I had a lackluster build up to this race. After the Pikes Peak Marathon in August last year, I started playing soccer and picked up an Achilles injury. The Achilles injury stuck with me into December (I re-injured it a second time) and then when I started running consistently again in January my knee problems from last year started to come up again. Long story short, my training was interrupted several times to take things easy on my knee. My longest long run was a little less than 16 miles and my highest mileage weeks were in the 40s. It was enough training, but not ideal!
Because of my knee issues, I went into the race with low expectations which turned out to be a good thing. I wasn't focused on hitting a certain time. While I was hoping for nice Spring weather, it turned out to be less than ideal. Drizzly and about 30 degrees. Muddy course conditions that ranged from the slippery stuff to the kind that sticks to your shoes and doesn't come off. There was one steep section of trail that required my hands to enter the mud because there was no traction. I'm sure it would have been comical to see people slip around. With the wind generated by running, I had a nice sheet of ice on my jacket and hat.
I felt great during my first loop and ran within myself, which was surprisingly fast - 2:06. I did pretty well through about 20 miles when my legs started telling me they weren't used to the distance. They felt like they wanted to cramp a bit here and there, but they never seized up. Mostly, they were just heavy. I moved into 4th place around mile 22 and kept my position. I ran alone for the entire race besides the start.
I used 2 packs - one for each loop. This created a fast transition half way through the race. I mixed servings of the large 15 serving GU pouches with naked unflavored Tailwind and water in my hydration bladder. This eliminated the need of messing with gel packets and I was able to sip often. I only took one extra gel around mile 25 when I was feeling extra tired. I also stayed positive throughout the race (go read David and Megan Roche's 'The Happy Runner') despite the less-than-ideal conditions and the fact that the last 10 miles were pretty damn hard. And I laughed at myself when the mud stuck to my shoes instead of getting frustrated.
I didn't come fully prepared for the conditions. I was lucky to have my dad (and my Mom told him to bring extra clothes) meet me halfway to give me a change of clothes - new gloves and a jacket made all the difference. If I wasn't injured, I would have done some longer training runs (time wise and distance wise) to prepare my legs, but that was out of my control.
I was really excited for PPM this year and I put in a lot of training. My only concern going into the race was my nutrition plan because I have not nearly gotten it right. I was well rested; I slept well two nights before the race and okay the final two nights. I felt really good all the way to Barr Camp and was a little ahead of my splits. I passed several men who had started too fast and the 4th-2nd place women. I PR'd on my stretch from Barr Camp to A-Frame and I hit the split for a 2:45 ascent but I knew things were getting tough. From A-Frame to the summit I lost about 9 minutes and summited in 2:55. Laura Orgue (2nd place female) passed me just before the Basin aid station. I was somewhat holding back because I didn't want to go all out and induce stomach problems, but I would have lost time regardless of whether I drove as hard as I could to the summit. Around the Golden Stairs I started cramping badly in the lower quads on both legs. I pushed through to the summit. After I got back down to the bottom of the Golden Stairs on the descent the cramping went away since I was using different muscles. The descent started well and I had a decent split down to A-Frame. Starting then my back muscles began to fatigue which affected my breathing and caused me to slow down a little. I continued to fuel and eat gels but I was definitely at a caloric deficit. I felt pretty good back through Barr Camp and I pushed through the few uphill sections to Bob's Road. Then I started to bonk and felt sleepy like I wanted to take a nap - the sleepy bonk. My stomach was not great but I wasn't nauseous either so I walked for about 5 minutes and took a gel. This is when Kristina (3rd place female) passed me. I perked up a bit and felt better. No Name to the finish was pretty good but again not nearly my fastest with my back muscles strangling me to an extent and my knotted/heavy stomach. My descent was about 1:47 and I'm capable of about a 1:30. I came in strong nonetheless and PR'd by over 26 minutes and came in 19th overall, 1st age group for 20-24. I'm excited for my future on this mountain, especially once I figure out my nutrition!
Trained hard and respected the mountain and my abilities. Switched to using a soft flask for gels which eliminated messing with gel packets. Tapered well and rested when I needed to rest throughout the training cycle. Constantly learning!
Did not take in enough calories, probably around 100-150 per hour when I really need 250-300 per hour. Didn't train my stomach enough with gels. Wimped out a little above A-Frame when I could have pushed harder. Did not strengthen my shoulders and back muscles to carry the pack. I probably stress myself out too much for this race because I love it so much and put a lot of pressure on myself.
I always feel like the splits above Barr Camp are hard to hit even when I feel really good coming into Barr Camp. I was well altitude trained and I always seem to lose the time, especially above A-Frame. Everything else is pretty good.