Monday, February 22, 2016

Fourmidable 35k (February 20, 2016)

Fourmidable 35k
February 20, 2016

Did the Fourmidable 35k race as another build-up/training race.  I wasn't sure how the week was going to go as the week leading up to it had it's own challenges.  I had a pretty busy week at work.  My baby and husband have been sick so that's been tough.  Luckily, baby started sleeping through the night again the days before the race so I've been able to sleep okay.  Though, I've been feeling like I'm starting to come down with the cold.  I felt pretty congested the morning of the race.  And, on top of that, my period started the day before the race (sorry if that's TMI).  Though, having such a busy week, it was easy to keep a relatively light week of training leading up to the race and allowing my legs to recover from a hard run the weekend prior.

But despite having a challenging week leading up to the race, the race went very well for me.  The race was a tough course with a lot of uphills and downhills.  I felt strong on the uphills, especially climbing up K2 (aka Training Hill).  My downhills were okay.  Not very fast but not super slow either.  The weather was perfect!  And, I had fun seeing so many friends at the race either racing or volunteering.

During the race, around mile 7 or so, I met Sarah, who recognized me from the MRTT (Mothers Run This Town) group.  We started chatting and ran the rest of the race together.  Nice having a friend to run with as it makes the miles go by seemingly faster.  Towards the end, when we were getting tired of all the hills, it was nice co-miserating with another.

Overall, race execution went well.  I wasn't sure if I'd be able to maintain a steady pace given the climbs but I did keep it very even throughout.  My last couple miles were a bit slower mainly because there were some tough climbs to the finish line (where I cursed a lot at Paulo, the RD).  I definitely feel like all my training the past couple months are paying off.

I finished in 4:32:44.  3rd in my age group and 8th female overall.  I haven't seen an AG win in years so that was a nice surprise.  The past few years, I've been at the back of the pack.  It's nice to feel like I'm back in the middle of the pack (and towards the front in smaller events).

My friends Roger and Veronica said to me how "Helen's back!"  I definitely feel like I'm almost back to my pre-baby racing self.

Three Favorite Moments:
1.  The K2 Climb.  Most people hate this climb but I know this hill so well now that I've come to love it and during the race, I climbed it well.  I know where to push it and where to ease up.  On the Monday before the race, I hiked up K2 carrying my baby in a baby carrier on my back.  During the race, with 16 lbs less weight, it felt less challenging.  Maybe I should train on hills with the baby more. ;-)  During the race, I felt my strongest climbing up this hill.  I passed a number of racers on the climb.  And, it was my second fastest time up it (fastest is in 2013).

days before the race hiking with the baby up K2
2.  Befriending, running and chatting with Sarah.  One thing I love about running is that you can just make friends in the middle of a run at any time.  And, during this race, I made a great new friend.  Around mile 7, I met Sarah.  She recognized me and introduced herself.  Then, we started chatting while we ran and we ran the rest of the race together.  We had many conversations about our own running, our children, our birth experiences, breastfeeding, training, food, music, beer, etc. . . The miles passed by quickly having her company.  I think we both pushed each other a little bit and may have been a little slower if were just running alone.

Sarah and I after we finished, seconds apart. :) 
3.  Seeing SO many friends out at this race both running the race and volunteering.  I enjoyed seeing my friends from my different running groups.  Every aid station had some familiar faces there.  I felt like I had a fun day hanging with many friends with a little bit of running.

with fellow FTRs before the race
with fellow Circle Cats after the race

Three Things That Went Well:
Think these are the same as my last race.
1.  Kept a steady, consistent pace/effort throughout the race.  Every hour, I looked down at my watch and I consistently hit every hour at about a 5mph pace (12 min/mile).

2.  My uphills.  K2 was my best climb of the race but I felt strong on all the uphills.  I moved up with purpose.  If I wasn't running, I was power hiking well.  I am a little slow going downhill but I felt like I could catch back up to people on the uphill.

3.  Efficient through the aid stations.  Forgot to time myself through the aid stations but I know I didn't waste any time in the aid stations.  I got in and out.

Three Things I Could Do Better: 
1.  Downhill running.  I need to practice more.  I don't think I was as slow downhill as I sometimes am but I know I could be faster.  I watch others pass me on the way down but I generally was able to catch back up once we hit the climbs.  My feet also got a little cramp-ish on the downhills near the end of the race making me dislike the downhills even more.

2.  Post-Run Hydration/Fueling.  I did better with hydration and fueling during the race.  But afterwards, I didn't drink enough water/fluids and eat enough after and it hit me later in the afternoon.

3.  Need to organize the stuff in my pack better and be better about carrying things I need and not carrying things I don't need.  I have a random assortment of crap in my pack and when I needed to get something, I had to fish around for it.  I have bars in there that I never eat that are just taking up space. I should toss them.

Three Things I Learned: 
1.  Carry and consume fuel I know works for me.  I fortunately put enough of the GUs I prefer as there were these other gels at the aid stations that I don't like.  I also carried one bottle of Tailwind.  I think sticking to the fuel I know has been working for me has been helpful in me not getting any GI problems in my races.  I used to just eat and drink whatever was at the aid stations that suited my fancy.  But, I used to have major stomach issues in races at times.  Lately, I haven't had any stomach issues (hopefully it stays that way) as I don't just eat and drink whatever anymore.  I stick with what I know works.

2.  It helps to do course-specific training.  I've run all over the course many times but I knew this race was a hilly course so I made sure I did a few K2 hikes in training, including hiking up with my baby on the Monday before the race.  And, a couple weekends ago, knowing the finish to this race had a tough climb, I took the dog and ran from finish location down a couple miles out and hiked back up the steep hill the race finished with.  Even though during the race, I was cursing the RD for throwing such a tough climb at the end, it did help me mentally at the end of the race to be familiar with the climb.  I not only knew going into the last few miles that I was going to be hit with a brutal climb, but I also knew exactly how long I had left to go.  This race has me thinking how I want to do a lot more training in the canyons to prepare myself for Canyons 100k.  This has also got me re-thinking about running Lake Sonoma 50.  While I'd like to run that race, Canyons is my A race and I'm thinking my preparation for Canyons may be better if I run out here (on the course) than at Lake Sonoma.  Still thinking on this though.

3.  Embrace the foam roller.  It's a necessary evil.  Rolling regularly is not something I'm good at doing, even though I know it'll be good for me.  Last week, my legs were feeling a bit fatigued after running the WS training run.  So, I made an effort to roll more this week.  And, it helped a lot.  My calves have been a little tender lately but rolling has helped.  And, during the race, my legs felt pretty good and strong during the race.  I'm going to try to be better about rolling more regularly.

Three Things About Fourmidable and Singletrack Running:
1.  Tough, challenging course but I like Paulo likes putting you on new trails.  And, he marked the course very well!

2.  Great support and swag!  Aid stations were well stocked with excellent volunteers.  There was great energy at all of them.  The finish party was a blast.  I always love the post-run tamales Singeltrack Running has at their events.  Yum!  And, I love the trucker hats instead of the shirts (which I have more than enough of already).

3.  Only complaint I have for the race is get better safety pins!  ;-P

finishing strong (photo credit: Matt Brayton)

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