Ok, so Virgil Crest is still taking place as I write this, so WTF am I doing blogging? Well, in case you didn’t see the online updates or my twitter, I dropped…and dropped fairly early I might add at 25miles, or as Eric pointed out 40kms which does sound a little better.
I’m a bit disappointed, but not devastated or anything. The writing was on the wall. This was my first race in over a year and I may have rushed things just a wee bit in the race department. I had signed up for the 100mile, but my main goal going into the race was to get in 50miles in under 11 hours to be able to put my name into the Western States lottery. Virgil allows an official 50mile time if you sign up for the 100 but decide to drop after 50miles. I felt that this was a good option for me and highly doubted that I would be able to continue on for the full 100, but just wanted to keep the door open just in case.
Looking back on my training log, I should have realized that it was very stupid to try to attempt 50 yet, let alone even thinking of 100. July was still a write-off training/fitness wise, August was only a little better. And, I was only able to cram in a 4 and 5 hour run in early September, plus pacing Keith for 6hrs at Haliburton. Not ideally the type of training that I would normally do for any ultra distance race, especially considering I hadn’t raced in so long. I guess you always hope that you can get by if you run smart. Hope is a dirty 4 letter word though and you need to KNOW. I think deep down beforehand I knew it was a mistake.
The strange thing about it is that I feel that if it had been run on a little more runnable course, that I might have been ok. Virgil is tough. In fact, it’s the toughest course I have run on with 20,000ft in elevation in the 100. That was the big thing that got me. My fitness was lacking, PLUS I hadn’t done the specific training that I needed for a tough course like this. The ascents up the ski hills were brutal. I don’t think that there were many who were able to actually run many of the uphills, and then the braking of the downhills were tough too. That seemed to be the pattern of the course, you were either climbing up or braking coming down. I don’t want to sound like I’m whining, as Jeff Browning ran an awesome race on the course last year, however they added a few more miles this year which made the course that much more challenging with the addition of more elevation change and single track.
Anyhow, I wasn’t ready for this and realized this fairly early. I started the race as relaxed as possible and definitely felt like I was holding back early. The first parts I found were quite possible to run within myself. I began to struggle though when we started climbing. The ups and downs really beat up my body and due to the lack of base mileage over the summer; I had nothing to fall back on in addition to not having done a hill phase for a race like this either.
When I’m fit, I usually start feeling stronger after about 4hrs into a race. Today, I started to feel very rough at 3hrs and kept getting worse. I had a couple of good pukes, but it was more about there just being no strength in my body on that type of course. I may have been able to keep going a little while longer, but I essentially knew that my body was not ready to keep going without risking something that I was not prepared to risk on the day.
Structure wise, I’m feeling good and even feel pretty good now after a tough 25miles of the race. I honestly feel that my injury is behind me and that within a few days I can get back into hard training. That is what motivates me and gets me excited.
Yes, I should never have toed the line, however if I hadn’t then I always would have wondered if maybe, just maybe, I could have snuck in a decent race and sped up the return to competition. Unfortunately though, there is no bluffing a race in a 100 miler, especially like Virgil, without doing the work…and that is what I need to do before my next race.
While I am a little disappointed that I’m not a little further along in my fitness right now, it is good to know exactly what I need to do, and I have the green light to do it now that I am healthy.
I’ve told many of my coaching clients in the past that no matter whether you have a good race or a sub par race, the motivation should always be there following the race to train hard. I am certainly very motivated, now that I’m healthy, and can’t wait to hit the trails!
PS. Thanks everyone for all the emails, facebook, twitter and Running Mania comments.