This was my first race since May. I trained throughout the summer and into the fall consistently hitting about 50 mile weeks. Since mid-July I have been without HRM. August and Sept. were solid in terms of mountain running. I was able to hit some good local mountain runs and while running with other "ultra runners" compared very very well (note: I am not yet an "ultra runner"). By September, I started to implement some "speed work," but this consisted mainly of tempo. Same run I'd normally do, just a lot harder. That was pretty much it. A good base, dating back to the days of the MAF regime (before that kingdom fell to the leagues of common sense). The consistency has been the key. I run a lot.
Enter the fall/winter cycle. Two races FINALLY find their ways onto my calendar: WOH 25k, and XDuro World Championship (open this year but I did qualify at Vail Lake -- whoopdeedo).
Also enter Trevor Glavin whom I link only because he's a very successful coach/athlete and I want to anything I can to encourage growth of his business. He was going to be in Hawaii for XDuro as well and by the generosity of his soul he offered to help me out with some preparation for the race. This guy is the former Xterra Age Group World Champion. He wins. He loves to train and race and enjoy life, but he wins. That's key.
Some of my first reaction to the schedule was "is this enough mileage," "is there enough hill work" yada yada. He said yes. Do the work. So I started doing some of the work-outs, and as it turns out I couldn't actually complete some of them. Those "little" hill repeats made me feel sad and uncertain whether or not I had ever stopped smoking weed. The work-outs have been brutal and I haven't even really nailed them. At all!
So, I have a plan that dials me in for Worlds in Dec. This past weekend was, again, WOH in Boulder City, Nevada. We camped at Lake Mead and ran with the likes of Hal Koerner, Scott Jurek and Ian Torrence. Ultra trail legends. They were running the 50K. I stuck to the 25k. The course had a lot of climbing, a very technical course (I ate shit early in the race running behind the women's overall winner before I went by her and wished her luck :-)
I went out really easy and stuck to a plan GZ kinda suggested - first 1/3 warm-up, next 1/3 training, and last 1/3 teeth are sweating. Because of the climbing, such a plan doesn't really hold, but I did go out nice and easy (compared to Vail Lake!!!) and probably should've gone out harder.
In the end, super super impressed with my climbing. I never felt over-worked, never walked, just found a gear (probably too light a gear at times) and climbed. Never got passed, but instead reeled people in. If I saw them I worked on them. The last such pass happened on a 3-4 mile steady climb to mile 15. I passed a guy and although he and another who was in my rear-view most of the day tried, I put distance into them easily and comfortably. I had much left as I crossed the line in 5th place. I never saw the guys in front really which means they went out harder and hit the huge climb at mile 2 harder. I could've tangled with them!
What a killer race. The course, my preparation, my nutrition. Everything went so well. I did have a little discomfort in my hip flexor and patellar, but such is too be expected I guess from such a technical course and from a guy who needs to stretch more! But the climbing was a real revelation. I'm impressed with the work and I know the hill work I've been doing (anaerobic intervals on steep hills) are making me fast. I will look to push things much more in Hawaii.
As for my time, that's just incidental. The PE was the key (I felt so relaxed and strong - actually fast!), and the course, the trail experience. I brought my MP3 but never turned it on because the natural sounds and rhythm of the run were too pure to interrupt. But the time isn't all that bad. Sure I was 5th of about 30 runners, but my split is in the "ball park" where I want to play. More work (consistency, strength/speed/hill work) will spell success.
And the camping was great. Although some of the race administration has something to be desired, I'm probably back next year just for the trail.