Race Reflections: My First Ultra

Yesterday while doing my trail run I had several thoughts of things that I would do differently for my next ultra. All and all I think I did pretty good for my first one. I knew it was going to be a learning experience and I definitely learned a lot.

What I was happy with:

  • Training Plan: I had never really followed a true training plan before and I feel like it definitely helped me. I took rest days when it told me to, I ran an hour when it told me to, and I did nine hill repeats when it told me to. It definitely got me out on the trails when I wasn’t feeling it and normally would have taken a day off.  I love organization and I’m a person of lists and this definitely was good for me. I also know that it helped me big time towards the end for the tapering. Knowing me I probably would’ve went all out trying to cram as much in in the last three weeks as possible and burnt out.
  • Garmin:  I have always been attached to my Garmin when training on the road and even in the trails.  It was a very hard transition for me when I went into the woods and had to let go of my 6 to 7 minute mile pace .  A friend of mine suggested that I don’t wear it for this race and to run solely by feel.  this scared me…I though that I would either go out too fast and not realize I was doing a strong pace, or run too slow.  It turns out that I found someone to pace with in the beginning and then went by feel the rest of the way. I am not sure that I will leave my Garmin at home for future races, but I do think for my first ultra this was the best choice.
  • Hill Repeats:  my training plan called for them. 600m repeats. Sometimes 6, 8, and at most 10.  While I didn’t particularly look forward to these, I did know that they were going to be huge in my training and I was right. Throughout the race I felt pretty strong  on hills.  I will definitely continue to do these in the future

What I will do differently :

  • Nutrition: during the race my nutrition consisted of:  Clif Shot Blocks, Gu, and Perpetruem. I stayed with this  because it was safe. It was what I had trained with and I wasn’t trying to change anything up race day. However, next time I will make sure I train with real food and try to stay away from so much sugar. I have been pretty good about having a clean diet off trail, I don’t think it should change on trail.
  • Cross Training: with the long runs taking up all of my free time I slacked on my strength training and stretching/YOGA the last couple of months.  I need to add these back next time to have an even stronger race.
  • Race Date:  While October is a great time to race, I found it very difficult with my work schedule and lack of daylight to get in my long runs.  September/October are my busiest months at the golf course, nearing 40 hours some weeks. Add 20 hours personal training/teaching classes and 10+ hours a week on the trails…I started to get burnt out.  I even had to find coverage at the course, losing a lot of $ to gt in my 4= hour runs.  Boo. Maybe next time I will plan an early September race.
  • Company:  I am not sure if this is something I have power ove, or that may even be common in Ultras, but I wish I saw SOMEBODY the last 20 miles.  It got lonely, mixed with fear, always wondering if I was  on course.  The few miles I was able to run iwth people in the beginning were so much less stressful and went by so quickly.  Maybe find a race with more people?  Or try a multiple loop course?

As I said,I cannot be dissappointed with my first Ultra.  2nd place female (2nd to the course record holder) and 12th overall is good.  However, as many runners know, it is also a race against ourself.  ONly we know if we did eberything we could leading up to the race and during.  While there are changes I hpe to make, I would say I worked pretty darn hard and it did pay off.  Now, time to plan for what’s next?

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