Thursday, September 14, 2017

5 Things NOT To Do During Your Next Race

Last weekend Ken and I did a trail half marathon (Black Squirrel Half Marathon near Ft. Collins). If you do trails, you know they take much longer and are generally much more laid back than road races. Living in Colorado, we have our fair share of trail races, especially May through October. Even though I've done dozens of races over the past eight years, I am still always humbled and still always learning.

Start line. Ugly.
 
 Here's what this race taught me:

1. Do not under eat before the race even if your nerves are messing with you. I am the type of person who gets some pre-race anxiety. Really the only way this plays out is that I am slightly queasy and have the toughest time choking down food. I had a jelly and butter sandwich with me to eat along with coffee before the race. With each bite I felt like I might puke. What I should have done is made sure I had an alternative food source with me, just to get in some carbs and calories. Even a gel  or a boiled potato (potatoes always sound palatable) would probably have gone down better. The result was that I started the race on a calorie deficit without much in the way of glycogen stores and this definitely zapped my energy.

2. Do not bring a mocha, coffee or chocolate gel. Well, do bring it if you plan to eat it all and throw it away. But don't only eat half of it because it's disgusting and you didn't try it before the race (Clif Mocha shot) and then you don't finish it and then there is no trash can and then you put the unfinished gel in your back pocket. Because what happens (duh) is that he remaining gel leaks out and you 100% look like you crapped your pants. I wish I had a picture, but when I got home and realized how bad it looked, I was mortified and just threw the shorts in the shower with me as quickly as possible.

3. Do not think you know the course if you have not run the course. I studied the elevation profile and knew where the climbs were. I even read some past race reports and knew the general outline of the course. But I did not anticipate that the last five miles were going to be extremely exposed (no shade) and that the 80 degree heat would get to me like it did. Not anticipating the lack of shade, I got behind on my hydration and that caught up to me and slowed me down considerably. In past years, the race has been at least 10 degrees cooler, so the heat was not anticipated. But, be ready for anything!




4. Do not walk when you really can run. Walking during trail runs and ultras is perfectly acceptable and expected mostly because there are places where it is nearly impossible to run due to terrain or the grade of the hill (or mountain in this case). In this race, I walked the really steep sections, as expected (and so did everyone else). But once I hit the flatter and more rolling parts, my brain gave up a bit. I was hot and tired and surrendered to the desire to walk, even though I probably didn't need to. I know this is an area that I can really work on.

This is not a picture of me walking because you never walk when you see the camera.
5. Do not keep thinking about how you paid good money to engage in this type of suffering. In other words, keep your head up and your attitude positive. With every person who passed me towards the end I would mentally beat myself up (not physically, because that would be really weird). I kept having to re-frame my thinking to remind myself that it takes guts to be out there in the first place and that I am 50 years old and still chugging along at an okay clip. Races like this just make me want to get stronger (after the fact).

After all was said and done I finished in 2:43 - 8th/18 in my age group and 71st/153 females. I was disappointed for a second as I thought I could get closer to 2:30, but then I drank a beer (Fat Tire!) and didn't care anymore.



Happy trails!

SUAR

21 comments:

  1. Real talk. And that's why I love you. The brown stained shorts just are the topper. Or the bottomer? My shorts come to the shower more often that I care to admit. Great recap!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with Wendy, real talk. Beth, you continue to inspire me! Thanks for all the tidbits and nuggets of wisdom.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bring tissues. And not for obvious reasons. Had a nose bleed so had to use my shirt and looked like a zombie when I crossed the finish line.

    As Wendy said, thanks for keeping it real.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Or don't think you can wing a trail half marathon because you just finished a road marathon. That was a tough life lesson, ha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, completely different races. I've done several trail halfs and marathons and it never gets easier. But I love them!

      Delete
  5. ha! Clif mocha is the only gel i use.... i actually crave it even when i am not running... what a freak ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just don't put an open one in your shorts and you'll be fine :)

      Delete
  6. As always, loved this blog. It's so fun to laugh out loud with another runner who has the same sense of crazy humor. I have really begun to love the trails. I have just added them to my road running and find them much more fun, albeit more dangerous. I fall at least once a run. (and am happy when there are no signs of it on my knees and hands) I also like it because I can just forget time since it is so different than roads. Congrats on your finish even if you aren't completely happy with it. To be honest, if I had seen that mountain on the graph, I would have looked for a different trail race!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love your blog. You are hilarious. "Do not keep thinking about how you paid good money to engage in this type of suffering." This is SO me, and I'm gleeful to finish any event where I don't have that thought.

    ReplyDelete
  8. All good advice. Trail races are the best. I think people struggle with the walk vs run thing. It's an art form. You have to understand when walking a steep grade won't actually slow you down, and then when to get back into running motion again. When the crowd is still thick, you just follow everyone else. Gets tougher though as the crowd spreads out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spot on. Can't wait to hear how Trail Fest goes for you!

      Delete
  9. I LOVE your honesty, and your humbleness. Trail races are definitely a different breed, and each one is completely different...so there's always something to learn (about technique, running mechanics, or just oneself). I learned a long time ago that I can actually "walk" a steep or challenging hill much faster than I can "run" it (and there's MUCH less chance of face-planting if I do so).#onward!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. In fact there were steep parts where I was power hiking and keeping up with those running beside me. Seems like wasted effort to try to keep running just for the sake of running.

      Delete
  10. That course profile makes my calves cramp just looking at it lol, you're a beast!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For me it was the QUADS. Those downhills shredded my legs for a couple of days

      Delete
  11. A very good and informative article indeed . It helps me a lot to enhance my knowledge, I really like the way the writer presented his views. I hope to see more informative and useful articles in future.
    brainpop

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ok, Beth I saw this story in my feed and had to share. Being that it's in your neck of the woods I had to wonder...
    http://denver.cbslocal.com/2017/09/19/colorado-springs-mad-pooper/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HAH! I've had SO many people send me this and ask (jokingly?) if it was me. I might need to do a blog post about it (and, no, it's not me :)

      Delete
    2. Well, I knew it wasn't you, but you cover the topic so eloquently I figured I'd pass it along.

      Delete
    3. I also thought of you immediately! haha

      Delete
  13. I love seeing you at these runs! I was the VERY pregnant lady cheering you on (and being star struck as always) in the super hot and unshaded last mile - great work! Hopefully I'll be out there again running with all of you next year around this time #goals Also, I didn't see your poop shorts, and now I'm mad. lol!

    ReplyDelete