Monday, December 5, 2011

Pretty Tough End To A Pretty Tough Season

Going into the NF 50 this past weekend I felt quite confident that I was in good shape and would have a great shot at competing near the front of the pack for the entire day. I had no idea if I would actually be able to win this thing, but I felt pretty certain that I would be able to give it a great shot, and be a factor late into the race. And nothing in the first 20 miles made me feel any less confident. I felt very comfortable all the way through Pan Toll. I was climbing really effortlessly and felt very relaxed. My stomach didn't feel great, but I was able to get just enough calories and water in to keep moving with the lead pack without too much concern. The pace was pretty fast, but to me didn't feel much different than the pace at the front each of the previous 3 years in this race. In fact I think the pace at the very front in the first half of the race was a little slower this year than last year.

Despite feeling so comfortable early on though, it didn't last for me. By the half way point of the race I was feeling very low on energy and falling off the pace a bit. I tried to slow enough to be able to get in more calories (25 miles into the race I had only eaten 400 calories) and water without falling too far out of touch with the leaders. I wasn't though ever able to pull it back together enough to get back in contention for the win. I was able to hold things together enough to keep moving at a decent pace and finish pretty strong in 5th place. My time was about the same as it's been each of the past two years, but this is misleading as the course was at least 20 (and perhaps more like 30) minutes faster than last year (due to some course changes which made the course a couple miles shorter, with a bit less vertical gain, and less technical than last year).

In the end it was a fun day of running, and I made the best of not having as much pep in the second half of the race as I had hoped, but it was certainly disappointing to not have the opportunity to battle with the leaders to the very end. It would have been really fun to battle more with Mike, Dakota, Adam, and Tim who all finished well ahead of me. To me there's nothing more enjoyable then being right in the mix of a serious battle for the win in a big race like this... especially if the battle is with folks who I like and respect as much as all 4 of these guys who finished ahead of me.

I can't help but think about the parallel between this race and my entire running season of 2011. They both started out very smooth and comfortable, with me in a very confident place with my running. But suddenly near the midway point things took a pretty distinct downward spin in which I inexplicably just didn't feel very much strength in my body. In both cases I was able to stay positive, and keep having lots of fun, and keep moving forward, but never quite turn things all the way back around to the place I ultimately want to be physically. Despite this though, I certainly relish the challenge of moving forward from here into 2012. For almost 3 years, racing ultras very effectively was something I almost took for granted. I had so much confidence that I felt like I should pretty much win any race I entered (and I almost always did). The second half of this season has flipped that completely around though. Having really effective races every time out almost feels impossible now, but is certainly a place I'm excited to work to try to get back to in 2012 and beyond.


21 comments:

matteo said...

get back stronger then ever!

eric said...

it was a fun race to follow and i'm glad you stayed positive and had fun. pretty amazing season, if you ask me!!

looking forward to following your 2012, especially now that i see the hardrock lottery results....

Brandon Fuller said...

You were unstoppable for quite a while. Things ebb and flow in sports. Enjoy the winter then get ready for HR100!

Footfeathers said...

You've got a great 2012 on tap with the running camps, Susitna, and Hardrock. Still some damn impressive results this year too.

Wyatt Hornsby said...

Geoff: I agree with Brandon--in this sport, there are ebbs and flows. I do believe there's a cumulative effect over the years, especially to the endocrine system. I don't think it's a permanent effect, but I do believe it's an effect that requires some serious rest (which I've never really allowed for myself). Maybe it's time for a few months of easy living. I think we all forget or overlook just how demanding this sport is. Unlike just about any other sport, ultrarunning takes 100% of you plus some.

By the way, I saw that you got into Hardrock. That's awesome. Congrats!

Wyatt

joeyluther said...

Awesome talking to you on the bus back to Boulder. Best of luck in upcoming races.

dvroes said...

Geoff,

I think being sick these last couple weeks took its toll. Your training was more focused than it has been in a while. Great job hanging in there and congratulations on HR. I won't miss being at that one.

johnmichael said...

Gotta agree with the above fellas on the ebb and flow (of any sport, but particularly this one!). Do you think this year will make you reconsider adding speed training into the mix? I have tended to agree with you on that point, but am just wondering where your thoughts are on it.

Its been inspiring following your running, racing and writing - thanks for sharing and keep it up!

Marcelo Lafuente said...

Great attitude in staying positive and enduring to the end. You are a grand champ and have many successes waiting for you in the near future. This is why I want to spend a week with you in Alaska and learn what I can. It was awesome to meet you and see you run in person this weekend. Good luck with your winter program!

Santiago said...

Every year is so full of possibilities. Looking forward to following your adventures in 2012!
Santiago, Ashland, OR

Stay Vertical said...

Great year Geoff. I would love to see what happens if you were to skip all the lesser races until mid-July. I would bet on a Skaggs, Carpenter, Roes sort of historic course record. No more mild peak, race, recover cycle...just gain for 8 solid months and race Wilder and Tougher than anyone ever has.
P.S. I hope this doesn't sound too Cloud-like!

david said...

congratulations for your season Geoff!!!

now a bit of easyliving will make you good to get back stronger next year!!

cheers from spain!

cb said...

Good job staying positive, that is so incredibly difficult when things don't go the way you are used to having them go. And thanks for staying open and sharing your thoughts with us along the way. Good stuff. Best of luck with your recovery and onward to 2012!

Matt said...

races come and go, as everything else in life. as long as you enjoy being in the moment, the rest is less important, i think.
for me, Geoff, you are still the number one of ultrarunning, not based on number of wins or course records broken but based on how you represent the sport itself.
you are the true ambassador of ultrarunning, keep up the good work, don't stop writing your blog (please!) and...heh.. i don't think there will be much recovery as you need to get ready for ITI, right? :)

all the best for 2012

m

Shelley said...

Geoff, You will reinvent yourself. I watched a video of you commenting on how when you first moved to Alaska you thought the running would stink because the climbs were so steep, and you came to realize running was awesome because the climbs are so steep. Thats life. If its too easy it wont make you strong, and it wont force you to maximize your gifts. Keep on, James

James Brennan said...

sorry bud posted that comment on my wife's account...also life lesson...marry somebody smarter than you that works hard and has a laptop, James

The Running Gator said...

Geoff, of all the elite ultra runners you have the clearest perspective. Not to say anything negative about others, I just envy how well you have been able to rise up. New season = new impressive times and stories I get to hear about from you. Keep it up, mainly because I need your inspiration. Thanks!

JR said...

Well said Geoff, time to break out the ski's and enjoy some cross training.

pasi.koskinen said...

Geoff; You know very well that after ultra`s our body needs some rest... but do You remember our mind needs it too!
Stay on Your style and be our hero also 2012.
It is not all target oriented and that is the best thing in Your philosophy of ultrarunning.

Jason Schlarb said...

Good stuff Geoff. Couldn't help but remember you commenting on how tough this race is on the legs while we were on the bus, as I was under prepared for the hills and I was ridiculously sore just walking for four days after. I hope your legs did better on the recovery. Heading to Nick's run up north?

Sarah Lavender Smith said...

Geoff, it was great to meet you at the finish and I'm really excited about the summer camp. I very much admire your attitude and perspective. I was pretty surprised to read the detail on only 400 calories 25 miles into the race. What do you normally aim for in terms of calories/hour and in what form?
Thanks for writing this report, and for all you do to positively represent this sport.