OK I only have time for a short but satisfying quicky post before I am off to climb something up the MIdi tomorrow with a friend …
Did the North Face Courmayeur Champex Chamonix race Friday/Saturday, and did it in style to my surprise. Felt great through the majority of the race, and finished an hour and a half faster than I thought I’d go … nothing like underestimating your own abilities to make yourself ecstatic for several days after 🙂
It was 98km and supposedly 5600m of uphill, though my watch counted 5500m of uphill. . . anyhow, what’s a hundred meters one way or the other over 98km ?
Close to 50% of the pack dropped out of the race. The weather was sunny and dry and hot – after having been cool and fall-like for the previous few weeks, it warmed up again with a vengance especially for the race. I never had muscle cramps before but started to get the sensation that my calves could sieze up at any moment while running in the heat of the day so I did not push it too greatly but on the other hand I did not relax either – kept a steady somewhat pushed but not mental pace. A few glasses of fizzy magnesium filled mineral water (yes, in the Alps we get mineral water, choice of fizzy or flat at our rest stops, thank you!) sorted me out and then when night arrived, I picked up the pace. At the big stop at Champex at 55km my legs were not feeling at all tired and I felt strong, so kept it up. I got tired about 1/2 way up the last climb and the last descent was more of a ‘death jog’ but apparently I still managed to pass people and gain some places back on the way down.
I finished in the top 10% of the women who started the race and top 30% of all racers. Note that close to half the pack dropped out. 2033 people started the race, and only 1241 finished in the alloted time limits. I was only annoyed that the mayor of Chamonix did beat me by 1 hour … so I need to try to do it even faster next year to beat his time 😉 . I do think it’s realistic for me to cut 1/2 to 1 hour off my time still if I find motivation to work harder next year or find a good training partner (I trained completely alone this year except for perhaps 4-5 sessions with one or another of the 2 clubs I belong to). I really didn’t train in an organized fashion for the race (though the training I did was quality and of the right type and timing at least; I think I didn’t train enough) and if I did that I’d place in about the top 20 women which would really jazz me.
I had friends who also placed very well (way above me) and am quite happy that everyone I personally knew that entered either of the 2 races did finish and finished well. I think people who got caught out were either top athletes who pushed it too hard in the heat or got unlucky, or the inverse – people who did not manage the heat well, didn’t eat the right foods, manage liquids or train for enough speed (considering the time barriers were shortened this year, walking the course was not really an option anymore!).
I did suffer some nausea at the end of the race – too many caffeine Power Gels I think. The EA Fit protein bars I took sat really well however, so I will use those again and I think I will limit the gels to non-caffeine ones until after night fall next time. I would love to get hold of some Cliff Shots but they are simply not available here in Europe yet and my supply ran out while ski touring this past winter … !!! We even enquired with the company if WE could distribute them … but no.
I consumed 5 Power Gel caffeine (last one was minging), several crystallized ginger cubes (great for nausea!!!), 3 EA Fit protein bars, 2.5 liters of Green Magma-ized water (over time), alternated w/plain water in my pouch at each filling station. Those were the things which I carried for myself. And at the stops I consumed Coke (I never drink it outside of races!!!), fizzy mineral water high in magnesium/calcium, tea with sugar, cheese (yeah very wierd but I have found that cheese while racing actually helps my stomach stay calm and keeps energy constant since there is damn little other vegetarian protein available), saltine type crackers, orange slices, banana slices and Maxim sports drink. I also carried about 2 handfuls of nuts/dried fruit/ and 4 spelt cookies but never felt like eating those.
In the big race, the UTMB, the drop out rate was 53%, but on the other hand the winner – Spainiard Killian Jornet – set a course record. He is already well known in the ski mountaineering world as the winner of the Pierra Menta, arguably the hardest ski mountaineering race. Dawa Sherpa, first winner of the first UTMB came in 2nd place. Unfortunately a lot of the really top runners dropped out this year – Marco Olmo, last year’s winner dropped out at Vallorcine, Scott Jurek dropped out just before Bovine due to an inflamed knee, Nikki Kimball (woman’s winner last year who absolutely rocked) also dropped out, as did Vincent Delabarre and race organizer Michel Poletti and many many other top athletes (and many normal runners as well of course … )
Next Ultra trail race I am training for … Course des Templiers October 26th …
Shoes – Salomon XT Wings (awesome – no complaints – well designed shoes)
Gaiters – Quechua (thank god someone makes these or I’d spend so much time taking off shoes and dumping out stones!!!) – they worked OK but I forgot to loosen them as my legs swelled at the end of the run and have sore outer calves to thank for it.
Tights – totally need to be replaced. I run in very non-technical crappy Reebok 3/4 tights that do not dry fast and are a bit heavy. On the books for next week is a new purchase of better running tights for racing.
Shirt – used the Salomon shirt I got in another earlier trail race – a sleevless loose very light mesh as I knew it was going to be hot.
Long shirt – used at night Helly Hanson ski underwear! Stayed warm when wet, worked like it should.
Wind/Rain breaker – Quechua trail running (orange) – cheap and perfect. Love this article from Quechua.
Sac used – 17 liter Quechua. Definitely being replaced!!! For the 3rd year I used this I have scabs on my back from being rubbed raw. First year I taped 2 spots I thought were worst and got sores outside of that area, then 2nd year didn’t tape at all (forgot about issue) and got bloody. For some reason I forgot about the problem entirely over the next year and forgot to replace the bag (mind you I train with the bag all the time on trails … it’s just that the problem really only seems to happen at over 42km and I don’t do training runs much longer than that so rather forget). This time I knew there would be a problem but I thought taping ‘properly’ this time would solve it. Now I just have a very large square line of scabs around where the tape edges were. It works great for training on shorter trail runs and doesn’t cause problems then (under 42km) but for longer stuff I need a bag that sits higher off my big butt so that my lumbars do not get rubbed raw when my ass moves it as I run, shoving the bag back and forth across my back. The default of this bag is that it is very low-sitting which feels quite comfortable stuffed full of gear, but when you start to run faster or run for longer times it really hits at an area where you (as a girl at least) are going to have some swinging action.
Found a very high-sitting Salomon trail running bag today that seems to have all the stuff I want, and is kind of like a vest in front so you don’t lose the quick access to gels (this is why I did like the Quechua bag for the 2 ‘wing pockets’ on the front of the hip belt that easily held gels. So I will try it out while I train for Templiers and see how it is … off to the factory near Annecy next week to get this and the tights that I want at a niiiice discount thanks to some well-placed friends. One potential default I can see in the Salomon one is rubbing the arms as I swing them on the vest thingy … hopefully October with long sleeves it won’t matter ? Will see.