Oh what a difference a year makes. 2013 has brought about much change in my own little corner of the world of running, racing, and enduring. A shift to longer ultra marathon distances and hopping off the roads for some time on the trails has been incredible, but the one and only event I participated in 2012 AND 2013? …… WILDCAT 50k!!! My grueling, under-prepared, and naive ultra debut in 2012 finally paid off with a 19 minute improvement and course record in 2013. Am I that much more fit? No chance … 12 more months of experience and mental perspective made all the difference.
The weather was borderline perfect hovering in the 30’s to upper-40’s as the sun came out for the 7:30am start of the same 10km out-and-back loop course to be attacked 5 times over. My training has been in “maintain fitness” mode for the last weeks since mid-September after running my peak race of the year – The North Face ECS Madison 50 miler 3rd place finish (race report here). I wanted to continue to run and stay fit in the fall months and take some time off later after Wildcat. This was the perfect low-key event to end the season / year with … come out, sign up, bring food, run, eat food … no hassles.
The actual run went about as well as I thought it would with my relaxed running leading up … I manged nutrition, pacing, and climbing so much better than 2012 and ended up setting a new course record in 3:49:10. Comparing splits to another over-eager version of myself in 2012 (with less than half the caloric intake) is hilarious at best … for all the running nerds out there feel free to see my training log for full splits of 2012 Wildcat and 2013 Wildcat 10km loops. The greatest indicator of a more properly managed race would be the following facts …
There is 7100 (by my GPS measurement in 2012) of incline over the full 50km … basically climbing the bluff 3 times on the “out” and 2 times coming “back” with countless roller-coaster-type hills throughout each loop.
2012 – started walking / marching each uphill beginning the middle of the 3rd loop (half way through).
2013 – marched a total of 20 steps the whole race … 5 on one hill, 15 on another – both on the last lap. This is the result of maybe climbing more / longer throughout this past year but mostly much better nutrition / pacing management (see below).
Nutrition / Race Management
2012 – 1/2 gel every 5km … based on DISTANCE (not time), so I was getting really only ~100-165 calories / hour while running hard up hill to maintain PACE (not effort) …… BONK!!!! ~5.5 minutes (total) at aid stations fiddling with changing shoes, fiddling with fill-ups, and just plain being tired / resting.
2013 – 1 gel (or 3 blocks) every 20min … getting ~300 calories / hour without fail. Also had all my own bottles / nutrition ready to simply “snatch up” at the aid station after every loop … spent only 40 seconds stopping at very last turnaround aid station to drink water and refill w soda.
2012 – First 3 loops = 2:11:33 (-2:22 to 2013) ….. Last 2 loops = 1:56:27 (+20:12 to 2013)
2013 – First 3 loops = 2:13:55 (+2:22 to 2012) ….. Last 2 loops = 1:35:15 (-20:12 to 2012)
The Wildcat 50k has a TON of what I love about running … great organization, but no hassle. Beautiful trails, small town feel, good people, amazing food, and by far the best award I’ve ever received for winning a race … a dozen fresh farm eggs.