Sunday, July 17, 2011

Post-WS Thoughts & Updates

You'd think that, with WS over three weeks in the rearview mirror, I'd be on to other matters.  Not quite.  I like to reflect and reminisce.  -- and reading my crew's race reports have been terrific for that (maybe post-worthy?).  Here's some random thoughts to start off:

>>I changed some things about my blog...I definitely have "Nickname Confusion", with both "PH" and "OOJ" emerging this spring.  I've become more "endeared" to OOJ recently...but certainly not to make the the blog title!  But I'm far enough removed from PH to make the switch.

The new name and descriptors reflect what I feel I valued most from my WS race, and ultra running in this "rookie year": the sense of adventure with great friends and family, multiplied by competitiveness and sportsmanship.  WS, as with all my ultra races this year, weren't awesome because I ran fast or beat people (far from that at WS), but because of what saw and experienced, and with whom I got to share that.

Dakota Jones had a cool (and funny) post about blog names.  I'd like to rob his alternate title idea, "Conquistators of The Useless", but I'll hold off on that, too...

>>I'm no longer (officially) offering coaching services.  I did quite a bit this winter and spring, and it was too hard.  It felt like work, and that's no fun!  Also, I don't feel like I provided what my clients/patients wanted, or what I felt I wanted to give them.  Not enough time, energy or structure.  So if you want some help, come to the clinic. :)

>>Still not running a lot since WS. I'm having some R ankle/foot issues, secondary to that area "cementing up" like a dysfunctional slab.  Manual therapy is getting it going, but the extensor tendons are irritated.  I'd like to blog more on this topic (likely on the clinic site); as many runners believe they have "extensor tendonitis" when it's really either a talocrural joint or subtalar/midfoot joint issue. 

However, I'm OK with the slow recovery.  I need it.  I was relatively exhausted until a week ago.  I'm finally getting some energy back.  And my few days post-race got me nervous after reading AJW's last post.  I was definitely borderline...  Also, after weeks and months of aches and pains, I want to get healed, then get mechanics squared away - the top priority.

>>Waldo 100K looks to be competitive, if not "open" for the top 2 spots.  There was rumblings of another pesky Brit gaining last-minute entry, but that status is uncertain.  Otherwise you've got a handful of mostly non-fresh guys -- Dan-O, Yassine, among others, coming off 100s in June -- vying for those Montrail/WS spots.  I'd love to blast some fitness-building efforts in the next month to cram-prep, but I also want to ensure I recover and get healthy, long-term. the back of my mind there's a voice saying, "Welp, you FAKED a should be able to fake a 100K!"

Per WS-related thoughts, some things I've learned, in no particular order:

>>It's always better to do more with less.  With Nutrition: I'm glad I was so "even", but I need to learn to be more "minimal".  To say I spent 10% of 6-25 in aid stations might not be an exaggeration.  That said, I need to teach myself to use less, and need less.  However, I still feel it's a great gift to be able to "handle" the volume I can; the Beer Mile was another (wonderfully fun) example of this "talent". 

>>I will be eternally grateful to my two pacers - Finch and Sam - as they taught me what I really need:

1.) Specific Form Cues - I think I was toe-stubbing every pebble on the course because my form sucked.  Even the tiniest cues I got from Finch (who was behind me on Cal St) were hugely helpful, but fatigue (both mental and physical) required "reminding" every few minutes.

2.) General Encouragement - Finch in particular was good at this: "You're doing great!", "Great pace", etc.  It was too easy to sink into the Black Hole - of "Nothing Focus" -- the brain in a free-fall of fatigue and, as a result, misery.  So to hear general -- and accurate -- encouragenment, coupled with form cues, did wonders to keep me moving at maximum speed, efficiency, and mental well-being.

3.)  Running in Front?  I generally loathe running behind people, especially on a trail.  I like to see ahead of me; it gives me both short- and long-term goals.  Running behind Sam, in the dark, on a foreign trail was some of the hardest running I've ever done.  I may try front-running next time (or experiment on some longer runs).  This would also allow my pacer to monitor my form and provide cueing when I need it.  

4.) Being a D**k.  Seriously.  Again, my pacers were the bomb, but until you've run a 100M, you don't truly know:

- A.) what you need to hear or ultimately do, as a competitor,
- B.) that, even though it's "hard", the mental fatigue is usually in the driver's seat, and can be artfully (if not forcefully) over-ruled, and,
- C.) in an argument over race strategy and execution (when effort for said argument is required), the pacer will always win. 

I love Sam Jurek and I can't wait for the day that we either get to roll together or I can pace for him, but I wish he was a bigger d**k to me after No Hands, when I conceded the sub-20.  I had a great argument (It wasn't in the numbers -- which I was wrong about; I didn't want to bonk, I wanted to run in with my friends/family), but I wish he'd put me in my place and said, "Hey, tough shit!  Let's run 20 steps up this hill!" / "OK, enough walking, get moving, 50 steps", etc. 

But again, unless you've been there -- knowing my fatigue, but that I could still safely push; knowing that I'm bitchy and irritable, but you can still push my buttons -- it's really hard to "push it" as a pacer or crew.  We want to be supportive and nice.  But there's a time to be a D**k, too, and the last sections of a competitive 100M -- when you've otherwise "got it together" -- are those times.

I think two awesome pacers in this regard would be these two.  I think John Ticer would be my ultimate pacer.  He's a "Grade-A Bad-Ass" and a major competitor himself - having been an M10 as recent as 2005, but he also has the experience (as both a competitor and pacer) to know just how hard to push.  However, he's way overdue for a WS number, so I hope he'll have a white bib on next year.

Meghan would be equally awesome, but we might have to wait 'til she's a Sexagenarian*...or longer...until she gets bored with collecting F10s.

(*this sounds like some sort of sexual apologies, Queen! :p)

>>I need The Pattern.  I completely lost it mid-Cal St, through Brown's Bar.  Namely, I lost "The Brain iPod" -- just having a song going in my head and the steady beat that came with it, was huge.  After Brown's Bar, and the climb up to 49, I began to count -- steps, then breaths -- on the uphills.  My brain devoured it like me at In N Out Burger, post-race: it craved the mental task.  It was then that Johnny Cash's "Boom-Chicka" also re-emerged.  It was a different race those last 8-9 miles.   

>>I need to memorize the Robie/ALTs from the River to Robie Point.  I loved the Canyons this year because they were so familiar!  I need to know these trails just as well, if not better.

LB talks about Cal St being the key, and "Smelling the Barn" at the River Crossing.  Not for me.  80 to 93 is like the 3rd lap of a mile race: either your best friend or your worst enemy, the absolute key to the race.  Start to MB is Lap 1, Cal St Lap 2.  And 49, in: the last lap.  Just ask anyone (or study splits) -- the race can be lost many places, but is ultimately won on the "3rd and 4th Laps".

I'm no WS historian, but I don't believe the race has ever been "won" on Cal St.  Maybe that was The Bearded Englishman's tactical error this year...pushing it on Cal St?

>>I'm hoping my race schedule for "2011-2012" (per the Montrail Cup "Chinese Calendar") will take me to the Placer County area a few times in the next "year"; during which I hope to hit this trail a couple times before the next Training Camp.

Welp, that's all for now.  I hope to get more and maybe post some of my crew/family's WS reports.  They're truly incredible and a huge part of what makes ultra running such a uniquely community and family-oriented experience.  Stay tuned for that...


  1. joe - great insight and reflection. come run Way Too Cool 50k this March (if Chuckanut isn't already in the books), you'll have a free place to crash, get to see what it feels like to run super fast on the WS Course - the descent toward No-Hands, through miles ~82-90 (ALT to Brown's Bar), miles ~92-94 as you cross Hwy 49 and climb out of it and you get to throw it down against a stacked field.

  2. @Jake. I'm definitely up for WTC. I'm hoping we can convince the P-I guys to come down for that; it's traditionally a really fun weekend tradition amongst the "Eug Crew": running WTC, "Karaoke at The Georgetown", then an "easy" El Dorado canyon run from MB on Sunday.

    Food for thought: when you recover...think about the possibility of doing the first 30-55M of the WS course this fall! It's been on my brain as an awesome "adventure run". Tough to think about, 4 day removed from a 100M, but...consider! :)