50 MILER 80KM pavement /road race – 6 hours, 36 mins 31 secsThanks to Lisa Brignull, Lisa Tamati at Running Hot coaching, Russell Lake & my two biggest fans Lily rose and Savannah nieces
1. Just like I felt compelled to post my self video on mental toughness on my Facebook page, driven essentially from a BBQ I went to Friday night, I know if I didn’t when I got home the moment would have passed.
2. I now write my blog on the 50 miler race today held in Christchurch. Much of this isn’t talking about the actual race, though I will mention it. I want to talk about the lead up to it including Lisa Tamati’s weekend, my own nutrition during the race and pre, the race itself and focusing internally through meditation and yoga.
3. I am not usually much of a blogger as I prefer to do rather a video blog, so have decided that if I can’t say it by a couple of Facebook posts then I really need to write and express myself. So it is important to me that I do so and I hope you get something from reading this too.
Lisa Tamati’s Running Hot weekend & mental toughness
4. Ultra running is tough, it is emotional and there is often a myriad of emotions going through your head. Good news is you can actually practice mental toughness and it helps to do so in life and training to essentially prepare yourself for how you are going to feel in the race. I’ve practiced this many times before, though I find I can get distracted. I didn't in this race I was focused 100% immense concentration. I had a cruisy night the night before reading and chilling out by myself which I love.
5. I found it incredibly valuable to go to LisaTamati’s running positive /Running Hot coaching weekend for women. It reminded me that I needed to prepare for the pain I was going to experience today and while I am an experienced ultra runner, I actually had forgotten to put time aside for mental preparation. I really enjoyed the weekend in New Plymouth meeting a number of other women and hearing about their journeys.
6. The online coaching through Running Hot that Lisa and Neil explained definitely fits in line with my own type of training regime. What I mean by that is that strength and mobility in the form of stretching and for me yoga has formed part of my regime and has been where I have the best results.. It is not just about running, cross training, strength, flexibility are imperative to success.
7. More importantly, and I am sure the other women would agree who went to the Running Hot running weekend, I went away feeling motivated and to succeed in my own running. I felt that I was in a good mental space leading into today’s event and I do think that last weekend played a huge impact on this. If you are lucky enough to get a space in the Running Hot weekend or online coaching, take it as for me what I found helpful was – firstly, information confirmed that was already embedded in my own training (putting it into practice is the tough thing) and secondly and more importantly the mental element – overcoming psychological barriers. It is putting the knowledge into practice - that is the tough part.
8. This is an area I haves spoken about myself in a recent talk in Christchurch back in March. I definitely feel that as a consequence of the weekend that I was in a much better mental space for the race. I hope to go along to the other weekends if they fit in my race schedule. I was told tonight that I seemed very relaxed. Well isn’t that a natural progression of surrounding yourself with positive people and not allowing negative people into your life, I think it is.
Nutrition for the event
9. As per my Facebook post the day before the race I said the toughest thing for me before an ultra is controlling my eating the day before. I crave a lot of foods and know what gives me tummy issues, so I have to avoid foods such as milk and berries. I eat my main meal at lunchtime before an ultra and have something light at dinner. I snack on almonds through the day.
10. I eat a diet of limited carbohydrates and sugar as I find it easier to control my blood sugar and appetite. I feel like I am racing better with this approach. It means that I do not need as many carbs when I race which allows me not to have an upset tummy with less food. I was asked at a BBQ on Friday what do you eat during the races and the answer to that question is it depends on the type of race and terrain and distance. Over a half marathon I would eat nothing. If it is a mountain 100km ultra, I opt for real food and do not use gels. However today’s race I knew I would be going at a higher intensity and having to contend with tummy issues going faster so I went for 3 Boosta bars and one gel, plus two chips over the whole 80km
11. Up at 4 am, breakfast at 4.20 am (race start 7am) – 2 x black coffees, 2.5 tablespoons of Endurobeet mixed with water, 2 tablespoons of almond butter
· Leave home 5.45 am and have another Endurobeet – one tablespoon with water
· Clothes and drinks all organised and put in the car the night before.
· Before the race 10 mins – one boosta honey bar
· Nutrition for the race
· At 10 km – half a boosta honey bar
· At the half marathon 1.33- one boosta bar (around 120 calories)
· At 42km-3.16 and 25 sec – one boosta bar
· At 5.5 hours – half a Red Bull
· One Balance Nutrition gel - 50 km
· At 65 km – 2 salt and vin chips crackers
12. Through the race drinking very limited – some water and two cans of Da Maha Coconut water. I drank to thrust. I felt well hydrated going into the event.
13. I had no tummy issues with the above nutrition, although at around 30 km I had a sore tummy so I made sure I pulled in my stomach and tried to maintain core strength and stability by shoulders relaxed. I thought Oh no please come right and I prayed and it did. I just stopped eating for a while. I find the Endurobeet, Balance gel and Boosta bars gave me no tummy issues so I am grateful that I have found a nutrition plan that works for me.
The 50 miler -80km event Christchurch
14. I was self-supported today and I am usually always a self-supported ultra runner, reason being is I feel like it suits the internal nature of my personality. Mind you, it was an event that is soo well supported you do not need support. I had set up a table in any event. It was super to have my sister and nieces come down for the last couple of hours of the race. Them just being there was awesome.
15. HOWEVER – it definitely helps to have positivity from others during the event and the little things such as good luck, have a great race, etc. I was very focused today and I ran my own race. Words from Tanya Copeland, a star runner and triathlete posted on my page about running my own race and having faith in my own training, I thought of during the race today. The words of running my own race echoed as I RAN through pain.
16. At the BBQ on Friday night, amongst many questions about running which of course I didn’t mind asking – one was how long do you think that will take? I said its only going to be a short race, maybe 6 and a half hours which I almost guessed right. Leading into the event, I had focused more on some speed work and I will be getting involved in a lot of short cross country running this year. I laughed to myself at the gym where I strength train 2.5 hours a week (Corporate Wellness Solutions), when someone asked me if I was still even running! I am still running. I know this is my first ultra today since 21 Feb, so yes I have had a two and a half month break. I am enjoying a change of the shorter distances as I feel that I need to do more to reach my goals. I have plans to focus on racing in the US and so am planning this out the next couple of years.
17. I slept 6-7 hours the night before and got up in a positive, excited yet nervous mood. I was worried about my stomach and whether I would have issues, fortunately I did not. I had all my clothes laid out, breakfast and drinks/food/supplies already in the car which takes the pressure off.
18. I entered the 80km and planned to race /push the first 50 km and see what happened after that. I had anticipated that if I raced the first 50 I might well be walking or jogging the last 30 km, I was prepared to take that risk. This was not a goal race at all. I went through 42 km at 3 hours 16 mins, 25 secs and through 50 km at just over 3 hours 55 mins. It was great to have competition in the first 50 km of the race, Lisa Brignall who was racing this to qualifying to start at the front at Comrades marathon in 4 weeks. This was not an A race for her, as the Comrades Ultra is, nevertheless an important one to qualify.
19. I ran with Lisa who set a fast early pace which I felt comfortable with. I looked at my watch and thought wow I am running 4.00 - 4..2 min kms and I feel really relaxed. I know a couple of years ago I might well be puffing at that pace. After an hour Lisa and Russell Lake made a break on me, I wanted to go with them and after they headed off, I tried to make up ground. I did make up ground and kept pushing because I didn’t want them to get out of site, at least for the first 30 k anyway.
20. Then I thought oh well I will just keep them in sight which I did for quite a while. I could tell Russell wasn’t on his usual game because I passed him and then we ran together on and off for the full 50k. He could tell I was struggling at 40 km and I told him I wanted to go through the marathon at a certain time and so he actually pushed me on the shoulders and said speed up, so I did. I was stoked with how the first 50 went and I still felt good and kept running. Once Lisa left (won the 50km and Russell pulled out of the 100km due to hamstring and not having a good day) I was all on my own without anyone I could compete with so it ended up becoming a time trial. I know I could improve if I had someone there pushing me ahead.
21. It was tough going around the park because being such a stunning day, there where people all over the place walking their dogs and biking. I said at the after dinner that I couldn’t believe how all these people would not get out the way and then Lisa said that they may not click what a race number is. There we go, never assume people think you are in a race. I maintained focus through the race and it was really good to see my sister and nieces there for the last hour and a half.
22. Overall, I was happy running 6 hours, 36 over the 80km. It was actually my very first 80km on a pavement. I do the majority of my training for it on non-technical trail. I was pleased that I did not enter for the 100km, though I started to feel good and feel I could have really pushed the pace faster the last 20km as right at the end of the ultras now that I am experienced, is where I pass people! I was thankful to have Lisa and Russell there as if they were not I doubt I would have finished in the time I did. I won't be doing anymore road ultras this year as it is too tough on my body, so I will be sticking with trail running as I find less injuries and I love the long climbs where I use poles. The steeper the better because it helps me run fast on the flat.
Meditating and yoga being internally focused
23. I am more internally focused than I ever have been in my life. I do not get very distracted by external influences like I used to. I practice bikram yoga frequently and my own yoga. I feel that this helps with concentration and feeling relaxed. I was told at the awards dinner that I now appear more relaxed and I know that is due to the yoga. When I broke my hand last year and had it in a cast from November to December I couldn’t type or cook and was constrained. I was happy to get back to feeling more balanced with bikram yoga since I have been back at my home town Christchurch.
24. I recommend doing some form of stretching for recovery and meditation or yoga to get into the right focused mindset. I was very focused and blocked everything out when I raced at the weekend. I hurt most of the way though I was prepared for that, thanks to the advice of Lisa Tamati.
Thanks to the Lotus Heart team for helping me at the event.
Thank you to the following companies :
Balance Sports Nutrtion
Da Maha Coconut Water
Thanks everyone for your support on my page