Winding down the summer with the CCC seemed the right thing to do this year.
26th August 2016, 101km, 6100m of vert.
I had very little agenda for this race as I’m inexperienced at running this kind of distance/vert in Europe and it was hot hot hot.
I didn’t use any gadgets, preferring to simply run by feel and listen and respond to my body. I didn’t even wear a watch. There was no pressure, no expectations but an aim to just get out there and run. To run free in this manner allowed me to tune in better to how I was physically responding during the race. I felt in control.
It had been hot hot hot in the Alps for the previous four days, On race day temperatures were in the high 20’s and touching 30 in the valley’s. I have no experience of hot weather running for a lengthy period. I’ve not had the opportunities in training, to emulate those conditions. I was going out there blind with some good advice to help me cope. This was going to be a great learning opportunity. And it proved to be just that.
Temperature control/hydration and management
I started out with 500ml of Mountain Fuel and 350ml of water. In terms of hydration the plan was to alternate between the two in order to keep a steady flow of fuel, isotonic and water. It was important to get the balance right with the fluids. Physically, I cope with approximately 400ml of fluid an hour (maximum) any more than that and the liquid sloshes around and puts my body under too much stress causing me uncomfortableness, bloating and nausea. Quite simply I can’t utilise the volume of liquid quickly enough. I was functioning on the edge of keeping on top of hydration and knowing that if there was “one sip to many” then I’d be thrown into the uncomfortable nausea and bloating feelings mentioned. I recognised that it’s not all about having to keep drinking in order to manage oneself efficiently in order to keep cool. Rather, it’s key take the holistic approach when getting the heat management right.
Temperature control was therefore a combination of strategies. From the off, the simple things such as hydrating well in the days pre race (whilst not overloading with fluid), and during the race: through wearing the Raidlight Ultralight Trail Tank, (a technical vest) and the Saharienne cap, (often used in desert races) were all essential to keep me going under the conditions. Furthermore, on race morning I slathered myself in factor 50 sun cream and during the race I didn’t pass a stream, Potage or watering hole without a dip. I soaked sweat bands to keep my wrists areas cool in order to reduce the temperature of the blood and subsequently, rest of my body. I kept my feet cool and walked through the streams, the LCF socks that I wore were technical enough to easily cope with being wet and not causing me any blisters or issues.
I used H2Opro salt tablets in an attempt to keep on top of sodium loss. Sodium helps you maintain blood volume which in turn helps with management of your core temperature, delivering blood to working muscles and the skin. As sodium loss is different for every one, I don’t know how much I lose however, one sodium tablet every two hours kept me moving, and further addressed cramps in my hands and feet that sporadically appeared.
My main fuel source was Extreme Energy Fuel by Mountain Fuel. It contains essential electrolytes for optimum bio-functions which helped me avoid fatigue during the race. I mixed 500ml and constantly sipped throughout the race. At Check points I craved oranges which is the only additional food I felt I wanted until the half way point at Champex Lac CP. My support crew had brought along my pre prepared potatoes, tomatoes and rice, I tried to keep topped up with these foods however I simply wanted tomatoes and oranges. That coupled with the MF was enough to keep me well stocked up.
The race itself went ok. It took me 8 hours to unravel myself off the start line as I was conservative until the sun went down, concentrating on attrition rather than speed. It is likely to have cost me in terms of times (and places). I had a lot to make up once the heat was no longer an issue, yet, I needed another 8 hours to get that time back. A disappointing result, yet, the knowledge and experienced gained far outweighs the result.
Raidlight UK for your support and provision:
Carbon Ultra compact Pole
Ultralight Trail Tank
Active Lady tight short
Responsive race vest
Mountain Fuel for provision:
Xtreme Engery Fuel – tropical and Blackcurrent
VO2maxcoaching – MC for professional guidance