For whatever reason, I seem to consistently feel on top of my game in the winter and spring months of the year. February seems to be a particularly strong month for me with 2015 being the third year in a row that I’ve been able to notch an ultra in the win column. It’s important to recognize and capitalize on these rhythms which is why I was quite pleased yet unsurprised to feel in top form upon my arrival in New Zealand a full week ahead of the Tarawera Ultramarathon.
With a disappointing personal history of international racing, I was determined to take a professional approach to my trip down under and give myself the best possible chance for a solid performance. With this being the case, my focus was purely on hitting my last couple workouts, scouting a bit of the course, and recovery, rather than sightseeing and other tourist activities. My performance certainly benefitted from this approach and my race played out about as well as they ever do.
I took the lead around mile 25, which was earlier than I expected. At the time, I made the conscious decision to put in a bit of a surge and fully commit to taking control of the race. The specificity of my training leading up paid dividends in the last 40k, when technical, undulating terrain gives way to smooth, wide forest service roads. The last few weeks before the trip saw my first ever focused tempo sessions on flat roads and each session brought satisfying feelings of productivity. Having what was probably my best ever race on a course that wasn’t in my wheelhouse is a testament to the value of timing and specificity in training. I rather enjoyed the new stimulus of flat intensity and look forward to improving more in that regard going forward.
If I had to nitpick my race, the one critique I’d make is that I got a little bit soft psychologically in the last 10k and looked at my GPS on ridiculously frequent intervals. This will be a point of focus through the rest of the spring as I prepare for the bigger goals of summer.
Finally, it’s important to note that Tarawera is truly a world class race. With the exception of Western States, I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered such a well-organized event focused entirely on positive athlete experience. Thanks to Paul Cherteris, Tim Day and Kerry Suter in particular for showing me and the rest of the field such a great time. Thanks also to The North Face and the Ultra Trail World Tour for supporting my participation and making my dreams reality. Cheers!