[Note: often I write a personal race recap for my coach. It is not meant for public consumption. And yet, I somehow feel compelled to share this raw bit with you, Dear Reader.]
These are notes just for you.
Yesterday I had to work hard to stamp out the negative thoughts. Those chest muscles really hurt so that I wasn’t able to enjoy time with the family. Then I made the mistake of looking at the Mt. Tam race from November and realized that I am 5 pounds heavier than November. And I worked really hard that day. And it seemed like it was going to be alot hotter today.
Then on the good side… I’m actually the exact same weight as I was this date a year ago. You see I’m kinda obsessing over this. I hate to be so cliche’. But it is what it is.
But then it was tough to sleep because I forgot my little tiny travel pillow and also I had a more-than-usual-super-itchy patch on my arm. The pillow being the lessor of the two issues… I finally put a cold rag on my skin and fell asleep.
In the morning I felt mostly better. I managed to put Mt. Tam mostly out of my head, but I still wanted to beat my time there.
Once we started, your words helped me focus more than ever. These helped most:
[Redacted. You will have hire Coach yourself if you want his powerful words.]
A few times I had to resort to counting steps. This is particularly helpful when starting to “go negative.”
The result that most made me happy was that there was no middle section where I lost the motivation to keep charging. I was definitely worried about my ability to keep up the pace at the half-way point, but (1.) I intentionally pushed thru it; and (2.) at this very moment I was lucky to have Kelly and Ryan (lost runner Esther’s roommate) pace me for a mile or two.
I experimented with “adjusting the gas pedal” and remembered to throw in some surges, especially if I was power hiking a climb. Overall, I admit that did not work as hard as at Mt. Tam. I knew this as I was running, and yet, I could tell that I was still getting places as fast or faster.
Part of me feels a tiny bit bad for not pushing harder as instructed, but most of me feels like today was EXACTLY what it needed to be for me: a really good test race and a beautiful day on the trails. I did push plenty (marathon effort was my guide) but it was less of an effort than Tam. And I got to test out my new engine. Was it really so much better? Not sure. We’ll have to look closely at the data. It definitely felt pretty damn good.
One bottle was better than the Salomon vest with soft flasks. Although it was borderline for capacity on the 7-mile section, it worked because I remembered to drink extra at the aid stations. I took 2 salt tabs at the first aid stations, and then used potatoes or watermelon (they all ran out of potatoes) in HEAVY salt for the rest.
Mind wandered at one point where I thought, “We MUST have potatoes, watermelon and salt at every Castle Peak 100k aid station this year. And water buckets w sponges” …. then I abandoned those squirrels and went back to hill-charging.
Side note: I never looked at my total mileage until the last descent. I only focused on each “lap” between aid.
I’m so fired up for this running season now!
Nikki Reynolds says
Thank you for posting this Helen. I really enjoy reading about your adventures! You GO girl!! My best ultra times were set in my 40’s and I think that holds true for a lot of female runners. We have learned by then to relax our minds and focus, a huge part of successful performance improvement. The negative chatter makes way for happier thoughts and prayers of thanks for the wonderful experiences. I’m going to be 60 this year and fondly remember those years were some of the most fulfilling.
The you so much for leaving the note, Nikki! Precisely because I came to the sport later in life, I am fortunate to feel that I have my best performances ahead. And training the mind is as important as training the body! I know you are still going strong in many ways into 60.
Thanks for sharing, Helen. Can’t wait to hit some trails with (or well behind) you this year!
Can’t wait to just **see** our home trails again!