Monday, May 10, 2010

Ice Age Analysis

In an interview with, Padraig Harrington said the following about a notorious blunder during a pairing with Tiger Woods;

You and he were having a great battle last year in the final round of the WGC event at Firestone when you were put on the clock on the 16th tee by rules official John Paramor. You promptly made a triple-bogey eight on that hole.
I'm annoyed that I allowed an outside influence to knock me out of the zone, not in the slightest bit annoyed with John Paramor. It was a real poor mental error. I should have been able to control the situation. I failed miserably that day.

I heard this quote a few weeks ago, and thought about it on Saturday when the doom set in. There is a fine line of explaining why one fails, and making excuses for why one fails. I am not sure I know where the line is, but I will put out there what I am calling "explanations". If they look more like excuses, oh well. Bottom line, I agree with "Paddy", I should have been able to control the situation. Race day performance was a reflection of a lot of bad decisions in the past month. I own it all.

#1 - Burning Desire
To do well in ultras, that is what you need. You can't "want" to do it, you need "I have do it".

I meet people who want to be runners, and want to run a marathon. I encourage them. I might point them in a direction of "read this book" or "follow x plan". When they ask about ultras, I tell them you need a lot more than the "I want bragging rights at the office" attitude. There has to be a force that sucks you into it, nagging at you, making think "I have to try this". Even the word "try" is okay in my book as long as there is a "have to" to go with it. "I want to do this" is not enough motivation, in my opinion.

Last year I had revenge on my mind, and I was on fire with desire. I had a lot of personal woes haunting me, but I found a way to use the races as therapy.

I learned this Spring that this mentality is hard to switch on for race day. One has to build it over time, and stoke it continually.

When I ran with the Lapham gang 3 days before the race, I told a few "I will be lucky to make it to the race at 100%". I was referring to my mindset.

I let the emotional roller coaster of the last month and more to dictate how I managed things, instead of the other way around. I am mad at myself for this, as I am an optimist by nature.

I was excited to be at the race, it was great to "be there", but I did not have the burning desire.

#2 - You are what you eat.

I guess I am Shit, because I sure ate like it recently.

Being a foodie, and in the food service bus., food & beverage is a part of my life. A big part. Like many, I tend to use food to comfort my soul.

Pizza is comfortable. Home brew is too. Veggies, not so much.

I have been eating like crap since Zumbro.

Barry Sears would say "You are WAY out of the Zone".

This brought me to race day carrying a few extra pounds I did not need. Not sure others could tell, but I knew they were there. Extra pounds slow you downs.

#3 - 50 Miles is a long way.

This was my 6th 50 Mile race. As strange as it may sound, you forget how long it is.

At mile 9 I picked up the pace, and felt great. It wasn't a "fast" pace, but I was pushing instead of cruising. I passed a "newbie" around 10 or 11. I knew he was a newbie because he was already struggling, and asking how long to the next aid station. I wanted to say "trust me dude, you are going too fast for your ability", but that is their own business, not mine. I should have been listening to what I was thinking and should have said it to myself.

Once I changed strategy at mile 22 or so, the pace seemed do-able but I could not stop thinking "Damn.... I have close to 30 miles left and I am already shot".

It was then that I remembered "50 miles is a long way". Never forget the distance and difficulty.

#4 - Fuel & Hydration

Apparently potato chips, cookies, coke, and PB&J sadwiches are not sufficient for fuel in a 50 miler. I had a ton of my own stuff, but could not get it in my mouth. I ate 5 shot bloks, and that was about 2 too many. NOTHING sounded good.

I don't like Hammer Heed, and I like it less at mile 20. I hate it at mile 30. Don't even mention the word at mile 40.

I think I should just start training with the stuff so I am used to it. Sounds like a plan.

This race used to offer Succeed! Ultra as the sports drink. I do well with that.

Oh yeah, 3 s caps for the whole race. At least I did not over electrolyte this time.

But my stomach was a knot at mile 22, and it felt like cement was in there. I have never had such issues as this, and it has happened in the past 3 races. It is hard to explain, but it is the worse part of the bad feeling. I can handle the raw pain of miles on the legs, but the stomach proboblems are a show stopper.

#5 - The knee

It started acting up around mile 13 or so. I had to change the way I ran, and I worried about it. It was very hard to run down hills, steps, and technical areas.

#6 - Zumbro

Running a 100 miler 4 weeks before Ice Age is a dumb idea. Just as dumb is starting a 100 miler 4 weeks before, and not finishing. That way, you get half of the destruction, and none of the glory. It is actually more than half the destruction, becuase your pace is a lot slower in a 100. I think I was out there for at least 12 hours, and it was 12 hours of wrecking the body.

Nobody had a good race at Ice Age this year AND last year after Zumbro 100. Ask, Meyers, Brownie, Zach, and Birkholz. BB made it 9 miles on Saturday and had to drop. At mile 2 he said to me "uh... my calf....". Not a good thing to happen that early in a 50.


In case you read my previous post wrong, I am not quitting. I am just taking a step back to get my act back together.

The next 3 days will have a big impact on what happens in my professional life in the coming months/years. I first just need to get through that.

Stepping down to the 100K at Kettle is not my idea of "taking a step back", but thanks for the offer CC. The relay sounds fun... but that is a hard one to justify to the family. But.... there was some conversation about having a "Matt's" relay a few months ago.

I also recall in a state of dizziness on Saturday that I offered to crew for the Paint King at Kettle. That would be fun, but tricky to pull off after my "I am not going to Kettle" statement to the family yesterday.

We shall see.

I first need the knee to heal, then I have to figure out why my stomach is rejecting everything, then I have to find a race to wear a skirt in. Afton 25K? I would love to go hard and watch others get humiliated as a guy dressed in drag pulls off a decent run.

And I forgot from the last post:
Todd "Tater" Egnarski finished his 10th Ice Age 50 on Saturday. He did it with a smile.... well, smirk on his face. He has something I don't have... a "I Beat Matt Long" shirt.

You're a tough man Todd, and an embassador of the sport.

Other good stories can be found here, as well as soon on the LPTR site.

Could the Grabowski "era" be returning?


Anonymous said...

Maybe I'll join you at Afton. People will really like being passed by a dude in a skirt and another guy that doesn't run:)

Anonymous said...

Good post Matt....
You have to do just what you did, think it over, say this is what it is/was, move on.
I like the "outside influence business" I am guilty of that also.
You gotta step to the line with just one frame of mind, " This race is now"..dump the rest.
I am sure I will reread this a few times in the next couple of weeks as my "have to" race gets closer.

Afton in a add to that a PR on the loop in a skirt and you have a goal.

Karen S

Dave said...

Remember that ultra training/racing is supposed to add joy to your life and NOT stress. If running is not currently adding joy to your life then you need to stop and reevaluate what is going on. Continuing in this joyless state would be futile and self-defeating. You will know when it is time to return to what you enjoy. This is the power of being an amateur- not having to do something for money. We all work, you just happen to work in something outside of running. Let running be your joy in life (next to your family of course).

On a positive note, I had a blast running with you on Saturday. I think I got more out of talking to you than you did from me. Reading your blog, spending time running with you, and feeling part of a running community makes running enjoyable. I get lonely in Pittsburgh as I have not found a running community, so Saturday meant a lot. Fast times come and go, but friendships last forever.

nwgdc said...

That way, you get half of the destruction, and none of the glory.

That's a great line. I find myself scheduling 50k's as training runs for other 50k's sometimes. It doesn't make sense in my head, but I do it anyway. I can't even fathom what trying to run a 100 before a 50 would do to you.

Thanks for the post--great stuff, and I hope to see you soon at some of those 'shorter' runs!

Anonymous said...

Sorry about your stomach problems. Most of my stomach problems disappeared when I stopped drinking sports drinks. Now, I drink only water and get my electrolytes from tabs (occasional coke toward the end of a race). It has worked wonders for me. Maybe worth a shot?

brothergrub said...

Not sure what "Era" starts with an 11th place finish?!? Sorry it didn't go to plan but it sure was fun to have you around this past weekend as well as the last month or so. We've seen you at the LPTR wednesday night runs so much that we claim you as LPTR (you don't get a say - You are so stuck with us now... )

Anonymous said...

I think next year you train primarily via running. 50 miles is a long way and running more solves many of the issues.

I'm different in that I don't do many ultras without being ready. That's my reward...the carrot. In this way I am motivated to run. Honestly, it is nice not having races out in front of me often. I do what I want for training. Possibly less races? BrotherGrub has mentioned less 100s...sound wisdom.

It might really surprise you that I have something to say about fuel, hydration, and supplements in relationship to training and racing. I wish to talk about this at our next practice.


SteveQ said...

Best of luck with the professional life stuff.

btw, love the name of Getting Chicked Ale (leaves a bitter taste, indeed!)

Psyche said...

Sorry to hear about your stomach problems and need to re-evaluate. I know you'll figure it all out.

Wanted to tell you that "Run when you can, walk when you have to" was a mantra of sorts on Sunday.

Thanks for the wise words:)

johnmaas said...

Great post, Matt.
I learn a lot from your experiences.
Hope to see you on the trails again this year.
Got a bit of a giggle out of this.
"#2 - You are what you eat.
I guess I am Shit"
Reminds me of Happy Gilmore responding to Shooter McGavin -
"You eat pieces of $hit for breakfast?"