the right amount of fuel during the event. This keeps him from getting bogged down by too many calories or bonking from too few. Charles relies primarily (in fact, exclusively, I believe) on a mixture of amylopectin (Waxy Maize) and maltodextrin which has found the name “Rocket Fuel”. I started experimenting with the mix in January this year to see if the solution worked for me and I have found, thus far, for it to be a great supplement to, if not replacement for, my “normal” on-trail nutrition. Here is the formula for 3000kCals (~750g of solids):

  • 340g amylopectin
  • 340g maltodextrin
  • 25g protein (Charles uses whey. Being a vegan, I use soy.)
  • non-sugar flavoring to taste (cocoa, Kool-Aid, vanilla, almond, etc.)
  • some electrolytes (I take care of this with nuun) and antacids (ground up)
  • ~3 cups of water (to the thickness desired)

During my initial experiments, I was mixing about 3 Tablespoons in a bottle of water. Though this worked well, it was not concentrated enough to work as a stand-alone fuel source. I checked with Charles and he indicated that he mixes his to produce a fairly thick, gel-like consistency that then can be delivered via a fuel bottle vs. in a more “drinkable” form. I subsequently tried this as well and it definitely is the way to go.

During the Moab Red Hot 50K, I used Rocket Fuel from the start. I did make the mistake of mixing it a bit too thickly and this, coupled with very low temperatures, made the fuel a bit tough to work with during the race. I should have added water on the go, but in my hydration depleted state didn’t think of that. So really, had I been smarter about it, I know that the mix would have worked even better for me than it already did.

On top of all of this great information, one piece of advice Charles had for me was to listen to what your body is telling you. If you are craving salt, you probably are low on electrolytes. If you are feeling bloated and too “full” you probably have eaten too much too quickly (there are studies that show that we can only process 240-280 cal/hour). Just listen to what your body is telling you and you should do well.


Another snow run…

I kinda like Superbowl Sunday. It’s like another holiday that everyone else observes and I don’t. ~ Rach

Sat 6 Feb: 00:40, 4.19 miles, Neighborhood loop with surges
Sun 7 Feb: 1:50, 12 miles, Boulder road loop via 4th

Good runs over the past couple days. Tapering a bit for the race next weekend so kept it short today. Felt pretty well even though I went a bit harder than I intended for whatever reason. Yesterday’s run was an early morning affair as Rach and I had tickets to see the Met’s simulcast of Simon Boccanegra (which was great). Then I hit the gym in the evening to lift some weights. All in all a great day.

Today was another early morning with House Rabbit duties preceding the run. It snowed throughout the day which made the run a bit more interesting than it might have been otherwise. Overall I felt okay… not super but okay. I do like that 12 miles has become routine for me at this point. Glad to be back up to the fitness level that finds me feeling 12 miles is a fairly short run.

This week will be very mellow. Taking tomorrow off from working to play on my birthday then have a fairly busy 3 days before I head out to Moab. Getting pretty fired up to go run in the desert. Apparently the race is full so it should be a lot of fun.


Short, sweet…

Whoopi-ty-aye-oh ~ Gene Autry

Finally able to get back out on the feet and let me tell you… it feels good. Only running a couple of miles to start but I am feeling strong and have not experienced any discomfort while running on either of my recent outings. Yesterday, I cranked out a couple of miles on our road in 16 minutes. Today, I spun the same route in 15:20 something.

Today’s run was a humid (for here) affair and it was nice to be out on a Sunday morning. Birds were singing, no dust to be seen due to yesterday’s late-afternoon rain showers… good stuff. I just stayed relaxed, focused on my form and enjoyed the run. Yesterday was much of the same with more dust (pre-rain). Still wonderful to be out if only for 15 minutes.

This weekend featured two big races in Colorado: The Hardrock 100 and the Leadville Marathon. The Hardrock is an incredibly challenging course in the southwestern part of the state that features over 33,000 feet of climbing and tops out at over 14,000 feet. Karl Meltzer won again this year (I think this was his 5th victory) in a course record 24:38. Diana Finkel led the women (and all but two of the men!) to win her race in 27:18. Amazing.

The Leadville Marathon was also held over the weekend with another course record being set. Dennis Flanagan finished up in 3:32. The Leadville Marathon heads up Mosquito Pass and tops out at over 13,000 feet. High altitude madness abounds.


And you think I’m nuts…

Sliiiiiiiide. ~ Marla Singer

The Marathon of the Sands is a 6-day race across the Sahara where competitors must carry all their gear and the only real support is rations of water and tents in which to sleep at night. Amazing.

Speaking of racing, I met with Janet Runyan yesterday for the first of several sessions scheduled to help with my running form and to get some training and racing advice. She is a past winner at Leadville and National Ultradistance Champion so I am very excited to see how she can help my performance and help me get and stay injury-free. She recommended some posture adjustments yesterday that really seemed to help and I am planning to go out today to see how much “sticks”. It is fairly warm up here today so as long as it doesn’t rain, I should be okay. She did think that the first 50K I have scheduled was a bit aggressive so I will probably scale that back to the 25K event.

I did get out for some turns at the Basin on Sunday. Luke and I pretty much tore it up and Pete and Edy were up as well. Pete joined us for a couple of fun runs. The conditions were a bit funky but REALLY good turns were to be had if you explored a little. We got into some really good stuff up on East Wall and did a run out the Steep Gullies which was pretty great.

I ran Betasso on Monday evening and it was more of a slog than anything to write home about. Felt pretty poorly throughout but did manage 3 laps before calling it a night. Hoping I can get my psoas issues resolved very soon.


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