It boasts 12,000 feet of climbing on the rockiest terrain you can imagine. This was the 2nd toughest race I had next Eastern States 100. It was the mix of the weather, rocks, and climbs that made for the perfect storm. I was only 2 minutes off from being pulled from the course. I would call myself a decent runner but was not prepared for what this race threw at me.
What went right:
- I changed my socks, lubed my feet, or changed shoes every loop (2-4-6-8) because of the wet conditions. I still felt hot spots even with that much foot care. I acted before it became an issue. I know I sacrificed a ton of time, but this was my first time doing the event AND it was raining. No PRs will happen in conditions like this and it is more important to just finish.
- At the aid station, I would grab 2 snacks and fill my water, and use my waist belt. It was more than enough food for the loops. With the temps this low I barely needed more than 1 bottle of water per 2 loops.
- I took Tylenol twice during the race when the pain was high.
- I didn’t give up, after a cold loop where I couldn’t feel my hands I got back to my car and got a change of clothes, and warmed up. I used one of my ponchos to prevent from getting soaked again. This was CRITICAL to saving my race. If I had not gotten out of the wet clothes the race would have been over. I was so cold and shivering/couldn’t feel my hands for so long that I had to do something. The dollar poncho I used as a cover kept the rain off and I stayed dry.
- I worked on mobility and foam rolling leading up to the race and it seemed to have fixed the tightness/pain in my foot.
What went wrong:
- The light running shell got soaked and I couldn’t feel my hands. It was NOT a rain jacket, so make sure to carry a poncho! I need to remember to carry it for future races.
- My feet got banged up, but using anti-friction powder helped. I got a blister on my back heel which has never happened before. It might have been from the new shoes I got. I couldn’t run along the rocks, I couldn’t move my feet fast enough. I am going to practice some drills going forward to increase my turnover rate. I needed super fast turnover for running on an extremely rocky course like this.
- I had a sore throat and didn’t get much sleep the night before. I wasn’t overly concerned as I have had races before where sleep is disrupted. (I have 3 kids.)
What would you do differently:
- Practice on a more technical section of my local trail. Do drills to increase foot turnover. You need fast feet! Maybe do 100 ups more? The more you lower contact time with the ground the more efficient you become and the less likely to trip.
- Keep from getting wet before it happens! Carry a dollar poncho with you. Keeping rain off you has a 10X multiplier in well-being and energy expenditure from shivering. This has to be remembered if rain is in the forecast, or maybe even if it is not. A poncho goes in the record books as a must-carry-on personal item.
I BARELY finished. I prioritized foot care over all else to make sure I finished. Taking the time to rest between loops, eating food, and getting warm was what needed to be done. I was able to look at things clearly, put myself back together and finish. 2 minutes was the difference between failure and success! 2 minutes… I won’t forget this race for a long time. In hindsight, I think an underestimation of the course was my fault, maybe I should have scouted it more and read more race reports. I just thought I would power through it, what could they throw at me?? In the past, I had always started the year off with an “easier” race – HAT 50K. I wanted to change things up, life is too short to be stuck in a grove. We get into a grove that puts you in a place of comfort, monotony, and boredom. The stories are HERE, where you go off script, you do a big challenge, or something different. A few years ago I made the promise to myself to always do something that has a high chance of failure. This checked that box. What are you doing this year that has a 50/50 shot of success or failure? Are you playing it safe again and are going to do the same old song and dance as last year?