So as many of you know I traveled to New Zealand to run the Tarawera 100k race. In this write up I will go over my training philosophy, the course, and race day.
Training philosophy – I took training for this race very leisurely. There were never any forced runs and I would only go out for runs when I felt like running for fun. Yoga and climbing with friends a few times a week were used to trick myself into keeping active. Strength training also became a part of my regimen, I took the HCB class with Revolution Running on Monday nights. Basically I never forced myself to go out and get miles with out a purpose behind it, weather it be joining a friend for a long run on the trails or just going out to dick around with my camera. My longest long run to prepare for this race was a 24 mile fat ass put on by HPRS. I honestly was scared going into this race because I thought I was extremely undertrained, but I walked away from this race with a blister on one toe and one day of pirate leg syndrome.
The Course – I will start by saying this race was incredible! From what I can remember of the course it is made up of single track, a small amount of pavement, and a lot of what looked to be fire roads through the forests. You start out in a redwood forest right in the heart of Rotorua and make the 100K journey to Kawerau. Along the way I ran by many beautiful lakes, waterfalls, dairy farms, and breathtakingly green forests. The support from the locals was incredible, we ran through many smaller villages with local kiwis sitting in lawn chairs cheering on runners, I almost felt like I was in a parade and felt bad for not having candy to throw.
Race Day – I arrived at the starting gate around 5:30am ready to run! I found my place in the endless sea of headlamps and began going through my mental check list. I attended the elite athlete Q&A the day before the race and something Mike Wardian said stuck with me through out the day. He said something to the effect of “treat your body like a vehicle, pay attention to the low fuel and check engine lights”. Going into this race proper fueling was high on my list of things to pay attention to, I really did not want to repeat the Bear Chase 50K cramp fest.
6am rolled around rather quickly and the race was off to a start. In typical ultra fashion the first couple miles were very congested as everybody funneled into the first section from the double track off the start line. With this being such a large race it took a little longer for things to thin out as people found their pace, it felt pretty congested for the first hour or so. This was kind of a blessing in disguise for me because I am notorious for going out way too fast and then suffering the last quarter of the race.
The nutrition game started right at one hour into the run with an electrolyte tab followed up by a gel 15 minutes later. I had a couple emergency snickers in my pack just in case, but I planned on getting most of my solid nutrition from aid stations. Luckily there were a metric shit ton of aid stations stocked to the brim with pb&j’s, fruit, salty snacks, and soda galore! I can not say enough nice things about the aid station staff, the first aid station I came into there was a lady spraying runners down with sun screen. Coming from Denver where it is winter, sunscreen was the last thing I had on my mind.
Right away I made the decision to ignore the urge to push myself too much until I made it to my drop bag at the 60k aid station where I had my Hoka’s and a fresh pair of socks waiting for me. My race up to the 60k aid station went flawlessly, my feet were incredibly happy to get into some new socks and my squishy Hoka’s, and I knew the rest of the race was a net loss in elevation minus one big climb on the loop of dispair just before mile 50. It started to heat up a little bit after this aid station, luckly there were water access signs located through out the race pointing you to streams and rivers just off the trail. I dipped my hat into almost every stream I came across just to keep my body at a comfortable temperature. The ice buckets with sponges at the aid stations were a nice treat as well!
As I got closer and closer to the end of the race I kept looking at my watch and doing math. With about 8 miles left I realized a sub 14 hour finish was possible if I buckled down and ran out the rest of the race. It was all mental at this point, my muscles were not going to hurt anymore than they already did, there is nothing my nutrition can do for me now, I just had to fight with that voice in my head that likes to talk me into walking. I did manage to dig deep and win that mental struggle and finish at 13:56:59. I am incredibly pleased with my time and how I felt the days after the race. The best part is this means I get to try my luck at the Western States 100 miler lottery!