Run Rabbit Run Race Report
A few thoughts and learning points
I just finished my 5th hundred miler. It was a brute, though to be fair, all hundreds are. This was my slowest hundred to date, but I'm very happy with the result; this one provided new challenges, and ultimately we learn more from those races that force us to dig deep and to problem solve, than from those which present no big issues. I proved to myself that I can run with the stars of the sport over this distance; I feel good about this. I've had a great year so far, but until RRR100, the fields weren't deep.
Thoughts about the race.
Steamboat Springs is beautiful. What a place! Ski hills in summer aren't renowned for their beauty, but I enjoyed the feel of 'the boat'. Cool coffee shops and great eateries. The format of the race is cool. I enjoyed the late noon start. I actually slept the night before the race - a novelty. 3 and 4am starts really are a chore.
The start this year was straight up the front of the ski hill. Over 1000m to the top of Mt Werner - a good time to keep the pace mellow. A 100 miler has never been won in the first 4 miles to my knowledge. I went off at a reasonable clip, power hiked, but didn't redline. Learning point: don't push in the first half of a hundred, and train specifically.
The drop down Fish Creek Falls trail was the only really technical running of the course. It was beautiful, and the autumn colours were stunning. Wish I'd had a camera! The 4 mile road section down to Olympian Hall was painful and dragged on. Learning point: run on roads occasionally in training.
I enjoyed the buff single track run over to Cow Creek and back round to Olympian. I ran most of this section with Timmy Olson and Josh Arthur. I passed Dave James as I dropped down to Olympian. He looked to have blown up badly. I reached Olympian feeling great and feeling like I hadn't pushed. That was the pre race goal. Learning point: getting to half way feeling in great shape is key for me.
I was warm leaving Olympian for the climb back up to Long Lake via Fish Creek Falls. This didn't last long. By the time I was at Long Lake Aid I was frozen. Thin gloves a thin long sleeve shirt and windproof didn't cut it. My hands froze and I was unable to fiddle my windproof zipper shut. Not ideal. Andrew Skurka ran by me looking great here. He ultimately finished in third place. Learning point: if it is expected to be cold, dress appropriately. Technical gear these days is lightweight. Don't skimp.
Long Lake Aid - fantastic atmosphere. I didn't partake of the Mescal or Whisky. The fire was too inviting for a brief visit. I stayed here way too long. Jenn Shelton offered to rub my legs with vaseline - I declined. Olson wasn't looking too great at this point. Learning point: it's easy to waste time in Aid stations.
After donning 3 shirts, 3 thin windproof jackets, 2 buffs and 2 pairs of gloves I was good to go. I stayed warm until Summit Lake - another warm and inviting oasis at 10,500 feet. Post it notes in my drop bag reminded me to 'Embrace the Pain' and that I was 'Primed and Ready'. The positive talk helped and I ran well from here down the long descent to Dry Lake. Learning point: mantras and positive vibes do help!
I ran the next 9 mile out and back to Spring Ponds well, but spent a bit too long sitting back up at Dry Lake Aid. Saira insisted I wear my Arc'teryx down hoodie for the climb back to Summit. I was glad I did. I didn't run much of this though it's a runnable grade. 75+ miles were taking their toll. It was -14 C at Summit Lake. Learning point: take advice from crew.
The sun rose as I traversed from Summit back to Long Lake. I did get a lift from the daylight - the first time I've ever run all night long, with 11 hours of darkness, but this section and the next back to Mt Werner felt never ending. I passed all the 50 milers heading out. They were very encouraging! Learning point: try to smile!
On reaching Mt Werner I had over 100 miles on the GPS (Suunto Ambit 3 Peak). 6 miles of painful downhill to the finish made this my longest run to date. I didn't enjoy the final descent, as I was getting some tendinitis in my left foot, which I think was due to insufficient training miles in the Propulse shoe. Learning point: running hard down ski hills after 100 miles isn't fun. Train in the shoes you plan to race in.
Post race free beer and food for runners - great idea!! Learning point: all races should offer this!
Final time - 23 hours and some. Good enough for 10th place in the Men's Hares, and second old guy (over 40s). If I account for the extra 6 miles and at least 2 hours in aid stations, I probably ran this no slower than my best hundred, but obviously it all counts! Learning point: overall finishing time doesn't mean a lot. Don't worry about times unless going for FKTs.
Nutrition - solid all day. Vespa ultra-concentrates and Vitargo at every aid station worked well. I supplemented this with some broth and ramen at various points. I only ate about 8 gels all day and a couple of bars. I used no salt tabs and drank only water whilst running. Learning point: fat adaptation works. Salt tabs aren't necessary. Don't change things up on race day - use what you've trained with, and don't underestimate the power of long training runs on minimal calories.
Shoes - Salomon Ultra SG 4 til mile 52 then Salomon Sense Propulse until the finish.
Clothing - Salomon shorts, ultra vest, and Compressport On/Off shirts; S-Lab Sense windproof x 3; Smartwool and Lululemon long sleeve shirts. Arc'teryx Nuclei FL hoodie and buffs.
Lamps - Petzl Nao and Petzl Tikka RXP.