Hard Lessons Learned on the Great Range
1) Run your own race!
2) One week between ultras might not be enough to fully recover.
3) At some point, one must start training again.
4) Running at 2hr race effort is good in a 2hr race, but not in a 6hr race. In other words, run your own race, dumb-ass!
Let's break it down, lesson by lesson.
Run your own race: You'd think I would know this by now. At Vermont 50 last fall, and Manitou's Revenge and Wakely Dam this year, I let the leaders go and concentrated on what my body was telling me. It worked. So why would I print out Ryan and Eric's splits and try to match them, especially up the first peaks of the day? It's the same as chasing the lead pack when you know they can't hold that pace all day.
Recovery time is necessary between ultra distance races: Wakely Dam was nearly a 5hr race, and I came in second, under the old course record time. Maybe I shouldn't have expected to run another course record one week later. Good lesson, but I'm not bummed about this at all--no harm in trying and now I know.
You still have to train: I haven't really trained since the beginning of June. Since then it's been taper, race, recover, repeat. That's seven weeks without really training. There's certainly something to be said for trying to maintain a peak for as long as you can, but I think it's clear my peak is over. Time to get back to some real training. Luckily I have nine weeks until my next goal race, Vermont 50 (although I'll try to squeeze in a Presi Traverse FKT attempt in late August if the weather cooperates).
Run your own race, dumb-ass: I re-read Eric Batty's FKT report last night and he mentioned a steady pace that never really let up. I'm sure it felt that way to Eric and Ryan because they were smart and never allowed themselves to really bonk, but in truth they set an absolutely blistering pace up the first two climbs and then backed off significantly. I pushed more than I should have up Rooster Comb and still topped out more than 1min30sec back. I pushed even more up Lower Wolf Jaw and was over 4min back at the summit, and that's only 1hr30min into the day. I really hammered to UWJ, getting a couple minutes back, and then bonked, but after that I never really lost any time. I was staggering up the climbs, feeling dizzy and nauseous, but I remained 2-5 minutes behind all the way to Haystack. I would have bailed on several occasions, but then I'd see my split and realize I was, on paper, still in contention. It was only after doing four peaks in pretty close to total bonk mode that I made the right decision, lying down for a while after coming off Haystack and then hiking out.
I was psyched out by the fast pace Eric and Ryan set from the trailhead, and I didn't run a smart "race." I should have spotted them the 10 minutes or whatever right off the bat, knowing that I would come back later in the day if I had anything in the tank. Basically, I ran at two hour race pace for two hours and then hoped by some miracle that I could keep going fast for another four hours. It doesn't work that way!
I'll get 'em next time. Probably five years from now.