Tunnel Hill 100 Mile
Tunnel Hill 100
Tunnel Hill 100 was last November.
In preparation for "TH" I trained with more discipline than I had in quite some time. All of my weeks in October were around 100 miles, and I trained with great specificity to the course. September held a good ramp up to steady mileage. I felt pretty good the whole time training in fall and was very confident in my ability to finally run a Sub 15 hour hundred, which was my primary goal after half a year of recovery and rest essentially following a very strong two year stint prior.
Race morning at the gun I took off and was pretty confident that I would be "running a PR today". I felt better than I had in a long time and I was fresher than I had been in years. After racing in nearly 75 ultras, (50 of which are on Ultrasignup), I know the difference in good form and bad and I felt like I had shown up in great shape.
Around the 30 mile mark, I was holding onto my goal pace, but the pace grew more and more challenging. I knew that in a hundred, you can't force anything. You MUST work WITH your body, not against it. In between miles 30 and 40 I began to fall apart mentally and I knew that physically I would crash and DNF if I tried to hold onto my goal pace. I knew I had to salvage my run, run at an easier pace, focus on nutrition, and work with my body to get the most out of my day.
I cruised happily in for the most enjoyable 100 mile finish to date, but it wasn't what I wanted.
Unlike like last year, this year I had no regrets. I swung for the moon in training, and put in a ton of volume and trained with a new format focusing on specificity.
In retrospect. I needed more speedwork and time at threshold. Looking at the pyramid of performace, my top end needed refinement. Yes... Even in a 100 mile run. To run at my peak, I needed more speed and power work. Clearly, I felt great the whole run at the pace I eventually settled into after mile 40, but to run a PR I needed more. When I ran my previous PR of 15:27, I had more speed under my belt.
It was incredible running alongside a client of mine, Kristen Roe, who won the overall female 100 mile run!
The Pistol 110K
The Pistol 110K was almost two weeks ago.
After Tunnel Hill I felt pretty great and was running well again in two weeks. I started getting in some short runs in Punta Cana, enjoying the heat in the Domican Republic and typically sweated out the previous nights while getting in 5-10 milers at tempo pace. It was a great week and I actually got in some decent speed work.
In December I decided to run the Pistol 100K instead of my previous idea of shooting for a 50K Pr. I knew I didn't want to stress too much about training. I just kept my mileage moderate and only ran long one time, (which was over 25 miles. ) I ran about 20 miles on two occasions. Other than that, I did some time at threshold each week knowing I would benefit from it since I had a strong aerobic base from Tunnel Hill. Overall I wasn't planning any sort of a peak for The Pistol. I just wanted to race and bury myself in a shorter race. (Not 100 miles.) Spring races were more important and I didn't want to burn out.
The month of December I felt GREAT. Every day I looked forward to short, fast, runs and my legs recovered well each day. The shorter volume meant I could spend more time coaching my runners and studying music, being with family, etc.
Although my legs felt strong in December, the holidays wore me down. By race week, I was a complete mess emotionally and was vacant and hollow on race week. I was still looking forward to the race, but honestly, I was fried after the holidays. (I always am for this race.)
This would be my 3rd Pistol in a row.
Race day skies were sunny and warmer than usual and didn't call for rain, ice, or snow. I took the lead at the gun, and ran by myself mostly until crossing the finish line in 1st place at just over 10 hours.
I was hoping to run between 8 hours and 9 hours on the course. The week before the race the RD sent an email saying the course was 10% long, but since the course was laps I firgured I'd just focus on laps, not my Garmin.
My absolute "A" goal was 8 hours 5 minutes which would have been the course record . I felt like 8:30 was more realistic considering my lack of specific training for the race and a lack of a peak. I thought the course would have been the same as last year though...and that's where I was very wrong in my forecasting of time goals. This year the 100 milers ran a course that was MUCH shorter than in previous years, and the 100K course was 69 miles. In the race directors emails he notified everyone of this and so I didn't care. What I didn't realize in forecasting my time goals was that it was NOT the same course as previous year in distance, even though much of it is the same.The course was WAY longer than last year. After the first lap, I knew my time goals were unrealistic, and so I paced myself for 70 miles instead of 62. I enjoyed the run and pushed hard.
Being that it was at least 7-ish miles over the distance from last year I was no where near my time goal but I didn't care. I was running OK and focusing on laps. I hit 62 miles on my Garmin in 8:30. I could see my competition, and I knew I didn't need to push hard on the last lap, so I cruised in for the win.
It was once again amazing to witness a good friend and client, Maddy Blue crush the course and have the run of her life, placing 3rd overall even among the guys!
When I finished the RD and staff saw my Garmin and others came in with similar results. They decided to notify the 100 mile runners to cancel their last lap and that would take 10 miles off the distance. This was changed mid-race. I'm sure a lot of folks were happy about this. Will DID tell everyone that the course was long. What he ended up doing was officially calling the 100K a 110K, so I ended up with a PR after all.
It was nice hanging out after the race and being with friends. I'll definitely be back at the Pistol for more post holiday fun next year. for now, I'll be focusing on Lovin' The Hills 50K in February. This year will mark my 10th in a row, and my 10th anniversary of running Ultras.