Once again im writing this first paragraph a couple days prior to the race to see how my goals/expectations compare to the actual outcome. This summer training has been going good. The biggest difference in the summer compared to last is that on my long runs, im hardly slowing down at all toward the end, if not speeding up. Last year I would start fading big time as I started approaching the 30 mile mark. This year I’ve stayed pretty solid throughout the entire run. Plus I’ve got nutrition down much better then last year. So as far as Saturday is concerned, I usually have two time goals going into a race. A goal I think I should make and a goal that if I have a good race is in grasp. For this race a 6:15 is what I think im capable of, but a sub 6 is my true goal. The race is (4) 9.1 mile loops with a .8 mile out n’ back on park road to start. I plan on my splits all being within ten minutes of each other. That means my fastest loop around a 1:25 and my slowest loop no slower then a 1:35. predictions: 1:28 (counting the out n’ back), 1:25, 1:30, 1:35 for a 5:58. where does that put me? My guess is third. Neal Lucas will probably run closer to a 5:15 and steven at around a 5:30. There are some good runners going to be there so I have no idea if there will be somebody that will hang the entire race. I bet there will be a handful guys that go out fast and are ahead of me the first loop at least. After every race you either have excuses, question yourself if you could have gone faster, or lie there knowing you gave it your all. I’ve been guilty of the first, but I’ve found myself with the second one every other time. There hasn’t really been a race when I’ve truly had no regrets. Will Saturday be different? Only time will tell…
- 20 sec after loop1, 1 min after loop 2, and 2 min after loop 3 to eat, drink, and refill bottles
This is one of the first races where I really don’t have any huge regrets. After every race this year and last year, there was something major that I was disappointed with and knew I could have done better. Why was this one different? I went into with confidence because I knew that distance was something that I could run hard the whole time and I am very used to the heat. Also, I was in the chase to maintain 2nd and to possibly chase down neal lucas and give him his first loss.
Nothing ever goes as planned during an ultra. The longer the distance, the more you’re stepping into the unknown. That’s why they say “ you run long enough something is bound to happen”. It couldn’t have been 5 miles into the race when I realized a big mistake. I put so much thought into how I was going to get all my bottles/food ready for the most efficient drop bag possible. At that moment I realized I forgot to add my electrolyte formula to my bottles, and that they were just straight water. It demoralized me big time. For about a mile I was thinking of things to do, but in my mind I had just blown my race. That’s why when you’re an ultra runner you make adjustments and you stick to it and you make the best of it. I upped my s cap intake from 45 minutes to 30 minutes and added one more gu per loop to make up for the lost calories. Then I figured it would be a good experiment to see how I did. After that I told myself to forget about it and just focus on running.
Loop 2 – I ditched the camelback and picked up my handhelds out of my ice chest and was off. That was my 2nd problem. I left out the eating part. About 1 minute down the road I thought shit! I forgot to eat. How could I be so damn dumb? Before the race I put two emergency gus in my shorts so I had to tap into those for loop 2. that was the only smart thing that I did. I had two gus in my bottles but I didn’t feel like it was sufficient calories for a loop. Most people that would be plenty, but I require lots of calories and lots of fluids in order to keep firing for 6 straight hours.
Loop 2 was uneventful with just making sure I ran solid and stayed on top of calories, fluids, and salt.
Loop 4 – I refilled my bottles ate the same stuff and drank the same stuff. I stuffed an extra gu in my bottle knowing that my legs were running close to empty and I needed those immediate calories to keep the intensity needed. I started loop 4 in a little bit of pain but nothing at all more then you would expect after running 28 miles. At this point I knew I was faced with the decision. It’s the same decision that every runner faces in every race. The decision to relax the pace and be happy with finishing in a still impressive time or to search deep within and preserve til the end. For the first time really, I chose number two. I wanted that third option at the finish to lie there knowing I gave it my all. I decided to stick the pace and gut It out. Also, in the back of my mind I kept thinking what if neal isn’t that far ahead? I could give him his first loss, or if he finished two minutes ahead of me I would be so mad at myself for not pushing. I kept hammering down the miles, and it never got too painful. Not nearly painful enough to slow or walk. I also kept reminding myself that I was at a tough part of the race mentally. Because I still had quite a few miles so I couldn’t see the light just yet. I just told myself that pain doesn’t last forever and at some point it can’t get any worse. I kept saying that this is the lowest point of the night. And guess what? It was. I owe that to my experience I’ve gained over the past year. I always finish strong and feel way too good afterwards. I hit the last aid with 2.6 miles to go at 5:32. I knew that a sub 6 was going to happen as long as I didn’t slow down. I decided to speed up instead. I took the pace up at least a minute a mile and it felt great. Halfway through the section I took it up another notch and was flying at about an eight minute pace. For running trails at night that’s about as high as I wanted to go. I kept looking out for neal but I knew he was probably done running and munching on his burger already. I sprinted it in and kind of took them by surprise when I finished. They were not expecting me to come in 2nd and that was half my motivation this whole race. They asked in a kind of puzzled voice "are you finished? yes. 60k? yes" "joe weve got a finisher"
Post race thoughts: liquid calories – red bull, mountain dew, and 1 bottle of gu brew from the ice chest. Straight water on the course. Food calories: 1 package of chomp blocks, 2 packages of cola power bar gummies, and about 10 gus, and about 10 gin gin boost (20 cal each). For a total of about 2,000 during the race im guessing. After every race Im always too quick to leave and always miss out on the post race festivities. This race I grabbed my chair my negra and a burger and relaxed. A group of about 15 stayed for a while and had a great time. I was planning on napping for a couple hours before hitting the road but i kind of ran out of time and had to leave with out sleep. In this sport there really aren’t any winners or losers. Nobody really talked about what place they got or what their pace was besides the people coming up to steven and neal a lot to get the outcome of the series. Not a single person came up to me and asked what place I got. That was fine with me because I was proud of myself, and i don't really care what people think or want attention. I feel that once you’ve run several ultras especially a 100, you stop caring what anybody thinks at all, and you do it all for yourself. This was just the confidence booster i needed going into the race that i've been thinking about every night since November...Cactus baby!