After some time to think since my Hole to Hump effort, I have come away with some good lessons for next time I try something of this length and difficulty:
1. Don't change my diet
Carbo Loading- I tried to beat into my head the whole time leading up to H2H that I shouldn't do anything different or new with my diet. Everything I read online and heard from friends that do ultra events confirmed this idea. Besides, I had been successful with my long training runs with certain foods and I didn't really need to change anything.
I couldn't resist though. I carbo loaded for 3-4 days before the H2H because I thought it would give me a good store of energy. I had never done this for any of my other previous long runs but was convinced that I should do it for H2H. I should have been listening to all the sage advice ("don't do anything new or different with your diet") and not carbo loaded (even though it is a very successful method for many ultra athletes). My normal method before long runs is to eat like normal (generally 60% carbs and 40% protein) but eat more calories than normal. This has always done me well.
The days leading up to the run, I generally felt hungry no matter how much food I ate with the 70-80% carbohydrate carbo load. During the run, I never felt like I had any kind of energy store. I felt tired right from the start.
After the run, I researched the whole carbo loading thing more and found that quite a few people DON'T carbo load before big ultra events. They eat as much protein as normal (in fact some people eat even more protein). Most of these people that don't carbo load have a really high metabolism like me. I guess that carbo loading doesn't work well for everyone and I should stick to what works.
Solid Foods-I felt that last time I did H2H I didn't eat enough solids and that it contributed to me hitting the wall. Last time, I subsisted on mostly gels, bloks, bars, chips, salt, potatoes and eggs and burritos (I didn't eat that much solids though-I stuck mostly to the gels, bloks, bars, chips and salt). Last year I got to mile 65 in 16 hours.
This year I added pizza to the list (I think that was the only big change). The big difference isn't so much that I added pizza...the big difference is that I ate a lot of it and the other solids that I brought.
Usually, a person can only use 200-400 calories an hour (so they say) and I (every 4-5 hours) consumed at least 500 calories of solid food (along with my normal 200-250 calories I was consuming every hour). I did this thinking it would give me more long term energy and keep me from not wanting to eat food (keep my stomach from getting upset from all the sugar). With this method, I got to mile 65 in 20 hours. Four hours slower than last year. I have heard before and since the H2H that if a person consumes to much food (especially solids) during ultras their intestines will literally stop digesting food at some point and they stop getting the energy they need. This could very well have happened my H2H attempt when I "hit the wall".
I think I will go back to eating less solids again and continue to try to figure out what the magic balance my body needs to keep going during these runs that push 60 miles and beyond.
Electrolytes-I feel that I did o.k. during the run putting electrolytes in my system and I definitely wasn't overdoing it.
Although, I think I may have been off to a bad start when I was down in the canyon waiting to come out. I have read and heard that it is easy to drink too much water the day before an ultra event and accidentally flush all the electrolytes out of your system. Well...due to stress, boredom and having my water bladder right next to me all day long, I drank a lot of water while I was in the canyon waiting. I was peeing quite often and clear every time. I was doing this because it was really hot down there and I didn't want to start off dehydrated.
The think I didn't do was make sure to consume electrolytes that day. I had a banana a couple hours before I came out of the canyon but I don't think that any of my other food had much salt or potassium in them.
I am definitely going to start making sure that I don't drink too much water (or too little) and make sure my electrolyte intake is better before future long runs.
Diet for ultra length runs is tricky and different for everyone, as I am learning. I, by no means, believe that I am a smarty pants when it comes to what I should eat. I am just going to have to keep reading, experimenting on shorter runs and getting my diet dialed.
What about running motivates me?
-Flowing along single track trails in remote mountain or desert canyon terrain and connecting with the powerful energy that I can only find in those places. I really enjoy experiencing those places as one continuous effort with almost nothing on my back-as opposed to moving slowly with a heavy pack, taking multiple days to cover the same ground. I really like starting in one place and ending somewhere else, never retracing my steps, with every bend in the trail offering new and exciting vistas, sounds and smells. Often, I enjoy experiencing longer runs by myself with no or very little support, offering a strong dose of self reliance, knowing that I don't have a choice but to make it from one place to another very distant place with only my legs to carry me and my will power to keep them moving. I often use running as a test...to see what I am made of and what my limits are. I find that I pass the test more often in the wilderness.
Motivation and Hole to Hump?
Motivation is everything. I need to be very motivated to do ultra length runs (as anyone would need to be). H2H meets some of the criteria of what motivates me to run but doesn't meet others. It matches up with my wanting to test my limits, traveling from one place to another very distant place and the beginning and the end of H2H are on single track in very amazing and inspiring places (Grand Canyon and Mt. Humphreys)...but...the 50 miles in the middle are on dirt roads that are extremely flat and straight without much to get excited about. At some points I could see at least 20 miles of road in front of me. This was very challenging for me.
To top it off, I think that when I chose to do H2H this year it was all about getting to the summit of Humphreys. It wasn't about the journey. I wasn't really excited about running all of those roads in the middle, I was excited about the few moments I would stand on the summit and know that I completed a difficult run that had beaten me the year before. It was all about being done with it.
I think I have learned that to be successful at breaking through this wall that I have right now I need to get back to what gets me psyched to run. I need to be excited about the whole run, not just the finish. I need to keep searching out those dream runs. They will guide me along a path to break through my current walls, just as they have gotten me through walls of the past.
Just a bunch of excuse for not finishing H2H?
No excuses. Where I finished on H2H is exactly where I should have finished. That was what I was capable of at that moment. That was as far as I was going to go on that day.
The best thing to do is learn from the experience.
I learned that I need to keep working on dialing in what I need to eat during long runs to keep my legs moving and I need to find runs that are the most motivating and inspiring to me so that I will be excited about every turn and every step of the journey. Now...let's get running. I'm psyched!