Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pre-Race: Black Hills 100

Pre-Race: Black Hills 100
Nutrition, Visualization, and Turning 25

There are 2 days until my 25th birthday, a quarter of a century, and 3 days until Black Hills 100.  The timing couldn’t be much better.  I get to run and explore a new place, doing what I love for a very long adventure, as a celebration for what I have learned and accomplished thus far in my life.  Nerves haven’t really hit me.  I actually get more nervous before shorter races, but with 100s, I always know that I am strong enough to conquer the distance. 

While I enjoy 50ks and 50 milers, and other shorter trail races, 100s are my race of choice.  Sometimes I forget this and fret about unachieved time goals in the shorter races, but my boyfriend always reminds me “you’re a 100 miler babe”.  And he’s right.  Why?  To answer this, I always go back to a quote my sister has repeated so many times to herself, myself, and others: “When your legs get tired, run with your heart.”  I view 100 mile races as a chance to prove how big my heart is.

Do I have a time goal for Black Hills 100?  Yea, I have an idea of what I’d like to run.  But I know there will be struggles.  If they’re small enough, I know I can reach my time goal.  If they’re big, probably not.  But then I get to prove my strength by overcoming those obstacles, and I will be just as satisfied with my efforts.


If you read my blog on Virgil’s Crest 100, you know I had a decent race, but made a few key mistakes.  Number one was nutrition. ( )

At Virgils, my nutrition went downhill before I even started the race.  Why?  Because I had almost no nutritional plan.  Basically, Steve was to give me a new water bottle packed with a few gels (and a ginger chew, which saved me) at each aid station, with whatever the race provided.  I also grabbed whatever food looked good at the aid station at any given time.
In other words, I was basically fueling with foods and liquids that I had not trained with, and that often had little nutritional value.  Looking back, I realize that this show a very large lack of intelligence on my part.

Moving Forward.
This year, my plan is to fuel mainly with Hammer Nutrition products and other natural foods.

The Hammer products making the flight with me to South Dakota are: Perpetuem, Hammer Gels, Endurolytes, and Fizz. (Pictured Below)

(Note: I’ve also been using Hammer Vegan Protein for recovery after training runs)

I love Hammer products for several reasons: awesome taste, natural ingredients, and great results.  Bonus for me: the race is sponsored by Hammer, so each aid station will carry HEED and Hammer Gels!

Here’s a brief low-down on my race fueling strategy:

Fizz: The days before the race, I’ll probably pop a Fizz into my water bottle to help keep hydrated and keep my electrolytes balanced.

Perpetuem:  At most aid station with crew access, I’ll probably keep a 1 hour mix of Perpetuem in my bottle.  As other aid station I’ll most likely used Heed.  During the few stretches where aid stations are about 7 miles apart, I’ll be wearing a fuel belt in addition to carrying my hand-held bottle.  I plan to have water in one of the 8oz bottles, and a stronger (multi-hour mix) of Perpetuem in the other, and a light mix of Perpetuem in my hand-held.

Gels:  I plan to consume a lot of gels over the course of the race.  I’m guessing I’ll take one to two between every aid station, saving the caffeinated flavors for later in the race.  (I love Hammer’s gels and Perpetuem because of the natural sugars and ingredients used in each, which provide energy but not the dreaded crash at the end.)

Endurolytes:  As of now, the forecast is showing sunny and 80 degrees for Saturday (though I’m planning for hotter).  A beautiful day, though it can be quite warm for running, meaning lots of sweat and lots of loss of sodium and electrolytes.  The help replace what I’ve lost, I plan on taking one to two capsules every other aid station.

Natural Foods:  Wednesday will probably mean a grocery store trip for Steve and I to stock up on natural foods such as peanut/almond butter, gluten-free wraps, bananas, energy bars, etc.  I plan to make banana/pb wraps the Friday night for a grab and go snack at some aid stations in addition to some bars like Larabars.  I also have almond butter and chocolate hazelnut packets I use like gels that I’ve experimented with before and really liked, as long as I’m not running too fast and have enough water to wash them down.  I’m sure I’ll grab some stuff at the aid stations too, but just do my best to pick good choices.  These foods should provide me with enough substance and protein to keep me from going hungry and sustain an even energy level.


My second big mistake at Virgils was having a very little knowledge of the course.  I basically just knew there would be a lot of climbing, which is why I signed up.  However, I didn’t have a good understanding of where the big climbs would be or even the aid station distances.

This year I wanted to be ready.  From what I’ve heard from past Black Hills runners is that the race is harder than expected, mainly because the course is comprised of many rolling hills.  To help myself understand the course, I checked out some pictures, videos, and printed out the detailed course description.  The past week and a half, I’ve been using visualization to help my mind get prepared for the race.  I’m not going to go into detail here, but I simply start of by relaxing my body and then picturing myself strong and calm at different points in the race.

Second, the course is an out-and-back, and while it features a lot of up and down both ways, the second half has more downhill.  That means I need to be ready to run in the second half.  I went out a bit too fast at Virgils, so this knowledge will help keep at a more steady pace at the beginning.

I also have at least enough aid station knowledge to know when and when I won’t see Steve, and when I’ll need my fuel belt.


The trail shoes I wore at Virgils were probably not the best for the course, especially the rocky and (later) muddy portions of the trail.  This year I’ve changed it up a bit and will be wearing my New Balance 1010s.  They’re a minimalist shoe, but with a little more material that will keep my feet as happy (in addition to my new Swiftwick compression socks) as is possible for 100 miles.  The shoe has great traction and even a light plastic plate to keep any rocks from jabbing my foot.


So that’s my basic game plan for Black Hills 100!  Steve will pace me either 30 or 17 miles, and Sandi will of course be my spiritual pacer.  I’ll also be infused with extra strength when thinking of some of the amazing women part of The Girl Effect ( ), a charity that empowers women, and to which Sandi made a donation in my name as a birthday present (she also gave me a copy of Jennifer Phar Davis’s new book “Called Again” which I’ll be reading on the plane for extra motivation).

Happy Adventures! (and good luck to all my friend running Western States!)


1 comment:

  1. New reader...I found my way over here from Sandi's blog. I love you book review section because I'm a big reader. I found some new ones on your list. If you haven't picked these ones up already, I think you might enjoy Running with the Kenyans; Bart Yasso's My Life on the Run; and Sum it Up by Pat Summitt. They are all excellent and very inspirational for running and life. Happy birthday, and I hope your race goes well. I'll be looking forward to your race report to see what lessons I can learn. -Heather (