Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The North Face Endurance Challenge Costa RIcs...Take II

TNF 80k Endurance Challenge Costa Rica…Take two.
Pura Vida!

Sometimes you have to go back to a place you have been, to see how far you have come.  This was my FB/ Instagram post after the race and it is so very true.
My first visit to CR was by invite, a first for me.  I was super excited to visit this country and to run this race.  Sadly, I went out too fast not adjusting for the heat and humidity and ultimately did not take care of the engine that was supposed to get me to the finish line.  I overheated and pulled from the race at 35k.  Just making it to the other side of the hottest part of the course, the canyons.  Lessons were learned that day.

Take II-- Two years later.
Another invite and an opportunity.  Here was my opportunity to take my learning's from my first attempt in Costa Rica and to apply them.  No not to just any hot and humid race but to the same one.   Lucky me :) 
I broke two years ago because I failed to take care of my body under the conditions it was racing.  To the best of my ability I would not be repeating this mistake.
Feeling focused :) P/C Sproston
The weather for Costa Rica, Rincon National Park for race day was calling for overcast skies, thunderclouds, intermittent rain and record high humidity (two years ago it was record high temps).  With all this, I felt ready.  Amy Sproston joined on this trip.  She would be racing the 50k event.  She and I went on a couple shake out runs prior to race day and got a quick introduction on what the humidity would feel like....minus our waterfall dips!
The night before the race, Nick the director of The North Face Endurance Challenges asked me what my goal for the race was.  My response was to have a good race, take care of myself…and make it to the finish line.  He was there two years ago and was excited to see me return.  
Race morning and I am rested, relaxed and feeling ready.  Maybe even getting used to the critters in the jungle.  A flying coach roach landed on my should at breakfast and I calmly flicked it off, a few moments later one dropped down my bra and I did the same...Imagine that!! 
p/c Costa Rica Ecogreen
With a 0530 start I was happy to see the overcast skies and, well, the humidity, it was expected.  The first 4.5k was uphill and I was pleased that I was not completely soaked with sweat by that first aid station as was my previous experience.  And unlike previous in which I flew past the aid, I stopped and drank two cups of Gatorade before taking back off.  At this point I was around top 5 female but was truly unconcerned.  
The course would offer 13 aid stations with the largest gap of 8.5k.  The terrain was a mix of jeep roads, jungle/forest single track and pavement with a total of about 6k of vert.  Per the RD it had been raining in that area for a month and we would see a lot more mud, and water crossings.  My area for concern was the Canyons which would start at 34k and last only 7k.  While not terribly long my previous experience made the 7k feel like a marathon in distance.
Not long after the first aid station was I saturated with sweat and I stayed on my plan.  I was drinking 2-3 cups of fluid at the AS's, refilling my 1liter hydration bag as well as my handheld.  Adding ice down the bra for good measure.  I started with Tailwind in my hydration and was using GU and banana wedges and chips for additional calories.

Little warm in the canyons but not like 2 years ago!
p/c Josue Fernandez
Enjoying the challenge! p/c Costa Rica Ecogreen
Feeling in control and knowing that there was a lot of race still to run I came into AS 3, 19.5k and was told I was the second F and F1 was 5 minutes up on me.  No worries, my body and mind were in sync and I wanted to keep it that way.  My confidence increased a bit when I saw Kaitlyn after only 4k.  My pace was steady and I was feeling good.  Kaitlyn and I chatted prior to the race, both recalling my last attempt and her passing my overheating body in the canyons.  This was not going to happen today.  In and out of AS 4 to AS 5 and into the canyons…same canyon as before 100% different experience.  I came out on the other end of the canyon beaming.  I made it.  May sound silly but I was almost giddy.  I was also a bit hot, but  I was managing it.  More ice, fluid, and calories and away I went.  AS 8, 50k mark I was told I had 10 minutes on Kaitlyn coming out of the canyon. 
Lush green and lots of water.
p/c Josue Fernandez
I was still feeling relatively good…only concern was some calf cramping.  While my legs were feeling strong on the climbs, if I tried to do my signature trot on the hills (using mostly calves) my calves would give me little bee sting like warnings.  And so I changed to hiking the ups, and eating salt, bananas and gatorade…taking more fluid and ice with each AS.  And I was still completely soaked, telling me that I was providing enough fluid for my body to regulate its temperature effectively. YAY!!
AS 13, 4k to the finish, and a spot where Amy and I took a dip in the waterfall the day previous.  So close, perhaps a moment of distraction and that is all it took for my first annnnnd only fall.  While soft enough it didn’t stop both of my calves from seizing up and have me yelling like a wild Howler Monkey.  With the assistance of a couple 50k runners they stretched out my calves and I was on my way to the finish line!
And it was a good day....
Thank you to Federico and Ligia for bringing me back to experience your race as it was meant to be experienced!  
For those of you out there looking for a beautiful challenge and something the entire family can enjoy, this race is for you.  Plus there are multiple races aside from the 80k.   If you decide to throw this vacation/race on your calendar you will find a well organized and supported race and you get to practice your Spanish :) The event is held in at  Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin and has something for every member of the family!  I highly recommend this as a race as well as a vacation destination!
Pura vida!!

Take aways..
While my weekly miles weren't high, they were consistent and supported my overall fitness for the race.

+++ My sponsors have the gear I use dialed!! What I use, I use because it supports the female athlete/ competitor that I am!!
F1 finish and no I did not run a 50 miler in 2 hours :) p/c Costa Rica Ecogreen
Julbo Sunglasses
>>Spry 1 Liter hydration vest
>>Lo waist belt
>>Strider Skirt
>>Trucker Hat
>>Capilene lightweight tank/ Centered bra
Nike Wildhorse
Stance socks
>>Tailwind Nutrition
>>GU...any flavor I had left over from Croatia :)
>>Bananas and chips on the course
Squirrel's Nut Butter
Mental state

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