Sunday, July 14, 2013

ThüringenULTRA 2013

I ran my fifth ThüringenULTRA a week or so ago and after each TU I’ve written and posted a race report.  2013’s TU was yet another hit and a brief report is a must!

Let me open by saying that Lauffeuer Fröttstädt, the village of Fröttstädt, all the volunteers and the Race Director Gunter Rothe put on one heck of a good ultra.  Highlights for me this year included the friendly spirit of the race, the countless volunteers and all of their efforts to ensure that the runners had a great event, seeing old friends and making new ones.  The TU is one of my favorite ultras – count me in for 2014!  See this link for last year's report with details on logistics and conduct of the race.

I went into the 2013 TU having just run the Cortina Trail in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy the week prior.  Doing so is part of a training plan I’m participating in leading up to an event in late August.  The idea in running back-to-back (B2B) races like this was to experience running on “race tired” legs and a tired mind.  The TU certainly tested my mettle in this regard.

 I anticipated Gunter’s 2012 TU course changes going into this year’s event.  The first half of the TU is a bit longer and a bit hillier than the second.  The early climbs forced me to expend a bit more energy than I had initially anticipated.  Just prior to kilometer 46 and the rest stop at Bergwacht Hohlebron my legs had become very heavy.  I decided to blow through this water point and keep pushing through over this relatively flat portion of the course.  When I came into kilometer 54 and the Sportplatz at Floh-Selingenthal I was smoked.  By this point I was running low on water and needed to take a few minutes to restock my running pack’s front pouches.  I spent a bit more time at the Sportplatz than I had originally planned.  Watching the minutes tick by I finally grabbed a bunch of stuff to eat on the trail and moved out at a fast walk.

Gunter caught up to me as I was coursing between the Sportplatz and Jobsstein and we had the opportunity to catch up on things.  As usual I probably held him back, but it was great chatting.  At kilometer 59 and the rest stop at Jobsstein I decided not to stop and found that I had regained some energy I was missing back at the Sportplatz.  I left Gunter (hope that he was not aggravated at me for just taking off) chatting with the support crew at the rest stop.  I was able to maintain a relatively consistent pace through kilometer 68 and the rest stop in Tambach Dietharz, but again found that upon arrival there I was running low on gas and needed to eat.

 I think I’ve mentioned this previously, but I continue to re-learn lessons from previous events when it comes to diet and energy.  Failing to hydrate and maintain a certain level of food intake over the course of an event leads to trouble.  The TU and the kilometers after Tambach Dietharz again demonstrated this issue.  I was drinking and eating a gel or other food at hour intervals.  I need to tweak that a bit and perhaps reduce to forty-five minute intervals to maintain a consistent level of physical and mental energy.  I’m also going to experiment with some solid foods, minus caffeine during my next long training events.

Because of the B2B nature of this event and my lack of consistent fueling things got tough as I drew near Tabarz and the 86 kilometer mark.  I found myself walking all of the uphills and struggling mentally to move over the flats.  I was able to talk myself into running while in the forest to gain some time prior to entering what I knew was going to be a scorcher over the fields between Klauenberg and the water point at Langenhain.  

From Langenhain I narrowed the scope of the TU down to the space between kilometer 92, the world famous rest stop at kilometer 95 and the finish line.  The crew at kilometer 95 were on their game again this year rocking to AC/DC and firing runners up with cheerleaders and all kinds of goodies.  After exiting the stop here I finished the TU on will power alone

My mental and physical states at kilometer 96 were exactly where I wanted to be in this event and as part of my training regime.  I was physically tired, growing mentally weak and my will to finish this thing quickly was waning.  It was interesting to follow my cognitive processes as I drew up to finish.  I was able to recognize the seemingly endless chatter that goes on in my head and focus it into a stream of positive self-talk.  It was stimulating to recognize and slip into the here and now of the pain, weakness, hunger and desire to finish.  I’ve never been one to focus on a mantra.  I tend to come up with one and by race time I’ve forgotten it, or allow negative thoughts to carry it away.  During the final stage of the 2013 TU I focused simply on finishing.  I repeated to myself, “Yes, you are going to finish.  And yes, you are going to finish this bugger running.”  Looking back the last five kilometers of the TU were my most rewarding.  I was in a place my mind and body told me I should not be and I was able to overcome both with my will.  Like running itself, I recognize that I need to practice these mental exercises and hope to incorporate them into future training.

The ThüringenULTRA is a tremendous 100KM ultra event that takes place in the Thüringer Wald the first weekend in July.  Many thanks go out to Lauffeuer Fröttstädt, the town of Fröttstädt, all the volunteers and RD Gunter Rothe.  Can’t wait to sign up for 2014!

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