It appears winter is truly coming here in Northern North Dakota; after one last weekend that spoiled us with temps in the low 60’s, we have spent the last two days battling 50+ mph winds and colder temps. I woke up today to 17 degrees – brrrrr! And this isn’t even as close to cold as we’ll be seeing in the coming months! This Cali girl is going to need to toughen up a little! 😉
It probably feels a bit colder as I have just returned from a long trip to CA, where I visited with family and friends, went to Disneyland, and capped it all off by running the Rio Del Lago 100 miler. (And encore from last year!) To say the weather was fantastic in classic CA awesomeness would be an understatement.
I had an A, B and C goal for this race; “A” goal was sub 24 (on a course where I thought this was VERY achievable) “B” goal was beat last years time (26:46), and “C” goal was to finish. I nailed my “B” and “C” goals, but fell short on my “A” goal. Once again as soon as night hit I slowed way down and threw my chance at a sub 24 out the window. I still had a massive one hour and forty one (1:41) min PR over last year, with a time of 25:05, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was really gunning for that “A”goal, and was left a little disappointed with how the night section of the race went for me. HOWEVER, I AM happy with a PR, and felt like I gave a strong performance for most of the race. Now I am fueled with a desire to keep working to improve my 100 mile race strategy and performance.
As you may have noticed in the past, I am not the greatest at race reports…and to be honest I am still trying to process the whole experience of this race. It was markedly different from RDL v2014; better in some ways and much, MUCH harder in others. But will I will do is try and share some things that worked, and a few others I still have work to do in order to improve even more for my next event!
A tip I got from the amazing Ann Trason is to look back at the race write down at least 3 things I did well, 3 things I could have done better, and 3 things (or more) I learned. This race was an amazing opportunity for me in terms of trying to see what I could do better based on last year, while also learning a TON in areas I *thought* I had improved on. I am just one of those people, though; always looking to improve, grow and challenge myself, and every race gives the unique opportunity to learn.
- Stayed positive. All of my potty-mouthing aside (Sorry to my second pacer, Jenna!) I stayed positive for most of the race and truly enjoyed my time out there, thankful for the ability to do what I love around so many other great people. I never really went to a terribly dark place (although I can’t say I was loving every moment *cough* Meat Grinder section *cough) I always knew I would finish, and never doubted my ability to complete the event.
- Ate/Drank often – this was a HUGE improvement over last year where I stopped eating at mile 60 or so. This year was all about getting calories in every 30-45 mins. Nothing crazy or heavy, just a steady stream of food. When I started to get a sour stomach I sucked on hard candies (peppermint, jelly beans and ginger chews) and this helped immensely. Definitely a trick I’ll be using more in the future.
- Paced myself well – I can honestly say I felt GREAT physically – I feel that I paced myself very well and ran a smart race. Until it got dark and my night vision went crappy and the blisters were bad(see below). However, I never felt like I was bonking or getting dazed or confused. I felt “with it”…just frustrated I couldn’t push due to the above mentioned points. So, compared to the past where I went out too fast, I really felt good about my pacing, walk breaks, aid stations stops etc.
- Keep experimenting with different light sources AND night running. Let’s face it…this is where things fall apart race wise for me. I am not a great night runner. I tried both a headlamp and a flashlight, and both didn’t feel like “enough” when the conditions got technical (oh hello there, Meat Grinder!) Which leads me to another thing I can improve on – my confidence both at night and at the latter stages of a race. I lose my confidence and my ability to push myself…I tend to play it safe and walk/hike a lot. I am afraid of falling or tripping (My depth perception goes in the crapper – see light source above) and so I slow waaaaay down. This can be very frustrating as I know I have more in me, I just lack the confidence to push for fear of bodily harm.
- Blister management – despite wrapping my toes, using toe socks and changing shoes/socks, my blisters were as bad as ever. This is really a hard thing to nail down as they don’t show up until after 60 or so miles…so nothing that I can mitigate during my training runs. This is one of the things that if I can sort out, I know will really be a game changer for me.
- I am NOT an island – I was crew-less for the second year in a row, and I feel like having crew would be a huge boost to me in many different ways. Also, a 3rd pacer during Cool loops would have been fun…it got awfully dark out there alone. 😉 Not being shy and asking for help assembling a crew would have been a huge advantage both mentally and strategically.
- Making a plan to run more trails and hills – After we moved to ND in June, I had VERY little trail running leading up to RDL. 3 weeks in CA in July, 2 races, and the week before RDL. Not very much in 5 months. This lack of trail running really affected both my confidence as well as my technical trail running. Goal this year is to travel to more races and locations to get more of my longer runs in on trails (the closest good trails are over 4 hours away…but where there is a will, there is a way!)