LOST SOUL ULTRA 2017: It’s ALL about the PACE

Oct 03, 2017

In the beginning of September I was lucky to be a part of a race in Lethbridge, Alberta called Lost Soul Ultra. The reason I signed up for this race was two-fold. The first reason was due to an instance of frostbite in December. This caused me to push my sinister 7 registration to 2018 and therefore I signed up for this race later in the year. The second reason was because I knew a ton of people running the race, therefore it would be fun, regardless of outcome. Little did I know that I would gain a free entry to the Canadian Death Race (only 1 month prior to Lost Soul). Post Death Race I began to have very poor thoughts and low desire to complete my second ever >100km Ultra, just one month apart. After racing in suboptimal conditions, in a race that I really did not want to complete I thought, instead of blogging about my race experience, why don’t I review some of my mental strategies to avoid the dreaded DNF.

Every Ultra marathoner has been there. “Why the hell am I doing this,” and “maybe I’ll just walk this section,” or “Maybe a little bit longer at this aid station.” I am one of these people, someone who thinks negative self-talk and even pity will provide me with an excuse when I do not do well in a race. My thoughts prior to the race: it’s going to be too hot, if it is too hot I will be quitting anyways, I don’t do well with heat (even though I have no idea), the smoke is another great excuse for if I don’t do well, I did the Death race 1 month ago, I’m probably not fully recovered, I just want to spend a lot of time at the aid stations eating the good food and I don’t even want to do this race were all thoughts running through my head. With the help of my crew (Kerri) I actually made it to the race. With the help of many friends, family and aid station volunteers I finished the race. With the help of MYSELF I finished with a time and place I did not plan, nor believed in. Here were some of my strategies:

POSITIVE SELF TALK
Always re-assure yourself of the good, block out the bad. Seems cliché but I promise it works. It works just as good as hearing the aid station applause. Re-create those moments where you felt good by remembering what good felt like. Some days are just not good days, and those you will have to live with, but there is always somewhere in the race when things feel good. There are always moments in training or previous races where things felt good. Remember what that felt like and use it. I use natural race landmarks to set in-race goals. Once I’ve past that landmark, I am onto my next goal.

GET IN A GROOVE
This was by far my best strategy and improvement since Death Race. In Death Race, when I felt tired or sore, I took my breaks or felt sorry for myself. In transitions I stayed too long instead of making slower forward progress. My ‘self-sing’ helped me with this strategy. My race song was, “it’s all about that pace, bout that pace.” Anytime I felt the urge to walk, I sang this song and remembered that I always felt better when getting into the groove, even better than walking. I shortened up my transitions significantly but could still work on this. I think my hydration helped to keep my mind off of the heat and smoke. The short legs allowed me to drink as much water as I would like and never run out (something I struggled with in Death Race as well). 

DON’T RUN JOE’S RACE, RUN YOUR OWN
Quite a simple concept. If you have a race plan, stick to it. If you focus on feel, as I do (no watch, no timing/ pace device), then stick to what you know. EVEN IF YOU FEEL GOOD. This may be different toward the end of the race but you do not want to fall apart mid race. This was something I really focused on in this race. I flip flopped with multiple people during this race. I stuck to my guns and pace and it really paid off. The race leader also had some good advice for me during the race which helped with pace and smart transitions.

REMEMBER YOUR COMMUNITY and TRAINING
Never forget the time you spent working toward finishing the race. Nothing can take you from the experiences you’ve already had. Remember the community you are running with… some will be out there for hours after you, some are running 60 more kilometers than you. Remember the community working to get you through the race, your family, friends and peers… they will guide you and be proud of you!

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Although I wanted to focus this blog on the mental aspect of my race, I will include the small blurb I wrote on my race experience just after the event. Only because there were some really fun moments that I want to share and do not want to forget. Here it is:

 

My finishing time for 100km was 13:46:55. I feel really good about this time and okay physically vs my first 125km one month ago.
1. Soooo many friends to experience this event with. Right from the start line. I can't mention them all because I will forget some. In Particular I got a huge boost seeing Shane Ramteemal at Pavan headed out on the dreaded 2nd North Loop. I needed that! And Meghan Kiss for sticking around to see me at the finish!
2. Kerri English Wagensveld  Thank you so much for inspiring me not to drop this race 3 weeks ago. You truly are the reason I even showed up, and helped me to a podium finish. I thank you so much.
3. Volunteers and Dean Johnson. You are all amazing. Very hard to beat that kind of support. Thanks for the congratulatory handshake direct from the race director as I finished. Special thanks to Leo Fung for the crazy support and good times for everyone!! To Jessica Kinsella for the Choco gels!! Jay Kinsella and Dave Proctor and Graham Glennie the three ultra running crazies I look up too.
4. At night there are kids causing a ruckus on the river. So I was saying hello to them. This included me saying hello to that damn clown. Luckily nobody saw me. Except the small rattler that I stepped on right after that!
5. The rubber snake.  Do you know that some people don't know what Lethbridge snakes look like. My time would have been 13:41 for the record. I had to wait 5 min for Patrick Humenny to arrive and lead the way past this snake.
6. Porcupines. Also didn't know how to handle this. Now I know they don't shoot their quills. My time may have been 13:35 because of 3 different ones. They get out on the trail... You make noise and they waddle ahead of you nonchalantly.  Cute things though. I saw an owls eyes glaring on my last leg as well! Lots of deer along the way.
7.  It's all about that pace, bout that pace. This is the song I made up 1/4 of the way through. It stuck.  For 9 more hours. It motivated me to keep at least forward momentum if not run. I think we should make a music video.

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