It’s been three weeks since I finished the Yukon Arctic Ultra 100 miler. I’ve had a lot of time to think about and process things from the race, as well as the experience itself. In general, I am still pleased with how things went and what I was able to do and accomplish on the day.
After completing any race though, you tend to go through stages of your mental and physical recovery and begin to analyze things; and YAU100 was certainly no different.
The first stage, depending on how the race goes, is usually one of relief, satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. This hit me hard in the days immediately following the race, as I was very pleased to have achieved my goal of completing the race and running a fast time on the course. Adding to this was the fact that the Yukon really spoke to me, and I was taken by it’s beauty.
Next, after a few days of recovery and thinking about it, I inevitably found myself thinking of what I could have done differently. Nutrition is the big thing that keeps coming to mind. My nutrition plan of Honey Stinger chews, gels, stroop waffles, and granola bars worked very well and if it had been a summer race or if the race had only lasted for 12-15hrs, I still would have been in a good place. However, I needed more protein and fat. It would have been easy to add some peanut butter and jam (or honey) into a soft tortilla. Or Nutella is another favourite that would have worked well too. And a little cheese curds and some macadamia nuts would have been enough that would have helped me to run stronger for the final 10hrs of the race. I’m not sure how much faster I could have run, but I do think that there was substantially more there.
Other than nutrition, I am still very pleased with how things went, and wouldn’t change much. I did discover after the fact that I suffered from some frostbite during the race. It was strange as I didn’t notice it at the time, but I have a few toes, my face and a thumb that were all affected. Nothing serious, but will have to be more careful in the future. Discussing this with Ray Zahab after, his thought was that I might have been a little dehydrated with the minimal amount that I drank due to the long distance between aid stations, and this could have been a contributing factor. Makes sense.
I still find myself thinking a lot about the YAU and can’t wait to run another northern event. I’ve been pouring over 100+ mile northern races, but looks like it will have to wait until 2013. I’ve been looking at races in Alaska, Yukon and Tuktoyaktuk. While many of the races, and particularly the Iditorad Trail Invitational 350 sound very appealing, I do find it very hard to think of not returning to YAU to try and run the perfect 100 mile race on that course that I feel I have in me. There will be plenty of time for me to run the longer expedition type races in the future, but I really feel that now is the time where I would like to focus on the ‘shorter(?)’ 100 mile distance.
In the short term, it’s looking like Sara and I will be heading to Pennsylvania in June to run the Laurel Hylands 70 miler. The course is point to point and sounds beautiful. It’s a race that I’ve wanted to do for a long time and the timing makes sense this year. We may do a shorter 50km ultra before then, but will have to wait and see how recovery goes first.
With regards to recovery, I have to say that YAU100 has hit me harder than any other race I have run. With a summer ultra in the past I have found that my legs have been very sore for the following week after the race, but after two weeks I am feeling pretty much back to normal and able to run almost as much as I want to. Well, it’s been three weeks now and I’m still feeling the affects of the race and quite tired. I am still running every day, but only doing short easy runs at this point. Any time that I try to increase back closer to normal training, I feel exhausted during the run and the following few days. A large reason for this I expect was due to running with a heavy pulk, how depleted my body got in the cold temperatures and nutrition. I’m trying not to rush a return to heavy training and expect that within the next week or so I’ll be getting back closer to normal. The ironic thing right now is that we actually have decent snow conditions in Eastern Ontario now and it would be ideal for some beautiful long winter runs.