Saturday, May 31, 2008

The North Face 100km Trail Race

Following the Six Foot track race in March I sat down within days and wrote my race report. It seemed to come easily to me and for once I was able to write what I considered to be a race report worth putting on the blog. Now, 2 weeks after The North Face 100 I am still struggling to find the motivation to write about my experience. I can't put my finger on what it is that seems to be blocking my train of thought about was a fantastic experience, and in many ways beyond explanation. The Blue Mountains in themselves are a mind-blowing landscape and the difficulty of the trails is really something that needs to be experienced to be believed.

Just to finish my first 100km race is something I am really pleased with, and I have recovered very well also, just a little niggle with the extensor tendons on the top of my right foot, from my shoelaces being tight I think, but otherwise I have been running again since the Thursday after, restricting myself to 30 minutes a day and a few rides, for the two weeks post race. I'll be back into it again tomorrow, training for a marathon in 8 weeks time.

My goal was sub 20 hours (the race cut off was 30 hours), for any competitors finishing in under 20 hours there was an award, but with about 300m to go I watched 20 hours tick by and finished in 20:03. To miss out by 3 minutes is disappointing. I made a big mistake in not eating enough, and drinking no where near enough. I only got through 6 liters in 20 hours!

It was often lonely out there and this style of event forces you to be quite self-sufficient. I found myself on occasion thinking how strange it was that my mind could be so completely blank for so many hours, just focusing on the rhythm of my legs, and the complete silence that is there in the mountains, barely any bird noises even.

I do not cope well with cold weather, it wasn't cold as cold goes, but for some reason my body seems to over react to cold. The range for the day was just over 8 degrees Celsius, to 2 degrees, with quite a strong wind blowing. My Gortex Windchill Calculator tells me that in 2 degrees, with a wind speed of 20km/h, the windchill is -7 degrees, and it did feel like -7! I had the best gear, in Icebreaker thermals, a Polar Fleece and a North Face jacket, but damn it was cold. And when I get cold I am miserable. I'm not sure if it was the cold, but around the 70km mark I started to feel nauseous, and had a headache. I'd had a few pieces of dark chocolate and a Red Bull drink at around 70kms and felt very sick, then I couldn't eat or drink at all in the last 30kms.

What I ate and drank:
Start to 15kms - 1x Fruit bar
15km Check Point #1 - Banana and 2x cups Endura electrolyte drink
15-36km - 1x Muesli bar and some pieces of dark chocolate + electrolyte drink
> 36km - total of 2L of Electrolyte from my Camelbak
36km Check Point #2 - Fruit bun and re-filled Camelbak bladder with Endura
36km - 53km - Another muesli bar, fruit bar and some chocolate
53km Check Point #3 - 2x Jam sandwiches and topped up Camelbak with water
53km - 66km - Small packet of plain potato chips
66km Check Point #4 - Cup-a-soup veggie soup and small tin of baked beans
66km - 86km - Can of Red Bull energy drink, muesli bar and some pieces of chocolate
86km Check Point #5 - nothing, gagged on a fruit bun, a few mouthfulls of soup, but couldn't stomach either.
86km to Finish.....nothing :(

I would be interested to see a breakdown of what other competitors ate. In particular the 5 female competitors who all went past me at the 95km mark! Although having said that I noticed that a lot of the women had done Trailwalker before, so they were more experienced than me at this distance. But I should have known better, I don't know why I wasn't having gels every hour in addition to the food I was eating! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! I carried 4 gels in my pocket the entire race!!!

So that was what didn't work.....what did work was my fantastic crew, my husband Brett and good friend and running coach Paul, and I managed to not spend too long at each CP, just doing what I had to. I think the training I had done was pretty good, of course I could have done more hill work as usual, and the only other thing I could have done to make it better was to have had some training runs over the course with the other Coolrunners who were competing, especially a night run. If I had not have trained the way I did I am sure I would have not recovered as well as I have.

My shoe/sock combo worked really well. I didn't get any blisters or hot spots! I started out in my New Balance 782 trail shoes and Injinji socks, with Sports Shield teflon powder in the socks. At the 53km mark, CP #3, I changed into my Merrel Overdrive trail shoes, and Bridgedale socks, again with teflon powder in them. I loved that the Merrel's are the Gortex model, and my feet didn't get wet in the fords we had to cross, I was lucky the water level was low enough not to go over the height of my shoes. However I did roll my ankles A LOT in the last 30kms, perhaps from fatigue, but also perhaps from the hieght of the heel of the Merrel's. I have done this wearing them a few times in training also, but never in the NB shoes. Perhaps next time I should just take my orthodics out of the NB shoes and put in a more comfortable innersole, as I am sure it is my orthodics that make my feet hurt so badly once the distance builds. I was able to jog ok on the smoother trails and few road sections coming out of CP #5, but my balance and ability to negotiate the technical and rough bits was terrible! There were a number of people using poles in the race, and I am definitely going to include poles in my kit for my next 100km race, they would certainly help stabilise me I'm sure. Plus take some of the work off the quads on the steep sections.

Now I am really looking forward to another chance at the 100km trail race distance! This time in Queensland warmth! The Glasshouse race is in September, so fingers crossed, I will be having a shot at redeeming myself. In the meantime I am looking forward to my first "real" marathon, at the Hunter Valley Running Festival Marathon in July. I've not run a marathon before that wasn't part of an Ironman Triathlon!

Photos of The North Face 100 can be found in the photo gallery on the website.


Vegan Run Amok said...

Wow, that is awesome! What a feat!!

Jen said...

Congratulations, Bethany! It was fascinating to see how you fueled yourself over this long distance, and I'm sure it'll be helpful to other long distance runners to see what worked & what didn't. The 3 minutes must be a little bit frustrating, but I hope not too much! You did a remarkable job!

William said...
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Nicole said...

thank you so much for your details! are you going in the race this year?! i'm a newbie and trying to get all the info i can especially about having enough fuel!