Thursday, September 7, 2017

Race Report: 2017 MD Heat Race 50K - Third Time's A Charm!

This past August, I participated in my third MD Heat Race located in Patapsco Park, just outside of Baltimore. I was hoping to use the confidence gained on the course last year (I took 68 minutes of my previous year's time), as well as a solid block of training to finish top-three and under five hours. Fortunately, despite a rough start, I was able to accomplish both goals, with the added cherry on top of securing my first overall win! Below is a SUPER quick recap!

Quick Stats:
Total Time: 4:51:50
Total Distance: 31 miles (50K)
Place: 1st Place Overall

Shoes:Nike Kiger 3
Shorts: Rabbit Quadzilla
Shirt: RAD Rabbit Technical
Socks: Random Bargain Bin Socks
Nutrition: Tailwind, vFuel, Coke, Water, Ice

Pre-Race, Start, and First Lap
As soon as I woke up, my tummy was already yelling at me. I knew this was a bad sign - I often have stomach issues during ultras, so the fact that this was starting before I left the house wasn't great. Woof. I did my best to settle my stomach and try and hit the bathroom, remain calm, and just hope it would get better. Unfortunately, it zapped my focus and excitement, and I quickly switched my mindset to one of "I just want to get this thing over with."

After one last pit stop, I headed to the open field where the race starts. When the clock hit 7AM, the RD lead us around a field (to thin out the crowd), and then onto the start of the single track, about a quarter of a mile after the start. I did my best to stay up with him so I didn't get stuck behind a conga line, which I was able to do. I broke ahead with another runner, and tried to keep gaining distance in front of the chase pack, while at the same time not moving too fast.

Chasing Nick the RD!
This was OK for a while, but then my stomach was just really making me uncomfortable. Rather than panic, I reminded myself that racing doesn't f-ing matter, and that if I slowed down, I'd feel better, and would still have fun. So, that's what I did for the first 11 or so miles, until I had to make another emergency pit stop. I thought that was either a sign that I was going to be doing that all day, or the last wave of whatever was going on was over. Thankfully, it was the latter - I felt AWESOME after my pit stop, and came into the start/finish at mile 16 with a big smile and excitement to crush the second half!

Second Lap
The pit stop put me in second place, but after about 20 minutes or so of controlled running, I caught back up to 1st, and we ran together for a while. It wasn't a crazy pace, which was fine because I was still on target for a sub-5 finish, and was thinking more about when to strategically make a move. I was doing fairly well overall, but the heat was starting to get to me (not nearly as bad as last year, but still 78-80 with a ton of humidity). Oh, and the miles of rocky, rooty terrain were starting to beat up my legs.

I kept pushing together with the other runner, and eventually he started to fall back a bit. For a few miles I thought he was just a few feet behind me, so I kept pushing, all with a big smile on my face, and a deep, deep desire to be at the finish line! I blew through the final aid station on the way back, and kept focused on keeping a decent pace until the end!

So happy!
It was so exciting to cross as the first finisher, which of course was made even better by the awesome spread of food and wide-selection of beers at the end.

The Course
For anyone considering this race, it's a great, challenging race that is well supported with amazing air and wonderful volunteers. There's about 4K of vert for the 50K, but that's over a lot of technical terrain. I always feel like if this course were just a little smoother, I could run 30-40 minutes faster. There are just too many sections where you're kicking your way through fields of rocks that really slow you down. The same is true for several descents - there's a strong desire to bomb down hills, but you end up being slowed by the technical terrain.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Race Report: 2017 Endless Summer 6-Hour Run - Back from Injury!

It's been a long journey to get back to regular, healthy running since my injury nonsense earlier this year, but I'm back! After a decent training block, I hopped into the Endless Summer 6-Hour Run in Annapolis, Maryland. I decided to do this race because (a) I wanted a long 'supported' training run, (b) it was a good excuse to work on getting better in the heat, and (c) since it was a timed event, I thought it would be a good way to ease back into ultra racing. 

Overall, the race probably went as well as it could have, but that's not to say it wasn't really tough. The temperature and humidity made for a long, difficult day of racing. While I struggled a lot near the end of the race, I was able to maintain my early lead and secure first place male overall, just half a mile behind the overall female winner! Below is a quick recap - I kept it short because it wasn't the most interesting race or day in the world! 

Woke up to this

Quick Stats:
Total Time: 6:00:00
Total Distance: 39.43 Miles
Place: 2nd Place Overall, 1st Place GP, 1st Place AG
  • Shoes: Altra One 2.5
  • Shorts: Rabbit Quadzilla
  • Shirt: RAD Rabbit Technical
  • Socks: Random Bargain Bin Socks
  • Nutrition: Tailwind, vFuel, Coke, Water, Ice, Sour Patch Kids

A couple of general notes for those reading this who are planning to run the race. They use a chip system to track distance, place, and lap splits. You pass two different checkpoints throughout the race so they can ensure you are on course, and to help with the final calculations. Once the race is nearing the six hour mark, you grab a flag with you bib number, and place it in the ground next to where you finish when the time is up. They then add that distance to what the chip measured. 

One cool thing about the chip system is that it was connected to a big monitor at the start of the loop. This allowed you to check you stats in real-time. At first I really liked it, but since I started in first, I grew more and more concerned about maintaining my position as the day went on! Tough mental game, for sure. 

Finally, even thought it was only a four mile loop, they had two aid stations because of the heat. The second aid station was at the half-way point, and they had water, ice, and a hose to spray people down - it was awesome!

First 3 Hours
The race took place on a four mile loop in Quiet Waters Park. We toed the line at 730, and most were already starting to sweat before the run. I had planned to go out near the front, but made sure to monitor my effort as to not get my heart rate up too high. I ended up running the first lap with a former professional triathlete, and we both were the first to come back to the start line. After a quick stop for some ice and a new bottle of Tailwind, I headed back out on my own so I could control the pace a little better. 

The next couple of laps were nothing too special - just tried to keep moving at a decent pace, while doing my best to stay cool and keep the calories moving. The temperature kept climbing, and I could easily see from the chip-linked monitor that I was slowing with each lap. At the start of each loop, I took in a lot of water, filled my hat and shirt with ice, grabbed a new bottle, and took off. The ice really did help, but only for so long.

Photo Credit: Denise Hyde

Last 3 Hours and Finish
The heat really, really began to take its toll. I was doing my best to keep moving, but was needing more time at each aid station to get lots of water and ice. I kept using every trick I had, including getting sprayed by a hose at the second aid station! I also tried to incorporate mindfulness as much as I could - focusing on my breath, legs, and the various sensations I was experience, all while trying to not judge.

As I marched closer and closer to the six hour mark, I found myself slowing down, just hoping time would move faster. I really wanted to hold onto the win, but I just couldn't push myself any more. I kept checking my watch, but each time it seemed as if only a few seconds had past.

Like most races, though, I just stayed focused, and reminded myself that (a) I chose to do this, (b) I knew it was going to be hard, and (c) despite seeming like it wouldn't, the race would end! And sure enough, as I entered my last lap, I moved halfway around the loop, and finally heard that air horn I'd been waiting for! I set my flag in the ground, and then took a seat before heading back.

Since I was halfway into the loop, I had to walk about a mile back  (it was a four mile loop, but there was a shortcut through the middle). As I began to walk, my breathing became labored, and I was getting dizzy. Another runner was walking with me, but I had to tell him to move on because I had to sit down. I honestly thought I was going to have to give in and get medical help, but I figured if I could just make it to the start/finish, I could get some ice and chill out a bit.

Eventually, after about four stops, I made it back, got my ice, and sat until I could breathe a little better. I then headed to my car, changed my clothes, and went to the award ceremony where I promptly stuffed my face!

Next up - MD Heat Race 50K in Patapsco Park!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Data Visualizations: The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run

Since I'm starting to see more and more "#seeyouinsquaw" comments around the internet, I thought I'd use a bit of downtime to play around with some of the data available on Let me know if there's anything else you want to see! I want to get more into results and such, but didn't have THAT much free time.

And, no, I'm not running it this year...

2017 Entrants List Data Visualizations

Where in the World? 
Most of the competitors are from the US, but we still have a lot of friends coming from overseas!

Not surprisingly, most are from the States
If we exclude the USA, here's what we're looking at. Canada and Great Britain have a strong showing this year!

Prefer squares instead of circles? No worries (again, without the US):
How about a map?

Where in the US?
Ok, let's pull the US competitors back in. Where are they coming from? Seems like a nice mix all over the country this year (although, some great states are not represented):

Within the US, California has the most runners at 79, followed by Colorado and Oregon with 18 and 14, respectively. After that, it's pretty even across the other states.

This helps show the distribution a little better:

How'd they get in?
In addition to demographics, I looked at the entry type for each runner. As you can see, most people got in with one, two, or eight tickets...

Let's check the bubble view...
How old are they?
Youngest: 18
Oldest: 73

By Category (the interesting ones)
Quinquagenarian: 65
Sexagenarian: 7
Septuagenarian: 3

So there you have it - some visuals using the entrants data for the 2017 Western States Endurance run. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Race Report: 2017 Mid-Maryland Ultra 50K

My first back-to-back race experience! Exactly one week after the Icy-8, I decided to challenge myself by running another Ultra, which happened to be the Mid-Maryland 50K. I knew it was going to be tough, but I wanted to push myself and see how my body would respond. Overall, I think I executed well, and am really happy with my time and place. Below is a quick recap.

Quick Stats:
Total Time: 3:57:57
Total Distance: 31.1 Miles
Place: 2nd Place Overall, 2nd Place AG
  • Shoes: Nike Zoom Terra Kiger
  • Shorts: North Face
  • Shirt: North Face/Salomon Elevate Jacket
  • Socks: Smartwool PhD
  • Nutrition: Tailwind

Event Overview
The Mid-Maryland Ultra 50K is put on by Bullseye Running, and consists of five 10K loops. The event hosts both relay teams and ultrarunners, which makes for a fun environment! We were well supported, and the course was well marked - in fact, I think it was the most well marked course I've ever raced! The RD/volunteers marked most of the trail with white paint (or whatever it was), and had ample signage at major turns. As a person who often goes off course, I was confident I could run solo for an entire lap without getting lost!

SWAG and Gear
Start and First Lap
Although I had raced 50 miles the week before, part of this challenge was to really go for it. 

When I got to the finish line minutes before the race started (we took our time in the AM), I spotted my buddy Dan. We had raced together a few months prior at the MD Heat Race, not far from where we toed the line. I knew he was a strong runner, and with my tired legs, I told myself not to get caught up trying to race with him at the start.

Of course, I didn't really follow my advice, and ran the first couple of miles way too fast (it didn't help that there were relay people also running). After seeing my heart rate slowly rise into an unsustainable level, I said goodbye to Dan and focused on running consistently. 

Second and Third Laps
Unlike a lot of the other 50Ks I've done, this course really enabled me to get into a groove. This was partly because there were not any major climbs, and also part because the course was so well-marked. I could focus completely on trying to maintain a steady pace, without worrying about getting lost or slowing down during big climbs. 

Although I was feeling the previous weekend's run, I still maintained about a 7:35 pace for the first three laps. I knew it was fast, but I felt I could maintain it. Plus, my awesome wife was there to hand me a fresh bottle of Tailwind at the start/finish area, so I didn't waste any time or lose my momentum after each lap. I think that proved to be critical in helping me go sub-4 hours!

Fourth Lap
I can't say I was looking forward to the last two loops, but I gained some extra motivation when I saw the third place runner just barely ahead of me once we entered lap four. I tried to keep him in sight, but I could tell he was slowing down. So, for about two miles, I ran right behind him, not wanting to pass because I didn't quite feel strong enough.

About halfway through the fourth, I decided to make my move - I passed, said 'good job', and then hammered the best I could to get out of view.
My wife managed to grab a shot of me right after I passed 2nd place!
Last Lap
I started the lap with third place right on my tail, and first place no where in sight. That was ok - I know Dan is a strong runner, and my hips were going BONKERS. They had totally tightened up on me, and my pace seemed to slow more and more with each step. I stayed focused, and reminded myself that it was worth the effort to get that second place. So, I kept pushing.

As I moved through the course, I lost any idea of how much time I had on third place, until I got to one of the few hills on the course. From there, I could see a large section of the course, and third was not in sight. I knew this meant I had at least 1-2 minutes, so I kept going.

Like most ultras, the last few miles were tough - I felt like the end just kept getting further and further away! However, with the encouragement of other runners, and a intense desire to be done with the race, I pushed on and snagged my sub-4 hour 2nd place 50K!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Race Report: 2017 Icy-8 Ultramarathon

On February 4th, I headed to Lake Anna State Park in Virginia for the Icy-8 race put on by Athletic Equation, Inc. For this race, there are two events - the 8-hour open that allows runners to choose between two loops (an 8 mile and a 4.7 mile), and the "Groundhog Day", where runners have to stick to one loop in one direction the entire day. I took part in the 8-hour open.

I decided to participate in this event because it was far enough away from my injury, and not too close to my main Spring race (Bel Monte). My goal from the start was 50 miles, and a top-five finish, which I knew wouldn't be easy! And, like most ultras, it wasn't. However, I was really pleased with my ability to overcome some serious negativity and self-doubt after the 50K mark to push toward 50 miles and a 3rd place finish! A quick recap is below.

Quick Stats:
Total Time: 7 Hours 30 Minutes(ish)
Total Distance: 50.8 Miles
Place: 3rd Place Overall, 2nd Place AG
  • Shoes: Hoka One One Challenger ATR 2 and Topo M-Runventure
  • Shorts: Saucony Men's Run Lux III Short
  • Shirt: Generic Wool Longsleeve and Salomon Elevate Jacket
  • Socks: Smartwool PhD
  • Nutrition: Tailwind, Coke, Candy, and Quesadilla

Start of the Race - First Loop
I went out with the front pack and quickly made running buddies with about 4 other guys. They had all done the event before, so I was keen to get their perspectives on the strategy and different routes and such. I knew one of the runners was going to be a contender for the win, but the course record holder, who was signed up, had not been seen. As we got to the split between long and short, three went short, and another runner (John) and I took the long loop. He had made a compelling case for doing four eight mile loops, and four 4.7 mile loops, so that became my plan.

The trail was pretty smooth, and the weather wasn't too cold. There were a couple of baby climbs, but nothing crazy. I was pretty confident if all went well that I could get to 50 miles. 

Second - Fourth Loops
I moved out of the aid station quickly, having prepared several bottles of Tailwind for me to grab easily. As I headed out on the second loop, I finally saw the course record holder, who eventually passed us about halfway through the loop. However, I didn't let him get too far...we ended up yo-yo-ing for a while, until he eventually gained some ground and I lost him. 

Elevation - Just Baby Climbs!

The next couple of loops were pretty average, but once I hit the 32 mile mark, I was running solo, and the pain started to really creep in. 

Remaining Short Loops
I took a bit more time at the aid station after my last big loop, in part because I had to change my shoes. My Hokas were starting to bother me a bit since they were just a touch too narrow. I switched to the Topos, and then took off. 

As I was running, the self-doubt and bargaining began. Since I was alone and had no idea where I was in the overall field (because people can take different loops in different directions, you have no idea what place you are in), and I was running by myself, I began to change my goals. Instead of 50, I decided just over 40 would be good. Instead of top-5, top-10 would be a successful day. This continued until my second short loop, when I realized I had more than enough time to get two loops in for 50 miles on the day. 

I sucked it up, and I pushed. I was breathing hard, and people started to look at me weird. I felt like my second to last lap needed to be fast so I could have enough money in the bank to make it to 50 miles. So I pushed, and I pushed, and I made it back to the start with over an hour to spare (the last couple loops had been about 45 minutes). I knew at that point as long as a kept a slow jog (and even some walking, which I hadn't been doing), that I could make it to 50. 

As I got to the second half of the loop, it felt like it was never going to end, but that seems to be the case with most loop courses I run. Nevertheless, I eventually got to the start, and was beyond excited to hit the 50 mile mark in under 7 hours and 30 minutes! I had set not only a 50K PR, but also a 50 mile PR as well!

Overall, the race was a good time. It was incredible that we were able to run in 45 degree weather on Feb. 8th, but that's just the way this winter has been. I think if it had been really cold, I might have had a tougher time getting the miles in - who knows? The aid was great, volunteers were friendly, RD was organized, and competitors were fun. I'd definitely go back to this event as an early season long training run!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Race Report: 2016 Flagstaff to Grand Canyong Stagecoach 100 2 Person Relay

Last month, I had an awesome opportunity to spend a long weekend in Arizona running and enjoying the outdoors with my best bud. We ran the Stagecoach 100 2-Person relay, and were the first to cross the finish line in 17+ hours. I ran the first 54, and my friend took us home for the last 46. Here's my quick recap!

Quick Stats:
Total Time: 9:24 (17:12:49 for full 100 miles)
Total Distance: 54 Miles
Place: 1st Place, 2-Person Relay Division

Arrival in Flagstaff
We grabbed the rental car from Phoenix and headed up to Flagstaff, dropped our stuff off, and knocked out an easy shakeout run in Buffalo Park. I was excited to get back there after last summer's experience at the Rob Krar Ultra Camp, and to test the lungs in the altitude. 

After the shakeout, we ran some errands and headed to a friend's house (who was also a volunteer at Rob's camp last summer) who kindly cooked us dinner and had a little gathering. The food was amazing, and the company was fun. It was a great way to start the long weekend. 

Start of the Race - 55K Mark
There's something comforting about toeing the start line of a race put on by such an ultra legend like Ian Torrence. I had confidence that the course marking would be solid, aid would be great, and volunteers would be on point...which was definitely the case!

The race started at 8:10AM, which was awesome since I was on East Cost time. I started with the plan to take the first hour easy as I got sense for the altitude (we climbed to about 8K feet in the first few miles), and then hammer the later miles, which was a net downhill. 

I was able to keep to this plan for the first 50K (around 5 hours), but then I started to slow way down. The downhill and hard dirt roads really crushed my legs. I was quite surprised by how early the fatigue set in - it was either my low training volume, or the result of hammering a little too hard early on.

The 55K mark was the next big aid station where I was greeted by my relay partner. I spent a couple extra minutes at this aid station re-adjusting my pack, taking in calories, and chatting with my buddy to take my mind off the pain. I had 20 miles left, and had to get my head in the game!

One of my favorite sections!
The Last 20 Miles
The theme of the last 20 is pain, solo running, and what seemed like endless stretches of dirt road. The long, straight trails made it one of the more difficult ultras I've run from a mental stand point. Not a ton of climbing or technicality, just...long and straight. I had to use a lot of mantras and singing to get me going!

At about mile 49, I started to experience I really sharp pain in my left hip. It wasn't quite bad enough to make me stop or walk, but I did have to massively alter my stride, which of course put pressure in other weird spots. With the pain and weird stride, plus no finish in sight, I started to get a little bummed out, and worried I was going to be a lot later than I had planned. 

I kept moving, but when I realized I had 3-4 miles left (my watch had been a little off), I decided to call my relay partner and let him know I was going to be at least an hour...I was moving so slow, and the sun was slowly starting to go down! As I was talking to him, there was a slight bend in the road, and at the end of that bend was the most beautiful sight I had seen in hours - the aid station! I hung up the phone and ran as fast as I could to the finish. I was SO. HAPPY. 

Chris, my relay partner, ready to bring us home!

Finishing the Race
It took me a long time to get the car out from where the relay exchange was located, but once we were out of the ranch, it was a close drive to where we ended up staying for the night. I checked into the hotel, grabbed some food, and watched some college football until I decided to mosey over to the finish. I was able to figure out that my relay partner would be coming in around 1am, so I went back, watched TV, and then headed back to see him finish. 

He had a great race and we were super pumped to be the first 2-man relay team to finish. We ended up walking back to the hotel (very close to the finish), having a late-night beer, and then passing out. 

The next day we were actually up fairly early, so we headed to the finish for our awards, and then over the the Grand Canyon for some sightseeing. It was a great weekend!


Training Leading Up
September was my worst month this year in terms of total time, mileage, and ascent. This had me a little worried heading into the race, but I had to remind myself that I had just run a solid 50K 4 weeks before, and was feeling very healthy and rested. I also couldn't beat myself up because it just wasn't in the cards - I needed to recover from the MD Heat Race, and work/work travel dominated my waking hours. Ultimately, I got it done, and was happy to be healthy for the first part, but definitely think I could have benefited from a little more volume. That said, there's really nothing I could have done about it (except be sleep-deprived, which I refuse), so there's not point dwelling!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Race Report: 2016 MD Heat Race 50K

Last Saturday, I headed up to Patapsco State Park for the Maryland Heat Race 50K. The race consists of two, 15.5 mile loops with almost 4,000 feet of total vert (there's also a 25K option, which is a very popular distance for this great event!). I'm really glad I got to attend again - the RD does such a good job, and the event is super fun.

Below is my quick recap of the race - feel free to comment with any feedback or questions!

Quick Stats:
Total Time: 5:00:12
Total Distance: 31 Miles
Place: 3rd Overall, 3rd AG

Before the Race
Despite it being a fun, local run that I was using for 'training', I felt the need to take it seriously. After my debacle at the JIM, I lost a lot of confidence, and have become very frustrated with how hard a time I've been having in the heat. All week I remained focused on my nutrition, sleep, and mental state. I really believed that I not only needed to do well, but that I could do well. It worked!

The First Loop
The goal was to run the first mile hard so I could get in front of the pack before most of the single track, and continue to hammer...within reason. Normally, I like to be more conservative, but with the problems I've been having in the heat this summer, I knew I had to push it while the temperature was still somewhat cool. Of course, I knew hammering the hills and descents on the first loop would have consequence, but I felt it was worth it given my expectation of how the heat would slow me down. This was my plan early in the week, and I think it worked. 

After the first quarter of a mile, there were five of us in the lead, but the front guy was quickly breaking off. I heard from one of the runners that the leader was Michael Daiguean, who I had heard of before, and knew he was pretty much a lock to win. The second place runner was my buddy Dan from DC (we drove up together), who is objectively a much faster, stronger runner than me, so I also felt that he was a lock for finishing ahead of me. After that, I didn't know much about the other two guys in our pack of five, but felt good hanging with them.

Mile 24ish - Hill was steeper than it looks!
Eventually, 1st and 2nd were gone, and it was just me and my new friend Dan (different Dan), cruising along the course. I knew we were moving fast, but as much as I wanted to slow down, I kept thinking about how hot and humid it was going to be later, and kept going. Dan and I ran together for the entire first loop, making great conversation and working together. This is honestly one of my favorite things about this sport!

The Second Loop
Dan got ahead of me about two miles before the end of the first loop, which was fine by me - I just couldn't keep up! When I got to the start/finish aid station, I saw him there, we chatted, and then he headed out. I had to make a quick bathroom pit stop, and then hammered the first mile of the second loop. 

As expected, the heat killed me. I slowed WAY down. I pushed where I could, but I was just SO HOT, and so uncomfortable. Seeing more and more 25K runners helped because I had more human interaction, and they were so encouraging. But, it was still tough. I eventually caught back up to Dan, who at that point was having some cramping issues. We ran together for a while, but he eventually had to drop back because of the cramps.

Not flat, but not too crazy. A little hard to get a rhythm, though.
I did the best I could in the heat - hiking where I needed, hammering downs, and trying to stay hydrated. By mile 27, I was really ready to be done, but I did my best to block out the negative thoughts. I eventually hit the mile 28 aid station where I saw some friends from my local running club, and that was a really great morale booster! Such great people! I chugged some water and Tailwind, and then headed out (I took a hard tumble trying to cross a small mud bridge immediately after, but fortunately did not hit any rocks or roots). 

I look better than I feel
With a 5K left, I tried to stay focused, and just kept plugging away. Eventually, the finish line was in sight, I kicked as much as I could, and finished a full 68 minutes ahead of last year's time, and in 3rd place behind two amazing runners! The best part? As soon as I finished, a little girl gave me an ice towel and ice pop - it was the best! 

Dan and me after finishing - he finished 2nd in 4:48!
 Lessons Learned - The Positive
  • I LOVE the Nike Zoom Kigers. Feels so good to find a shoe that works.
  • My mindset, even during the week, is critical for executing on race day. 
  • A strategy is key in helping me be successful, despite my weaknesses. For this race, it meant a massive positive split, but without that first fast loop, I'd have finished way later!
  • Nutrition remains crucial. I did a good job with hydration and calories, despite not wanted to consume anything. 
  • Confidence is back, and I'm ready to rock Stagecoach 100 Relay (in cooler temps!)
Lessons Learned - The Negative
  • I'm still so terrible in the heat. Amazingly bad. 
  • I really need to focus on hip, core, quad, and lower back strength. Like, really. 
  • I need to climb more. And more, and more, and more. Living in a pretty flat city can't be an excuse...that's what repeats are for. 
  • More mental training.