Nutrition,  Runs

North Face 100 May 19 2012

As I have heard many times and experienced myself in running, anything can happen on race day just like it does in your training. Some days you feel like you are going to have a really horrible run, you feel like sh*t, you start the run and what just happened… magic you feel good and you are running great. Other days you feel good and you start your run and you are not running to your expectations and to how good you were feeling. All you can do is prepare as much as possible physically and mentally. Be ready for anything you are given and do the best you can on the day.

Saturday was the day of North Face 100. A 100km trail run in the beautiful Blue Mountains, Katoomba. An event I had been training and working towards for quite some time.

I started the race with the front pack but as soon as we got more into the trails the previous years winners overtook me, Beth Cardelli and Julie Quinn (both extremely amazing runners, enormous talent). Another gal, Shona Stephenson already in front of them. I was not really expecting to be ahead of them at the start either way but wanted to see how I went with attempting to go harder at the start.

There were many things I learned in this race and I will highlight a few. I will also include some other experiences. For me I am still very early into trail running and I have many things to learn:

Although I thought I had enough experience in Brooks shoes from wearing these some years ago I didn’t. I had recently changed back to Brooks from Salomons as I felt they fit my foot better. A lesson for me is that I needed to train in these much longer than I did. I am fairly certain that this is what influenced my right achilles to hurt. I really started to feel and notice it at about 50km. It was not until near checkpoint 4 (69km) that I thought I may DNF (I know horrible word). At 54km I changed shoes, into my trusty and good Salomon ones. I think they have a more cushioned heel. This definitely helped my right achilles get through the run. I also changed my running style in a way to help lessen the impact on the achilles. LESSON: Be smarter, train more with the shoes you are going to wear for this distance.

At about 20km I bonked my head on a tree branch. I know what you are thinking did it work, did it knock any sense into me. Nope. Just a good scratch and bump and made me and others laugh. It didn’t hurt, just made me appreciate that the hat I was wearing was not smart. It was too loose. Still me being silly wore it throughout the whole run, perhaps I thought this would make me think I was running less than 100km. If I could see only half of where I was running that’s a good thing right. 🙂 LESSON: Wear a better fitted hat but good on you for having a solid head. 🙂

I don’t know whether I want to add this… but I will to show that sometimes it doesn’t matter how prepared you are nutrition wise, silly things happen. I had all my nutrition prepared and ready in my bag, at least I thought I had. My gels had somehow slipped out, I think from the prior checking of gear the night before at registration. So when I was looking for my gels during the first part of the run I was fiddling around for quite some time until I realised what had happened. Thankfully I was prepared and I could make do with what I had (still had some gels, had gellblasts, bars, flat defizzed coke, sports drink etc.). I also knew that my gut is now very well trained at handling different types of gels so I took a Endura gel at checkpoint 2. I do want to point out though that these gels are not for me, at least the raspberry flavour, like medicine ( I am still cringing at that experience). When I re-filled my hydration bladder with my Gatorade supply It did not mix properly and I ended up drinking a very concentrated drink. Again lucky I have trained my gut. Otherwise apart from these minor hiccups, my nutrition was really good, and not one gut upset during the race. You are going to ask, what about a loo stop, well last year I had one and this year again just the one, at about 65km. LESSON: Repeat the check and count after registration of all nutrition supplies. Mix Gatorade smarter e.g. water then powder and then more water etc.

Mentally I was not where I wanted to be. Running 100km I find is a mental challenge, at least for me early on in my experience with trail running. I do think though just like with me recovering really well now from 40km trail runs with time and experience this will come. I am really happy I got through the run. The biggest thing that worked for me getting through the run was having my mum and step-father there – they put up with me and my love for running and they were there to see me run, so I kept running and I am so glad I did. The other thing I had going on in my head was thinking about what my sister would be saying to me… “Come on boof head, keep going.” LESSON: You are going to have many “ins (highs) and outs (lows)” in running these distances and it is how you work through them. Practice makes perfect, need more experience.

In the final 8km or so I realised my light was fading. I was silly and did not get my second light from my pack. I twisted my left ankle at about 5km, fell down. At that time though you really have to laugh and this did not hurt like the right achilles. I have twisted my ankles many times before and they are strong enough to take it. LESSON: Don’t be lazy take the time to get the extra light.

Highlights for me:

Having my mum and step-father as my support crew and coming with me.

Running with amcouple of my SA running buddys, Dej and Blake. Singing with Blake. Thank you.

Running and enjoying the experience with over 1000 solo runners.

Running in the Blue Mountains. I am incredibly lucky to be able to do this.

Having one of my clients finish the race, where last year she was too ill to finish. This person is very inspiring.

Will I be back for more. I would like to run in the Blue Mountains again. Does that answer your question.

See this link for photos

Stephanie Gaskell is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, an Accredited Sports Dietitian, and a competitive Ultra Trail Marathon Runner. She is available for Phone and Skype Consultations, and has published the FODMAP™ & Gluten Status Sports Supplement Guide.

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