Here's two shots of me having just climbed 3500 feet straight up to the summit at 6000 feet.....it was amazing up there and a beautiful day.The main shot is part of the new design and layout.(Hope you like it) A few hours later I got lost but at least I'll know the way for next year!....that's if they let me have another go. They'll probably insist on a big sign on my back saying.......
'DONT FOLLOW HIM.'
I've been resting all week and not rushing back in to running to quick, (which is what I usually do).....the Endocrine system and all that. My legs hurt quite a bit, well specifically my quads, and I really want to work on this for next time. I feel if I can get my leg strength up then aerobically I am capable of running much longer and faster. The steep climbs and subsequent fast descents don't help but I 've got to get this sorted. Its really annoying when you feel fit and healthy but your legs just won't move! I had no blisters and even though I was exhausted during the first climb once I got to the top I felt great.....just look at that picture; Who wouldn't?
I believe the 'heavy legs' so early on in the race was caused by either;- A) Lactic acid build up due to climbing continually for 3 hours in an anearobic, or close to, anearobic state or B) Microscopic tears in the muscle fibres which occur when the body goes into a catabolic state or C) Both. To make matters worse once I had traversed along the ridge (above) I ran really fast on the 4k downhill stretch compounding the problem further by the continual jarring of my quads and also the knees. I feel this is a Catch 22 because I had to go as fast as possible uphill and downhill otherwise I'd still be running today! All this meant 'pain' when trying to run the next 10k section fast ....Agh......so confusing. Normally one would rest and let the body 'rebuild' itself stronger for the next time but this option does not exist in the middle of a race so the whole area becomes inflamed causing more stress on other muscle groups and preventing efficient contraction of the legs......and so you slow down.....a lot.Throw in the breakdown of the mitochcondria ( don't ask) and you are in trouble. Other studies into the central nervous system believe that the brain is unable to send the correct message to the muscles due to fatigue and this results in you saying to yourself, 'I shouldn't be doing this....Stop'. Its an interesting concept because I had loads of energy and otherwise felt fine; ultra running is different to normal road running as we tend not to 'bonk', this is because we run slower, eat and have trained the body to use fat efficiently if there is no other source of fuel.
So to summarise; I felt great but my legs felt crap!
You've got to have a positive, strong mental attitude and be fit and fast and supple and powerful physically and disciplined......and then you 'might' make it. Maybe I should retire and take up chess.
So, what's next? Not sure as there are not as many races at this time of year. Quite a lot of ultra runners take time off for a few months to let their bodies rebuild and cure any nagging aches and pains but then their schedule is a little different to mine as these guys have been running 100's of miles a week. Personally I would like complete one more ultra before Christmas and preferably on a flatter course as these Alpine mountain races are seriously tough both mentally and physically. A race in the U.S.would be 'fun' just for a completely different experience but its a long way to go for only one race (especially if I leave my legs in France.....if you know what I mean) but we shall see.
Its been 2 weeks since the race and I've done 3 runs over the last 5 days , only 1hr each but with an average climb of about 2500feet (750metres) per run and at about 8k per hour. My running speed and elevation gains over these distances are fairly consistent and I have no aches or tiredness at all so next week I will increase the mileage and do more speed and strength work.......BUT, I must get some independant advice as regards my quads.
It's funny as being 'legless' used to have such a different meaning but I'm a boring ultra runner now so if you find me lying face down in a ditch one night its because I hit a rock.....and not the bottle... I'll leave that to Sue........(Oops, I've put my foot in it now.)