Final wrap up of the race. What went right? Wrong? What can be better? What was I thinking?
After the race was over my wife asked me if I wanted to do it next year. I immediately answered "no", because I think I "maxed" it out and ran as best as I could.
While it's still a long, long way away - after a few days of thinking about it, I think I could do better if some things were different. I'm rolling out the 360 day training plan for next year.
Immediately after the race I was a little disappointed with my Ascent, but the complete opposite - scrape me off the ceiling excited about my Descent. But, in hindsight, that too I could have done better. Not by much, but still possible I think.
What went right?
* I signed an agreement to not blog about a shoe test I signed up for several months ago. So, without being specific - I got them a few weeks before and had 30 something training miles on them. The best shoes I have ever used - on any race or run. No debris inside during the race. No blisters or black toenails after. My feet did not hurt during or after the race. To not even have to think about my shoes or feet during the race really helped.
* Side note on that - my knees did not hurt at all during or after the race. Those funny looking things have been my biggest issue on just about all of my runs in the past few years. Why they didn't hurt is beyond me - but I am so grateful they didn't.
* I carried a 12 ounce water bottle that I tucked into my shorts. Still drank fluids at aid stations but between them, especially the distance between Barr Camp and A-Frame - I didn't run out. That was good and I didn't worry about thirst or dehydration at all during the race.
* I carried fingerless, Mtn Bike gloves that I put on and wore from A-Frame up and all the way back down through to the finish. The 2 spills I took on the way down had minimal damage because I used my hands to break my fall and the gloves protected me (Thanks again GZ).
* Training: Doing the Slacker Half Marathon 8 weeks before the race really helped my downhilling on race day I think. I did a good number of downhill training runs on the trail also - so my legs were used to the pounding. They still suffered - but I think the quads did alright - and post race have really not hurt as much as I thought they would.
What went wrong?
* The dozen or so times that my calves (mostly the left, but also the right) had the momentary shot of hot, stabbing pain is a mystery to me. It has never happened before. After the race in the recovery tent I mentioned it to the medical crew there and I don't remember much of what they told me. They checked my hydration levels and said I was fine. I drank mostly water, or water with GU in it during the race, not a lot of Gatorade though. I ate a decent amount of food during the race including gels, a banana at Barr Camp each time through and at the Summit. Maybe I should have eaten more? On the 360 day training plan I will experiment more with food on the run options.
* Did I taper correctly? 3 weeks out I ran 50 miles. 2 weeks out I ran 40 miles. The week before I ran only 15 miles in 3 runs. Each of those runs was mostly a fairly tough run. I didn't feel fatigued at all beginning the race (or early on), but am wondering if I didn't quite get it right for the taper. Will be hard to experiment with that one.
What could be better?
* Was the training plan right? I made it myself based on a combination of what I thought I was capable of, what I have read related to the race (Skyrunner, race website, etc) and from what I saw on other people's blogs / websites. While in general I think the majority of my training runs were purposed correctly - they didn't get me to the Summit in a time that I thought I was capable of. Maybe that is because of me and my 44 year old body. Or maybe I needed to do more. One run that I didn't do that I will likely do next year (should do several times) is a run all the way to the Summit (and then hitch a ride back down, or hike down, or run it even).
* One of the main reasons to enter next year is to win something. That would be awesome. Next year I enter the 45 to 49 year old age group and while I don't like getting older, my chances of winning an age group award notably increase (at least for a year) when I leave the 40 to 44 year old group. I was 12th this year in my age group. My finishing time when compared to the 45 - 49'rs would have put me 2nd this year. Silly me - I compared the last 10 years results and 8 out of the last 10 years I would have won an age group award. I usually do fairly well putting those thoughts out of my mind on race days - that may be a downfall in races to come.
* Race day weather could not have been better. Let's order that again.
* Race organization and volunteers could not have been better. Thanks again to all involved.
Finally, what was I thinking?
* Race photos are coming out and you will not see a link to them here. I do not take a pretty photo. I have seen one of me just below the Summit on the way down with half a banana sticking out of my mouth. Other photos I am left to wonder what was going on in my head.
* The 16 Golden Stairs were crowded on each trip through. On the way up I let the people around me yell that the runners were coming through. On the way back down, I was yelling just about the whole way for that 1/3 of a mile - way too much and way too obnoxiously. Plus I was running pretty close to out of control and almost wiped myself and other runners out. Did I really need to go so quickly through there?
* And what am I thinking for next year? If I do this again I will say now that a 5:30 finish is the goal and would be disappointed if I don't achieve that. 5:15 would be the realistic target. 5 flat would be awesome (in reality: not likely).
360 day training plan begins.......