Did you ever have one of those races where it seems just as you fix one problem a new one crops up?
That was Black Canyon for me.
This is not a bit@h and moan blog, but rather an acknowledgement of my slowly evolving ability to ‘fix” my ultra problems mid race and still finish top 10.
I wrote a typical description of the race that I’ll probably post later, but this is my trouble shooting race report.
Problem: You trained, packed, and wrote a race plan for a race that was point to point with a lot of net downhill and for hot, dry temperatures. The Wednesday before the race the weather report calls for high winds, lots of rain and cold. This in Arizona speak means flooding and the course gets switched to an out and back.
Solution: rewrite your whole race plan, unpack and repack your bag like its Noah’s Ark, two pairs of shoes, two jackets, two hats, two pairs of gloves, two pairs of socks, two Orange Mud Packs for the chance of a wardrobe malfunction, or costume change mid run. Brace yourself for cold and wet, try not to be sad that your mini vacation to see the sun is a bust.
Problem: You go out for race warm up strides and you return and can’t find your crew anywhere with you race gear.
Solution: Act like a child who has lost their parent. Ask adults around you if they saw your crew. Poke your head into the mens room looking for crew. Check the port-o-John lines out in the rain, wander the halls of the school, keep returning to agreed upon meeting place. Finally find the RD with minutes to spare and ask him to make an announcement over the PA that there is a small child lost in the mall looking for her mom…I mean crew 😉
Problem: Shoe sucking, slippery, ankle deep, mud that acts like ankle weights on the bottoms of your shoes.
Solution: Roll with it, everyone else is. Run in the stream that’s forming on the side of the trail to keep the sticking mud to a minimum. Laugh out loud several times at the irony of the situation.
Problem: Crap, you mixed your Vfuel incorrectly and its too watered down and you are peeing every hour!!
Solution: Down salt tabs like a champ in hopes that it will help you retain some fluid. Roll every potato you eat in salt like its a sugar covered doughnut. Finally slow the peeing at mile 40ish..
Problem: Its only mile 19 and your “Achilles heel'” literally your Achilles is getting stiff so you have been favoring it and now your ITB is really sore and tight.
Solution: I don’t do this often but I took Advil. I had the forethought to pack two in my pack, and was thankful for some ITB relief.
Problem: At mile 20 when you switched your pack you assumed there was some sort of food in it, the only thing in it was a chocolate bar and crew wouldn’t be back around again for another 20 miles.
Solution: Bonk first be, annoyed with yourself, get over it. Then make every bit of that chocolate bar count! Get in front of a line of guys that would help push you the next 7 miles to the aid station ahead, and than GOD that you decided at the last minute to pack a drop back with one coconut water and two bars! Also fill your pockets with oranges and bananas from the A/S while pretending you are Joey Chestnut at the Nathan Hot Dog eating contest
Problem: Ouch you fell on that really sore ITB right on a pointy rock.
Solution: See above, Advil. Laugh again that you are now covered in mud.
Problem: Now you have to go back uphill
Solution: Actually this wasn’t a problem, by mile 30 I had caught up on calories and going uphill was helping me keep warm and took a lot of pressure off my ITB. I moved up quite a few positions on the back half of the race. (Of course most of the people I passed were guys, the ladies all ran very smart races.)
Problem: Your shoes are just so heavy and saturated with mud in them.
Solution: Get out Noah’s Ark Bag and change shoes at mile 42 when you see your crew again! Feel like a million bucks!
Problem: You are going back up out of the canyon into the clouds and the temp is dropping drastically, while its been raining the last 9 hours on you and you’re getting cold to the bone but know that you have that 7 mile stretch of deep muddy hell and wind and it might get dark before you finish.
Solution: Even though you let 9th get away, you jump into the aid station to get out of the wind and start stripping off every wet piece of clothing while your husband looks at you like,” have you no decency woman?” and helps you get all new clothes on.
Problem: You just lost all those calories you forced down at that final aid station.
Solution: Suck it up buttercup, there is no time for dilly dallying… its COLD!
(The good and the bad about that was I never saw 9th again, the positive was that I didn’t end up hypothermic as I have in the past. The stream from the beginning of the race had now turned into an ice cold river up past my ankles and there was no way around it.)
Finish happy, wet and shivering- top 10 ain’t bad.
Problem post race: Ugh, more contents of your stomach coming up.
Solution: if you are crew, pull over and finish your pizza while you hope your runner doesn’t fall out into the rain. If you are the runner, wake up at 3am STARVING, microwave your salmon that the mini fridge froze, make the room smell like fish. Pass back out with happier belly and confused crew.
SO there you have it. My very first Golden Ticket race. Though this race didn’t end as I had hoped, I still feel pretty good about finishing top ten with all the thinking on my feet I had to do. Though I have been ultra running for several years I really only run 2ish races a year so each race is still a learning experience for me.
Thanks so much for the support from my sponsors Carson Footwear and Orange Mud! Thanks Coach Meghan for pushing me and for helping me be this prepared.
Thanks to Jamil Cory, Aravaipa Running and all the volunteers that stuck it out to help us commit crazy running acts in the rainy desert.
Thanks, of course, to my very good looking crew 😉