They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This post is for those people who think a chart full of numbers is worth a thousand words.
There’s a lot to unpack here so let’s start at the end. Somehow I’ve managed to finish each race quicker than the year before. In 2016, I was undertrained/slightly injured and just hung on for dear life. The interesting thing is that since 2017, I don’t believe I have improved my fitness. I would say all of my improvement is from experience at the 100 mile distance in general and specifically this race. ES100 has some quirks with its heat/hill combo and just having run the race before has helped me navigate the course more efficiently.
I think the other interesting takeaway is that while my section splits have generally improved from year to year, they haven’t all improved from one year to the next. And some are virtually identical from 2016 through this year. Chalk this up to a lot can happen over the course of a hundred and not all of it will be good. Said another way, it’s very hard to have your A game handy for 36 straight hours. You’re just going to have some low points eventually that you’ll need to manage through.
Thinking back on this year, I feel like I have limited room for improvement timewise unless I decide to start cranking out 70-80mpw training blocks. I could definitely shave off a minute here or a minute there. If I combined all my fastest section splits, I would knock 30 minutes off this year’s time. That feels like about my theoretical max at this race.
Or is it?
Here are my splits to Dry Run and then into the finish.
So all of my improvement over the past 2 years has come in the second half of the course. Even with that improvement, it’s still taking me an extra three hours to cover the last fifty miles. And this is the easier half with much less elevation gain (9,700ft vs. 10,800ft). There’s several sections with 20 minute plus average paces compared to only one over 18 minutes in the first half and that’s the hardest one into Dry Run itself (19min). Now you definitely slow down a little overnight and I probably spend an extra minute or so in each aid station, but that still probably leaves two hours of opportunity for improvement if I can somehow run more even.
Then again, looking at my historical 50/50 splits in hundreds shows I’m pretty much a 45%/55% guy.
You can’t say I’m not consistent. I’m somewhat surprised to see two of my four best splits this year. Maybe I’m finally starting to figure out this whole hundred miler pacing thing (ha!). Or considering my top races are from 2018 and 2019, maybe it’s more of a stopped clock thing. I can’t wait to find out next month at Grindstone!