Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Debriefing the Ridge Run.

It’s been over a month since I completed my third Bridger Ridge Run. As you can probably surmise from my not-so-quick final blog, I didn't reach my goal. I could roll out with a bunch of excuses, but, after a thorough self-evaluation, I know the reason why I failed. Here’s a quick rundown of my mistakes:

  1. Putting it all together. The training I did with Will Caton, from Swiss Fit Montana, was great for building my strength and lactic acid tolerance, but I failed to push myself hard enough on my long training runs. Each long run felt better and my average pace was consistent with increased distances. What I didn’t do was incorporate enough hill climbs in these runs. I did plenty of climbs in my shorter runs, but I needed to tie it all together. Long run, with elevation gain and loss. I realized this about two weeks prior to the Ridge, but hoped my competitive drive would be able to overcome this deficiency. I was wrong.
  2. The tapper. Doing only a couple small runs the week prior, with the most demanding one on the Sunday before the run, I may have embraced the tapper a little too much. Will agrees with this evaluation, saying that with a challenging run like the Ridge you want to keep you lactic acid tolerance as high as possible. Taking a break from training quickly lowers this tolerance.
  3. Not leaving enough in the tank. I made this mistake last year as well, but felt I was in a better position to handle a very quick descent from Sacajawea to Ross Peak. I was able to maintain a strong push for a longer duration this year, but from Saddle on it was a slog.
Bridger Ridge Run, Bozeman Montana, Swiss Fit Montana
Feeling good along the Bridger Bowl ridge, just before the slog.

That being said, there are several positives from my training at Swiss Fit:

  1. Muscle fatigue and cramping were minimal during the run.
  2. I was able to run two days after the ridge; prior years it’s been more than a week.
  3. I’m probably in better all-around shape than I have been since high-school wrestling (which was a long time ago).
  4. My time was still better than 60% of the field. (I realize not everyone does the Ridge with a set time goal; for many runners it’s about the camaraderie and accomplishment, something I need to focus on more.)
  5. Much to my son’s dismay, I’m ready to chase elk up any ridge this coming hunting season.
  6. I’m looking forward to next year’s run—until then, happy trails.

Swiss Fit Montana, Bridger Ridge Run, Bozeman Montana 
While strength improved, mistakes were still made.