After my Saint-Fons ultramarathon I noted a few things that had worked, things that didn’t work, and a couple of lessons. Reflecting on the race yesterday at CIEC I think it is worthwhile to do the same. After all, there’s no improvement to be made unless I can identify what went right and what went wrong, right?

Things I Got Right:

  • Pacing: It’s possible I ran a little faster in the opening two hours than I might have wanted to but it was only by a matter of seconds, not minutes. I kept the 5:00 pace or just below it for a long time and when the walking breaks came they were shorter (1km walk then 3km running) compared to Saint-Fons (1km walk then 2km running). I don’t think I was in any better form at CIEC and I’m convinced that the difference was mental when it came to the walk/run strategy. In any case, I ended up about 10 seconds per kilometer faster than my average at Saint-Fons and didn’t feel any more tired so I think I can conclude my pacing was dialed in.
  • Hydration: I was far better hydrated than last time. I took on more water and I drank a lot more electrolytes, too. Having Cécile there to hand these up to me regularly helped a lot and it forced me to take on water when I maybe would have skipped a bottle otherwise. I still didn’t stop for a bathroom break even though I took on more than 3 liters of water but I didn’t feel dehydrated at all.
  • Nutrition: Nailed this again and, for the six hour distance, I think I’m all dialed in now. Again, having Cécile to hand up the gummies helped and I ate regularly throughout the race.
  • Footwear: The muddy course would have been near impossible to run in road shoes. The Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger’s did the job admirably in the mud and even though I got a couple of blisters, I think this was the fault of the water and mud rather than the shoe. Unfortunately they are starting to show their wear a little now so I may have to get another pair soon.
  • Music: I listened to a bunch of good stuff including alt rock, hip hop, and podcasts from Ten Junk Miles and Ultrafinishers. All good and, like last time, I only took the headphones and iPod after the first ten kilometers or so so I could have time to get the course dialed in.

Things I Could Have Done Better:

  • Clothing: Most everything worked well but I had two things I could have done better. One was sunglasses which, while not necessary for the cloudy day, would have helped with the strong wind in my face for the second half of the loop. I have a set of clear glasses I left at home and which would have worked perfectly so, next time, I’ll throw them in the bag just in case. The second was my running shorts which had a tag at the back that rubbed on my back. I didn’t feel it during the race but I felt it under the shower when I got home and the abrasion is a little painful now a day later. Next time I’ll be cutting the tags off the shorts…

Goals Going Forward:

I’m going to keep shooting for a strong race at the Ultra Boucle de la Sarra. I think the climbing will be killer there (90m per 2km loop or an average 4.5% grade for the whole race) but I can still shoot for somewhere between a marathon distance (21 loops) and a 50K (25 loops). I’m going to do some more stairs in training once the recovery is done and I’ll have about three weeks to prepare for race day.

To be clear, despite the success at CIEC I don’t envisage being anywhere near the front of the field at the Ultra Boucle but I do intend to keep moving the whole time and the closer I get to the 50km distance, the happier I’ll be.

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