Thursday, April 24, 2008

Promise Land 50k -- learning from lessons learned

After last year's sluggish Promise Land 50k, I wrote down some lessons learned (as I always do as part of a post-race analysis). Lessons learned, however, are only good if you actually learn a lesson from them. So here is my list of lessons learned from last year, and what I plan to do about them.

Lack of training
Last year Promise Land was my first ultra of the year, and probably my first long run of over 20 miles. And I didn't really plan on running (or training for) it until about 5 weeks out. Dumb.

This year I have three ultras under my belt, including two tough ultras in the last two months with elevation profiles that rival or exceed what Promise Land has to offer. I am physically ready for this one. I ran both Promise Land training runs with ease, and I can honestly say that I've put in my time on the trails and the hills.

Poor pacing
Last year I attempted to run more of the first hill (1,400' gain in 2.6 miles) than my body was ready for. This early energy expenditure caught up to me later in the race as I was passed by quite a few runners who were more conservative early on.

This year I have trained much more on hills, and keep reminding myself that run-walking the first long hill in 35 minutes and arriving at the top with energy to spare is really more efficient than running it in 30 minutes and paying for it later. That's how I've trained, so that's how I need to race.

Stomach issues and inadequate calorie intake
Last year's mistake started with too much pizza at the pre-race dinner. I also had a late breakfast last year that included two cans of Ensure and a honey bun. Dumb. I never ever eat or drink that stuff in training, so why start now? I paid for it later when I had trouble tolerating anything that the aid stations had to offer.

This year, after reading The Paleo Diet for Athletes, I plan to take Coach Friel's advice, and take my own healthy dinner and breakfast. That just leaves more pizza for everyone else (they ran out last year). And other than real food from the aid stations, I will be drinking nuun, and eating my beloved Black Cherry Clif Shot Blocks. That's the stuff that has worked well for me so far this year.

Hopefully starting with good pre-race nutrition and not stuffing myself with food and drink that I rarely eat and drink, I will not have any stomach issues and will be able to take in enough calories to keep my energy levels high.

Poor sleeping
Last year I got silly and decided to forgo the tent and sleep beneath the stars. Wind gusts of up to 30mph resulted in a mostly sleepless night. I know I can race on little sleep, but tossing and turning got to me mentally, and I felt sleepy and sluggish getting to the start.

I also stayed in the sleeping bag too long last year, and was still in line for the porta-johns when Dr. Horton was calling us to the line.

This year I will take my Ford Escape SUV and sleep in the back. This has worked for me in the past. I'll take my tent along too in case I decide I need more room.

With these relatively minor modifications, I should have no issues getting to the starting line early, properly rested, hydrated, fed, and ready to race (er, run-walk efficiently) up the mountain.

Promise Land 50k, here I come. See ya'll Friday night.

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