Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2013 Kettle 100 Adventure, Lessons Learned (1 of 3)

This is the first of three posts on this subject, with the next two to focus on the race report and my nutrition.

The thing I like about writing this blog is that it allows me to relive and share some very good races and wonderful experiences, while conversely providing me the vehicle for putting some unsuccessful experiences behind me.  Get it out on paper (or pixels in this case), and then shift focus on what’s next.

I DNF’ed at mile 63 of the Kettle 100 mile race, my first attempt at this distance.  Surprisingly, I am not as devastated by this result as I might have expected.  I learned a ton just getting to that point in the race, all of which I plan on applying to my next attempt at this distance; probably in the same race next year.  So without a further waste of pixels, here’s what I learned.

1.    Running 100 miles is friggin’ INSANE!  I had no clue.  Everything I experienced in this race, I've read about previously; there were no real surprises.  But to experience it is to know it I guess.  The mental aspect of racing this distance is one for which I was not prepared.  My body did not fail, but my mind was left reeling.  This aspect is one for which I must be better prepared.  I have a whole new level of respect for those who can finish at this distance.  Mary, you rock!

2.    Steve Quick warned me!  Beware the chair at mile 63.  I had the great idea that changing my socks at this point in the race might be a great pick-me-up.  But I need to sit for that to happen.  Big mistake.  I was too close to the car, to a George Webb’s burger (which WAS delicious), to warmth and comfort and family, and anything other than running.  Why did I sit down?  Once I made that decision, it might as well have been the Kettle 1000.

3.    I need to have a plan.  Prepare for the lure of the chair!  If I am dead set on quitting, then quit at the next aid station.  Maybe caffeine might give me the boost I need.  Or music.  Or maybe a cattle prod.

4.    Running 100 miles on hill and trail was hard on my whole body.  Afterwards I felt like I had been rolled in an alley by some thugs; big ones with bats.  And tattoos.  In the months of training leading up to the race, I focused almost entirely on leg strength and endurance.  That part of my training worked.  I still was able to run the uphills and downhills relatively comfortably late in the race.  My back and shoulders were very fatigued.  I can get away without push-ups and planks for races less than 50 miles it seems; but not at this distance.

5.    Screw the goal time, just finish my first 100 miler.  I had set a goal time of 20 hours.  I know I can run that time, and I will some day.  But this was my first attempt at this crazy distance.  Setting a goal this aggressive applied too much mental pressure.  Next time, just finish the darned thing.

6.    With that said, I still need to plan a pace.  I set out at a 10.5 min pace for the first 40 or so miles, and I don’t think that hindered me at all; I don’t think I started out too fast.  I was comfortable at that pace, allowing me to slow it up when the heat became more of a factor.  I have a feeling that once the coolness of the evening set in, I could have returned to at least an 11 min pace.

7.    At locations late in the race in which DNF'ing is uniquely convenient (i.e. the 63 mile turnaround at the Kettle 100), plan on a u-turn.  Do not linger and allow naughty thoughts to develop.

In conclusion, for those who are considering this insanity, I hope this helps.  For those who are already nuts and have completed this distance, I would love to hear your input and guidance.  The bottom line is: I could have continued.  I did not.  I wish I would have.

The actor Peter Ustinov once said, “The point of … being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come.”  Well, I'm understating the obvious when I say that trying this again will be foolish.  Here’s to what’s yet to come!


runner61 said...

you took the first step when they said go - a lot of runners will never do that, you gave it a go!

SteveQ said...

Everyone seems to have to relearn the things people warn them about for themselves. You've done that - now you won't make the same mistakes again. It really is all confidence and determination that gets you through.

martykc said...

Nice job David. I missed you, somewhere in the chaos. My friend Shane was running the hundo,and he had the same concerns as you with the "chair" (He bolted out of the turn around before he could even think about it). Your lessons are good ones. Nice job getting the 100K done, I'm sure you will be back. Come down and give me a shout anytime, we can train again. We do lots of night runs too!

stillwaterrunner said...

Thanks for the responses and supporting comments folks.

To Runner61 - interesting moniker. Yeah I gave it a go, and I will again. In the end this all is really kind of pointless, which is why it is kind of pointless to get too upset with a DNF. I am happy with my 63 miles, but I'll be happier with the 100.

stillwaterrunner said...

To Steve - No, I will not make the same mistake again. I thought I had confidence and determination. Not enough it seems on that day. I'll need to mentally prepare for the next one.

stillwaterrunner said...

To Marty - Thanks, I was looking for you. I am going to do a u-turn at 100k next year. I'll be running the IAT with my sis and some of your LPTR friends (I think) on 6/8 at the Pinewoods campground. You coming?