Sometimes races go well, sometimes they just chew you up and spit you out, the later is what happened at Sierre-Zinal. It wasn’t a great start to my European season, but sometimes you have those races.
Before I dive in too deep, for the next 5 weeks I am going to publish a report on the races and my time in Europe. I hope you will check in each week to read about the different trail races and scene in Europe and how it compares to that of Taiwan.
Rewind to August 7th I was taking part in my first race in Europe called Sierre-Zinal, 32km with 2,200m climbing. This is one of the most iconic mountain races in Europe and is family run with a history that dates back over 40 years. It has been written that it is to the mountain race what the New York Marathon is to marathons. It is also known as the race of five 4000 meter peaks, while racing you can catch views of the Weisshorn, Zinalrothorn, Obel Gabelhorn, Dent Blanche, and the Matterhorn.
I had taken part in this race last year and really enjoyed it and so I made sure to fit it in again. They also really go out of their way to look after the invited runners. There is appearance fee, good prize money and primes for running certain times, which is very rare for trail races. As a result, every year it attracts the most competitive field of elites. Since they also put us up for five days it’s a great opportunity to meet other competitors and for me it was a chance to connect with my coach who was also racing.
It is a brutal course where you start from the town of Sierre with a 1500m climb within 10km at about 30% gradient. You then continue to climb to the highest point past the Weisshorn Hotel at 2,425m, the course then “flattens” out where it is here that you have to get your legs moving, but after that much climbing in them it never proves easy. The last 5 km you have a hairy, technical descent where you drop like a pin down to the town of Zinal.
My mental state going into this race was not where it needed to be. I arrived in Europe tired, training had not been going well. I was struggling with the heat in Taipei, my mileage was not even high and I felt like I was running on flat legs. Also, training had felt like it was becoming more of a “chore”, I was stale. There had been some other transitions I had been trying to sort out which were also effecting me. I am also one that does a lot of additional training, which recently in order to fit it in it meant I had not been getting home until late, which in turn cuts into my sleep and recovery time, all in all I had been burning the candle at both ends for too long. You could say these are all excuses, but after races that don’t go well, I am the sort of person that likes to break everything down, find out why I didn’t perform, fix the problem and move forward.
The race started off and I had nothing, as the course flattened out even with all the supporters shouting “Hop! Hop!” and “Allez-Allez” I wasn’t able to get my legs moving. I finished 19th and ran 10 minutes slower than I had the previous year. After the race I had the chance to sit down with my coach and discuss where I was at.
The thing with someone like me going to Europe to race is I only have a short amount of time and so to hit all my races it means in-between I have to taper and recover, I can’t really afford to have long days out in the mountains. When I was in the space I was in, this didn’t sound totally appealing. So we scrapped the original race plan and instead we decided to use this time to just build up my base, do the long days in the mountains I wanted to even if I had races, with the goal of getting the enjoyment back into training and running, because at the end of the day that’s the key.
Sierre-Zinal 1, Ruth 0, next stop Zermatt Ultraks 30km, Switzerland…….
謝爾-齊納爾 1，Ruth 0，下一站: 瑞士策馬特30公里越野賽