This summer we had the pleasure of spending some quality time with Haute Volée ultra runner Devon Yanko at Bird Camp in Leavenworth. A few weeks later Sally visited with Devon at her amazing bakery MH Bread and Butter in San Anselmo, California. What amazes us about Devon is that she juggles being a small business owner, training for the marathon and being a badass ultra/trail runner as well. How does she fit it all in? After you spend some time with her you realize that her positive attitude toward life and her amazing sense of humor are two qualities that contribute to her success in everything that she does. Currently, Devon is off to South Africa to compete this Sunday in the Cape Town Marathon. Learn more from her about this adventure and what's to come later this month as well.
As you read this, I am likely cruising over the Atlantic Ocean or flying the entire length of the African continent. I am heading back to Cape Town, South Africa again, one of my most favorite places on the planet, to do two races over the course of a three week stay. I have been to Cape Town three times before; once as an 18 year old studying abroad and twice recently to race the Two Oceans Marathon (which is actually a 56km race) in 2012 and 2015. I love Cape Town and was very excited to have the opportunity to return there again this year for more racing. The running culture in South Africa is huge and they are home to the biggest, most competitive ultras in the world (Comrades and Two Oceans - both of which I have done). A few months ago, I heard about a relatively new race in Cape Town called the Ultra Trail Cape Town 100km and after looking at the race website, I knew I HAD to go this year. I have raced on the roads in South Africa, but one of my favorite parts of Cape Town is Table Mountain. Ultra Trail Cape Town runs up and over and around the majestic mountains there and would provide me with the opportunity to dive back into trail ultras after a few years of being a business owner first and a racer second. When I made my plans for my South Africa trip, I knew that I wanted to be able to spend some time down there, get on the course and get my bearings. That is when I discovered that the Cape Town Marathon, a flat, fast and competitive race was being held two weeks before UTCT 100km. I was sold. I was going for both races.
My training this year has included a lot of highs and lows and I have not accomplished all the things I have wanted to. I wanted to race Comrades again as my "A" goal for the first half of the season and ended up with a foot injury that stopped me from going. Since then, I have had a coaching change and am now settling back in to training with the awesome Ian Torrence of McMillian Running. I had a good 6 week block of training towards my other big goal of the year: qualify for the Olympic Trials. I've nailed some good workouts, brought my mileage up over 100 miles/week for 5 out of the last 6 weeks and am starting to feel like I am heading towards marathon shape. I have done all the little things; strength work, stretching and even working on getting more sleep (which is really hard when you work on the night shift baking!). I do feel like I am on the right track towards my goal. Cape Town will be a good test for me. I believe I can run a sub 2:43 necessary to qualify. I also have acknowledged for myself that that goal may take more time and I am basically looking at the progress that I will continue to make moving forward as I continue to train the way that is going to help me reach my potential.
Mentally, gearing up for two very different types of races is very interesting! The marathon, especially with such a specific time goal, takes a lot of focusing and visualizing and energy. I am preparing myself with mantras, splits, and making sure in the weeks leading up to the race that I am fostering my own confidence, happiness and excitement. Once the marathon is over, then I will switch gears to the 100km. I like to think about “first things, first”. I can’t start worrying about the 100km before the marathon because it will only serve to distract me! Gearing up mentally for a 100km is vastly different than a marathon. In a marathon, I am “focus, focus, focus. Push, push, push” and in a 100km, I am “distract, distract, distract. Relax, relax, relax”. In ultras, it is very hard to stay in hard core race mode for 12+ hours, so I like to find a happy place, running hard, but mentally being relaxed. I only go into race mode in an ultra when I can start wrapping my brain around the distance left (“only a half marathon to go!” or similar). After the marathon is over, I will start getting out onto the 100km course and exploring the trails to familiarize myself with what I will encounter. This will help me during the race because I will have familiar way points to aim for mentally to pull me through the race.
Ultimately, leading up to an adventure like this, I keep coming back to the thought that I am just so excited and lucky to have the opportunity to run these races. Everything else aside, when we step up to the start line of any race, we should be excited and inspired to be there. We are so lucky to be able to do what we do as runners, whether that is an every day run streak, a 5km, a marathon or 100 miles. Running is one of the great joys of our life.
I can’t wait to get to Cape Town and get running. I am especially excited that it is the tail end of winter down there because it means I will finally get to break into some of my awesome new Fall ’15 gear like the KG Tights and Flyte 2000 long sleeve. Currently, I can't rock them at home where it is still 90 degrees during the day. Layers RULE for fall and for the end of winter in a place like Cape Town where temps will be in the 40's at night and back up to the mid 60’s during the day.