Monday, November 17, 2008

Letter to Beat

In lieu of a Javelina Jundred race report, I am going to simply cut-and-paste my response to an email from Beat Jegerlehner. My main goal for this race was to break 23 hours which I did, finishing with an official time of 22:41:32 for 16th place. Beyond that, I had two other targets on my pace chart. The first was a "fantasy goal" of 22 hours which was also to stand as my lower-bound target or the pace under which I should not be going. The middle one was to better Beat's time from last year. Plenty of good-natured taunting had passed between the two of us on this matter.


From: (email withheld to protect the guilty)
> What happened? Even the certain knowledge that
> you'll never live this one down couldn't make you
> run a little faster? It wasn't even hot! ;)
> Seriously, report!!

I knew this email would be coming. In the end, the truth is that beating your time of 22:38 simply wasn't important enough for me to push any more than I already had. I have to say that running with a pace chart and a real goal is much harder and more stressful than I expected. That said, it is also probably "good for me" in terms of improving my running and racing performance.

I haven't fully analyzed my splits yet, but this is what I basically recall. I went out as conservatively as I could in the first lap, but was still 15 minutes ahead of the lower-bound of my pace chart. My legs were feeling oddly "crampy" from the start so it was easy to slow it down on lap 2. I finished that lap right on schedule of the 22-hour pace. This was pretty much were I wanted to be at this point in the race, but I was a bit worried about my cramps and the potential for a continual slowdown throughout the day.

I suspected that drinking too much water the night before might be the source of my cramps so I upped my electrolyte intake. It helped. It was warm during the day, but not terrible. I managed to keep myself on pace during laps 3-4. Lap 5 also went OK, but I was slowing. Then, at the beginning of lap 6, I started having a lot of trouble. I ended up throwing up a bit which made me feel better, but I just didn't think I could keep my legs moving at a pace that would have me finishing under 23 hours.

I was ready to give up on my goal. About half way through the lap, I was pretty sure it was gone. I then decided to just try and find new ways to move my legs experimenting with different gaits to get me going. I somehow managed to turn a walk into a shuffle into a semblance of a run. At that point I just committed to push it as much as I could with no thought to save anything for the final 8.8 mile loop. If I could just get back to headquarters by 20:30, I might be able to salvage my goal just yet.

I passed quite a few people on the downhill and made it to the aid station right around 20:30. I allowed myself a single ibuprofen, threw down an Ensure and a few bits of food then chased it with a couple of Tums and a piece of crystallized ginger for good measure. I gathered what wits I had left and headed out. It was at this time that I explicitly gave up on the goal of beating your time. I passed a number of runners in front of whom I have no business finishing. I had visions of
blowing up and ending in a death march to the finish like them. The last thing I wanted to do was blow the main goal I had set for myself in chase of some ego-driven goal of having bragging rights over you.

I still pushed at a sustainable pace going up to Coyote Camp. One thing I learned in this race is that the only way to maintain a descent pace after dark is to force myself to run (or shuffle) more because my walking pace will always be slower than it feels at night. I made it to the final aid station and even made it out before 22 hours. I gave only the briefest thought of reclaiming that intermediate goal before heading down the Tonto Trail. Once I was moving, however, my mantra was "no thought of time, only of motion" as all my focus was on keeping my legs moving.

I passed one more runner on the way down and arrived back at the Pemberton Trail intersection at almost exactly 22:28. The thought once again crossed my mind, but I knew there was no way I had a sub-10 minute mile left in me, especially when it would include quite a fair bit of deep sand running, some of it uphill. I set a new goal for myself of just beating my time from last year by more than an hour. Certainly, something of which I can be proud.

So, you are still the superior ultrarunner (not that your finishes at both HURT and Plain left any doubt about that). But, perhaps we now both have a reason to go back to JJ next year. You up for a head-to-head duel in the sun that's actually on Halloween in 2009?



angie's pink fuzzy said...

Yay Steve!!! You had a great PR and did a great job pushing yourself out there. Way to go!

miki said...

Congrats on your sub 23!

olga said...

I love your letter, Steve! I was watching you, and you should be proud of this time! Say hi to Beat, he IS superior:)

UltraJegi said...

Great! Now I sound like the ass I really am!!


P.S. Hi Olga!

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

Awesome time! As a Fremont resident, I'm very proud of you!

Now you have a 100 that you want to do year after year with pressure and achievement ;-)


Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Well, way to at least beat one goal, so to speak...congrats on a great run.

I think I get to do this one 2 years from now.

Rick Gaston said...

Phenomenal job of gathering yourself on loop 6 and pushing it hard on the last and final loop. I had no idea you had such trouble. I did hear from our runners that some guy was throwing up on the trail but that he felt better after doing so, must have been you.

Congratulations, you looked in control out there. No wild-eyed recklessness in the early miles.

P.S. I like how Tanaka already has a tentative schedule two years out.

John Austin Reynolds said...

Sounds like you had a great race! So are you prepared for the Bandera 100k? Sounds like some of the best central texas talent will be there. Come on down and join the fun.