Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lessons from Pandora

Behold, some of the lessons I learned in Pandora's Box of Rox this past weekend. Take note. Actually, there's nothing new here. In fact, I already knew all this myself going in... But now that I've experienced the utter suck that occurs when you fail to do some of these things, they have a bit more pop to me now.
  1. Listen to aid station workers. They know what they are doing and have your best in mind. You may not like there advice, but they may see things a bit more clearly than you do—especially late in the race.
  2. Don't forget to thank the aid station workers and race volunteers. They have taken time out of their busy lives to serve others and help them reach there goals. High fives and sweaty hugs are welcome.
  3. Start early and don't get behind on nutrition and hydration. Start early. Don't get behind. Once you get behind, it's REALLY hard to come back. Really hard.
  4. Spray yourself with ice water to keep cool. For me, this means also taking a hydration pack so you always have enough water. drink it all. Every time. I'm not sure about the physiology here, but if you can keep your skin cool from an external source (spraying cold water), it seems that you may reduce your sweat rate, which is ALWAYS a good thing. Either way, you'll enjoy life more with cold water all over you in really hot conditions. 
  5. Eat plenty of salt/electrolytes! For me, that will probably stay in the form of Saltstick caps (not Endurolytes, which don't have nearly enough sodium for those super hot days—unless you take agillion of them).
  6. Don't be afraid to call it day when it's time to call it a day. no need to suffer aimlessly. live to run another day. but in the mean time, go party at the start/finish and celebrate those who had better days than you did. there are few problems at that stage that a cold beer and new friends can solve
  7. Don't go out too fast. Start slow and then slow down some more, for at least the first 1/3 of the race. Maybe more. Go out too fast and the minutes you saved by dropping a pace that is 2-3 minutes faster for a few miles may cost you hours if blow up.
  8. Match your training to the course and the conditions. Trails? Rocks? Hot? Then get in those conditions for at least the 3 weeks leading up to the race, preferably much further out though.
  9. Have fun. If you stop having fun, figure out why and fix it. If you can't fix it, ask yourself why your still out there. If you can't give a compelling reason, consider dropping. I didn't have that view before Pandora, but I'm there right now. We run because we enjoy it; when we stop enjoying it, it's time to call it day and try again tomorrow. Now, this doesn't mean that you might not suffer immensely while enjoying the run. Suffering and joy are not by any means incompatible. But if there is no joy, why keep going? There are too many runs and too many races to stumble around in your own tears, sweat, and spit....unless you are still enjoying yourself, that is.
  10. Embrace the pain; embrace the suck.
  11. Soak up the community. I'm convinced that some of the very best people in the world are in the trail running community. They are more than happy to help, share stories, and encourage. Great folks. Don't let those opportunities pass you by.
  12. When things get their worst, don't forget to stop and soak up all the beauty, not only on the course but in the community. As people take care of you, who have suffered alongside you, simply because—at that moment—you are in the worst shape... when that happens, remember to receive that love. Let it soak in. Then give it back to others once you get better.


  1. Good post Mike and glad you had some fun at Pandora. I was working aid station #2 and had a blast helping everyone. Thanks for joining up at The Nation also, glad to have you in our community.

  2. Hey Tim! Thanks for stopping by—and, even more so, for volunteering at Pandora! Love The Nation and all the resources it provides (nice job on that website, too!).

    1. Thank you Mike. I hope your feet are alright and you can get back on the trails soon. These past couple weeks of rain have made it not feel so much like summer!