Hills. I did a lot of hill work. All those torturous trips up Chester Bowl were worth it. I didn’t collapse and die on Mystery Mountain. My legs felt extremely strong, and I recovered really well, which was important since I have WD50K in less than 5 weeks.
Simplifying my race plan. My mantra was keep moving. I kept moving. I was tempted, for just a moment, on Moose Mountain. I wanted to stop for just a minute. I almost did, and then I muttered “Keep moving” and took another step. Before I knew it, I was at the top. Getting my picture taken.
I also planned out what time I needed to be at each aid station to reach my time goals. I typed up a little table, “laminated” it with clear tape, and tucked it into a pocket of my hydration vest. This kept me from getting frustrated when I realized my watch had gone haywire. The only problem I had was forgetting to note the actual time on my watch when the race started, so I wasn’t positive the times matched up exactly. It didn’t matter because I was ahead of my goal, but I could have ended up thinking I met my goal based on my watch time, only to find out my watch was slow and I was a little bit over. I mean, who cares, it’s a trail race and goals are only estimations, but that would have been annoying nonetheless.
Reconnaissance. I ran every section of the course. It sucked, driving up the North Shore every weekend (ok yes it was lovely, but I didn’t get to stop and enjoy the lake) and devoting an entire day to running. But it was worth it. I was prepared. I knew what the climbs felt like. I knew that I could conquer Moose Mountain and Mystery Mountain, despite my disastrous encounter with those two in May. I will not be able to do that with every race, but for my first crack at a marathon, I needed that extra confidence boost. I knew what I’d encounter, even if I didn’t know how my body would react.
Nutrition. It wasn’t terrible, but I am still sure I didn’t eat enough. I have to start planning better for remote races; I need to bring a cooler so I can eat something fresh for dinner the night before the race, instead of eating goldfish crackers and cookies. I didn’t eat much in the morning, either, just one Clif bar and a bit of Powerade. I had some minor stomach (well, really, esophageal) issues early on in the race so I felt kind of crummy. I should have eaten more at aid stations, carried something with me if I needed to. Potato chips tasted so good; I could have taken a cup to go and ditched the garbage at the next aid station. My stomach improved as the race went on, though. Chugging a Coke and a ginger ale helped prevent pressure from building in my stomach, and it also helped me get in some sugar when I ran out of Powerade. I knew they were only going to have Heed at the aid stations, but I should have tried some in training to make sure I could stomach it. I didn’t want to try out something new mid-race, so I just went with water and then pop at the aid stations. I felt hungry a few times during the race, especially at the end, so that was a bad sign.
My nutrition during training also sucked. I am going to wait until the off-season to start planning improvements to my day to day meals, but I’m ignoring a huge component of performance and overall health.
Strength Training. I’ve got to stop putting this on my “bad things” list. I don’t know what else to say about it.
Training Structure. I really winged it for this race. I didn’t follow a training plan, just had a general idea of the mileage I wanted to hit. My average miles/week was around 37 miles, and that average includes the two weeks I took off almost completely. (Taking out those two weeks, my average miles/week goes up to 40.) I appreciated the flexibility of going without a training plan, but I could have drawn up something fairly basic in advance so I’d have an idea of goal mileage and make sure to get in a couple of specific types of workouts (hills, other speedwork, etc.).