Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Friday, April 2, 2010

9.25 myles - 1.05:49

HR urban trails
40s, windy, some mud
mind/body - good
easy effort

Nice easy pace today - 7:06 avg. I integrated some hills and really pushed up the them but cruised everywhere else. I had thought about doing hill repeats but for the sake of a 'recovery' week, I didn't wanna get too crazy. Tomorrow I'll go down to the CRUD run and get about 20 myles to end week with 55.

Today on the run I reflected back on my 7 years of ultra running. I remember my first race back in June 2004 at the Squaw Peak 50. I had just moved to Colorado from Utah so it was good to get back home. I knew of Karl Meltzer and naively thought his times were soft. When I started that race I expected to win and by mile 26 I was in 4th place and (at least) an hour behind Karl. By the 50K mark the wheels were starting to fall off and I was crying for my mommy. I ended up in 14th place with a time of 9.28 and had never been in so much pain. Rude awakening. Fast forward to last year at Squaw Peak where I actually did win with a time of 8.05. So what changed for me over the years? Let me just say, it's been a long learning curve.

Nutrition and hydration was the first change. Early on I waited too long to take in calories and water and by the time I decided to start my body was shut down and revolving everything. Dizzy spells, slurred speech, inability to hear, nausea, vomiting, you name it and I've been there. I thought I could show up to a race and take that gel every hour and down a bottle of water every hour. It didn't occur to me that I should test these things out in training - duh! At any rate about 3 years ago I was ready to hang em up but just before I did I committed to try this stuff in training on the long runs. That's about the time EFS liquid shot came onto the market. And to be quite honest that was the start of the difference. One 400 calorie flask every two hours was the ticket, downing it with water and electrolytes. The sad truth is that I have a college degree in nutrition and knew exactly what I needed to do all along but just didn't do it until 3 years ago.

The second change I made was hiring a coach. I was getting better at the weekly mileage and long runs but I wanted to know if I should be doing more. I hired Paul Dewitt who gave me a weekly schedule that I could do at my convenience. This is not a shameless plug for Paul either, I paid him just like any other athlete. Why it worked so well with Paul is that I knew he was more about quality and not quantity. I was getting older and I didn't think I could constantly hit those 100 mile weeks. I knew what Paul was gonna throw at me every week; 2 speed workouts and two back to back long runs, one slow and one fast/easy day, hard day. The difference for me is that Paul could almost feel what I needed and gave me just enough to put me at that red line. Call it intuition but it's certainly a sign of a good coach. I not only wanted to hit every workout but I wanted to impress.

So all of a sudden in the last two years, after figuring out nutrition/hydration, then getting a coach for structure I start to hit the times I've always known I was capable of. Now my mentality has changed from just placing in the top 10 to winning these races.

So here's the thing for all you runners who are new to ultra running; you can be fitter than fit and have the mentality to win a race, but if you don't have the right nutrition and hydration plan all that training doesn't account for everything it can. I suffered for 4 years with suboptimal performances, learn from my mistakes and put it all together now.

And last, this is in no way saying I'm now the most talented runner to toe the line, because I'm not. I'm just saying that the times I'm posting now is what I've expected of myself all along. Now I just gotta figure out that hundred mile thingy... oh and staying the course -that's important!
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