It’s Only Hubris If I Fail

“It’s only hubris if I fail.” – Julius Caesar. Actually, I think this is a Hollywood screenwriter’s idea of something Julius Caesar might have said, as opposed to an actual quote. Because that would be in Latin, of course. 🙂

I threw out a quick FB post upon my return from the Arkansas Traveller 100 just to let everyone know that I DNF’d, but that I was ok. I was reminded this morning by a FB friend’s Pinhoti 100 DNF post that I haven’t written about processing this failure. I learn more from my failures than my successes, so here goes.

Caesar’s words are the very definition of hubris, aren’t they? I suffer from hubris at times – don’t we all? Last fall at the start of the KC marathon, I knew it was a hot day and a PR wasn’t likely, but I (over)confidently said to a friend that while I probably couldn’t hold my PR pace, I was in PR shape so I’d at least BQ, for sure. After all, I could’ve run a 3:15 without pushing hard, and a BQ was a 3:25. Wrong. See this post for the rest of that story. Hubris.

I had a little less hubris as I toed the line at AT100 – I was a bit intimidated by the extraordinarily fit group of people that were gathered at the pre-race meeting Friday afternoon. Also, I hadn’t had the best summer of training – I wasn’t hitting my mileage targets. To make matters worse, I came in about 10 pounds over my usual weight. But as I did the math, I was confident that even if I couldn’t hit my goal of a sub-24 hour finish, at least I’d shuffle in under the 30 hour cutoff and get the less-nice buckle. Wrong. Hubris.

Lessons learned:

  1. Extra weight isn’t an advantage even in an ultra. You’re running, you’re not hibernating.
  2. I need to try separating nutrition from hydration. This is different for everyone. It might be different for me on another day. But on THE day that mattered, I curtailed my drinking because the sweetness of the calories I was ingesting made it unpalatable. I lost that 10 pounds – in water weight unfortunately, and that dehydration killed my race. I’ll probably go with real food, i.e. solid food, next time.
  3. I already knew this one, but proper pacing prevents poor performance. As it did at KCM, my pacing felt great until it didn’t. I really was trying to take it easy. But, once the heat set in, I was beyond my fitness level. If I had backed off earlier, I might have caught my dehydration in time to fix it.

I don’t think my total mileage leading up to the race was inadequate for a respectable finish, but it was inadequate for the effort I was attempting during the first 25 miles of the race.

Looking forward, I can still achieve one of my 2017 goals – running 2017 miles, which would be a high water mark for annual mileage for me. I’ll race a 5K Turkey Trot in a few weeks to establish some training paces based on my current fitness. The road ahead also includes Psycho Wyco 50K in February, Boston in April, and the main 2018 goal: conquer the AT100. I’m gearing my training to that “A” race goal using Jason Koop’s “Training Essentials for Ultrarunning.” Coach Koop is an advocate of RPE (rate of perceived effort). I’ll try to follow that, but I may have to cheat a bit with a combination of pace calculators and my HRM (heart rate monitor) until I am confident I am hitting the Goldilocks effort on the different runs. More on that to come!


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