I basically always ran, but I guess there was a considerable change in my running habits a few months ago… a change in the middle of Shanghai’s scorching summer heat. This is how it began and went for the first couple of months….
A good friend asked me if I wanted to join for a race in Zhuji (some 200km south of shanghai) – a 35K race in some mountainous region.. “Sure” I thought. Having done Jungfrau Marathon some 8 years ago I remembered how much I liked running in the mountains. What I possible didn’t remembered was how much training I actually put into prior the race…..
Fast forward to race day. I was really excited. Starts was at 3pm – and headlights was mandatory – in other words good chances you would have to run into the dark. That was all new to me, as well was running with a camelback. In short: ROOKIEJ – but a happy one.
I finished the 35K and 1500m D+ in 5h40min. It was an excellent race, beautiful and well-marked, only thing worth mentioning was the long stretch of asphalt on the last stretch. Anyways, luckily there was more to the race than just a mamahuhu (Chinese for soso) time. The first elevation of 1000+ I did in good time and was within reach of the fastest lot (5 min. if I remember correctly). But the true souvenir came on the last downhill. As the course had some really muddy sections the +1500m of up and down took its toll and I ended up with very memorable cramps as muscle tightend up as I slided down the muddy trail (I was running in my faithful Asics Kayano with absolutely no grip). I’m sure the 35 celcius and high humidity didn’t do anything to help the cramps either – it took me some days to get rid of that.
I barely came back from Zhuji before signing up for the next race. A 50K race in Guizhou. The longest distance I ever did – and the most elevation (officially 2500D+). Preparation this time was a little better – but there was only 3 weeks between the two races. First week I logged 50K with a 1000D+ and second week 36K with 500D+ – two semi long runs each week. Learning from previous pains – I tried to do some downhill training to make my legs used to the effort (in Shanghai this often means running down the stairs in your compound) and equally important I got myself a pair of trail hoes – Salomon Sense Ride.
When race day came I felt good. To help myself I made a race-plan. Studying the course and check points I estimated what would/should be my arrival time (had a nice little screen shot of an excel sheet on my phone “geek disclaimer”). Basically I used this throughout the race as a pace guidance and motivator. Part of the reason for my meticulous panning was that I actually had to catch a plane back to Shanghai that same day – so I only had 7h30min to finish and I of course had to make sure this was doable…. It wasJ Note to self: This might not be a bad approach to any race…
For the first 4 checkpoints I was in good shape compared to my race plan. But my legs was not really available for the last 10k. However I did finish in 7.36min.(my Strava clocked 52k). Besides being a beautiful race I was really satisfied by cutting 1h10min off my first 35k compared to the race 3 weeks ago (despite having more elevation). Equally important – I managed to catch my flightJ
Conclusion: I (obviously) still need more miles, but the race-plan was a good tool for me – it helped me keep my mind on the next CP instead of focusing on the 50K goal line. Knowing whether you did good or bad at the last milestone is always a good motivator.
Next race will be October 30th Jiangshan (https://itra.run/race/2018/3013-maxi-race-china/15055-jiangshan-60km) it’s a 66K race with 4900D+. The scenery should be amazing and the organization around it should be pro (no guarantee in China) – so looking very much forward. Meanwhile I’ll try to do +80k a week with as much elevation as possible. I won’t be focusing much on speed as I still feel I need more k’s in my legs to have a more stable pace in general, but I will do some core training as it helps to keep balance on the technical parts of the race as well as keeping a proper posture for the many hours on the go.
Until next time, yours truly