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