Tomorrow I'll be running the Promise Land 50k for the second time. My first go-round in 2013? Yea, it was a bit of a disaster and you can read about it here. At the end of my race report I stated: "For me to START and FINISH this race is a huge accomplishment, regardless of what happened in between. I am proud of that and will most certainly be back again in pursuit of a much better experience..." I promised myself I'd be back at some point in time to seek out a more positive experience with this race, not knowing when that might be. Well, that time is now!!
Going into tomorrow's race, I can't help but think about how much has changed in the past 3 years since I last ran it. 2013 was my "year of the ultras" culminating in completing Mountain Masochist 50 in November. Just 30 days prior to Promise Land that spring, I enlisted in the help of my coach, Jim McGehee of One-on-One Endurance. Nothing like saying "Hey! Please coach me... and by the way I have a 50k race that I'm doing next month." Not really sure where I'm getting here, other than to say that A LOT has changed in the past three years since I last ran Promise Land in that I've matured a lot physically and emotionally as an endurance athlete thanks to the guidance of my coach.
Looking back on my last go-around at this race, much of what "went wrong" was quite simply related to the fact that I was a anxiety-ridden nervous-wreck. Whether or not I over-fueled prior to the race, my anxiety shut down my digestive system in manner that I was unable to "go" pre-race and subsequently unable to effectively fuel during. If I had to guess, I also likely started off the race much too quickly, spiking my heart rate, slowing digestion even further and burning through my glycogen stores too early in the race. Back then I knew NOTHING about pacing or heart rate training.
That being said, when I signed up for this race I did so with the intention of keeping it LOW STRESS. A "fun run" of sorts. It's not an "A" race for me and I still have a long season ahead, thus I'm not aiming to break myself or expend all of my mental energy either. I am however aiming to make the most of my run by practicing my fueling, enjoying the company of 300+ other runners and taking in some of the breathtaking scenery along the course. I'm aiming to run smart, pace myself well and position myself to run strong in the second half (much unlike the last time!!) And I'm planning to simply run with a grateful heart throughout relishing in the fact that I am running happy, healthy and strong, much unlike this time last year. At the end of the race, I simply want to be able to say "Hey! It's been a great day!"
Pictures from the Promise Land "dark side" training run two weeks ago
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and endurance athlete residing in southwest Virginia alongside her husband and dog. Through this blog she aims to share favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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