Sunday, September 25, 2016

Canyons 100k

May 2016

It's been a busy winter, spring, and summer, for various reasons.  I've written, but not edited, a number of entries.  I'm going to attempt to finish them, since I learn a lot from revisiting them.

Let’s run a 100k.  And let’s pick one of the hardest 100k’s around.  Why?  Because sometime last summer I wanted to sign up for something that I wasn’t sure I could finish.  I realized that I was starting to play it safe with choosing races and wanted to push myself further.  And I wanted something to motivate me to push running further, since I needed something to balance a very busy time in other parts of life.  And yeah, this turned out to be hard.  And fun.  And with perfect weather (light rain and 50s/60s).  I went in just planning to finish and enjoy the course, since I was pushing myself a lot further than anything I’ve run before.

First turnaround.  Aka Swinging Bridge.

Calm before the Climb.

About to climb up to Devil's thumb

The weather theme for the first half of the race.

Somewhere on the way back to Foresthill (the first time)

About training:  I followed this approach: hard stuff, weight training, cross training, and consistent milage early.  Endurance and mobility work at the end.  Mobility issues are often the biggest single annoyance I run into in ultras, as opposed to fatigue.  The 300 ft in 0.4 mile climb across the street from my house was quite useful.  As was the incline trainer, since I had limited hours.  A lot of speed hiking, including steep climbs (i.e. the Yosemite Mist Trail) with the kid on my back. Lots of hill and endurance repeats from Jan-March.  There was a couple month span of ~50 mile weeks, then slightly lower milage to focus on easy endurance, getting up to an 80 mile week (including hiking).

American River.

More American River.

What went well
* clean shirt in drop bag = best idea ever.  Most people recommend shoes.  I vote for a clean shirt.
* I power hiked hard hills really consistently for the entire race.  I’d add more 30%+ time or stair time if i were to go back.
* Increasing more solid food, particularly after 12 hours, worked well.

What could be improved
* I mostly hiked the narrow canyon-side single track trail after dark.  While I’ve run plenty of trails at night, this was outside my comfort zone.  A brighter light might help.
* The left hip was the mobility bottleneck.  I worked out a long standing deep knot a week before the race, which quickly caused all kinds of wonky side effects.  It’s in a lot better place than it has been for a couple years, but there’s more work to do.  This was also the first time I put deliberate mobility focus in before a race, and I ended up finding a lot of deep and subtle tight spots.  It's the kind of thing you wouldn’t even know about if you didn’t run very long distances.  The end result was that I had to take it easy on downhills again.   
* Muscle fatigue really kicked in around 45 miles.  Mostly hamstrings, hips, and quads.  That’s consistent with how Mokelumne went.

Other things to remember:
* If there’s ever drop bag access point after mile 50-something, put a tennis ball in it.  there was some muscle tightness in my foot that got really annoying.