Tahoe 3×3 Lessons Learned
|July 27, 2018||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Am I a nerd if I love 3×3 posts better than the actual event stories? The best advice for improving the next run or ride is choose the three best and worst things that happened during this one.
If you, Dear Reader, are going through my blog looking for the gold nuggets to apply to your training or your races, the 3×3 posts are the most efficient way to do that.
Not only was my pacing spot on, at the 50 mile point I felt like I could have ran the second 50 in about the same splits. I took “don’t run anything in the first 50 that you woudn’t run at mile 80” very seriously and even though it meant I was 1 min/mile slower than my pace at last year’s 50 mile, I felt so much better there wasn’t a doubt in my mind I could make it through the last 50 miles (which is a repeat of the first 50 miles).
In reality my moving average was more 1 min/mile off last years pace, but I was also spending less time in aid stations, which is why my overall average was close. I had less leg speed and less fitness going into this year’s race, thanks to six months off running due to an injury at the beginning of this season, but by being smart about my time management I was still making it happen.
Going into the rest of my season, assuming I heal quickly from *whatever this is I need to focus on some speedwork. My leg turnover has really suffered from the rehab and while I was able to get my long distance runs up to the point that 100 miles was doable, it’s time to add back in some speed.
*Not an achilles partial rupture. Maybe peroneal tendon stuff? Maybe something else? Still having really WEIRD pain patterns. Still waiting for a day of no-pain so that I can start racking up 7 pain free days in a row until I can start running again.
No chafing, No hotspots
I discovered Squirrel’s Nut Butter at the Ride and Tie Championships this year and SOLVED MY CHAFING PROBLEMS. It works better than ANYTHING I’ve EVER tried and Tahoe was the second race in a row that I finished with ZERO chafing in the undercarriage regions. Not being chafed “down there” makes everything so much easier and less painful – from how I run in the last miles, to how long it takes me to recover.
I carry the little sample container with me and reapply often as needed.
Based on my 3×3’s at previous races, I decided to preemptively tape 2 of my toes pre-race. Then, when I could feel another hot spot forming, I taped another toe. All the taping was a success – it stayed on, did it’s job, and didn’t cause problems of it’s own. I credit my success here from paying attention to past 3×3’s (“oh, the last two races I’ve complained about hot spots on my little toes when I use these shoes. I’ll prevent that!”) and having the ability to actually do something about it because I’m finally nailing my crew organization/system!
It amazes me how many of my friends volunteer to crew for me at ultras. I love it. Unlike endurance rides, you do NOT have an hour to take care of your needs in the middle of your ride. You have minutes. Having a well organized and motivated crew makes all the difference. I’m close to having my crew system dialed in and Crysta tested my latest version out that weekend and gave me some feedback. If anyone is interested, I’ll post the details and my “crew documents”, let me know.
Having my crew stuff organized with a system is why I had everything I needed at my finger tips and it was easy to do the hard things – like taping a toe 30 miles in the race.
…besides the obvious of “I got injured and didn’t finish the race”.
The shoes were absolutely fabulous…except for that one thing. You know, that one thing that caused me to NOT FINISH THE RACE.
I love my sports doc. He’s great. But. When he suggested to make sure I had “the right shoes” for future races I gave a strained smile instead of reaching over and causing bodily harm, because WHAT THE F*CK DO YOU THINK I’VE BEEN TRYING TO DO?
It’s not like I haven’t TRIED to find a replacement shoe. I’ve tried multiple shoes. I’ve spent more money than I will admit to my husband in the last couple of months trying to find something that would work. I thought I had. I thought by breaking in the shoes, altering the lacing, and taping a couple of toes that it would work. It didn’t. I KNOW what the right shoes feel like because I USED TO HAVE THEM.
Here’s the thing about the great shoe hunt. It’s like the great saddle hunt, but imagine that models get discontinued every 1-2 year. You might be able to get that model on line through discount retailers for another 1-2 years. So you find the perfect saddle, and it’s worn out every couple of months so you get a new identical one….and every two or three years YOU GET TO HUNT FOR THE RIGHT SADDLE ALL OVER AGAIN.
So unless you have a low drop, light weight, high instep, wide forefoot, option, shut the F*CK UP about the right shoes.
On the bright side, I think I can get these shoes to work with some close cell foam and a pair of scissors. Which is great because otherwise my feet felt fantastic considering the miles.
Before starting the race I told my crew to absolutely not let me leave from the 50 mile point in the dark without my jacket even if I insisted I didn’t need it.
I insisted I didn’t need it. I had a long sleeve running top waiting for me a mere 12 miles away at an aid station and it was still SO WARM that I was sweating, even in a newly dry shirt and wool arm sleeves. As back up I had a trashbag in the back of my pack.
What I hadn’t counted on was being injured and slowing way down. BUT THAT’S THE POINT OF SAFETY GEAR.
If I had had to use the trash bag I probably would have been OK. A little uncomfortable, but OK? Maybe? Maybe not? If I had had to stop completely and huddle on the side of the trail in a trash bag it would not have been the best event of my life. Next time I’ll bring the jacket. I have an idea of how to move my poles from the back pouch of my vest to the outside, and then there will be zero excuse not to stuff a jacket back there.
Poles rubbed my back
When I’m not using the poles I fold them up and stuff them in the back of my vest. The slight pressure against my back at my bra line caused a line of chafing there. I looked at how Salomon attaches the poles to its newer vests with a “4D” system and I can duplicate it with a sewn loop and a small bungee. Getting the poles out of the vest pocket and on the outside of the vest would solve the chafing and give me zero excuses for not carrying a jacket during the night.
I just had an epic failure. It’s been just under 4 YEARS since I’ve had a DNF. It’s all good to type up these posts, but am I actually learning anything? Here’s a summary of the 3×3’s from the last two years (major events).
What am I good at? What do I consistently nail?
- Self cheerleader. Yep. I haven’t even bothered to put this one down lately. When I can’t do this, I know I need to solve a bonk issue. I generally havepositive stream of consciousness going through my brain during events. Words are power and the power of self denial and visualization is very true.
- Poles. Only allowed in a handful of events. I’m not reliant on them, but if I’m allowed to have them I can make them work for me efficiently.
- GPS watch. Yep, still using it and have it dialed in so it’s useful, not distracting.
- Drop bags (or the lack of), drop bags. Yep, still nailing this. I’ve learned a lot about what to pack and what not to pack and I’m really happy with my system.
- Elevation/heat management. Yep, can typically management environmental conditions….except the cold. We will discuss that later.
- Finish line drop bag. This was originally a “bad” before it was a good. It took one really bad finish before I learned to pack dry and clean clothes for my poor body post race.
- Metabolic management – food, hydration, elytes, stomach. I’m GOOD at managing those things.
- Compression calf sleeves
- Staying on site of the race if possible.
- Pacing the race.
- 2 lights at night – or like I found out at this race, one really good light!
- 30 min food timers
- Layers and clothing – apparently sometimes I do know how to dress myself? When it’s not cold, rainy, or something unexpected happens?
- Shoes and socks. At one point this was a POSITIVE.
Let’s see how many of these I’ve fixed? Any repeat issues over and over?
- Chafing management, chafing. SOLVED, thank you Squirrel’s Nut Butter.
- IT band issues. Turns out this was related to the glute and tight hips. If I keep on top of my mobilization exercise this is now a non-issue. Funny to think that I almost didn’t finish a race because of this issue. SOLVED
- “1pm demons” or, “I didn’t know how to fix a bonk”. SOLVED. The bonk demons still come to visit, but never again have I been quite so helpless in the face of a bonk as the race two years ago where it almost cost me a finish.
- Sunscreen. I still don’t reapply as often as I should, but it’s now listed in my crew document as one of my weaknesses, and something that my crew needs to make sure I do. Some day I’ll fix this one for good?
- Poor sleep and rest after races. Not taking enough time of work post race (I usually don’t take any!) Sleep is still a problem, but I’m finally taking the day off after big races.
- Stopping to take care of little things like chafing, sunscreen, and hotspots before they become big things. I’m finally learning this! At Tahoe I reapplied nut butter often, and took the time to tape hot spots on my feet as they appeared. But, I’m still not good at thinking outside my race plan when something happens. For example, I could have taped my achilles at mile 30 when I knew there were some problems, but I didn’t think of it, because I didn’t have a plan for that in place. At one race my shoes were laced too tight and caused massive bruising on my instep. I’m just a little clueless when it comes to figuring stuff out. It’s like I lose brain cells the more miles i run.
- Headlamp woes – solved!
- GPS not lasting the whole race – solved! Bought a second one. I use cheap refurbished ones so decided it was dumb to not just buy a second one when I was trying to decide whether it was more important to have a GPS for the first half of a 100 miler or a second.
- Caffeine. I still don’t know how to effectively use caffeine during my races.
- Getting too cold. Yep.
- Using NSAIDs too soon and in every longer ultra. I don’t use them during training, but it’s still a crutch I lean on heavily during races.
- No finish line bag. Solved!
In summary, the things I need to focus on for my next 100 mile attempt are:
- Applying sunscreen
- Fixing small things with my shoes and feet during races, especially paying attention to things that are different from training and being creative to solve them.
- Figure out how and when to use caffeine
- Remember to take the day off after a big race weekend and remember to take melatonin in the nights post race. (probably about 3 days)
- Pack an emergency layer in my pack for overnight races.
This is a doable list. Maybe I don’t suck at this after all?
Food that worked well for me at Tahoe:
- applesauce packets
- coconut water
- cold brew coffee in a can (High Brew double expresso was the perfect smoothness and sweetness and was OK a bit warm).
- Hammer perpectuem
- sugar creme wafter cookies
- rice balls (aid station)
- Rice crispie treats (aid station)
- Hamburger (aid station)
- Fruit smoothies (aid station)
Gear and Clothing
- Salomon 3L running vest with 2-3 500 ml soft flasks
- Black Diamond “spot” 300 lumen headlamp
- Garmin 310XT
- Black Diamond Z poles
- Balegra enduro socks, later changed to wright’s double layer at mile 50 mile.
- Baleaf cheap running shorts from Amazon
- Target sports bra (Champion?)
- REI garage sale shirt – have worn in the past but it’s OLD and a seam in the arm pit rubbed me so it’s OUT for future races. Changed out for a tech race shirt for night portion.
- Buff arm sleeves – m/l size. I’m a medium with the s/m being a little tight and these being a little loose, but I can get ice in them and they stay up so I’m happy. Switched out for smartwool arm warmers for night portion.
- Hammer endurolyte capsules
- Orange mud freebie hat, later switched out for half buff at night.
- some brand that starts with a “Z” calf sleeve compression thingys. Getting quite old and grungy. Perhaps I should consider replacing them at some point…
- Squirrel’s nut butter
- Coppertone sport sunscreen – still the only sunscreen I don’t react to and does a good job staying on through the sweat.
- Hoka Speedgoat 2.0 switched out for Hoka Bondi’s at mile 50.