Thursday, August 29, 2013

Run De Vous 100k - Race Report

I signed up for this race as a "make-up" for the tragedy that was the Nanny Goat 100 (report).  However, after doing this second loop course, I am certain that 100 mile loop courses are not my thing.  I can see myself coming back to do a 50 miler, but 100 is such a mental toll that I do not find appealing.  Yet, a loop course does provide a great testing ground for new gear and I took advantage.

Garmin 310XT / Garmin 910XT
Headsweats Supervisory Visor
Oakley Radar Glasses
Ultimate Direction Fast Draw Bottle (review)
Ink n' Burn Tech Tee
Salomon EXO Wings Twinskin Short
Drymax Socks
Newton Gravity / Altra Instinct 1.5 

Tailwind Nutrition 

I decided to camp the night before this run for a few reasons but most importantly it was just to disconnect.  After summer session my energy was zapped and my overall demeanor was that of burn out.  I needed some reflection time and a little distance from the hustle of school to charge my batteries before the start of the new school year. 

Camping provided the benefit of allowing me to feel the temperature rather than just scouting it via the web.  I knew it was going to be warm (91 high) but feeling the 46% humidity on friday was huge for me.  Although it did not alter my game plan very much feeling the temperature changes did help me stick to it more religiously.

The course is a two mile loop in San Martin, Ca. with a total elevation gain of 94 ft per loop and paved all the way around.  There is a "trail" on the inside our outside of the loop.  Many runners elected to wear trail shoes and run on the dirt path, which probably would have made my recovery easier but I did not know of its existence and only prepped for a road course so I stuck to the plan.

As a rule I would always have at least one bottle in my hand with nutrition and/or water.  The race started at 6 am and when the runners took off I was finishing setting up my tent and did not have my bib number yet.  Once I actually started most runners were completing their first loop.  My intent with this run was to (1) sort out the nutrition issues that had bothered me at Nanny Goat 100 (only completed 81 miles, blacking out 2x), (2) test the Salomon EXO Twinskin Short which I may use at Headlands and finally (3) get a long run in.

My nutrition is Tailwind.  Tailwind had done right for me for a very long time.  The simplicity of adding your nutrition to water and going makes fueling thoughtless; no gels or remembering when you took the last gummy block or whatever other thing you are consuming.  Furthermore, Tailwind does not give me sugar spikes like other gels do.  The nutrition is a smooth source like an IV; steadily feeding what the body can reasonably (with training) digest while running.  My standard is two servings (scoops) per 26 oz of water which equates to 200 calories as well as the sodium I need to balance my electrolyte levels.  I no longer use as many salt caps because Tailwind contains sodium.  I will take them on hot days or if I feel I am cramping too early into a run, but generally Tailwind takes care of it.  Many people ask me what it tastes like and at this point I will date myself.  Remember what Gatorade used to taste like? Gatorade tasted salty.  Now it tastes like sugar, but before there was some sodium in it which made it savory, that is what Tailwind mimics.  Because it is both sweet and savory it is palatable for many hours which is important since after consuming anything for 8+ hours you instinctually want to reject it, but this has worked for me so it stays in the bag.

When the heat of the day hit 12:30 pm - 3:30 pm, I eased up to one scoop per 26 oz of water.  The reason is that at that point I was consuming almost one bottle per loop.  At the original rate that have been 400-500 cal per hour; too much for me to process.  I did not want to have GI issues so the modification during the heat of the day was planned out beforehand and was one of the many lessons I took from Nanny Goat.

Running for 12+ hours does not sound like fun to anyone, but this is a different type of community.  We all suffer and succeed together.  I have never met an ultra runner who is not happy for their fellow runners success or who does not empathize when anyone's day goes south.  Instead of focusing only on my performance and my feelings/thoughts I chatted with other runners sooner than I would have otherwise done.  My general racing style is not to chat at all for the first half of any race.  Generally, multiple racing distances start at the same time (50m, 100km, 100m).  The fields are small so it makes sense, but from a racing standpoint you could be keeping pace with a runner going half the distance you are and that just spells disaster.  But, because I had a different goal for this race I was chatting with everyone thus making the monotony of the loop more bearable.  Had I not chatted with other runners I doubt I would have made it past the marathon distance.

Naturally, what is said out there stays out there, but I did enjoy running with my friend Patrick who was doing a 50km race and helping him stay on his goal pace.  I really like going to races because I get to meet a lot of runners I know virtually and/or have met at previous races and seeing familiar faces is always a positive.  Strangely, despite the course being a loop, we did not meet up with P. until 17 miles after he started.  

The biggest take away from this race was sticking to intent.  I generally schedule a race and with the "racing" mindset I set of to accomplish it.  However, this time I used the run for a purpose, a long run for Headlands.  I originally wanted to complete the 100 mile distance, but after confirming how much reading I had for the first day of class and having achieved all the goals I had set out for myself I dropped down to the 100km version.  

I think it was a smart move on my part because I stayed honest to my intention.  We all have lives other than ultra running and sometimes the sport takes so much out of us that we loose focus.  I do it because ultra running centers me and makes me a better person.  I am more positive and my virtues (the few there are) tend to show up more often.  

When I loose that focus and skew the balance other areas of my life take the hit.  Basic rules of thumb, (1) do it because it makes you happy, (2) have clear goals based on your training and intentions, (3) remember what your priorities outside of ultra running are and let those priorities dictate your goals.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Run De Vous - PreRace

The race overall is straight forward.  The course is a two mile loop that runners will do 50 times.  This is a classic style ultra; small field of runners & dedicated volunteers.  The race has one cut-off, 32 hours, i.e. 2 pm on Sunday.  Its nice to not have intermediate cut-offs because there is no pressure to run at a pace or "bank time" while you still have legs.

This run is going to be my long run for the Headlands 100 (link) steady is the name of the game.  I want to be able to run at night, smile, and drive back to Los Angeles after finishing.

^^^yeah you read that back to LA after finishing^^^

The weather is going to be the issue with this one.  Slight breeze, some humidity (43%) and then 91 degrees in the heat of the day.  If my nutrition is off it will be a Nanny Goat (Report) repeat and I am not looking to have that happen ever again.

The plan is drive up north thursday night/friday morning.  I want to be in the area before the race to pick up a few gallons of water and anything I may have forgotten.  Also its going to a different race for me because I'll be camping in nearby Henry W. Coe State Park (link) by myself the night before.  I want a little alone time before this one.  Lately my mind has raced so much with school and life that it will be nice to just unplug and meditate a little.  I think the silence will help me focus and stay on task rather than the usual pre-race rush that I am usually in.

Basic plan is to run the first 50 in 11-12 hours, and the second 50 in 13-14 for a total moving time of 24-26 hours.  Legs have been able to turn quicker in the last few months, but my problem is mentally reigning it in.  I get excited being out there with good people and I forget the plan.  This race is all about saving enough legs for the night which will be crucial at the Headlands.  If its in the cards and my race is developing well I'll try and break 24, but that's not the goal for this one.

First half for sure I will have the headphones in and be a mute.  I know that I need to stay in my head not get carried away with the other runners that are doing a shorter distance since there will be simultaneous runners doing 50k and 50m races in addition to the 100m.

The big gear change is the Salomon Men's EVO Wings Shorts (link).  I usually race in NorthFace or Patagonia because they have never let me down and they feel right.  But I wanted to try something that would reinforce the quads a little and these fit the bill.  Particularly because I know how much downhill can kill your major muscle groups on the trails.  I have never raced in these, but have done some good runs in them so I am confident that they will hold up.

Nutrition, standard. Tailwind (link).  It works, 200 calories per 22 oz bottle and off to the races.  I will probably run the race in the Newton Gravity and have the Altra Instinct 1.5 in a bag just in case.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lines in the Sand

Motivation is a line in the sand and difficult under the best conditions.  As you persist and endure that line gets deeper and more defined.  When you waiver the line blurs and the impetus to go is lost.  When that strength leaves often times I am left holding the remainder of myself and asking; who am I?  What do I actually want?

Friends ask if the endorphin high is that amazing that I am addicted and have to keep going.  The truth is I am a suffering junkie.  I enjoy knowing how far I can go when its not my day.  I enjoy it so because in those moments I learn a lot about myself.  

During a good training cycle I can go into low gear and grind it out.  I force myself to smile when I feel terrible and the pain subsides.  During bad training cycles I cave under the weight of my own thoughts.  The "you can't do it" or "you're not strong enough" thoughts bury my soul and my body breaks down and quits. 

In those dark moments the big questions arise.  What or who am I proving this to?  Did I really pay the entry for this?  What was I thinking?  I have accomplished so much more than I ever imagined.  I have good excuses...why keep going?  Cash in the chips and walk away.

The answer to those questions used to be .... I am scared.  I was unhappy, unhealthy, perennially seeking the momentary satisfactions rather than long term happiness.  Being scared of going back to that place kept me going, it kept the train on the rails.  

Now, I can't give a a single answer as to why I do it.  Keeping that line in the sand visible and defined keeps me balanced, humble and thankful.  In the last few months I have learned a lot about myself because of the struggles on and off the trail.  For me it comes down to giving fear a swift kick to the curb.

A thin line in the sand when I began.  The motivation is no longer to be something or someone else.  It is be a better version of me everyday.  The push to be better every day is mine and mine alone "..and happiness I've known proves that its right...I walk the line" (Johnny Cash).