Sunday, October 16, 2016

Bigfoot 110km - October 8th, 2016

Bigfoot 110km - October 8th, 2016
48% of the 110 km racers did not finish the race.  If I had to take a guess to why the DNS/DNF rate was so high, I think it would be fair to say that the extreme weather (torrential downpour, thick fog and 50 mph winds), the distance, and the navigation issues were the main reasons.  

At a paramedic conference today, I listened to a Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) presentation. As I sat there, I was astonished to what I was hearing.  He was listing the many things I do when faced with difficult race conditions.  I want to share these strategies with my readers.  Perhaps you could try them too. My “not so secret” to finishing tough races:

  1. Goal setting:  I set small manageable goals when I race (setting these goals as the day goes on - reactive to how I am feeling).  These specific and attainable goals create a path of success.  For example, if my big goal is to finish my 110km in 14 hours and I arrive at the 60km marker in 10 hours. What do you think my morale is going to be like at that point? I instead set smaller goals such as “run every flat”. And when things are really rough, and I feel really awful, I have even smaller goals such as “run the next 10 steps”.  This makes a huge difference for me.  The lows go by much faster and I typically move past the “I hate running” phases quicker.  It quiets the panic/thoughts of not finishing the race.
  2. Positive self talk: We are very tough on ourselves.  It’s human nature.  We, generally are very negative people.  Once this negative self-talking begins, it’s a challenge to stop them.  When running, I try to recognize it immediately, and replace the negative with positive talk.  I motivate myself: “I can do this.  I trained hard for this race”.  I instruct yourself: “Run the next few steps; Use your arms. Activate your glutes”.  I visualize myself crossing entering the next aid station, at the top of the next climb and even at the finish line.  Doing this slowly increase my confidence and thus diminishes the negative talk.  

One thing I’ve been doing for years now that I heard about a female pro triathlete (and forgive me, I can’t remember her name) but she would say to herself when training/racing: “Hello pain, I’ve been expecting you!” We all know it’s going to come so why are we discouraged when it happens.  At some point in the race, you will hurt. It’s a given.  It’s what you do after the pain starts that dictates whether or not you will finish.  Positive self talk will help you through this.
  1. Big picture:  It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of pain.  That pain is all we could think about.  The lactic acid in our legs, the blister on our heel, or the distress in our bellies.  Whatever the reason, when this happens, I take a step back mentally and start thinking about all the moments that got me to this time and place.  I remind myself that I have trained hundred of hours, the hard training sessions I pushed myself through, and the other sufferfest I’ve experienced. I think of all of the support I have.  I remind myself why I love the sport and why it’s important to me.  I give myself permission to recover.  For example, “It’s ok walk the next 10 minutes”.   As opposed to “I have an ailment.  My race is over. I feel like s*&# so i’m going to drop out.”  I use my aid stations, crew members, and pacers (if I have them) for support and stop second guessing all of the hard work I have to done to get me to the race. “Relentless forward motion” right!! ;)
  2. Breathing Exercises:  Many studies have proven that breathing exercises reduces stress.  Why not use this to our advantage.  It lowers our heart race and controls our erratic breathing.  I find my zone, count to 3 inhale, hold, and exhale.  I even feel more relaxed when writing about it.  I use this a lot when I’m all alone in the dark, in the middle of nowhere. When I’m not doing as well as I thought I would. And even when I’m getting ahead of myself and running faster than I probably should.  

There you have it!  My “not so secret” to pushing through pain.  These simple pointers may help you in your next race.  I’d love to hear about your strategies.  Please share below.  :)

Before I sign off however, I want to let you know that my race went well considering the crazy conditions I faced out there.  With loss and grief of 2 people that I hold dear to my heart last week, it helped me to be doing something I love in the mountains, even in that nasty weather.  

I ran with my best bud Craig until just past the first aid station and with my “twin” Alan for a total of 50k.  I haven’t seen them in a while so it was a nice to catch up for few hours.  Thanks guys!  
I continued solo and raced pretty much the rest of the time alone.  With no watch (cause I couldn’t find it in the chaos prior to my trip), I ran by feel.  I ran when I could, and hiked when I needed. I listened to my cues for drink and food. I chatted with volunteers. I held my hat in 50 mph winds. I prayed I didn’t lose a contacts in the sideways rain.  I crouched behind a boulder to put on warm clothes. I fell in a very cold river. I stood relentlessly when searching for the next markers in the lava boulder fields.  (Thankful for 2 runners coming up behind me to help.)  I couldn’t see more than 2 feet in front of me in sections.  I climbed down cliffs and up cliffs with a rope I hoped didn’t give.  I thought of friends and family.  I paid many respects. I listened to my audiobook.  I stayed strong.  I spoke confidently to myself.  I pushed through when it hurt.  I held back when I felt great.  And I’m happy and honored to have met Candice Burt at the finish line.  Super proud of my 3rd place finish.  That’s it in a nutshell.  There’s so much more… but the takeaway is I’m happy with my 18 hrs 54 min of racing.   ;D

Thank you to all of those who messaged and called.  I’m a so proud to represent Running Skirts, Ultimate Direction, Clif Bar and Icespikes!  Your products help me everyday to achieve my ultra running goals and I’m proud and honoured to share your amazing products with others.  Thank you for the bottom of my heart!!

Congrats to all who attempted the race.  A HUGE thank you to the organizers and volunteers who were out there with us.  Your warm smiles definitely helped me.  

As always, Thank you to Coach Mike at the Discomfort Zone for always believing in me.

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