Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Tale Of Two Races

Very interesting race for me down in Arizona this weekend. Considering the way the second half of the race went for me I still haven't figured out how I was able to actually make it to the finish, let alone hold on to win the race with a decent time of 8:13.

There were several things I really like about this race. One of them is that the start area is a nice, quiet little spot, with plenty of space to sleep in the forest near the start line, and a small town a mile down the road, with anything you might need the evening before the race. I wish all races were as easy in this regard.

So by the time we started at 5am Saturday morning, I had had such a relaxing 16 hours in Arizona that it was really easy to feel comfortable and relaxed running in the morning darkness. To make things even more relaxing, there were no rabbits that took the pace out very fast so I was able to just cruise along with Dakota, Hal, and Nico for a bit. It felt really easy, and I was really surprised to get to mile 17 (exactly the 1/3 point of this 51 mile route) on pace to run about 7:45. The pace felt so easy to that point that I was certain that as long as things didn't come undone for me I could keep up that pace for the full race, and probably even cruise the last 10 miles or so a little faster. I was still feeling about the same through the mile 23 aid station, but then things went the other way really quickly, but also somehow kind of subtly.

The ironic thing was that just at the point that I started to not feel so great, I pulled away from Dakota (we had already pulled away from the rest of the field somewhere around mile 10) and would end up running the rest of the race on my own. From about mile 25 to the finish I ended up feeling like I was bonking almost the entire way. At some points it would get a little better, but I basically never felt even as good as average after mile 25. I had no specific problems, I just didn't have any energy. My stomach was a little off all day, so I was never able to really take in as many calories as I probably needed. And it got quite hot by the middle of the race. Neither of these things should have made me feel this bad though. I've run plenty or races when I'm only able to take in about 200 calories per hour as I did in this one (I prefer when I can get down 300). In hundred milers I think it's necessary to take in more than 200 per hour, but I've gotten through plenty of 50 milers in the past in which I only took 200 per hour and have felt fine. I've also run plenty of races when it's been as hot or hotter than it was in this one. It never feels as good to run in 80 degrees as it does in 50, but the heat alone has never made me feel this weak before.

At any rate, to make a long story short I just kept trudging along, putting one foot in front of the other. I walked almost all of the uphills in the last 20 miles. I walked some flats. I stopped numerous times. I stopped and laid down in 3 or 4 creek crossings. None of these things seemed to help. The further I ran, the weaker I felt. This was without a doubt the worst I've ever felt for 25 consecutive miles. If I feel like this on a training run I just turn around and come home. When I've felt like this in races I've either stuck with it and turned things around, or they've continued to get worse (Bandera 2011 and Miwok 2009) and I've ended up dropping out. This weekend I never really considered dropping out, but had this been a 100k or longer I'm not sure I would have made it to the finish. Perhaps the strangest thing about how I felt for the last half of the race, was that for the first half I felt about as relaxed, strong, and comfortable as I ever feel in the first 25 miles of a race.

The other odd thing was that within minutes of finishing I felt great. Today I have no soreness whatsoever. I just didn't have the energy to run fast and far yesterday. I was able to use my stored up fitness to fake it and get myself one step in front of the other to the finish, but it was one of the toughest days of running I've ever had.

In the end though, it was a super fun weekend, a great event, and somehow, even though I felt like I was going to pass out for most of the last 25 miles, it was still a really enjoyable and satisfying run. It's funny how feeling so bad can sometimes be really horrible (Bandera) and other times somehow be tolerable and even kind of enjoyable, as it was this weekend.

23 comments:

PatrickGarcia said...

Those are the days/races that it takes a true warrior to win. Good stuff Geoff!

Art said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Geoff said...

art,
nice meeting you out on the course. the few miles i ran with you was one of the only times in the second half of the race that i felt OK. certainly not good, but much better than the miles to follow.

Art said...

Geoff: Nice to meet you out on the course between 25 and 33. If that's an off-day race pace for you, I can see how you are obliterating course records on good days. After the winter, Zane's early season heat fries many a good runner and seems, at times, hotter than the thermometer would suggest. Congrats on staying the course.

Art

Ellie Greenwood said...

I now think you may be human Geoff :) Great tale of perseverance, and amazing win

jacob said...

Geoff, these are the posts that inspire me brother. On saturday I was also doing my first ultra and I went back into my mind remembering stuff you have posted before about nutrition, hydration, and over all how my body should feel. Also wrote a quote on my fore arm. I felt awesome the entire time. The last 10k of my 50k I pushed as hard as I did at the beginning and passed several people. Thanks for your inspiration man.

Dave Mackey said...

W's a W, bro!
Maybe you body is naturally settling into 100 mile race pace versus 50 mile. Or better yet perhaps coming out of frigid Nederland into the 80 degree heat shut down the stomach.

jun said...

Great report. Ironically, this is just what happened to me during my last 50 miler. I was shocked to be running so well and comfortably for the first 20 miles and then it just all kind of came apart, but didn't at the same time. Hopefully the wrinkles are out and you will have good karma for the rest of the season.

George Volp√£o said...

Great race and great post. Really motivational for me! If I could write in english as I read, I'd had a lot of things to say, but I can resume just in "all I needed to read" in these days!

Congrats from brazilian trail runner!

Jef said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jef said...

You inspire me. I want to run an ultra and I think my mantra will be "run like Roes, run like Roes, Run like Roes"

Thomas Bussiere said...

Congrats Geoff on sticking with it on a tough day. Getting acclimated to the heat will do this to me. It takes me about 4 weeks in the South before I'm adjusted, and keeping the cal down is a struggle.

Cloud said...

Geoff,

Interesting that you never mentioned the race by name (Zane Grey) but yet said so many wonderful things about the event and area. An oversight?

I think what happened at Zane Grey might be a nice warning shot you may want to pay attention to with Western now 2 months away. You said you felt good the first half, but it seems to me what happened in the last half indicates that you probably went out too fast and paid for it in the last 25 miles. I'm sure the heat was a factor, too. But I do think you race way too much. Don't you know that runners can peak only 2 times a year? You'd better be peaking at just the right time cause Kilian is gonna show up at Squaw wanting to eat your lunch...of course with that disarming smile of his. I think doing all these races is retarded when you have everybody who's anybody gunning for you at Western. Get focused on that race and quit fucking around with 2-bit races like DTRE already.

On a seperate note, I'm glad you have gotten off your soap box in commenting on every issue related to ultrarunning.

Cloud Man

or just call me a Flamer

Speedgoat Karl said...

Cloud, you are giving Geoff advice? 8:13 at ZG is fast... even on a bad day.

DRTE has alot more prize money than WS. WS has nothing but a standard buckle and a cool trophy.

Kill it at DRTE man! right up your alley.

momroes said...

Karl - I agree with you exactly - Geoff knows what he is doing - at least it appears that it is working for him.

Hoppy said...

Cloud, watch you don't fall off your soap box :)

Cloud said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cloud said...

Hoppy,

I'm not on a soap box. I just think Geoff is very misguided in how he's training and racing right now. Sure, he's winning RIGHT NOW, but what's his performance going to be like come Westerm States time, when Kilian and others are going to be there wanting to take him down. Geoff better be at his best, and how can that happen when he's racing too much and doing the 2-bit DTRE a few weeks before Western. It's almost as if he's setting himself up to lose at Western and have an excuse why.

Corle` said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Mackey said...

Cloud, It's two months before western, dude.. relax.
DRTE..Nothing like branching out and trying new stuff; we'd all run the same races every year if we didn't. What DRTE has is 30k of vert on the coast, WS can't even touch this.

momroes said...

Way to go Geoff - finished at 10:32 pm California time. 16 1/2 hours that is awesome - I guess that is well under 24 hours. we all love you and wish we were all there - at least Dad and Dean got to be there. Now, it is time for WS.

Fixated on the Trail said...

Wow! Impressive 100 Geoff. You rocked that course. Huge congrats!

Mark said...

Geoff - huge congrats!
Cloud - I wish I could meet you sometime and talk to in person - you must know what I mean.. Besides, seems you have too much time trolling here and there. Why don't you do something productive and start picking up the thrash in nearby park or do the dishes, etc. And leave more complicated things to those more experienced.