It has been a while it feels since the last time I thought about this day as it slowly approaches. July of 2017 was the last time I failed to finish a trail race, it’s lesson’s still fresh in my mind but the race is but a vague memory. As July approaches and the race with it, I cannot help but reflect on the things that I did or didn’t do that led to my not finishing that race and as each day brings me closer to race day, so does the memories of the race itself. Redeeming myself, vindicating myself is just one motivator for returning to the Angel Creek 50 Mile, it’s down right beautiful! The trail is incredible and the views distract you from the pain you’re in or the hours you’ve been on the run, if the weather is beautiful, the race will be magical.
The last year has provided me with a couple solid race finishes, with a finish at the 100k distance as well as finishing a 24 hour trail race completing 83 miles, also a milestone for me. Even with the ups and downs of training, the illnesses, injuries from over training or just dumb luck this year has been perfect. I learned a little bit ago that my body prefers to train race specific, train for the difficulties of that race and nothing else. If there is a lot of climbing I’ll do a lot of running with big chunks of elevation gain, if it’s technical I’ll run technical trails, technical climbing , there we go getting at it. If the trail is pretty buffed out without much elevation gain to it, I’ll just train on the road for endurance and efficiency.
Last time I ran to hard, it’s ok to run every climb if you’re comfortable with it, but don’t sprint up every climb and bomb every downhill with the thought of getting as much mileage down as soon as possible, you’ll fail, I did. stay on nutrition, popping S-Caps every hour drinking plenty of fluids and keeping those calories coming in regularly is key. Before this race last year I had two 50 mile races under my belt and little experience running for the long hours a 50 mile race demands, that has changed. I know the difference now.
Elites can run a 50 mile trail race in as little as 6 hours or even in some cases less, I am no elite, just a middle of the packer that hope to finish a 50 mile race between 10 to 13 hours and knowing the difference is the best thing I can understand. I can train all the miles in the world, run long runs until my legs give out, if I don’t pay attention to what my body is comfortable with, I will repeat the results of last year. At Black Canyon Ultras 100k this year I learned when I can push it and when to sit back and walk to conserve energy. At the very recent Alaska Endurance Trail Race 24 Hour Challenge I learned to run slow and pace myself, not just for the hard parts but for the finish line.
Running trails for hours and hours is the most incredible sense of freedom I’ve ever experienced and racing those distances is the greatest celebration of that freedom. Loving every moment good or bad is the acceptance for that life we love, sharing the experience with others is very special, when that special moment sours because you neglect your nutrition or go out way to hard you let yourself down, but you only let yourself down if you knew better, knew to run slow to conserve energy, knowing what was yet to come but still ran recklessly then it’s all on you.
This year is about running with intelligence, running within my ability and keeping aware of what my body is doing. Sure I want to place just like anybody but some times that just isn’t going to be possible so don’t destroy yourself thinking you still have a chance when finishing in the top 10 is a great way to finish. Slow down, enjoy the moment, the race, the people and think less.