Monday, February 10, 2014

ATY 6-Day Race: Lessons Learned

As long as the last post was, I didn't want to weigh it down with the details of the race. That is, the stuff that I want to remember in case I ever decide to do something like this again. Just maybe it will be useful for someone else too...

First, the big question. Could I have done 300 miles? Yes. I am sure I could have. I made one mistake that would have made it much more difficult, and another mistake which stopped me from trying, but I believe that if I did it again with my current knowledge, I could have completed 300 in 6 days.

The first mistake that preventing me from trying for 300: Believing that the soreness I felt after day one was a sign that something was "wrong". I don't know why I got the idea that 50 miles wouldn't make me sore. Of course it will. But it always gets better. Soreness never means something is broken or getting worse. Don't be so afraid of the discomfort.

My second mistake: Don't rush. This bit me a tiny bit on day one: no 9 minute miles! But on day three, it created a huge problem that I'm still paying for. I had to walk most of the day. My muscles were too sore to run. So I walked. Which is fine. But I tried to walk fast. I was worried about getting behind in mileage or being out on the course too late so that I would get cold. Don't worry about it, slow down. It only made my hip hurt to walk that fast, and that was a problem that I had to deal with the rest of the days of the race. In fact, I'm still dealing with it. On day four, I wanted to walk a lap with Brian. But he was walking fast. I should have just not done it. Instead, I forced my way through it at the end of the day. My hip was toast after that and I had two days of running to do still. Be patient, your body can do it, but only in its own time.

The trivial things:
  1. I rocked the nutrition this time! So don't mess with it next time. If you don't feel like eating something, then don't. But pick something else that doesn't sound so disgusting at the moment. Remember that you can't come back from real hunger on a day like this. I drank primarily ginger ale the whole time. This has become my go-to ultra drink. I had no nausea trouble the whole time, even in the heat. It also is a "slow-drip" of calories, so I didn't have to work so hard to make time for chewing. The only thing that would have improved the situation is if I could have added ice to my bottle every once in a while to make it more palatable. I REALLY don't like ginger ale when I'm not running - weird.
  2. Don't ever forget sunscreen or lip balm (frequently). And remember to not put sunscreen on your forehead - it only ends up in your eyes - painfully. And you're wearing a visor on your forehead anyway.
  3. Timing chip needs to be VERY loose on the ankle. Even better, find a way to attach it to your shoe.
  4. Gaiters - I have to find ones with a wider, more comfortable elastic top. I wore them the first three days, but then realized that they were a big contributor to the ankle tendon issues. The last three days I skipped them, but then had to stop every once in a while to remove the accumulation of rocks from my shoes. Find another pair. (or make them?)
  5. Break down and shell out the dough for a pair of Hokas. The bottoms of my feet paid dearly in pain for what I wasn't willing to pay in cash. Try them out early, and just do it for an event of this length.
  6. Allergy medicine from the start. I didn't wait for any symptoms, I just started taking Claritin the day before the race. Not a hint of any asthma problems.
  7. Some beds are hard on the hips. Figure out a way to sleep on your back. As if this is doable...

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