Now that I have some space and distance from the tragic event of the weekend, I would like to go over some of the other aspects of the race. It still feels somewhat crass to discuss trivia like pace or food. I will say I don’t have any way to separate the runner’s death from my recollections or feelings about the race; it is always in my mind, but at some point it feels overwrought and dramatic for me to attach an asterisk to every blog mention of anything about the race. The following is a discussion of my race prep and execution tactics, and “good things” and “bad things” should be taken in that context.
A note before I move on to technical stuff: the responses of the race director and the trail running community have been kind and generous. Race participants have received multiple emails from the RD that have been heartfelt and genuine, with instructions on how to support the runner’s family, praise for the responders and the staff who kept the race going while he dealt with the incident, and access to a counselor for anyone who is struggling.
(since this was not a goal race, I don’t have a link to all the tagged posts like I usually do)
Relaxed approach. I didn’t make an obsessive checklist for this race. I ran 15 miles on trails the weekend before with less stuff and less preparation, so why would I need to micromanage this? I didn’t make a time chart like I normally do – partially because there’s only one aid station and I don’t know the exact distances of any of the other waypoints on the trail (i.e. river crossings), and also because I knew my fitness was sufficient to achieve my B standard (4:30) without a monumental effort.
Relentless forward progress. (I love this term, thank you Bryon Powell for introducing me to it.) My non-time-related goal was zero stops on Moose or Mystery Mountains, and I was successful (with an emergency exception). I took them slowly and didn’t care if someone passed me.
Eyes on the prize. This was a training run for me, not a goal race. I didn’t overtax myself trying to get under 4 hours, or passing someone, or making some other ego-driven rash decision. I set conservative goals. I didn’t taper. I intended to run the next day, but it was pouring and cold.
Climbing skills. Someday, I’d like to be able to run up easier hills without paying for it later in the race. I haven’t been doing much hill work lately so my thighs were basically on fire anytime I hit anything more than a little bump. I’ve got to do more work on sustained climbs.
Hill recovery. I’d like to get to a point where, even if I can’t run up hills, I can run once I’m on them. I was about half and half on this one, but some of that was mental, too.