By Kevin Skiles, May 2016
V = CF / R. Gordon’s Model
Value (V) equals cash flow (CF) divided by rate of return (R). A bedrock, fundamental formula for business investing. During my work career I have determined this simple formula has applications far beyond business.
P = s / ex Performance = speed / exertion
A simple bench mark to compare different results from different training runs or races. I am more satisfied with a solid result on a challenging course where the effort didn’t feel that hard than I am with a good result where I needed to exhaust myself to complete the distance. And satisfaction is key here. After all, as crazy as it sounds to the world outside of our ultrarunning cult (I say that lovingly!) – we are supposed to enjoy and derive satisfaction from this!
And so that brings me to the most far reach extrapolation of Gordon’s model
H = R / E Happiness = Reality / Expectations
A good formula for life and running …
This year, due to several additional business, family and community responsibilities, my running volume is way down compared with the last two years. I have been able to remain healthy and keep up some level of fitness, but I am not anywhere near the level I was at last year heading into Western States. I’m running twice a week and usually only one of those is longer than 8 miles. But that’s life – we are all busy people with multiple responsibilities and ultrarunning is only part of what we do.
The key to enjoying this year’s calendar of races and training/social runs with my crew has been to have more modest expectations, enjoy the company of my fellow runners and take it easy when I have to.
Quicksilver 100K represented the most challenging application of this theory as one of my friends pointed out to me – you can fake your way through a 50K, maybe even a 50 miler, but you definitely can’t fake your way through 62 miles. So true. I had only ran 4 times in the last month since Lake Sonoma 50 and none of those runs were longer than 20 miles. It would be an interesting day….
My morning started at 2:15am as I got up, had a quick breakfast and drove down to San Jose to make the 4:30am start. The race organization was top notch before, during and after the race. Quicksilver running club has been doing this for a long time and John Brooks, the RD is a veteran and his experience shows. I ran the first several hours, which included a trip into a mine shaft and a run around an old cemetery, pretty easy effort, chatting with my friends Bob and Jerome. I started feeling the mileage and my undertraining on the loop around Little Bald Mt around mile 15.
The course has several good size climbs and descents in the first half of the race, I was wearing my Montrail Trans Alps as I figured the extra padding and grippy sole would increase my downhill speed and cushion the impact. I also wanted to test them out to see how they did on the more technical, steeper climbs that will be similar to what I face at Lavaredo UT next month. The shoes did great. I plan on wearing the Trans Alps for Lavaredo and probably for whatever fall hundred I settle on. The descent down to the turnaround at Lexington Aid was particularly steep and technical and the Trans Alps really allowed me to accelerate comfortably.
As I returned back from Lexington up “Dog Meat” I was feeling really spent. Some minor cramping, general exhaustion and lack of power were all dragging me. All symptoms of severe under-training. Nothing I could do about it now. Just take a bunch more gels, take it slow and slog up to the top. This climb really takes forever.
Eventually the low passed and I returned to a better attitude and some more solid running. As I cruised back through some of the same country I had come through several hours earlier I re-set my expectations, focused on just running easy, making sure I could finish and my goal became – make sure you are still able to run the flats and the downs from here in. Well on this course, there are no flats, so it became hike up, run down for 6 more hours. Easy enough!
You come through the finish line at an aid station around mile 43 and I took a few minutes and said hello to some of my friends who were volunteering. It was great to see so many encouraging faces. The next section of the trail, from 43 to 56 was my favorite portion of the course. The afternoon heat had ebbed and the trail seemed to have a lot more tree cover and gentler grade than the first half. Very enjoyable hiking and running. I kept yo-yoing with the same group of about 10 people. They pass me on the ups, I pass them on the downs. My downhill running has come a long way in the last year and the Trans Alps were certainly helping as well. I saw my friend Bill cruising past me the other direction on an out and back – he ended up with a great finish, 12th overall – what a stud!
At mile 56 I came to an aid station where I was informed I had to “go down that hill and punch my bib with a hole punch and then come back up”. Not what I wanted to hear. I can be such a prima donna late in a race if I feel like elevation or mileage is being gratuitously tacked on. It is a silly attitude since any way you look at it the course is 62 miles long, why does it matter what direction you are going. It was actually a very easy and short out and back, so my bitching was not warranted.
Once I got to the top of the hill above the reservoir I could smell the barn (and the BBQ!) – time to roll downhill into the finish. There was a pack of us steaming into the finish trying to break 15 hours. I crossed the line in 14:41, got my finisher’s belt buckle and collected my steak (I guess only the 100k finisher’s get steak ?! awesome)
My friend Jerome came in a little after me – he had a solid day and we both agreed it was good preparation for our Italian adventure Lavaredo UT scheduled for next month.
So back to the math, what makes a successful ultra? The best part of this sport is that you and only you get to decide. Is it just finishing? Is it beating your time from last year, is it still being able to run with authority after 40 miles – it’s whatever you decide. Just as my friend on the trail said – you can’t fake your way through a 100k. And you also can’t fake satisfaction. Plenty of races I have finished knowing I didn’t run my best (like every single way too cool). My Quicksilver 100k for this year was satisfying because I calibrated my expectations properly to meet the realities of my life and my training in 2016.
H = R / E