Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2015
Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2015 was supposed to be my main goal for this season. However, due to the fact that I have changed job and had a very intensive course just before the race, I was not really able to prepare mentally for this race and neither get the rest that I need.
We had originally planned to fly to Cortina on Wednesday before the race, but since I had an intensive course that would finish on Friday (race day) I had to change my plans and book another flight. I basically didn’t sleep many hours during the 3 weeks before the race and I had a super tight schedule in the race day: I had to do my final exam in the morning, fly to Venezia 3h after my exam (with a connection in Zürich), travel to Cortina (many thanks to my friend Rune Yates that picked me up at the airport), arriving there just 2h before the race. It was a lot of stress, specially because I was not sure that I was going to make it to the start line. If just a little thing went wrong and I missed 1h, everything could go wrong.
My friends carried my mandatory equipment and got my start number, but because we were only travelling with hand luggages, they could not carry my drop-bag items. So, I had no drop bag and had to start with a much heavier vest (energy for all the way).
When I arrived at Cortina, I ate some pasta (that Mads and Per picked up for me – thanks guys :-)) and we went basically directly to the start line. I was mentally tired after a hard day, but with all the adrenaline of starting the race, I didn’t really notice it. So when the race started, I was feeling ready. The first 48km went super fast, I was running very well and I was sure that I would have an amazing day. I had an awesome flow from the start of the race to Rif. Auronzo (close to Tre Cime and where the drop bag was located). During the night however, I had to change the batteries of my headlamp and therefore I had no spare batteries in case I had to run during a second night. I was expecting to be in goal before night but that was anyways in the back of my head all the time.
When the day slowly started to light up, around Rif. Auronzo, I got incredibly tired mentally and I could not think of anything else than sleeping. On my way uphill to Rif. Auronzo I could basically not walk straight, since I was half sleep walking. Arriving at the aid station I ate something and I decided that I needed to sleep if I should continue. So I sleep (very badly) for 1 hour and when I woke up I was still very tired. At this point I decided that I would quit, there was no point in continuing the race when I was already feeling like that in the first third of the race. I jumped into a bus and when it started driving away from the aid station I asked the driver to stop. I jumped out of the bus and said I would continue the race. They looked weird at me, I can tell you :-).
I continued my race. The downhills went very well, since there was speed and variation, but every time I had to go uphill or flat I would almost fall asleep. I tried sleeping another 45min in the next aid station, but it didn’t really help. I never had such a big crisis that lasted that long in a race, and it didn’t seem like it was going to end.
Around 70km Per Egon reached me. It was relieved to see him. We agreed that we would try to follow, since now it was (for both of us – Per was having trouble in the downhills due to some muscular pain) mostly about finishing the race. I seemed to get new energy from following with Per, but that was only until we reached the next uphill. My body completely closed down, I was again sleep walking, my breathing was horrible, and I was feeling sick. I told Per that he should continue, there was no point on waiting for me. I was done. With some reluctancy he continued (he didn’t want to leave me alone there, feeling bad), but I convinced him that I could take care of myself.
I had decided that it was the end of the race for me. In that day, I did not have the mental strength to continue and overcome my crisis. My body was ok, but my head was somewhere else (in bed I guess…). I crawled to the next water post (Malga Travenanzes), where I slept another hour. Then crawled further to the top of the mountain (90+km) where I was driven to Rif. Col. Gallina and then took a shuttle home.
Rune was already home at that time, after finishing Cortina Trail, so we had something to eat and then waited for Per and Mads to arrive to goal.
It was nice trip to Cortina and Lavaredo is a very beautiful race. It is a relatively fast mountain race compared to other mountain races that I have tried. I will come back and try to get a good time at some point. I was so tired that night that I slept with all my clothes on, covered by my jacket and woke at 3AM wondering what the hell had happened :-).
Luckily I still have TDS this year, so I hope things will go much better for me there :-).
Big big thanks for my friends Rune, Per and Mads for the nice trip and specially to Rune for picking me up at the airport. If it was not for your help I would not have made it to the start line.
As some final thoughts: I started the race knowing that my plan was a bit too ambitious. But I thought I should give it a try. I knew that I might not finish it, but I thought I should try anyways. The conditions were definitely adverse for me this time, but I have learn a bunch about myself by being so pressed as I was (so no regrets at all!). And I am proud that I have hoped out of that bus :-). It was very clear to me this time how important the mental part is in an ultra, fighting your brain can be much much harder than fighting your body. You have to be fiscally fit (which I am sure I was for this race), but your have to be very well mentally prepared (and that includes well rested) as well.
As I have already mentioned, I think that LUT is a relatively fast mountain race. Although there are steep and technical parts, it is not comparable to races I have experienced around Chamonix for example. The first 30km are quite fast and I have particularly ran all the way (also uphill) without problems. The most technical parts start after 80km, where there is a long stretch in high altitude. Since I stopped after 90km I haven’t really seen the route after Col. de Gallina, but the uphill between 80km and 90km was tough (specially for me, since I was smashed at that point).
The downhills are also technical at some points, where you run through forest with many roots and stones and sometimes at places with high grass, which makes it hard to see where you are stepping.
I particularly think that the start time of this race is very unfortunate, since we end up running a long time in the dark (for me the first 48km – first 6h). I think it is a bit too much. I would rather start at 1 or 2AM.
The course is extremely well marked, and there is people showing the way in the most critical parts. So basically impossible to run wrong (even for a half asleep runner like I was). The scenery is astonishing. It is the first time I have been to the Dolomites, and I found it absolutely amazing. The sunrise in Tre Cime is something I’ll never forget.
I had 8 bags of Chews with me, plus 4 gels, 3 energy bars, and 2 Endure drink sachets. My plan was to eat a bag an hour and supplement with the add stations.
I didn’t really like what was available at the at stations, apart from the warm soup which was really nice. The energy drink was not good and I really do not like Red Bull (which was the only energy drink option some times). They also had some dry cakes, which I really didn’t feel like eating.
The bars I mainly eat during the uphills, when you have good time to chew, since it does not go fast.
I also had 4 32Gi Guarana/Caffeine shots, and I used all of them. I am a strong coffee drinker, so I do not get much out of caffeine. Next time I think I’ll reduce the amount of coffee during the weeks before the race. The shots are definitely a nice addition to the 32Gi product line. They are easy in the stomach.
I also ate a couple of gels at the end, when I was completely tired. The gels are really good when you need something that works quickly.
I had no stomach problems and no issues with my energy intake. 32Gi works consistently to me.
My issue this time was my mental tiredness.
- Brooks Pure Grit 3 shoes: the weather was dry and the terrain was not SO technical.
- Black Diamond Ultra Distance carbon poles: super light, easily foldable and very stiff. They are really really good.
- CEP Ultralight long sleeves t-shirt: long sleeves were mandatory, so I decided to wear them from the start.
- Nike Combat underwear + Nike split shorts: I like this combo very much.
- Injinji + Feetures! socks: Injinji under and Feetures! on top. No blisters as usual :-).
- Grip Grab visor: Cool new visor from Grip Grab. Very light weight and practical.
- Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Set vest + 2 Salomon soft flasks (600ml each) + whistle: the best vest ever made in my opinion.
- Inov-8 Race Ultra Shell: both anorak and pants. Super light and compact and works very well. (mandatory)
- Petzl NAO headlamp + extra batteries: the battery finished quite quickly this time. I guess I have not programmed it correctly. I have to check that for the next time. I like it a lot, it is light and sit very well in the head. (mandatory)
- The North Face Runners 3 Overmitt: waterproof gloves.
- Space blanket + blister kit + antiseptic wipe: to treat small blisters and in case of an emergency (mandatory)
- Cup: a Capri Sonne DIY cup. Super light, does not fill anything and works perfectly.
- Merino wool Buff: always nice to have in case of bad weather.
- … Rest of mandatory equipment (not sure I’ve listed it all) …
My setup was very light and worked quite well.
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